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Rare Wright-Phillip goal crowns five star QPR display - match report
Rare Wright-Phillip goal crowns five star QPR display - match report
Sunday, 22nd Jul 2012 19:15 by David Rowe

Cold weather forecast for hell as Shaun Wright-Phillips finally scores a goal in QPR colours. David Rowe was there to see it, as Rangers continued their Asia Tour with a 5-0 win against Kelantan.

The last time I visited the Shah Alam Stadium there were 80,000 people present for the 1994 Malaysia Cup Final. At the time it was the most futuristic looking ground I had ever been to and it is still hugely impressive if a little dated these days.

It was a bit disappointing that the attendance at kick off time on Friday night looked to be around 12,000 but it transpired that due to a perfect storm of Friday evening Kuala Lumpur traffic, rain and the start of Ramadan, many were delayed and when the crowd eventually finished arriving mid way through the first half, it appeared to be about double the number in attendance at kick off. The official figure was later given as 31,000 but that seemed a little exaggerated to me. Still impressive though when you consider Shah Alam is in the state of Selangor and it was therefore an away game for both teams.

As in Sabah, it was great to see so many locals wearing last and next-season’s hoops, red and white quarters and even the mango monstrosity. It is strange that I found the sight of people wearing half and half Kelantan/QPR shirts endearing when the half and half scarves on view at Old Trafford in April almost made me physically ill. It was also great to see the Kelantan fans enthusiastically supporting their own team whereas in Singapore the locals regularly cheer on Man United or Liverpool against their own national side.

Rangers lined up with Rob Green in goal for the first time since his summer move from West Ham behind a back four of Fabio, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill and Armand Traore. The midfield was made up of Jamie Mackie, Samba Diakite, Hogan Ephraim and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Adel Taarabt played just behind Djibril Cisse who was used as the lone forward.

Kelantan are Malaysian Super League Champions and included all seven of their foreign players in their squad. In domestic games, they are limited to including between two and five foreigners depending on the competitions. I would guess that this made them around League One standard and they were certainly a greater challenge than Sabah had been. They were much more physically imposing but despite this they still had a diminutive goalkeeper who looked like he had been recruited from the local primary school.

In this part of the world you often see sights at games that you never dreamed you would see. In the first half here we saw two. The first was two guys on motor bikes racing around the internal concourse of the stadium in full view of the pitch in some sort of bizarre wall of death display.

The second, even more astounding some would argue, was Shaun Wright Phillips scoring a goal in a QPR shirt. He finished calmly after a typical barnstorming run from Diakite and a clever pass into the area by Taarabt. This goal seemed to transform Wright Phillips and he went on to have a superb game full of endeavour, clever turns, back heels and runs at defenders. He looked a different player to the one who had found very different ways to make a mess of three one on ones with the keeper in the Sabah game. Hopefully this is a turning point for him.

Unfortunately Cisse limped off after the goal clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Andy Johnson who has the best player on view in the Sabah game. The word on the Frenchman is an absence of around ten days but that is still a concern.

Rangers controlled the half without ever looking like increasing their lead. In fact, at the other end, Green had to make a good low stop from a shot from distance. Kelantan also missed a header from close range following a left wing cross but this was the only clear chance they created in the game.

In the second period Brian Murphy replaced Green, Miachael Harriman came on for Traore with Fabio switching to left back and Nedum Onouha replaced Hill.

On 52 minutes Taarabt played an outstanding through ball to Harriman who stepped neatly inside a defender before scoring with his left foot with as little help from questionable goalkeeping. At this stage all the creativity was coming from Taarabt who seems to enjoy these sorts of games where he can indulge himself with his tricks in areas that would result in a bollocking in a Premier League matches. Harriman was clearly chuffed to have scored and he looks like a good prospect.

On the hour mark Bobby Zamora, Matthew Connolly and Michael Doughty replaced Taarabt, Ferdinand and Diakite. Young Max Ehmer later came on for Fabio who has looked very impressive in both games - although it is difficult to judge defenders when they are put under so little pressure. With 73 minutes on the clock Ephraim caught Kelantan napping from a long Ehmer throw and crossed low for Mackie to score at the far post.

After 82 minutes a fine Doughty pass found Heiday Helguson who had replaced Johnson by this point and he squared for Zamora to tap home from close range. Doughty looked a little lost out wide in the Sabah game but played well in a more central role here. He later played a cross field ball to Ehmer who in turn crossed for Helguson to convert. Ehmer is one of the most solidly built footballer I have ever seen and has a barrel chest Dave Mackay would have been proud of. That ended the scoring and it was a good all round performance with Wright Phillips deservedly getting the Man of the Match sparkling apple juice or whatever else passes for Champagne in a Muslim country during Ramadan.

My family and I were lucky enough to stay at the same hotel as the team in both Sabah and Kuala Lumpur and I am delighted to report that it seems a happy camp. It was very apparent talking to support staff that they all have nothing but admiration and respect for both Phil Beard and Tony Fernandes both of whom also made a point of coming over to us for a chat when they saw us in the hotel bars.

It seems unbelievable that the Four Year Plan documentary was only two years ago and I firmly believe the club is in very good hands indeed. Long may it continue. Tweet @loftforwords

Photo: Action Images

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DylanP added 20:17 - Jul 22
Great report. Thank for being the eyes and ears on the spot for the rest of us.

QPRski added 21:24 - Jul 22
Thanks for the report. It was also good to see the match live on the web feed.

isawqpratwcity added 10:58 - Jul 23
Cheers DR for the report (MelakaRanger on the forum, too)!

I can't wait for this season to start!

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