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Blackstock and Jones seal easy win
Blackstock and Jones seal easy win
Saturday, 23rd Sep 2006 16:22

John Gregory got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over quite possible the worst side ever to vist Loftus Road in the Championship.

John Gregory's first game in charge at Loftus Road saw us take on fellow strugglers Hull City. A relegation six-pointer in September, surely not? Well, yes it was and thankfully QPR came out on top with a much needed win and confidence boost.

Having just a few days to review his new set of players Gregory admitted to knowing more about our opposition than his own squad. Whether this was just the honest truth or a dig at our scouting system who knows.

However, Jones returned in goal behind a back four of Bignot, Rose - fresh from a car crash on Friday; and Rehman and Stewart. Marc Bircham continued his return to the team in midfield alongside Cook, Stefan Bailey and Martin Rowlands - who has somehow managed to rise from the treatment table for the new boss. Dexter Blackstock returned after injury, partnering Ray Jones in attack.

Make no mistakes this wasn't a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a win and as Gregory rightly said that's what's most important at the moment. Hull were poor opposition, but we showed at times why we've been struggling so badly recently as well. The main positive to take away from today will be a confidence-boosting win and the fact that we found the back of the net again with the goals coming from young strikers.

Within the first 15 minutes or so Rangers managed to force a couple of early corners - duly taken by Rowlands and Cook. It was these two players who tested the Hull keeper during the first half, both with efforts from outside the box. Rowlands shot in particular was a trademark effort from midfield and Myhill did well to save.

Blackstock and Jones worked hard in attack but they were up against a physical defence and had a tough test on their hands. The Hull strikers were having little luck but Parkin and Bridges looked to be having an off-day as our defence has been far from steady of late.

Lee Cook found himself up against ex-England defender Danny Mills and it was rather surprisingly that during an early battle Lee Cook was the one who gave away a foul. Overall during the game Mills dealt with Cook well and rarely did our winger really test him and turn him inside out. Indeed it was only during the last period of the game, after Mills had been booked, that he began to lose control. He started to lose his temper and Cook saw more of the ball.

Cook also found himself having a battle with the Hull number 4 - Ian Ashbee. During the second half these two continued to wind each other up with Ashbee especially growing increasingly frustrated with the R's winger. The referee intervened at one point and talked extensively with both players.

At times we are still our own worst enemy and we easily squandered possession and gave the ball away too easily. If we were up against better opposition, then we could have easily found ourselves punished for our sloppy mistakes. We still continue to waste free kicks, rush play and put ourselves in unnecessary danger.

Gregory has a lot of work to do with the defence and as we only have one game in the next few weeks, a lot of work is going to take place on the training ground so Gregory can organise our team and access the squad.

Ray Jones was booked in the first half for an apparent foul on a Hull defender; it looked harsh on the youngster as others on the field were given more than one chance before they were booked.

Stewart had a chance to open the scoring but couldn't quite connect with a well taken Lee Cook free kick. Hull's best first half opportunity came when Bridges put the ball through to France but Jones came quickly off his line to stop the threat.

Pay Kanyuka was brought on at the start of the second half in place of Matthew Rose. Big Pat slotted in at the heart of the defence while Rehman moved to right back and Bignot switched to the left. He had a solid game and fitted well into the defence.

The first real chance of the second period fell to the visitors as Jones saved well from a Michael Turner header after a deep corner into the Rangers penalty area.

Rangers finally took the lead on 60 minutes and it was Ray Jones who got the goal. Rowlands delivered a decent ball in from the right and Blackstock rose well at the far post to nod down across goal. Jones was there near the post to bundle the ball over the line before a Hull defender could get to it. A sense of relief was felt by all QPR fans inside Loftus Road, none less than John Gregory.

Just minutes after the goal, Gregory decided to change things round with Bircham and Bailey making way for Ward and Lomas in central midfield. Gregory will be looking to his senior pro's like Lomas to get us out of our current predicament so this was an ideal time for the ex-Hammer to start afresh.

Just minutes after the substitution Martin Rowlands was hobbling around on the right hand side of the field. He started stretching and looked very uncomfortable and for the remainder of the game Rangers effectively played with 10 fully-fit men. In hindsight Gregory may have wanted to take him off to stop him further injuring himself but Rowlands managed to continue until the final whistle.

The continuing saga with Rowlands fitness is very concerning and I hope he will be fine to get a settled run in the side but he often seems to come back too quickly and then pay the price.

With ten minutes remaining Blackstock made it 2-0. A minute earlier he'd headed over the bar but this time he made no mistake as Myhill was well beaten. Cook was the provider as he found the space and time to deliver a good cross in to find Blackstock. He rose and headed firmly into the net - the game was then over as Hull looked finished.

It was our first victory in six league games and can't have come quick enough for the new management. Despite the Sunday papers reporting a mean Rangers defence I still thought we looked weak and unconvincing at times but that will be the first area to work on I'm sure.

Bircham continued in midfield and although didn't have as much of a grip on the game as he'd like his determination to win does have an effect on his teammates. Young Stefan Bailey didn't have his best of games and gave the ball away too easily at times. He does like to get stuck in though and showed no fear in the heart of the team. Rowlands wasn't quite on his game today, but that's no surprise as it was his first game back. He was just off the pace but showed glimpse of what he can do so effectively for us.

Blackstock and Jones continue to improve in leaps and bounds and will both benefit from the goals they scored. Blackstock has a fairly big price tag on his head (well for Rangers anyway) and he worked very hard and did lots of running for the team. I don't think they'll be our strike force throughout the season as they can get easily bullied by experienced Championship defenders but they are certainly taking the chances which come their way.

So another new manager starts his reign at Loftus Road with a win. The same happened with Waddock against a poor Millwall side so let's just hope this is going to prove more successful. The squad needs a strong, forceful character on the training ground to shape them into a team and to start playing for each other. Making us hard to beat will be his first job, it won't always be pretty but the number one concern will be holding onto out Championship status.

QPR: Paul Jones 7, Bignot 7, Rehman 6, Stewart 6, Rose 6 (Kanyuka 45, 7), Rowlands 6, Bircham 6 (Ward 64, 6), Bailey 6 (Lomas 64, 6), Cook 7, Ray Jones 7, Blackstock 7*.
Subs Not Used: Royce, Baidoo.
Booked: Ray Jones, Rehman, Paul Jones
Goals: Ray Jones 60, Blackstock 80

Hull: Myhill, Mills, Turner, Collins, Dawson, Fagan, Livermore (Marney 75), Ashbee, France (Yeates 67), Parkin, Bridges (Forster 67).
Subs Not Used: Duke, Thelwell.
Booked: Collins, Mills, Livermore.

Attendance: 11,381

QPR Man of the Match: Dexter Blackstock - Returned to the side after injury and put in a decent performance. He was full of running all afternoon and provided some nice touches and lay-off's. He deserved his goal and will hopefully continue to improve with more games under his belt and his partnership with fellow youngster Ray Jones.

Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire). 6 - Mr Deadman booked six men, three from each side in a far from dirty game. Paul Jones was booked for time wasting towards the end - surely a similar punishment should have been handed to the opposition in the first half? He missed a number of fouls, particularly defenders man-handling attackers.

Photo: Action Images



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