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Moore robs R's of deserved victory
Moore robs R's of deserved victory
Tuesday, 13th Mar 2007 19:02

QPR contrived to surrender points late in the day again at Derby on Tuesday night.

Another late, late show denied QPR a deserved three points at Derby on Tuesday. Just like Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday Rangers were the better of the two teams but had to settle for a point and they are now back in the bottom three after Southend bagged a late goal of their own at home to Burnley. Who was it that said "if he fell into a barrel of tits he'd come out sucking his thumb"? Was that David Brent, or Ian Holloway? Or both? Anyway the players and staff must empathise with the sentiments. Chances are if dropped towards said barrel of tits our current squad would miss it by about three feet and Martin Rowlands would injure his calf on impact with the floor.

It would seem over the past couple of games somebody has turned a light on in the QPR dressing room and the squad have suddenly realised just what trouble we're in. Who knows maybe all that nonsense managers talk in September about not looking at league tables until the business end of the season is true. Maybe Gregory and the lads only had a glance at it for the first time last week, realised the faeces is now up round our collective necks and decided to start playing a bit.

The performances against Plymouth, Sheffield Wednesday and now Derby have been far above anything we've produced in the last three or four months, certainly since the days when we could score goals and Palace, Cardiff and Luton were on the sharp end of a hard slap. The problem is, are they turning it on too late?

If we'd played like we did last night at Hull, Barnsley, Leeds, Southend, Norwich etc we wouldn't have lost those games, but it's those defeats against our relegation rivals that look like costing us our place in this league. Especially as, now we've started to perform a bit, we've found our luck out. Against Sheff Wed on Saturday we came up against an inspired goalkeeper and beat him once, fair enough no bad luck there that's the keeper's job, but when you're goal of the season attempt whistles past his head towards the top corner from thirty yards out, strikes the bar, bounces back into play and gets cleared away you know your luck isn't in.

Last night QPR scored one, were denied another by an excellent save from Stephen Bywater, had two blatant, blatant penalties turned down by a referee who it seemed had wondered out of a nearby asylum tied up the real referee in his dressing room and strolled round the pitch with a yellow card permanently in his hand while chewing on a whistle and had a perfectly good goal disallowed by the man in the middle's equally incompetent assistant.. Despite this Rangers made it to the 87th minute before the defence, excellent to that point, capitulated under a cross from an overweight left back and allowed an out of position centre back to equalise.

Rangers took Inigo Idiakez back to Pride Park at the heart of their midfield, Steve Lomas came in alongside him instead of Adam Bolder who couldn't face his former club under the terms of his contract. Martin Rowlands started wide right and Lee Cook wide left. In front of them Marc Nygaard replaced the injured Dexter Blackstock alongside Furlong. Behind them Mancienne, Cullip, Stewart and Bignot formed the back four again with Simon Royce who had to replace Lee Camp, on loan from Derby.

The home side recalled Marc Edworthy and Arturo Lupoli to their line up after a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on possibly the most unsafe pitch ever to have been dragged out of Dante's nine circles of hell.

Despite the host's lofty league position, a large midweek crowd and an atmosphere that is consistently one of the best in the league supporting them QPR made the better start. The first meaningful action of the game saw all four QPR midfield players linking up well with Paul Furlong to set Marc Nygaard away behind Darren Moore. The former West Brom centre half cynically held the Dane back and picked up the first yellow card of the match just five minutes in.

Idiakez's free kick was claimed under pressure by Bywater who was equally untroubled by the Spaniard's first two corners of the night that followed a short time later. In the 11th minute Rangers did get some good service into the box from the left boot of Lee Cook. Criminally wasted up front in recent games, Cook showed what he can do from his natural wide left position when he found Marc Nygaard with a pin point cross. Nygaard aimed his free header for the top corner but forced the ball just too high and over the bar.

Within sixty seconds Rangers had taken the lead with Simon Royce still awaiting a meaningful touch of the ball. Danny Cullip sent a free kick into the area and Nygaard did superbly to reach the ball first and flick it onto Furlong who used all his experience to engineer a space for himself and hook an unorthodox effort towards goal. The ball bounced past Bywater and off the upright but Martin Rowlands was alive and he stooped to head into the bottom corner under minimal challenge.

Taking a shock lead was all the invitation the 556 travelling QPR fans needed to find their voice and from this moment on they never shut up.

Derby were lacklustre, off the pace and could have been two goals down minutes after the restart. Lee Cook tormented Edworthy again and fed Furlong who dragged his shot wide. Furlong and Nygaard were having a really good battle with Leacock and Moore in the early periods and Furlong against Moore was a contest that had me intrigued all night. Two old pros going at each other hammer and tongs, maximum commitment, no cheating, no histrionics, no diving and they went off together at the end of the game with a handshake and a laugh and joke together. It was great to watch.

Martin Rowlands was having a terrific game down the right and buoyed by the opening goal he tricked his way to the edge of the area and fired wide of the post.

Then, just after the 25 minute mark, two moments that would prove to be crucial to QPR's chances of winning the game. First Paul Furlong raced through on goal and was flagged offside, he lobbed the keeper and scored but was booked for kicking the ball away. This decision summed up the all round uselessness of the officials perfectly. Firstly Furlong wasn't offside, Nygaard was offside but coming back and not interfering, Furlong ran from behind a defender and should have been waved on. Secondly Furlong had a chance and scored it, to book him for doing that was extreme pettiness from an extremely petty official.

Apparently the referee then apologised to Furlong and admitted he was on an Nygaard was off. Well thanks a bloody million for that you useless piece of turd, very big of you, maybe we'll see you at Hartlepool or somewhere equally exotic next season.

Moments later another crucial blow - Martin Rowlands sunk to the turf with at all too familiar calf injury that has plagued him this season. Off he limped an on came Gareth Ainsworth. Just as happened at Preston and Norwich, Rowlands looked back on form, back to fitness and was causing the opposition all sorts of problems when he suddenly pulled up and had to go off. That could well have ended his season - a devastating blow.

Derby started to come into the game after Rowlands' departure. Howard headed straight down Royce's throat when an effort slightly left or right would have scored, Barnes missed the target with a similar header and Howard saw a bullet header from a corner headed off the line by Lee Cook who had started on the back post.

Rangers picked up another booking before half time as Mr Tanner entered a half hour spell of sporadic card waving. Steve Lomas, vastly improved on his embarrassing performances in his last two starts, snapped into two good challenges winning the ball but Ainsworth mistimed his effort on Jones and was shown a yellow card.

Rowlands' departure clearly unsettled QPR and before half time Derby went close to an equaliser twice more. First Arturo Lupoli cut into the penalty area and fired into the side netting, then David Jones sent a free kick into the box that looked like an overhit cross but needed to be tipped over the bar one handed by Simon Royce.

Derby arrived back for the second half to a terrific reception from the home crowd but Rangers left them to wait on the pitch for a couple of minutes. County seemed keen to assert themselves more on the second half and dived into challenges for the first ninety seconds or so culminating in a harsh booking for Steve Howard. The former Luton forward slid in on Lee Cook and although he appeared to take some of the ball the referee carded him when really a free kick would have sufficed.

Rangers almost gifted Derby an equaliser when Jones' cross to the back post was miscued towards his own bottom corner by Stewart but Royce read it and saved comfortably.

Despite Derby's increased influence on the game Rangers still found space to counter attack and a great ball from Idiakez set Nygaard away but he was too slow in getting a shot away and Leacock blocked.

Rangers were actually managing to create some excellent chances on the counter attack - on the hour Nygaard and Ainsworth worked hard down the right to set up Steve Lomas for a twenty yard effort that Bywater turned over the bar with his finger tips. Lomas was greatly improved on his last few displays - though in fairness he could hardly have got any worse.

Mr Tanner reassumed centre stage again midway through the half turning down three very good penalty claims. First Cook was chopped down in the area by McEveley but nothing was given, then Darren Moore made a mess of attempting to shepherd a ball out and hauled Furlong down as he threatened to steal possession and again no penalty was awarded. At the other end Steve Howard also had an appeal waved away. The most farcical decisions of the night though followed one after the other: McEveley got off with an horrendous two footed lunge on Cook who'd made him look like a ridiculous pub footballer with a jinking run, then Idiakez wasn't booked for wrestling Barnes down by his throat and yet Bignot saw yellow for a routine shoulder charge and Idiakez was booked for tapping the ball away all of ten yards.

I mean who needs to take action against rugby tackles round the throat when there are people preventing a quick free kick? Honestly lets get some priority back into the rules for the love of God.

Moore sent a close range effort straight at Royce, McEveley sent a low cross through the six yard box and out of Teale's reach and Lupoli had a shot cleared from the line by Mancienne although he'd already been pulled up for handball and the goal. Fagan was introduced at the expense of Teale as the hunt for an equaliser intensified. Fagan's only meaningful contribution was a theatrical fall in the area which brought no penalty.

At the other end Rangers constructed a number of useful counters with Idiakez and Cook at the heart of everything the team produced. With 20 minutes left for play one such move finished when Cook overhit a through ball to Furlong and Bywater claimed at his feet. Still it was starting to look like Rangers might just do it, even with the introduction of Peschisolido Derby looked to be running out of ideas.

Gregory sent on Ray Jones for Paul Furlong and Lee Cook picked up a booking, yes another one, for a foul on Oakley.

It was starting to look like the job was done with just four minutes left on the watch and maybe the players thought that as well. Fagan sent a wayward cross too high and out the other side of the penalty area. The QPR fans cheered ironically and the defence switched off. Howard retrieved it and fed McEveley who delivered a cross that Stewart misjudged and Darren Moore, now playing as a makeshift striker, headed into the corner past the static Royce.

It looked for one horrible moment that the Hull debacle would be repeated when Derby were awarded a late free kick but McEveley dragged it wide.

Rangers should have won, and yet by the end they were grateful for a point. To rub some salt in the scoreboard broke the news that Southend had scored late on and plunged us into the drop zone again.

Credit the lads for finally putting it in, sympathies to them for not getting the result they deserved at Pride Park. We just have to hope they keep it up, their luck turns and it's not too late - this Saturday's game at Leicester is absolutely massive. It's the most winnable away we have left on paper and with a very difficult home game to come next a win is a must.

Derby County: Bywater 7, Edworthy 6, McEveley 6, Leacock 7 Moore 7, Jones 7 (Peschisolido 76, 5), Howard 7, Lupoli 5, Oakley 5, Teale 5 (Fagan 65, 5), Barnes 5.
Subs: Grant, Johnson, Mears.
Goals: Moore 87
Bookings: Moore 5 (foul), Howard 46 (foul)

QPR: Royce 7, Bignot 7, Cullip 8, Stewart 7, Mancienne 7, Rowlands 8 (Ainsworth 27, 6), Lomas 7 (Smith 90, -), Idiakez 7, Cook 8, Furlong 7 (Jones 83, -), Nygaard 6.
Subs not used: Cole, Kanyuka.
Goals: Rowlands 13
Bookings: Furlong 26 (kicking the ball away), Ainsworth 37 (foul), Idiakez 73 (kicking the ball away), Bignot 78 (shoulder charge), Cook 84 (foul)

QPR Star Man - Lee Cook 8 - Personally I thought both centre halves were superb all night, but then switched off and conceded another soft goal from a cross. That leaves our other outstanding player on the night Lee Cook to pick up the star man award for the second time this week. Biggest threat, best player, the stand out player according to the Derby fans afterwards.

Referee: S Tanner 2 - Thoroughly, totally, completely useless. Wrongly disallowed Furlong's goal on the advice of an equally crap linesman, got bookings fro Howard, Furlong, Idiakez, Bignot and Cook wrong, failed to book Idiakez and McEveley when they deserved it, missed at least two blatant penalties, too much whistle, too many cards. An horrendous and at times mystifying performance. Unbelievably bad.

Attendance: 27, 567

Photo: Action Images

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