Through the middle for Paul Furlong… - history
Wednesday, 7th May 2014 23:52 by Clive Whittingham
As QPR gear up for only the second play-off campaign in the club’s history, LFW looks back at the recent meetings with opponents Wigan, and that memorable night against Oldham under the lights at Loftus Road.
QPR 1 Wigan 0, Tuesday March 25, 2014, Championship
QPR were indebted to the form of goalkeeper Rob Green as a stubborn backs-to-the-wall effort and early goal from Yossi Benayoun won the second meeting of the regular 2013/14 season between these two clubs by a narrow margin. Benayoun side-footed in from close range at the end of a flowing move that saw a neat reverse ball from Little Tom Carroll and an outrageous back flick from Clint Hill. But Josh McEachran had already curled a wonderful long range free kick an inch wide of the top corner with Green beaten and Wigan laid siege to the QPR goal thereafter. Green saved strongly from Perch and Powell in the first half while James McClean dragged wide when played through on goal. After the break the keeper dived bravely at McClean’s feet to deny the Sunderland man in another one on one situation while centre back Ramis headed a corner off the top of the bar. All that said, it could so easily have finished 2-0 had an outstanding free kick from Ravel Morrison ten minutes from time hit the underside of the bar and gone in rather than bouncing back out.
QPR: Green 8; Hughes 6, Onuoha 7, Dunne 6, Hill 6; Carroll 7, Barton 6; Kranjcar 5 (O’Neil 45, 6), Morrison 6, Benayoun 7; Zamora 6
Subs not used: Simpson, Keane, Hoilett, Murphy
Goals: Benayoun 16 (assisted Carroll/Hill)
Red Cards: Benayoun 90+1 (two bookings – one match ban)
Bookings: Benayoun 81 (kicking ball away), Morrison 86 (foul), Benayoun 90+1 (foul)
Wigan: Al-Habsi 6; Crainey 6 (Beausejour 61, 6), Ramis 7, Rogne 6 (Gomez 73, 6), Kiernan 6; Perch 6, McEachran 6 (Maynard 80, 5), McArthur 7, Collison 6; McClean 7, Powell 7
Subs not used: Carson, Caldwell, Fortune, Waghorn
Bookings: McArthur 71 (foul)
Wigan 0 QPR 0, Wednesday October 30, 2013, Championship
These two sides fought out an appallingly dull goalless draw in the pouring Wigan rain back at the end of October. Attempts on goal were few and far between with both sides seemingly more than happy with the point they started with. There was some late controversy, when QPR sub Andy Johnson pushed the ball around Wigan 's rookie keeper Lee Nicholls on the edge of the penalty area and then seemed to be taken out by the young stopper, but referee Michael Naylor seemed as bored as the rest of us by that point and didn't even award a free kick.
Wigan : Nicholls 7, Boyce 6, Barnett 6, Perch 6 Shotton 6, McManaman 7 (McClean 74, 6), McCann 6, Gomez 6 (Albrighton 74, 6), Powell 7, Holt 5 (Fortune 45, 6
Subs not used: Watson, Pollitt, Espinoza, Beausejour
QPR: Green 6, Simpson 7, Hill 7, Dunne 7, Assou-Ekotto 6, Faurlin 7, Jenas 6, O’Neil 6, Kranjcar 6 (Phillips 44, 6), Hoilett 5 (Johnson 75, 6), Austin 5
Subs not used: Henry, Murphy, Chevanton, Onyewu, Traore
QPR 1 Wigan 1, Sunday April 7, 2013, Premier League
A Goal of the Season contender from Loic Remy wasn’t enough to secure QPR a much needed three points at Loftus Road when these sides met on this ground last in April. In a televised match between two of the Premier League’s strugglers Rangers knew they had to win at all costs but suffered an early blow when Bobby Zamora inexplicably studded Jordi Gomez in the side of the head before half time and was justifiably sent off by referee Phil Dowd. Hope seemed to be draining away but a lightning fast counter attack ten minutes from time ended with Stephane Mbia feeding Loic Remy for a world class 20 yard strike that hummed into the net from 20 yards off his instep. Loftus Road went ballistic but Mbia would turn from hero to villain by conceding a series of dangerous free kicks around his own penalty box thereafter. The last of these, in the fifth minute of added time, was curled over the wall and in by Shaun Maloney. The result effectively ended QPR’s hopes of staying in the Premier League but ultimately it did little good for Wigan either and they were relegated as well.
QPR: Cesar 6, Traore 6 (Onuoha 46 6), Hill 6, Samba 6, Bosingwa 6, Hoilett 5 (Taarabt 56 5), Jenas 6, Mbia 7, Townsend 8, Remy 7 (Mackie 88 -), Zamora 3
Subs Not Used: Green, Ben-Haim, Park, Granero
Booked: Remy (foul), Samba (foul)
Sent Off: Zamora (serious foul play)
Wigan: Blazquez 6, Alcaraz 6, Boyce 6, Figueroa 6 (Espinoza 88 -), McCarthy 5, Maloney 7, Gomez 7, Beausejour 6 (McArthur 6), Schamer 6, Kone 6, McManaman 6 (Di Santo 67 6)
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Caldwell, Stam, Henriquez
Booked: Alcaraz (foul), McCarthy (foul), Figueroa (dissent)
Wigan 2 QPR 2, Saturday December 8, 2012, Premier League
QPR were still searching for their first win of the season when they travelled to fellow strugglers Wigan for the sixteenth match of the campaign back in December 2012, but the appointment of Harry Redknapp as manager had brought about improvements to the team and renewed hope among the supporters. A lacklustre start to a crucial six pointer at the DW Stadium, during which the home side took the lead through James McCarthy, threatened to derail that progress but Ryan Nelsen powered a header home from a corner and then in the second half Djibril Cisse slid home after Shaun Wright-Phillips had won the ball well in the Wigan half and crossed into an understaffed penalty area. Sadly the R’s couldn’t hang onto their lead for more than three minutes and McCarthy capped a decent individual display with an equaliser with a quarter of an hour left to play – a preventable goal, but really it was only the goalkeeping of Robert Green that had kept the hosts at bay that long and Rangers scarcely deserved their point.
Wigan: Al Habsi 6, Boyce 6, Lopez 5, McArthur 6, Bausejour 7, Jones 7 (Maloney 76, 6), McCarthy 8, Stam 7, Kone 6, Gomez 6, Di Santo 6 (Boselli 85, -)
Subs not used: Pollit, Golobart, Fyvie, Redmond, McManaman
Goals: McCarthy 19 (unassisted), 74 (assisted Beausejour)
QPR: Green 8, Bosingwa 5 (Fabio 84,-), Nelsen 7, Hill 6, Traore 5, Diakite 5 (Granero 77, 5), Mbia 6, Derry 6, Taarabt 6 (Cisse 58, 6), Wright-Phillips 5, Mackie 6
Goals: Nelsen 26 (assisted Taarabt), Cisse 71 (assisted Wright-Phillips)
Bookings: Taarabt 45 (foul)
QPR 3 Wigan 1, Saturday January 21, 2012, Premier League
QPR recorded their first win since November, and first maximum point haul under new manager Mark Hughes, with a 3-1 win against Wigan at Loftus Road in January last season. Things were looking pretty straightforward at half time after James McCarthy's inexplicable handball gave Heidar Helguson a chance to score what would turn out to be his last competitive goal for the club from the penalty spot, and then right on the stroke of the break Akos Buzsaky smacked a delicious free kick in off the base of the post. Wigan were indebted to goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi for keeping them in contention at that stage but the second half became a fraught, nervous affair once Hugo Rodallega had halved the deficit with a free kick of his own from similar range to Buzsaky's. A second penalty award from referee Jon Moss – against Gary Caldwell for climbing over Helguson in the box – should have put the game to bed by Al Habsi saved from Helguson at the second attempt which meant Tommy Smith's late 25 yard screamer was a blessed relief to the QPR fans who'd waited three months for a league win.
QPR: Kenny 7, Hill 6, Ferdinand 7, Hall 7, Young 7, Wright-Phillips 6, Barton 6, Buzsaky 8 (Derry 82 6), Mackie 6, Helguson 7, Campbell 5 (Smith 45, 6)
Subs Not Used: Czerny, Orr, Ramage, Bothroyd, Macheda
Booked: Barton (foul), Young (foul)
Goals: Helguson 33 (penalty, McCarthy handball), Buzsaky 45 (freekick), Smith (assisted Wright-Phillips)
Wigan : Al Habsi 8, Gohouri 6, Caldwell 6, Boyce 6 (Stam 69 6), Figueroa 6, McCarthy 5, Watson 7, Moses 7, Gomez 6 (Crusat 61 6), McArthur 6 (Sammon 45 6), Rodallega 7
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Lopez, Di Santo, McManaman
Booked: Gohouri (foul), McCarthy (handball)
Goals: Rodallega 66 (free kick)
Wigan 2 QPR 0, Saturday August 27, 2011, Premiership
Tony Fernandes’ takeover of QPR had been ratified in the days leading up to the August Bank Holiday fixture at Wigan last season and Joey Barton was perched high in the main stand after completing his move to Loftus Road from Newcastle the day before. The QPR starting 11 wasn’t even as strong as the one they’d won the Championship with the season before with Bruno Perone given a full league debut at centre back and the lumbering Patrick Agyemang selected in attack. Agyemang missed the chance of the match, firing horribly wide after Adel Taarabt had struck the post from distance, and Perone thumped the cross bar with a header in the second half. But Rangers were poor overall and Wigan deserved the win they achieved, albeit through two deflected goals from striker Franco Di Santo.
Wigan: Al Habsi 8, Boyce 6, Caldwell 6, Lopez 6, Figueroa 6, Diame 8, Watson 7, Moses 7 (McArthur 69, 6), Rodallega 8, Gomez 7 (Stam 85, -), Di Santo 6 (Sammon 69, 6)
Subs Not Used: Kirkland , McCarthy, Thomas, Jones
Booked: Lopez (foul), Caldwell (foul)
Goals: Di Santo 41 (unassisted), 66 (unassisted)
QPR: Kenny 7, Gabbidon 7, Hall 5 (Harriman 61, 7), Perone 6, Connolly 6, Faurlin 6, Derry 6, Taarabt 7, Buzsaky 6 (Bothroyd 72, 7), Smith 6 (Andrade 80, -), Agyemang 4
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Helguson, Ephraim, Hewitt
Head to Head >>> QPR wins 4>>> Draws 6 >>> Wigan wins 2
2013/14 http://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/news/34546/green%E2%80%9 1 Wigan 0 (Benayoun)
2012/13 QPR 1 Wigan 1 (Remy)
2012/13 Wigan 2 QPR 2 (Nelsen, Cisse)
2011/12 QPR 3 Wigan 1 (Helguson, Buzsaky, Smith)
2011/12 Wigan 2 QPR 0
2004/05 Wigan 0 QPR 0
2004/05 QPR 1 Wigan 0 (Furlong)
2002/03 QPR 0 Wigan 1
2002/03 Wigan 1 QPR 1 (Thomson)
2001/02 QPR 1 Wigan 1 (Gallen)
2001/02 Wigan 1 QPR 2 (Thomson, Brennan og)
Queens Park Rangers 1 Oldham Athletic 0, Wednesday May 14, 2003, Second Division Play-Off semi-final second leg
For Queens Park Rangers, playing back in the third tier of English football was a humiliating experience that took some coming to terms with. The R’s had been top London club in the inaugural Premier League in 1992/93 finishing fifth ahead of Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and the rest. They’d been in the top flight until 1996 and even though the sale of Les Ferdinand without adequate replacement paved the way for a relegation it didn’t feel, at the time, like the disaster it would ultimately turn out to be.
Reviled chairman Richard Thompson was ousted, and Chrysalis Music boss Chris Wright bought the club – a QPR fan with pots of money to spend, he set about returning the R’s to the top flight at the first possible opportunity, spending big money on the likes of John Spencer and Gavin Peacock from Chelsea and Mike Sheron from Stoke City.
By 2000/01, after several near misses with relegation in previous years, the club was on its way out of the First Division in the wrong direction, and having dropped down a league the administrators moved in as Wright withdrew his backing. It left Ian Holloway, a former midfield workhorse in QPR’s Premier League days, who’d replaced Gerry Frances as manager midway through that relegation season, facing a season in the third tier with eight professionals signed on and no money to spend on new recruits. To cap it all, the best two players he did still have under contract – Clarke Carlisle and Richard Langley – were both out for the whole of 2001/02 with cruciate knee ligament ruptures sustained in the same half of the same match against near neighbours Fulham.
QPR were circling the drain.
The 2001/02 pre-season was a bizarre affair, not a million miles away from the famed trials on Wimbledon Common which started the AFC Wimbledon movement around the same time. Holloway begged, stole and borrowed any player he could find, with pre-season friendlies awash of unnamed trialists and kids Rangers had found knocking around Premier League youth teams.
But out of the ashes, rose a beautiful phoenix. Holloway added Watford coach Kenny Jackett as his assistant, Hornets veteran Steve Palmer as his captain, and their former scout Mel Johnson to lead the recruitment. That influx from Vicarage Road, which also included goalkeeper Chris Day and midfielder Alex Bonnot, would form a backbone of what was to follow. Johnson, Jackett and Holloway uncovered some absolute gems over the next 18 months and QPR soon had a team for its fans to be proud of and its opponents to fear. They mixed discarded Premier League youths like Stephen Kelly, Kevin McLeod, Terrell Forbes and Danny Shittu with experienced pros like Paul Furlong and Andy Thomson. They got Carlisle and Langley fit again and made a point of adding known QPR supporters to the squad wherever possible – Marc Bircham, Kevin Gallen and Lee Cook were all acquired over the years. They coached the team well, made it work hard, and built it from scratch. It was a beautiful thing to behold.
That’s not to say the road was not rocky at times. On December 21 2002 a 1-1 draw at home to near neighbours Brentford extended a winless run to 12 matches and Holloway was coming under increasing pressure. That sequence had included an infamous week where the R’s lost 4-0 at home to Cardiff, 3-0 at Notts County, and crashed out of the FA Cup on penalties at home to non-league Vauxhall Motors.
The tide turned on Boxing Day with a 2-1 home win against Wycombe which was swiftly followed by a 2-0 victory at Peterborough and two dire, scrappy, much needed successes against Stockport and Barnsley at Loftus Road. Things started to fall into place. The Barnsley win saw an eye catching display at left back from Argentinean Gino Padula, who’d previously barely been used with loanee Tommy Williams preferred ahead of him. He became a regular in the side and fans’ favourite. Paul Furlong, much maligned for his poor fitness and form allied with his Chelsea connections, scored in a 4-2 victory at Chesterfield and then a 1-1 draw at bogey side Northampton Town and began to turn his form around. Youth team graduate Richard Pacquette came into the side and started to score. Cook arrived on loan from Watford.
QPR set off back up the Second Division table. By the time Cook’s three month loan spell came to an end with a goal and Man of the Match showing in a 4-1 home win against Cheltenham in mid-March the R’s had won ten, drawn three and lost just three of 16 games.
By now they were locked in a fight for the top six with Tranmere Rovers. Mel Johnson’s little black book produced Kevin McLeod from Everton’s reserves to replace Cook and a battle for sixth spot the likes of which has scarcely been seen before or since took place.
Nobody lost. Ever. In fact Tranmere remained unbeaten for their last 15 matches, winning ten. On March 8 QPR won 1-0 at home to Bristol City; Tranmere beat Crewe 2-1. On March 29 QPR won 3-1 at Blackpool; Tranmere 2-1 at home to Chesterfield. On April 19 Tranmere won 1-0 at Notts County; Marc Bircham scored spectacularly with the very last kick of the game to win Rangers the local derby at Brentford.
In the end Rangers not only held off Rovers’ challenge, but almost sneaked back into the automatic promotion places right at the death. A 0-0 draw at home to Crewe in the last game of the regular season – remembered for the antics of referee Andy Hall who reduced QPR to nine men in typically pedantic circumstances – prevented Ian Holloway’s team from taking things down to the final day of the season. Nevertheless, the Super Hoops were the form team going into the end of season knock out where they would face Oldham Athletic.
Tickets were scarce for the first leg at Boundary Park. QPR were allocated half the stand behind the goal and a story did the rounds that opposition manager Iain Dowie, who’d played for QPR at the end of his career and coached alongside Gerry Francis at Loftus Road, had prevented his club from offering the London side more. Unable to snare a ticket, I set off in my little blue Vauxhall Corsa to my sixth form college in Scunthorpe as normal one morning and then, unbeknown to my parents, carried on 150 miles across the Pennines to queue with the home fans for the last remaining tickets in their end. Dowie arrived to greet those of us in the queue, hand out Oldham Athletic scarves – I still have mine at home – and thank us for our continued support.
The first leg finished 1-1. David Eyres scored before half time, Richard Langley equalised immediately afterwards but then got himself involved with serial wind-up merchant Darren Sheridan and was sent off by Premier League referee Steve Bennett ten minutes from time. Tragically, a red card earlier in the campaign for lashing out against Bristol City’s Tommy Doherty when the Northern Irishman pulled his dreadlocks in a meaningless Football League Trophy match meant Langley, who’d been a talismanic figure in the run in scoring a hat trick at Blackpool and a late winner at Cardiff, would sit out the second leg and the final through suspension. It felt like a key blow.
Ian Holloway dropped Kevin Gallen back into a wide midfield role for the second leg and added Andy Thomson to the attack alongside Paul Furlong.
My old mate Stuart and I had spent the day going around the old London pubs we used to frequent with my late father – Mabel’s Tavern, The Goldhawk, The Dickens. It felt like a special day, a special night, and 17,000 other people inside Loftus Road clearly felt it too. The sunlight streamed through the windows of the old Brackenbury pub on Goldhawk Road and anticipation hung in the air. Away goals didn’t count so the tie was effectively a one off and the place crackled like never before. Had Kevin McLeod scored rather than shooting too close to the division’s outstanding goalkeeper at the time Les Pogliacomi in the very first minute I’m not sure the famous old ground would have still been standing at the end of the night.
In the end it was a tight, tense, tactical battle typical of a game you’d expect between one team with Iain Dowie calling the shots and another with Kenny Jackett clutching the tactics board. Extra time looked certain. Penalties loomed large.
The key moment arrived eight minutes from time. Pogliacomi tried to side foot a pass back away rather than putting his laces through the ball and it landed plum on the halfway line for Clarke Carlisle who returned the ball with interest. Pacquette, on as a sub for Thomson, showed great self awareness to stand still, arms up, and not get involved in the play and trigger an offside flag. The space and confusion created allowed Paul Furlong a vital head start on Fitz Hall and suddenly the veteran striker was in on goal. Hall raced across, desperate to recover the situation, but Furs thrust out a strong forearm and shrugged the challenge aside on the edge of the box. Hall had only succeeded in delaying Furlong’s progress but it had given Pogliacomi a chance to spring from his line and dive at the striker’s feet. Furlong finished with aplomb, over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the vacant goal. He stripped his shirt off in celebration and was buried under a mountain of team mates by the corner flag.
I’ve never known a noise like it. I’ve never cried tears in such a way at such a happy event.
In the aftermath, Oldham’s resident gobshite Wayne Andrews – a Paddington born chav with a considerably higher opinion of himself than anybody else in the world, who’d been a persistent pain in QPR’s arse during the regular season when the two sides had drawn 0-0 at Boundary Park and Oldham had won 2-1 in W12 – lashed out and was sent off by referee Mark Clattenburg.
In true Rangers style, they nearly made a mess of it anyway. An injury time penalty box scramble under a long free kick fell the way of Hall whose instinctive shot deflected on its way to goal and seemed certain to hit the net until Chris Day thrust out a hand and completed an improbable save. The whistle followed soon after. Furlong sank to his knees at the far end of the field. His redemption was complete. From injury-prone, washed-up, boo-boy target to modern day legend of the club in six short months.
Not a single person left the ground for what seemed like hours afterwards and High Ho Silver Lining, favourite song of the recently deceased Daphne Biggs, belted out from the public address system. Rangers were back.
Sadly it was to be another 12 months before Holloway’s men could celebrate a promotion though. The final took place in Cardiff against Cardiff, who’d beaten Bristol City in the other semi-final. Rangers gave as good as they got without ever performing to their best – Tommy Williams failing to lay a simple goal on for Paul Furlong, taking on a greedy and speculative shot to nothing instead, is a moment still talked about to this day. Ultimately, with a minute of extra time to go, Andy Campbell broke through the offside trap and lobbed home a fine winner, just as Rangers were perhaps thinking of five players to take penalties.
A year later, with Martin Rowlands and Gareth Ainsworth added to an already fantastic mix of players, the R’s won a final game of the season 3-1 at Hillsborough to finish second behind Plymouth and ascend back to the second tier of English football.
That was everything QPR ever should be. Totally skint, they’d been threatened by the league that a fixture list wouldn’t be issued if they didn’t exit from administration soon. Fans rattled buckets outside the ground and Holloway had to release Alex Bonnot at the end of a three month contract when he desperately wanted to keep the Frenchman because the money simply wasn’t there. Brentford chairman Ron Noades complained to the league when the R’s used money from the generous Winton family to secure the signings of Bircham, Shittu and DouDou and a transfer embargo was promptly imposed. The ground was falling apart, the club didn’t have a pot to piss in, the mob was massing on all sides, and yet the team was wonderful, the manager was a privilege to have around the place, and the ground was full every week. The tougher the going got, the greater the bond became, the more the team thrived, and the more Holloway revelled in the challenge.
The team was full of well scouted players, bought for nothing by and large, who worked hard for each other and bought into the philosophy of the club and its coaching staff. The football was honest, high-tempo and entertaining. There wasn’t a single member of the starting eleven in the second half of 2002/03 season, and all of 2003/04, who the fans didn’t adore and who didn’t put his heart and soul into his job. It was a fantastic time to be alive and supporting Queens Park Rangers.
Nothing has ever felt quite like that night against Oldham before or since. I remember arriving back at Doncaster station at half one in the morning on the old mail train, grinning from ear to ear before heading off to college again first thing the next day. It remains my favourite ever moment as a QPR fan. The sight of that Furlong goal is still enough to leave me in floods of tears.
One of those nights, under the lights, at Loftus Road.
QPR: C Day, S Kelly, C Carlisle, D Shittu, G Padula (T Williams, 70), K Gallen, M Bircham, S Palmer, K McLeod, A Thomson (R Pacquette, 55), P Furlong
Subs not used: B Angell, N Culkin, T Forbes
Goals: Furlong 82 (assisted Carlisle)
Oldham: L Pogliacomi, J Low, F Hall, C Hill, W Haining, D Eyres, P Murray (L Duxbury, 85), D Sheridan (A Carss, 85), C Armstrong, W Andrews, J Eyre yellow card (G Corazzin, 73)
Subs not used: J Baudet, D Miskelly
Sent Off: W Andrews 90 (violent conduct)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
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