QPR Reap The Rewards as Sousa Gambles...
QPR 3-2 Preston
Dexter Blackstock came off the bench to score a superb late winner, in what was a very entertaining afternoon at Loftus Road.
Before I go on, my apologies for the lateness of this report, but straight after the game, myself and the gang celebrated the victory by going into Shepherds Bush for a few Christmas drinks and if the way my head feels this morning is anything to go by, a very good time was had by all.
Onto the game and Rangers started extremely well and it was no surprise when we took the lead on 16 minutes. Lee Cook's inch perfect cross from the left flank was met by Helguson's head at the far post, who cleverly nodded into the left corner, giving Lonergan no chance.
After dominating the early stages, Rangers were pegged back on 28 minutes and some bad defending let Mckenna cross to find Sedgewick in space to head past Cerny in the R's goal. But just five minutes later, the R's were back in front - former Preston man, Agyemang headed Martin Rowlands' corner back across goal where Cook and Helguson were the first to react and from three yards out, the pair managed to bundle the ball into the net, though the goal was attributed to Helguson.
Onto the second half and why do the Championship have to suffer when a Premier League referee has a bad game and is hence demoted for a week? Alan Wiley went on to stamp his mark on the second half with a quite awful display of refereeing, which included an diabolical penalty award to Preston on the hour - when Wiley deemed that Cerny had felled Sean St Ledger in the area, much to the disgust of the home supporters. At the time, I was personally undecided, but as I have mentioned before, player reaction speaks volumes. Neither St Ledger, or any of the Preston players appealed for it, their fans in the upper School End didn't appeal for it and the R's players looked completely gobsmacked as they surrounded the referee. But, given it was and Davidson brought the two sides level.
Paulo Sousa then went for it and changed the formation to a 3-4-3 with Blackstock and Hall coming on in place of Delaney and Ramage. Alan Wiley again angered the R's supporters when he waved away a penalty appeal as Blackstock was sent flying in the 6 yard box. But when the game was looking like it was heading for a draw, Cook was awarded a free-kick on the left and Rowlands cross was nodded powerfully into the net by Blackstock for his 10th goal of the season.
QPR: Cerny, Delaney (Hall 81), Stewart, Mahon (Leigertwood 62), Agyemang, Gorkss, Rowlands, Ramage (Blackstock 81), Cook, Ephraim, Helguson. Subs: Ledesma, Di Carmine.
Lofty's Man of the Match - Lee Cook
We needed to win this one to keep in touch with the play off pack and we did just that! Huge amount of credit goes to Paulo Sousa. He took a massive risk and got a massive reward. After losing the lead twice to a strong, physical side, how many previous Managers would have thrown on a defender and gone to a 5-4-1 or 4-5-1 in an effort to hold on to the point? Sousa went for the three points and they duly arrived.
On a negative note, there was no soup available for today's game, but the lady has assured me it will return for the Watford game on the 28th.
After the game, we were fortunate to catch Heidar Helguson for a Lofty Heights exclusive interview as he, along with most of the team, made a brief appearance at the LSA Childrens Christmas Party at the Spingbok.
Lofty - good game today, Heidar.
HH - Thank you
Lofty - will you be signing for us in January?
HH - yes, hopefully
Our thanks go to Heidar Helguson for his time in conducting this interview...
Moving on to Charlton away on Boxing Day and a fixture I am now dreading. After yesterday, Charlton are now fourteen games without a win and you know what that normally would mean?? We shall see...
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!!!