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Archived News from September 2002

8th September 2002 19:11

Match Statistics (Stags / QPR)
17 Goal Attempts 15
11 On target 10
5 Off target 5
1 Woodwork 0
7 Corners 6
22 Fouls 15
1 Offside 1
One Touch Thommo Sticks It To Stags
By Simon Skinner
Rangers stormed their way to an impressive four goal victory against a Mansfield Town side that get hammered for fun. It could have been a very different tale however of we had not witnessed a goalkeeping tour de force from Simon Royce.
With the Rangers squad having been hit with yet more injuries in the week building up to the game changes were inevitable. Richard Langley returned to the side in place of Doudou and young Marcus Bean was handed his first start in place of Matthew Rose. The most heart-warming sight was that of Clarke Carlisle taking his place amongst the subs to end an absence stretching back to February 2001.
Mansfield certainly started the brighter of the two sides with Royce being called into action after only two minutes. He challenged for a high ball with Christie and seemed to land awkwardly. Luckily for Rangers he was able to carry on after lengthy treatment and almost immediately Rangers hit the front.
Kevin Gallen pulled wide to the right and fired in a low cross. The Mansfield defence weren't able to deal with it properly and it fell for Paul Furlong to swivel and power a volley high into the net. Three this season now for Furlong and this was to be the start of an excellent afternoons work for the veteran front man.
Almost immediately Mansfield were back on the attack and the generous nature of the Rangers back four wasn't helping matters. Liam Lawrence on the right of midfield had the freedom of Field Mill as time and again Tommy Williams found himself hopelessly out of position. The problems were being compounded by a lack of cohesion amongst the other members of the back four. Palmer, Forbes and in particular Shittu all seemed to be having a 'mare.
Time after time the Mansfield attack was allowed far too much time and space in front of goal. Royce had to be sharp to deny the efforts of White, Disley and Lawrence. Luckily, little of the Mansfield shooting carried enough power to pose a massive threat. Every save seemed a comfortable one but you got the impression that it would only be a matter of time before somebody really connected and caused a serious problem.
The Rangers attacks were fleeting but always seemed to carry a threat. Former United keeper Kevin Pilkington did well to turn away a Williams cross shot and also made a spectacular save from a Marc Bircham pile driver. Just before the break he flew off his line to deny Furlong after Gallen had put him through on goal.
More worrying than the shocking defensive display Rangers were turning in was the withdrawal of Jerome Thomas just before the half hour mark. He had been giving the Mansfield fullback a torrid time and his threat was massive as ever. He seemed to over stretch when attempting a cross and was replaced by Connolly before things got any worse. We hear now that he should be ok and this is lucky, as we have looked a different side with him playing.
I'm pretty sure that Holloway would have stripped paint with his half time teamtalk as this was as bad as I had seen the Rangers defence play since Holloway took over the reigns. They weren't even playing well individually and some of the gaffs Shittu made were verging on the ridiculous. On three occasions he actually took air shots at the ball and he was giving freekicks away with almost every challenge. He was rightly booked for one that nearly put the Mansfield player in the stands. Big Dan made amends for some of his defending after only two minutes of the second half.
Pilkington had made yet another excellent save to deny Gallen and Langley trotted over to take the corner. His ball was met with a thumping header from Shittu that left Pilkington with no chance. He leapt into the crowd to celebrate and came very close to picking up a second booking in the process. It was a very sensible piece of refereeing that prevented him having first use of the bathwater.
The game was all Rangers now and only some resolute defending prevented the lead being extended before it was. Indeed Mansfield nearly halved the arrears when Christie burst through after yet more poor defending only to see his effort come back off the upright.
With five minutes left the Rangers fans erupted as Clarke Carlisle stepped toward the touchline. It was a moving ovation for a player that has been through so much in such a short career. Although he looked a little tubby his mere presence on the pitch seemed to give the players a lift and they immediately added two quick goals.
Steve Palmer had now pushed into midfield as Bean had made way for Carlisle. His first touch was a perfectly weighted ball over the top for Gallen to latch on to. His first touch bought him a yard of space and he held off two defenders before slotting through the legs of Pilkington. It was no more than he deserved as both he and Furlong had been on the end of some rough house defending all day yet never once shirked their responsibility.
Andy Thomson replaced Gallen with two minutes left and with his first touch of the ball made it 4-0. Terrell Forbes burst forward down the right and rolled the ball into the path of the onrushing Langley. His cross found Thommo and he steered a slightly miss hit shot low into the corner. Rangers were denied a possible fifth soon after when Bircham was unceremoniously hauled down when trying to latch onto a Thomson through ball.
4-0 was probably a little harsh on Mansfield but at the rate they concede goals they are in danger of being down with the decorations. For once we had created a host of chances and actually taken some of them and poor defending hadn't cost us.
The defensive side of things need to be addressed quickly and as much as I think the lad has bags of potential Shittu seems to be a problem at the moment. He is going through a bad spell and I can see him being dropped as soon as Carlisle is fully fit. Most will blame the defensive shortcomings on Palmer but that is just short sighted in my opinion. His experience amongst a young back four is vital and he does more right than wrong.
Bircham and Bean both played well in the middle of the park and young Beano showed enough to suggest that he is far more accomplished in this position than perennial hate figure Matthew Rose. In an ideal world he would be the understudy for Bircham but his fists of fire display at Wycombe has put pay to that for the time being. Langley, Thomas and Connolly when he came on also did well. Man of the match though has to be Royce and he turned in one of the best and bravest displays of keeping I have seen for a long, long time.
It will be interesting to see what way we go with Bircham and Thomas out of the side for the trip to Orient. If we play like this it shouldn't really be a problem but it is the cup and we all now Rangers hate the cup! Don't we?
Man of the Match - Simon Royce
Dave's unofficial QPR website: http://www.queensparkrangersfc.com/
A must win game for Rangers as we looked for our first three points away from Loftus Road and the got a big boost ahead of the game. As reported on this web site on Friday, Clarke Carlisle was on the bench and ready to make his first team comeback after a career threatening injury.
The starting line up saw two changes with Richard Langley back on the right in place of Doudou and Marcus Bean started his first game for Rangers in place of Matthew Rose.
The game started with many Rangers fans still fighting to get in the ground. Due to midland mainline trains running late many fans missed the last train to Mansfield to get you to the game on time. I was one of the unfortunate and ended up sharing a cab to the ground, which got us their minutes before kick off.
The stadium was pretty impressive for a team who have been in the third division for a few years. Rangers began the game attacking towards the home support and we looked pretty good going forward with Jerome and Tommy Williams linking well on the left.
An early scare though as Mansfield put a long ball over the top and Royce had to charge out to clear the danger. Royce appeared to be hurt and spent a few minutes getting treatment, which caused a bit of panic among the Rangers fans with Fraser Digby on the bench and far from fully fit. Thankfully Royce was ok and he was soon cheered up with our first real attack.

Gallen did well down the right and provided a good cross for Furlong to volley into the back of the net with a quality finish. We could have added to our goal though with a few half chances. Good play out wide created a few chance for us and Furlong, Thomas and Williams all went close as we dominated the early stages.
After losing 5-0 last weeks the Mansfield fans must have expected a similar score line but to their team's credit they fought back well. They used the long ball tactics well and put us under pressure.
Williams was stuck marking two men on the left and was struggling at times to stop the crosses coming in and Rangers made hard work of clearing the danger. Mansfield began to grow in confidence and it was down to Simon Royce to keep us in the game. He made five excellent saves, as we looked very shaky at the back. One save was very impressive as he blocked a shot and somehow managed to grab the rebound at the on rushing strikers feet. He was keeping us in the game but we still had chances as Marc Bircham stormed forward and hit a blistering shot, which was brilliantly saved.
The most disappointing player of the half was Danny Shittu who was booked after two rash tackles and he was far too hesitant with the ball at his feet. It was left to Palmer and Forbes to help him out but he is showing his inexperience in recent weeks and hopefully he'll learn from this and become a much better player.
Jerome Thomas was having a tough time as well. He was superb again going forward but was kicked all over the pitch and was taken off with an injury. Holloway had to take him off as the longer the game went on he was going to get worse treatment and hopefully he'll be back next week. Karl Connolly came on to play on the left wing.
Mansfield still had the better of the chances and should have got level before half time. Forbes cleared one effort of the line as the defending began to get even more desperate and then a slip by Shittu saw another good chance but Royce again came to the rescue. A good one two at the edge of the area saw Royce called into action again and the half time whistle couldn't come quickly enough for us. We could so easily though have finished the game off in injury time.
Paul Furlong found himself clean through one on one against the keeper but his shot was well saved and we went into the break just one goal ahead. Despite all of Mansfield chances, most Rangers fans fancied us to step up a gear and win the game in the second half.
We certainly came out a much better side and attacked towards the Rangers fans as Ian Holloway ran through the Rangers end to a huge roar of Holloway's Blue and white army. We soon had a chance to extend our lead with a good cross in for Kevin Gallen but his header was well saved and tipped over the bar.
From the corner Danny Shittu ran onto the ball for a free header and buried his chance into the back of the net. Shittu ran at full speed into the QPR end to be mobbed by Rangers fans with a superb celebration. The referee had a word with Shittu and could easily have sent him off but thankfully he used some common sense.

The game looked as if it was won now and Gallen had a few chances to kill it off with shots from the edge of the area but the Mansfield keeper was having a decent game. Langley began to get more involved linking well with Forbes on the right and bean and Bircham were working hard in midfield.
It was becoming a very physical game with some rough tackles going in on Bean, Furlong and Bircham but Rangers players kept their heads and didn't retaliate. The referee was pretty good for most of the game, he gave players a warning before he booked them and was consistent with his decisions. I felt a few Mansfield players were close to red cards especially one elbow on Bircham, which went unpunished, if Rob Styles had been ref we may have seen the game end at 3 a side.
Mansfield's young team continued to give all they had but they didn't threaten as much in the second half. I still felt we needed a third though as memories of Northampton last season still haunt most QPR fans. We almost got punished with about ten minutes left when Christie beat the offside trap and looked to have scored but his shot hit the post.
I think at that moment we all knew the three points were safe. With time ticking away Rangers made a substitution to the delight of all QPR fans. Clarke Carlisle had his shirt off (much to the delight of my girlfriend) before putting on a QPR shirt and replacing Marcus Bean.
Carlisle got an outstanding ovation as he came on and his presence on the field brought an immediate reaction. A ball over the top found Kevin Gallen who used his strength to hold off the defender and fire through the keeper's legs for his first away goal in a Rangers shirt since May 2000 at Portsmouth.
Gallen's goal was similar to the chance he missed at Barnsley but again the celebrations were quality as the Rangers fans ran to the front of the stand to celebrate with the players. Gallen then went off to be replaced by Andy Thomson and it was party time in the away end.
Mansfield missed another chance as we again cleared off the line before the goal of the game. Forbes got the ball on the right and dummied brilliantly before releasing Langley, Richard went running into the box and picked out a brilliant pass for Andy Thomson to finish with his first a touch of the ball. Langley turned to the Rangers fans to lap up the cheers as Forbes ran and celebrated with his teammate. This meant so much to the players and it was great to see Andy Thomson back doing what he does best. As some of the fans sang "He only needs one touch".
The game finished on a sour note as Furlong was subject of an awful tackle but the ref blew the final whistle rather than show the red card. He should have been sent off but with the score at 4-0 the ref seemed to show some compassion and ended the game.
The Mansfield players dropped to the floor, they looked gutted and hopefully they will recover from this as the 4-0 score line certainly flattered us. Still the players received a massive ovation when they went off and Clarke Carlisle was hugged and patted on the back by many fans and even posed for pictures along with Danny Shittu.
A great day out, it was fantastic to see Clarke Carlisle back in a QPR shirt and even better to see Rangers win 4-0 away from home.
Man of the Match: Simon Royce
Players Ratings
15. Simon Royce: Kept us in the game in the first half with some brilliant saves and hopefully he will stay for another month on loan. 9/10
2. Terrell Forbes: He did brilliantly for the fourth goal and had another good game at right back for us. 7/10
33. Tommy Williams: Struggled at times against a tricky winger but got better as the game went on. He needs to stop ball watching though when we are under attack as he gave to much space to the opposition. 6/10
4. Steve Palmer: As ever his performance will be vastly under rated. Whilst Shittu and Williams looked uneasy in the first half, Palmer calmed things down and had a decent game. 7/10
6. Danny Shittu: A cracking header for his goal and in the air he is superb clearing the ball with his head. On the floor though he looked very poor in this game and was caught out quite a few times. He needs to start talking to his fellow defenders as well as the lack of communication almost cost us a few times. 6/10
22. Marcus Bean: He got stuck in and wasn't afraid to tackle. A vast improvement on Matthew Rose and offered protection to the defence in the second half. 7/10
8. Marc Bircham: Looked a much better player without having to carry Rose through a game. Was unlucky not to score with a great shot and kept his head well after some awful tackles on him. 7/10
9. Richard Langley: Quiet by his standards but still showed that moment of quality to set up the fourth goal. 7/10
32. Jerome Thomas: Kicked off the pitch but is still quality. Hopefully Arsene Wenger won't watch the video of this as he may want Jerome as far away as possible from this rough treatment. 7/10
10. Kevin Gallen: Quality again, holding the ball up brilliantly and he took his goal well. 8/10
29. Paul Furlong: Same as Gallen, he works so hard to keep the ball for Rangers and usually passes the ball well. 8/10
11. Karl Connolly: Our threat on the left disappeared wen he came on but I've seen him play worse than this. 6/10
27. Andy Thomson: One touch Thomson did the business again. He scored with his first touch and almost got another with his second. 7/10
5. Clarke Carlisle: Welcome back Clarke, you have been missed and it was brilliant to see him back playing football again. 10/10
Early goals at the start of each half paved the way for Rangers' first away win of the season - and condemned sorry Mansfield to their fourth successive defeat.
The Stags, who drafted in three new players just before kick-off to alleviate their injury crisis, got off to the worst possible start when they fell behind after just six minutes.
Kevin Gallen raced down the right wing and when Lee Williamson made a mess of clearing his cross Paul Furlong pounced, hooking the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Six minutes later Mansfield should have levelled, but after wriggling clear in the area Liam Lawrence saw his low drive pushed around the post by the diving Simon Royce.
In a spirited fightback the home side twice went close to an equaliser in the 16th minute. First Wayne Corden's dipping cross-shot was tipped over by Royce who then reacted quickly to block Andy White's acrobatic overhead kick from the following corner.
Six minutes before half time White was again thwarted by the keeper's bravery when Royce saved at his feet after a jinking run from Iyseden Christie.
Then three minutes before half time Lawrence's terrific snap-shot was well blocked by the busy keeper.
Rangers continued to look dangerous on the break however and Tommy Williams twice went close from long range before Marc Bircham's 30-yard screamer was turned over by Kevin Pilkington's fingertips.
The keeper repeated his heroics a minute into the second half with an excellent reflex save to keep out Gallen's close-range header.
But the keeper had no chance from the resulting corner when the unmarked Danny Shittu powerfully headed in.
Five minutes from time Gallen wrapped up victory for Rangers, racing on to Steve Palmer's clever pass and rolling his finish through the keeper's legs.
A minute from time Mansfield's misery was complete when substitute Andy Thomson scored with his first touch, turning in Richard Langley's cross from the byline


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