Bright lifts Wednesday

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Queen's Park Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

WITH Christmas coming, recent depressing results saw both sides in need of some seasonal cheer. Wednesday ended up with the present, but at least Rangers provided some fancy wrapping.

Their 4-0 defeat at Hillsborough in the Coca-Cola Cup earlier this month was described by Gerry Francis as their worst performance under his managership, but they deserved nothing but praise (and perhaps a goal or two) for their spirited contribution to this fast and open match.

Andy Sinton would have been rewarded in the second minute if Roland Nilsson had not blocked his swivel-shot, and Gary Penrice's cross evaded both Chris Woods and the far post. The unmarked Ian Holloway failed to connect with Clive Wilson's cross and Penrice had the ball in the net only to be disappointed by a linesman's flag.

Wednesday displayed the uncertainties of a side without a league win in seven matches, tentative in distribution and over- anxious in their shooting. When Chris Waddle found David Hirst with a cross-field ball, he controlled it well on his chest but scuffed his shot from the edge of the box. The England striker also allowed himself to be bundled off another good opportunity by Darren Peacock.

Wednesday's inability to control the midfield seemed to have been hindered further when Paul Warhurst limped off and Carlton Palmer was withdrawn into the back four, but it proved to be a blessing in disguise. For it was Palmer who regained possession when Hirst lost the ball in his own half, and ran at the heart of the defence.

He found Waddle to his right, and when he failed to get the return ball he was hoping for, drew the defenders away with a diagonal run while Waddle seized his opportunity to lay the perfect ball into the path of Mark Bright, who scored his 10th goal of the season beneath the dive of the advancing Tony Roberts.

That ended, after 40 minutes, what had been a quiet afternoon for Roberts, preferred to Jan Stejskal after Rangers' own recent poor run, and moments later he was turning a Waddle free-kick round the post.

Wednesday might have gone further ahead when Bright got to the byline but his cross eluded both Bart-Williams and Hirst, and Waddle's burst through the middle produced another good save from Roberts.

Wednesday's football began to flow, with Nigel Worthington overlapping dangerously down the left and Waddle showing some audacious touches.

By contrast, Ray Wilkins rarely found his touch, although his chip into the box should have created the equaliser six minutes into the second half. Penrice flicked it on to Ferdinand, who allowed Nilsson to take it off his toe with the goal at his mercy. The Rangers striker, whose pace posed a threat right to the end, has not scored away from Loftus Road all season. He might have remedied that late on when he chipped wide with only Woods to beat, but it was one of those days again for Ferdinand and for QPR.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; R Nilsson, N Worthington, C Palmer, V Anderson, P Warhurst (C Bart-Williams, 27 min), D Wilson, C Waddle, D Hirst, M Bright, J Sheridan. Subs not used: G Watson, K Pressman (gk). Player-Manager: T Francis.

Queen's Park Rangers: T Roberts; D Bardsley, C Wilson, R Wilkins, D Peacock, A McDonald, A Impey (S Barker, 75 min), I Holloway, L Ferdinand, G Penrice, A Sinton. Subs not used: D Maddix, J Stejskal (gk). Manager: G Francis.

Referee: J Worrall (Warrington).

Goal: Bright (1-0, 40 min).