Football: Exuberant City continue to hit the right note

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The Independent Online
An evening which began headily for Queen's Park Rangers ended in acrimony and abuse last night as supporters demonstrated for the removal of the club's major shareholder, Richard Thompson.

Despite going ahead with a goal timed unofficially at 13 seconds which made it the fastest scored this season and despite regaining the lead within 30 seconds of City's first equaliser, the home side's challenge for a place in the Coca-Cola Cup fourth round eventually disintegrated in the face of a side which is currently on an exuberant, unanswerable high.

Having put size five past Spurs on Saturday, the visitors enjoyed further success at London's expense to extend their scoring record to 18 in the last five games. 'I think some of our lads would have preferred to have won 1-0 tonight,' said City's manager, Brian Horton. 'But we are never boring now, are we?'

No arguing there, having made life hard for themselves on their previous visit to Loftus Road, when they had two men sent off but held on for 20 minutes to earn a victory, City worked a variation this time. They handicapped themselves by going a goal down without touching the ball.

From the kick-off, Rangers moved the ball out to Trevor Sinclair on the left wing and his cross was turned in at the near post by Kevin Gallen.

Gallen was resuming his youth-team forward partnership with Daniele Dichio resembling a young Mark Hateley with a pony-tail he was making his debut at the age of 20. For a while the two young men caused City problems, and Dichio had a header cleared off the line after nine minutes.

But City equalised after 38 minutes when Nicky Summerbee volleyed home from outside the box following a corner. Rangers' response was immediate - Dichio's right-wing cross created defensive chaos and Sinclair scored unmarked at the far post.

The second half began as dramatically as the first. Within 30 seconds City had a penalty for hand-ball after two defenders had attempted to quell Paul Walsh's challenge for a high ball. Keith Curle converted without fuss.

In the 54th minute, Peter Beagrie shot City ahead after Walsh's shot had been deflected. Five minutes later, Steve Lomas, unmarked, made it 4-2.

A headed goal three minutes from time by the Rangers' substitute, Gary Penrice, provoked a desperate but fruitless late rally. On the final whistle the chance of dissatisfaction redoubled.

Horton's immediate concern is to find a substitute goalkeeper for Saturday, following yesterday's confirmation that Andy Dibble is banned for three matches after his recent sending off for serious foul play.

With the first choice goalkeeper, Tony Coton, still injured, City have only one recognised custodian to call upon. Picking three out-field substitutes is a risk which Horton is not prepared to take. But the way City are scoring at the moment, you could argue a case for him picking three strikers.

As for the Rangers' manager Gerry Francis, whose side are lodged near the bottom of the table, the situation is getting serious. 'I do hope to make one or two signings in the next week or so,' he said.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Dykstra; Bardsley, McDonald, Yates, Wilson; Meaker, Barker (Penrice, 72), Holloway, Sinclair; Dichio, Gallen.

Substitutes not used: Ready, Roberts (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Dibble; Edghill, I Brightwell, Curle, Phelan; Summerbee, Lomas, Flitcroft, Beagrie; Walsh, Quinn. Substitutes not used: Hill, Mike, Margetson (gk).

Referee: P Danson (Leicester).

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