Football: Ferdinand bullish at the Bush

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Queen's Park Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

THEY ARE getting a bit posh down the Bush these days. Managers address the press from a lectern sponsored by Classic FM, prompting Gerry Francis to make his pronouncements as if delivering a speech to the Oxford Union.

Judging by his measured musings on a breathless match more redolent of Led Zeppelin than Liszt, the head Ranger adheres to the view that he is indeed Graham Taylor's heir apparent. Asked whether prevailing over such well- heeled opponents was all the sweeter, he proffered a deft diversion: 'We didn't have enough breath to talk about it.'

Yet if the Lancaster Gate mandarins could scarcely have approved a Francis admission that debates of this ilk give him 'a headache', Kenny Dalglish was in sorer need of the Anadin. Alan Shearer went off with a jarred back before half- time - though he insists this will not prevent his availability for Bologna - while Tim Flowers's capable debut was marred by the positional lapse that led to Les Ferdinand's late header, sullying Blackburn's unblemished away record.

Rangers' nimble operatives, marshalled by the venerable Ray Wilkins until his exit with a knee complaint, matched theoretically superior rivals in the thrust as well as parry. Had Flowers not advanced astutely to block Ferdinand and Bradley Allen not had enough time to wonder how Les and Clive would have accepted the gift he ultimately nodded into the crowd, they would have been two up inside 15 minutes.

As it was, Blackburn's swiftness in transforming 4-4-2 into 4-2-4 rendered Jan Stejskal the busier goalkeeper, his most notable save coming when he palmed aside Shearer's thumping close-range drive. A contrary Dalglish nevertheless scorned suggestions that Rovers ceased to rove so menacingly after Shearer's departure as 'a bit dramatic'.

The temperature rose when the subject turned to Dalglish's next transfer foray. Was there really a bottomless pit to draw from? 'I'm not going to discuss the business side with anyone,' he bristled. 'People forget that the money has come out of Jack Walker's pocket. I don't see how you can criticise him for that.'

Goal: Ferdinand (82) 1-0.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-3-3): Stejskal; Bardsley, Peacock, McDonald, Wilson; Sinclair, Wilkins (Holloway, 59), Barker; Impey, Ferdinand, Allen. Substitutes not used: Yates, Roberts (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, May, Hendry, Wright; Gallacher, Sherwood, Batty, Ripley; Newell, Shearer (Le Saux, 38). Substitutes not used: Atkins, Mimms (gk).

Referee: A Gunn (South Chailey).

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