Football: Ferdinand is forcible

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Queen's Park Rangers. . .3

Oldham Athletic . . . . .2

QUEEN'S PARK RANGERS, without a goal or a point from their last three matches, were fortunate to come up against an Oldham side in generous mood. The Latics perhaps had some excuse for their defensive uncertainty; because of injuries, they had to give a full debut to Paul Gerrard, their young third-choice keeper. Nevertheless, his team-mates offered him very little protection in the 26th minute when David Bardsley's curling cross from the right was headed home by the unmarked Les Ferdinand.

Five minutes later Gerrard's team-mates abandoned him completely, stepping up too slowly to catch Gary Penrice offside, and leaving the Rangers striker to put the ball home. Ferdinand must have scented a rout as he skipped past Richard Jobson in the next attack, but with Gerrard at his mercy he pulled his shot wide.

It might have been a costly miss as QPR promptly set about proving their own claims to defensive incompetence. Mark Brennan's low cross eluded most of the Rangers back four before Neil Adams buried it at the far post. And a minute after the re-start Alan McDonald and Darren Peacock were both left floundering as Ian Olney fired in Graeme Sharp's cutback.

Oldham's sense of relief and achievement was, however, shortlived. In the 52nd minute Ferdinand beat Gerrard for his ninth goal of the season.

Oldham did not despair and more goals seemed certain as they besieged the Rangers area. However, Rangers, who lost Andy Sinton and Ferdinand, managed some brisk counter-attacks. Ray Wilkins was perhaps unfortunate not to seal the welcome victory in the final minute: his elegant turn- and-shot sailed just over the bar.

Queen's Park Rangers: J Stejskal; D Bardsley, C Wilson, R Wilkins, D Peacock, A McDonald, A Impey, I Holloway, L Ferdinand (D Maddix, 73 min), G Penrice, A Sinton (B Allen, 18 min). Sub not used: T Roberts (gk). Manager: G Francis.

Oldham Athletic: P Gerrard; G Halle, N Pointon, N Henry, R Jobson, S Redmond, N Adams, I Olney, G Sharp, M Milligan, M Brennan (R Palmer, 61 min). Subs not used: C Fleming, I Gray (gk). Manager: J Royle.

Referee: S J Lodge (Barnsley).

Goals: Ferdinand (0-1, 25 min); Penrice (1-1, 30 min); Adams (1-2, 36 min); Olney (2-2, 46 min); Ferdinand (3-2, 52 min).