Football: Francis anger as Palace as hand out derby defeat

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The Independent Online
Crystal Palace 3 Queens Park Rangers 0 REVENGE IS a dish best served on a cold Sunday afternoon, certainly in Crystal Palace's eyes. Six months after Palace were thrashed 6-0 by Queens Park Rangers on the last day of last season, the south Londoners got their own back to move out of the First Division relegation zone with their first win in seven games.

And how. After taking the lead in 55 seconds through Leon McKenzie, a tame match was heading towards forgettable oblivion when London derby fever hit this fixture.

Palace, through Matt Svensson, doubled their lead in the 75th minute, although two Palace players appeared to be offside. That led to lengthy on-pitch protests by nearly the whole QPR team, plus their manager, Gerry Francis, and his assistant, Iain Dowie.

"It's the worst decision I've ever seen," Francis said. "It's happened and it's cost us dearly. It affected all of the players and it was difficult keeping the side disciplined."

Tempers suitably raised, Chris Kiwomya was sent off five minutes later for two yellow cards after a fracas on the sidelines. Then, with the game in stoppage time, Karl Ready pulled back Svensson inside the penalty box, leading to a red card for the Rangers man and a successful penalty conversion for Hayden Mullins.

Palace had started this game only two places off the bottom but for a club in such a perilous situation they had a dream start through McKenzie, in his first game of the season, as he got his head to a cross by Andrew Martin. Any thoughts by QPR, who had gone nine matches without defeat before today, that this was going to be an easy Sunday afternoon, were swiftly dispelled.

Yet when Rangers eventually settled, things went pear-shaped as Lee Harper's goal kick was headed back by Martin to McKenzie, who along with Svensson appeared to be offside. The referee waved play on and a simple pass left the Swede with a tap-in.

The Palace manager, Steve Coppell, was left saying: "You've got to take the breaks. It was a very important game and we really needed the points as we have slipped into the bottom three in the table."

When asked about the controversial decisions, he said: "You have to be diplomatic. One week it's against you and the next week it goes for you."

His Rangers counterpart, Francis, stated: "We've had a tremendous run of nine games without defeat. It had to happen some time.

"The manner of defeat was hard to take, resting on a tough decision, but I have seen the video and both players were offside.We won't play on Sundays again."

Goals: McKenzie (1) 1-0; Svensson (75) 2-0; Mullins (pen 90) 3-0.

Crystal Palace: (4-4-2): Digby; Phelan, Linighan, Zhiyi, Austin; Fullarton (Foster, 40; Rizzo, 84), Rodger, Mullins, Martin; McKenzie (De Ornelas, 82), Svensson. Substitutes not used: Woozley, Gregg.

Queens Park Rangers (3-5-2): Harper; Ready, Maddix, Rose (Gallen, h-t, Breaker 65); Barraclough, Murray (Peacock, h-t), Rowland, Darlington, Wardley; Steiner, Kiwomya. Substitutes not used: Breacker, Morrow, Miklosko (gk).

Referee: K Lynch (York).

Bookings: QPR: Maddix. Sending-offs: QPR: Kiwomya, Ready.

Man of the match: Svensson.

Attendance: 15,861.