Football: Incisive Impey puts QPR top: Sky Blues grounded - Chelsea lacking in composure - Norwich taste first defeat - Arsenal recharge their batteries

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Coventry City. . . . . 0

Queen's Park Rangers. .1

COVENTRY'S reign as the first Premier League leaders proved as brief and illusory as had been widely predicted at Highfield Road, QPR usurping them by virtue of a fine strike by the impressive Andrew Impey last night.

The 20-year-old winger, born in QPR heartland at Hammersmith but recruited from non-League football, scored his first goal of the season in first-half injury-time. But the real difference between the teams was Ray Wilkins, 16 years Impey's senior, whose subtle promptings provided an endless supply of ammunition for Rangers' eager raiders.

It has been quite a start to the season for the thirtysomething brigade. On Tuesday, Peter Beardsley's skills illuminated a monochrome match between Everton and Aston Villa. Last night, Wilkins demonstrated that he has few equals in terms of technique, the buzzword of England's wretched Swedish summer. Are you watching, Graham Taylor?

Only when Wilkins tired in the final 15 minutes of a match contested at a relentless pace did Rangers look like relinquishing their advantage. Coventry might then have scored through close-range efforts by Robert Rosario and Lloyd McGrath, as well as with a David Smith snap-shot which just cleared the bar.

Bobby Gould's side came into the game with the only 100 per cent record in the new competition. This early success, while not exactly sparking a rush on season tickets, attracted a respectable turnout of 13,563, and for a time the home support had reason to believe that Coventry might achieve a fourth consecutive victory.

Rosario, a misfit after his pounds 600,000 move from Norwich last year, exemplified the confidence which goes with such exalted status. During a bright opening 20 minutes by Coventry, the tall striker won several aerial challenges and twice came close to scoring.

Once Wilkins had gauged the pace of proceedings, however, Rangers established a rhythm which made the Sky Blues look staccato. Their goal was just reward for a growing ascendancy. Les Ferdinand twisted past two defenders and might have scored himself, but instead laid the ball back selflessly for Impey to whip a first-time shot past Steve Ogrizovic from 16 yards.

Ferdinand's contribution was curtailed early in the second half when he fell awkwardly after sending a header wide, and was taken to hosptal suffering from concussion. Rangers' manager, Gerry Francis, sent on Gary Penrice but it was Impey who continued to present the greater threat to Coventry. A one-two with Dennis Bailey, played at bewildering pace, gave him another shooting chance, but the ball passed across the face of the goal in the 65th minute.

Gould had already sent on two substitutes, but curiously it was only when Coventry were reduced to 10 men by the withdrawal of the injured Michael Gynn that they managed to mount concerted pressure.

Wilkins and Co, who were bottom after eight matches last year, know the folly of reading too much into early results. Yet they have shown a resilience that augurs well by coming through four fixtures in a gruelling nine-day spell. 'I just wish,' Francis said, 'that we'd played 40 and were still up there.'

Coventry City: Ogrizovic; Fleming, Sansom, Robson, Pearce, Atherton, Gynn, Hurst (McGrath, 68), Rosario, Williams (Ndlovu, h/t), Smith, Substitute not used: Gould (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers: Stejskal; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Barker, Ferdinand (Penrice, 55), Bailey, Sinton, Substitutes not used: Maddix, Roberts (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

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