THE RARITY of a Danny Maddix goal finally enabled QPR to breathe more easily last night as the Jamaican international, with his 13th strike in 11 years, broke the resistance of Second Division Walsall.
Although Steve Slade tiptoed through the visitors' defence to add a cheeky third four minutes from the end of extra time, Rangers again flattered to deceive. This was only their fourth win in 32 games under their manager, Ray Harford, and a Worthington Cup victory over Walsall is hardly the stuff of the supporters' dreams.
Maddix prodded home a rebound nine minutes into extra time when the keeper James Walker, previously excellent in the Walsall goal, could not hold Slade's volley.
It had looked as if Mike Sheron's 68th-minute goal, when he dribbled into the area and fell over but still managed to sweep the ball in, had been enough to bring QPR their first victory of the season. But Andy Rammell's powerful header 10 minutes from time took the tie into extra time.
Up until then the patience of the home fans had been clearly at a premium. The QPR players were booed off the field at half-time and the volume of the disenchantment increased as the second half progressed and Second Division Walsall continued to hold their own.
It was not as if Harford's side were lacking in chances. Indeed Sheron, their pounds 2.75m record signing, could have helped himself to a hat-trick in the first half. Although James Walker in the Walsall goal made a superb tip over from Sheron in the third minute, there was no excusing the manner in which he sent Tony Scully's ensuing corner over the bar.
Every time Walsall attacked Rangers looked jittery. Two minutes into the second period Neil Pointon sent in a humdinger of a shot which Lee Harper shovelled round a post.
Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Harper; Rose, Yates (Slade, 82), Ready, Maddix; Baraclough, Scully (Kulscar, 103), Murray, Peacock; Sheron, Gallen. Substitutes not used: Bankole (gk), Rowland, Bruce.
Walsall (4-4-2): Walker; Marsh, Green, Viveash, Pointon (Roper, 95); Wrack, Keates (Dyer, 106), Porter, Brissett; Watson (Ricketts, 76), Rammell. Substitutes not used: Gadsby, Platt.
Referee: A d'Urso (Billericay).