Football: Penrice comes in to plug QPR gap: Oldham undone by deputies

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers. . .2

Oldham Athletic . . . . .0

THE suspension of Les Ferdinand and a late injury to Bradley Allen meant that there was plenty to prove at Loftus Road yesterday. Devon White and Gary Penrice, relegated to the reserves by Ferdinand and Allen's emerging partnership, had an opportunity to re-establish their first-team credentials, while for Rangers as a whole the absence of six regulars offered a test of their strength in depth. Despite a comfortable success, with a goal from each deputy, nagging doubts remained.

The scoresheet did not reflect the relative performances of Penrice and White, which took opposite paths from the ninth minute. The ball came to White's feet 12 yards out but his reactions were painfully slow and his weak effort was blocked. It rebounded to Penrice, who shot instantly and under pressure, but against the bar .

The contrast continued throughout a listless first half in which Penrice's endeavour was at the root of Rangers' half-hearted threats. But the best opening of all belonged to White, who headed Ian Holloway's cross over when unmarked, five yards out.

The miss hardly won the crowd's sympathy, and 10 minutes into the second half there were ironic cheers as White managed to get his head to a long ball, though his knock-on went nowhere. It was therefore a pleasant surprise for more generous spectators when, two minutes later, White scored.

Rangers played the ball out from the back and Penrice picked it up on the half-way line. As he ran strongly up the left, Peacock abandoned defence and sprinted to his inside, receiving a perfect pass which he carried to the byline. He pulled it back for White, who took the easy chance with some relief.

Oldham could not raise a credible response, and a second for Rangers arrived after 71 minutes, when Chris Makin tackled Trevor Sinclair on the byline, but was out of position when the ball was passed back in by Holloway to Penrice. Turning without a challenge, the striker's powerful shot again hit the bar, but this time squeezed in.

The introduction of Andy Ritchie for Oldham had little effect, though the visitors had an excellent chance to score five minutes from time. Peacock missed his first attempt to clear as Rick Holden challenged, and at the second poked the ball back to Jan Stejskal, but the referee saw fit not to penalise Rangers.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Stejskal; Bardsley, Peacock, Yates, Wilson; Meaker, Holloway, Wilkins (Brevett, 87), Sinclair; White, Penrice. Substitutes not used: Roberts (gk), Bailey.

Oldham Athletic (4-5-1): Hallworth; Fleming, Jobson, Pedersen, Adams; Makin, Graham (Ritchie, 68), Bernard, Milligan, Holden; Sharp. Substitutes not used: Gerrard (gk), Barlow.

Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).