Football: QPR look on Black side

Queens Park Rangers 1 Maddix 28 Grimsby 2 Smith 40, Black 50 Attendance: 10,240
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THE BRIEF flash of euphoria that dispelled West London's gloom in midweek, when Queen's Park Rangers won at Wolverhampton in their first game under the tutelage of caretaker manager Iain Dowie, is now just a memory as reality smacked them in the face on their return to Loftus Road.

Some will claim that Grimsby stole the points, but the Mariners should have been killed-off by half-time. As it was, they were hanging on after David Smith's 40th-minute volley equalised a header by Danny Maddix in the 28th-minute that had put Rangers ahead.

The rejuvenated Londoners had started brimming over with confidence and surged confidently towards the visitors goal. When Maddix's glanced header from Ian Baraclough's free-kick slid into the Grimsby net it was a true reflection of the run of play. Smith's equaliser 12 minutes later was not.

He was lurking on the edge of the box when a corner was cleared his way. Smith met it on the volley from 30 yards and the ball flew across the crowded goal mouth to beat Ludek Miklosko's dive, hit the post and bounced in off the keeper's body.

Even then, Rangers restarted breezily and scorned three chances in as many minutes as Mike Sheron diverted a Keith Gallen shot the wrong side of the post, then fluffed a shot before Gavin Peacock sloppily squandered a clear header.

Within a minute, Miklosko was stretching to block Lee Nogan's shot but Kingsley Black pounced on the rebound to hit the winner in the 50th minute. After that blow, the confidence of the Rangers players could almost visibly be seen ebbing away. Grimsby opted for keeping possession with a sweet passing game and closed up shop at the back.

All Rangers had to offer in their late assault was frenzy and the introduction of substitutes Richard Graham and Tony Scully. The fact that it was not to be Rangers day was only underlined in injury-time when Sheron blasted another opportunity high over the crossbar.

Dowie, already labelled "a tactical genius" by the Rangers fanzine, still seems the terraces' favourite for the job, although names such as Gerry Francis and even Steve McMahon were being whispered as the 10,000 crowd trailed, disappointed, out into the streets.