Football: QPR spin further into trouble

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The Independent Online
SIMON O'HAGAN

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Leeds United 2

Leeds United may have been the ones who ran into bad traffic on the way to Loftus Road, but it is Queen's Park Rangers whose wheels are spinning as they seek to extricate themselves from the ditch at the foot of the Premiership. Having won and drawn their previous two matches, their mini- revival came to a grinding halt last night to leave them, in the words of their manager Ray Wilkins, "in a pretty desperate situation".

The hour and a half it took Leeds' team bus to travel two miles from their Kensington hotel to the QPR ground clearly left the players with a lot of pent- up energy. Sprinting the final 400 yards, they arrived with half an hour to go to kick-off and carried on in similar vein to score twice in the opening 26 minutes. Although QPR recovered well, the price they paid for such a start was fully exacted when they missed a second-half penalty that would have brought them the equaliser. Wilkins thinks his team need to win six of their last nine matches - too tall an order, surely.

Leeds thus ended a run of four successive League defeats on a night when they were missing five regular first-team players. But the more significant absentees were in the QPR defence, which lacked the suspended Danny Maddix and Rufus Brevett as well as the injured Alan McDonald.

When QPR beat Leeds at Elland Road in September, Maddix's subjugation of Tony Yeboah was crucial. This time the freedom the Ghanaian enjoyed was evident from the 11th minute when nobody challenged him as headed in a cross from Andy Gray. Son of the former Leeds man, Frank Gray, the 18-year-old right winger gave an assured performance on his first full appearance.

A quarter of an hour later Yeboah played a one-two with Tomas Brolin before sweeping in his 19th goal of the season.

The darting runs of Nigel Quashie and Trevor Sinclair carried some threat and in the 31st minute Kevin Gallen hit a lovely shot on the turn to make it 2-1.

As QPR pressure mounted, David Wetherall handled a cross by Quashie to give away a 64th-minute penalty. But Gallen's kick lacked conviction, Lukic saved it comfortably, and from then on Leeds were never in serious difficulty. Only a goal-line clearance by Karl Ready prevented Yeboah from completing his hat-trick.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Bardsley, Ready, Yates, Challis; Sinclair, Barker (Brazier, 69), Holloway, Quashie; Gallen (Goodridge, 83), Dichio. Substitute not used: Plummer.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Lukic; Radebe, Beesley, Wetherall, Worthington; Gray, Palmer, Ford, McAllister; Yeboah, Brolin (Masinga, 76). Substitutes not used: Bowman, Tinkler.

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

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