Football: QPR throw it all away

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers. .1

Crystal Palace. . . . .3

QUEEN'S Park Rangers gifted Crystal Palace three second-half goals and three valuable points in this enjoyable London derby.

Rangers, of course, are the listening man's club: they are sponsored by Classic FM and last week they received the musical tribute of Michael Nyman's concerto for football. They started this match on song, the tempo was brisk, beginning allegro and getting faster. Even in the first five minutes crescendo piled upon crescendo as Rangers threatened to overwhelm their visitors. Gary Penrice twice received the ball from Les Ferdinand inside the Palace six-yard box and twice failed to make it count: he struck his first chance straight at Nigel Martyn, his second directly at Andy Thorn on the goal-line.

The home crowd rose to fortissimo in the 14th minute when Ferdinand's header from Bardsley's deep cross came back off the post. But the noise promptly sank to pianissimo when, in the next attack, Eddie McGoldrick charged down Jan Stejskal's attempted clearance and headed the spinning ball back for Chris Armstrong to roll over the line. The referee, however, adjudged the ball to have carried out of play. At that stage anything other than a Rangers goal would have been a travesty. And their just reward duly arrived in the 26th minute. Andy Impey's pace not for the first time carried him past Richard Shaw on the right, Sinton met his cross and nodded it back for Penrice to make amends with a powerful header into the roof of the net.

Rangers' almost total domination of the first half was rooted in confidence but perhaps it bred complacency. Within a minute of the restart they were back level. Their defence was deceived by a bouncing Andy Thorn free-kick and McGoldrick stole in to head the ball over the startled Stejskal.

Palace's young side - rejuvenated by the enforced substitutions of Chris Coleman and George Ndah by Bobby Bowry and Grant Watts - drew heart.

Armstrong gave an impressive display as a lone attacker, holding the ball up well and feeding it to his midfield runners. His unselfishness was rewarded 13 minutes from time when Gareth Southgate's miscue carried to him inside the box and, despite falling over, he tucked his shot under Stejskal.

Rangers, although they could not reproduce their imperious first-half form did have their moments. Martyn made a fine one- handed save from Alan McDonald's header. Nevertheless, in the last minute the uncertainty of their defence was punished severely. McGoldrick dispossessed Clive Wilson outside the area and chipped the goalkeeper.

With two wins in a row, the Eagles have at last taken off.

Queen's Park Rangers: J Stejskal; D Bardsley, C Wilson, R Wilkins, D Peacock, A McDonald, A Impey, I Holloway, L Ferdinand, G Penrice, A Sinton. Subs not used: B Allen, D Maddix, T Roberts (gk). Manager: G Francis.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; J Humphrey, R Shaw, G Southgate, E Young, A Thorn, S Osborn, G Ndah (G Watts 53 min), C Armstrong, C Coleman (R Bowry 10 min), E McGoldrick. Sub not used: A Woodman (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).

Goals: Penrice (1-0, 25 min), McGoldrick (1-1, 46 min), Armstrong (1-2, 77 min), McGoldrick (1-3, 89 min).

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