Football: Rangers are reliant on Allen: Cup finalists go through the motions in defeat as Premier League brings down the shutters on its inaugural season

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Queen's Park Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Sheffield Wednesday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

WITH fingers and toes crossed, Sheffield Wednesday came safely through their last match before Wembley without further injury at Loftus Road last night. If only their form was similarly in the pink.

Defeat against London's leading club meant that they go into Saturday's Cup final with only one win under their belt since losing to Arsenal in the Coca-Cola Cup final last month, and that against a Highbury second XI.

It remains to be seen whether they can rediscover that winning knack at the drop of a hat. Many finalists have not. It is customary for managers to tinker with the mechanism, resting worn-out parts, and Trevor Francis has done his share of it of late under the Wednesday bonnet.

Last night, he started with only four players who could be assured of lining up against George Graham's men and added that it would have been fewer if he had had the reserves. 'I was looking forward to getting through to 9.30 with no problems, and that's the case,' he said.

Kevin Pressman, in the Sheffield goal, was under pressure from the start, and he was not helped by his fellow defenders going AWOL at times in the first half.

Bradley Allen was particularly persistent and, having won a corner off Pressman in the 27th minute, he was on hand in a way that big brother Clive would have been to stab in the rebound when Phil King cleared Simon Barker's header off the goal-line.

Nine minutes later, it was Allen again, scampering clear as Roland Nilsson played Rangers onside to bury his shot in the far corner. Les Ferdinand drilled home a header from Clive Wilson's cross for his 20th League goal in the 67th minute.

A consolation for Wednesday - and concern for Arsenal - came in the shape of Mark Bright, who with his aim steadily improving throughout the evening, converted a cross from King after 77 minutes having thumped a post three minutes earlier.

Queen's Park Rangers: Roberts; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Barker, Ferdinand, Allen, Sinton. Substitutes not used: White, Brevett, Stejskal (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday: Pressman; Nilsson, King, Jones, Stewart (Palmer, 70), Anderson, Williams (Jemson, 57), Hyde, Bright, Bart-Williams, Sheridan. Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

(Photograph omitted)