Football: Rangers suffering a goalscoring malaise

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers. . . . .0

Ipswich Town. . . . . . . . .0

COMPLEX knitting but no needle again from Gerry Francis's men, who have now gone over 270 minutes without a goal.

Like frustrating golfers, Rangers have few peers in football's tee to green area, to the fringe of the penalty area, but it is then that the yips arrive.

This malaise was personified in the shape of Ray Wilkins, who selected the wrong option just once in 90 minutes, on the only occasion he had the goal in his sights.

Wilkins remains one of Britain's purer and louder players. At 35 the legs may be going and the hairstyle may be similar to the one he brought into the world, but the voice improves as his career evolves. Few, either on the pitch or in the stands, were unaware of his displeasure when passes went astray.

Ipswich's leading force was a man who could have been in the same school class as Wilkins, John Wark. Without him, the visitors would have been rudderless, a fact acknowledged by Francis.

'They are a very resilient and resolute side Ipswich,' he said. 'Warky does ever so well for them at the back there.'

The manager's main moan in the programme was the programme, of matches, which has seen his side play seven games in the first 20 days of the season. 'We looked tired today, in our play, our work-rate and our running,' he said. 'We were dead on our feet and looking at the Arsenal result it looks as though the two of us took a lot of effort out of each other in the week.'

This time last season Rangers could have expected a far more open game at home, but their formidable record over the last six months has encouraged the fortress mentality that Ipswich brought with them on Saturday.

The East Anglians maintained an unbeaten run matched by just Blackburn in the Premier League, but will have to use some of the forward gears in future if they are to make an impact.

Rangers will have to get used to being tired. As their stock has risen, international managers have been looking for the answers in individuals. Graham Taylor has already called on Andy Sinton and David Bardsley for the mid-week game against Spain, and Les Ferdinand is on stand-by.

'It's good for the club and good for the players that they get selected but I know myself that it does shatter you,' Francis said.

'We still haven't got it right in this country yet and if we're going to help England I feel they should scrub the Saturday games before internationals.'

Queen's Park Rangers: Stejskal; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Barker, Ferdinand, Bailey (Penrice, 58), Sinton. Substitutes not used: Holloway, Roberts (gk).

Ipswich Town: Forrest; Whelan, Thompson, Stockwell, Wark, Linighan, Williams, Goddard (Pennyfather, 90), Johnson, Dozzell, Youds (Yallop, 77). Substitute not used: Baker (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).