Football: Ready's late reckoning

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The Independent Online
Queens Park Rangers 1

Ready 90

Bristol City 1

Hewlett 28

Attendance: 13,337

QPR'S PLAYER-COACH Vinnie Jones is about to star in a film that comes out at the end of this month called Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but if any of his strikers had been involved in the project, a working title of Shooting Blanks would have been rather more appropriate.

A last-minute equalising goal by Karl Ready, a centre-back who ran down the left-wing to curl his shot past Keith Welch from 15 yards, was only just enough to record QPR's first goal this season and summed up the inadequacy of their forwards.

However, their manager, Ray Harford, took the optimist's view on the profligacy of Kevin Gallen and Mike Sheron against their newly-promoted opponents. "I'm not going to complain about them not scoring because at least they got in the right positions."

Yet proof, if any were needed, that Sheron and Gallen might not be enough to put QPR in promotion contention this season came within the very first minute of the game. An expertly-hit pass by Paul Murray sent Sheron clear past Julian Watts and with only Welch to beat, he could only scuff his shot past the post.

Sheron was the culprit again after 25 minutes, as he received a pass on the edge of the six-yard box. When it seemed easier to score he hit his shot wide, and his mistake was compounded three minutes later when City took the lead. The QPR defender Steve Yates was caught in possession by Brian Tinnion and City, who were well organised by their manager John Ward all afternoon, took advantage of their sudden superiority in numbers as Ade Akinbiyi slipped the ball to Matthew Hewlett, who tapped in from only six yards.

That was the cue for one-way traffic which saw Gallen turn his marker and shoot wide after 62 minutes and the substitute Keith Rowland do the same with only a minute remaining, before Ready's goal led to celebrations that QPR could be fortunate to repeat next May.