Football: Stejskal's spot of class saves Rangers

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The Independent Online
Grimsby Town. . . . . . .2

Queen's Park Rangers. . .1

(score aet; agg 3-3)

(QPR win 6-5 on penalties)

QUEEN'S PARK RANGERS secured a place in the Coca-Cola Cup third-round draw last night, but their margin of victory could hardly have been narrower at Blundell Park last night.

They were saved by Jan Stejskal, who managed to block a spot-kick by Tony Rees, a second- half substitute, with his fingers after the tie had gone to sudden- death penalties.

Alan McDonald, the Northern Ireland international defender, then stepped up to fire home the decisive penalty for the visitors.

Grimsby had forced the shoot-out by winning 2-1 over 120 minutes to cancel out the 2-1 lead that Rangers had brought with them from Loftus Road.

In normal time, Grimsby levelled the tie twice through goals from the substitute Tommy Watson and Neil Woods with Dennis Bailey scoring in between.

'Grimsby caused us more problems in the two games than any team we've played so far in the Premier League,' Gerry Francis, the Rangers manager, said afterwards.

'They more than matched us in most departments and for them to go out on penalties was a lot less than they deserved - they should have had at least a replay.'

With an icy breeze from the Humber biting the flesh Rangers started as if they had left their enthusiasm at Shepherd's Bush. Grimsby were more purposeful but their only chance came in the eighth minute when Stejskal, under pressure from Woods, could only clear as far as Clive Mendonca, who should have done better than drive the ball wide.

After the interval it seemed as if Rangers would extend their lead when Clive Wilson shot across goal but the Mariners responded by scoring on the break when Tommy Watson put Andy Sinton under pressure and the England winger put through his own net.

That goal transformed the game and gave it a cup-tie atmosphere for the first time and Rangers pressed forward to restore their advantage. Their goal came after Sinton had forced Wilmot to concede a corner with his first goal on target. Sinton took the kick and Bailey managed to turn the ball in at the far post.

Grimsby were determined not to let an increasingly enthusiastic crowd go home disappointed and Neil Woods levelled the aggregate again from a Dave Gilbert cross with just nine minutes to go.

Grimsby Town: Wilmot; Ford (Watson, h-t), Croft, Rodger, Lever, Dobbin, Childs, Gilbert, Groves, Mendonca (Rees, 75), Woods.

Queen's Park Rangers: Stejskal; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Holloway, Bailey, Penrice (Thompson, 75), Sinton.

Referee: J Parker (Preston).