Football: Wolves draw comfort as semi-final beckons

Queen's Park Rangers 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Online
WOLVES warmed up for their FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal with what amounted to little more than a training exercise at Loftus Road last night. While their hosts failed to provide much by way of encouragement for their suffering supporters, Wolves now will be hoping for a considerable transformation by noon on Sunday.

With their minds on Villa Park and Wembley, Wolves elected to rest their captain, Keith Curle, and quarter-final hero Don Goodman, both of whom are struggling to shake off slight injuries. It meant that Steve Bull, who celebrated his 33rd birthday at the weekend, starting up front alongside the new signing Steve Claridge.

QPR began the evening four points above the relegation zone after three wins in the 20 League games played since Ray Harford took over, hardly what the chairman, Chris Wright, had in mind when he floated the club on the Stock Exchange.

They were desperately in need of a tonic last night and it should have been at least partially provided in the shape of home debuts for Neil Ruddock, on loan from Liverpool, and the new player-coach, Vinny Jones.

The one-time Wimbledon hard man took only 12 minutes to get himself booked after a scuffle with Claridge, whom he had fouled on the edge of the area. The wasted free-kick was in keeping with the rest of a match that lacked nothing in spirit but much in cohesion.

A low drive by Tony Scully, well gathered by Hans Segers, and a goalbound effort from Neil Emblen that was blocked by the Rangers central defender, Karl Ready, was all that either side had to show by half-time and matters scarcely improved after that. The players ran a little faster and tackled a little harder but genuine chances were few and far between. Mike Sheron's shot on the turn was a foot wide of Segers' right-hand post while, for Wolves, Paul Simpson's 30-yard free-kick was fractionally off target.

Pat Rice, Arsenal's assistant manager, was among the first to leave, having seen nothing to give anyone at Highbury sleepless nights.

Queen's Park Rangers: (4-4-2): Harper; Bardsley, Ready, Ruddock, Morrow; (Dowie, 68), Scully, Quashie, Jones, Baraclough; Gallen, Sheron. Substitutes not used: Barker, Heinola.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: (3-5-2): Segers; Williams, Sedgley, Richards; Muscat, Emblen, Osborn (Keane, 78), Simpson, Froggatt; Claridge, Bull (Freedman, 63). Substitute not used: Robinson,.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).