Ainsworth steadies QPR ship

Reading 0 QPR 0
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The Independent Football

QPR lost their manager, Iain Dowie, on Friday but you would not have known it from watching this game. Their last result under Dowie was also an away goalless draw, and to repeat that scoreline under the present circumstances and, into the bargain, end Reading's perfect home record this season was no mean feat.

Who would be a QPR manager? Well, after 15 games, not Dowie any more; he was unceremoniously sacked on Friday. The alleged reason was that he had become a pawn in a power struggle at the west London club, who have more multi-millionaires and billionaires in the boardroom than is fair or, apparently, healthy. While one director opted to revert to lower ticket prices this week, having raised them so steeply earlier this season, another director, allegedlyFlavio Briatore, the Formula One chief at Renault, wanted to show he still has power at Loftus Road and handed Dowie his teamsheet of players for this game. Dowie refused to play along and was then dismissed.

Among the players Briatore wantedincluded, allegedly, was his 20-year-old Italian compatriot Samuel Di Carmine, and the striker was duly given his full League debut here. That in itself was surprising, given Reading are third in the Championship and a tough proposition, and even more so as it was at the expense of Dexter Blackstock, the club's top scorer with six goals. Unfortunately, Blackstock was also a favourite of Dowie's.

In Dowie's stead has come Gareth Ainsworth, latterly a coach at the west London club, as caretaker, although names such as Terry Venables and Roberto Mancini are being mentioned as possible permanent replacements.

With 25 minutes gone of a limp game where Reading seemed more shell-shocked by events than their visitors, Di Carmine did force a save from Marcus Hahnemann, although his shot was going wide. Six minutes before the interval, the hosts claimed a penaltyafter Radek Cerny dropped the ball and Matthew Connolly wrestled Reading's Jimmy Kebe to the floor, but referee Chris Foy showed little interest.

Blackstock replaced Di Carmine after an hour and his popularity, with the travelling support at least, was underlined by their chants. He was in the mood to make a point, as just a minute after coming on he charged in on Hahnemann after the American goalkeeper dropped a shot, but no one was able to end the deadlock.