Cox reins back Rangers in the nick of time

West Bromwich 2 Queen's Park Rangers 2
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The Independent Football

Heartened as they were by going within 30 seconds of a notable victory, Queen's Park Rangers' caretaker management team of Steve Gallen and Marc Bircham are prepared for a hasty return to their youth-team jobs.

The duo, denied in a rousing finale by a West Bromwich Albion side who were two down at the three-quarter stage, expect to learn quickly what their weekend roles will be. "I've read that something will be announced within 48 hours and I would welcome that," Gallen said. "We all would."

Jim Magilton, suspended last week after allegedly head-butting the midfielder Akos Buzsaky, is due to meet Rangers' top brass imminently amid signals that another managerial change is in the offing.

In the meantime, a side reeling after collecting only one point in four games rocked second-placed Albion with two goals around the hour mark, only to be pegged back. "It feels like a loss but I'd have taken a point," Gallen added.

Rangers snatched a shock lead when Kaspars Gorkss's challenge prompted Albion's acting captain Jonas Olsson to arc a header into his own net from Ben Watson's outswinging right-wing corner. No sooner had the 39-year-old Dean Kiely brilliantly pushed Adel Taarabt's shot against the bar than Albion lurched closer to a fourth home defeat, the keeper pushing Watson's free-kick against Joe Mattock at close quarters to leave Gorkss with a simple header.

Not for nothing, though, are Albion the Championship's top scorers. With the breath of Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City hot on their necks, they found another gear when Jerome Thomas swept home and saw Gianni Zuiverloon head against the post and Simon Cox's shot spectacularly turned over by Radek Cerny.

Eventually, Cox thumped home the rebound after Cerny saved from the substitute Chris Wood but Albion's manager Roberto Di Matteo, who made three changes in addition to the suspension of Scott Carson, said: "Our weakness in the last three games has been conceding too many goals."

The first half was tame, with Cox squandering a clear headed chance and Thomas thwarted by an unorthodox double save by Cerny from a one-on-one opening. Rangers kept it tight following the concession of eight goals in two matches and the fact Kiely superbly denied Wayne Routledge at 2-1 showed how close their blossoming performance took them to maximum points.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Zuiverloon (Bednar, 85), Meite, Olsson, Mattock; Brunt, Jara, Dorrans, Thomas; Moore (Wood, 64), Cox. Substitutes not used: Allsop (gk), Cech, Teixeira, Mulumbu, Martis.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Cerny; Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Williams; Leigertwood, Watson; Routledge, Taarabt (Faurlin, 82), Simpson (Hall, 90); Agyemang (Pellicori, 84). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Vine, Alberti, Parker.

Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire).