Crystal Palace 2 QPR 1: Morrison and McAnuff help Palace rule without Johnson

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The Independent Online

On Valentine's night, this win for Crystal Palace ended with more of a whimper than a bang, although given the extent to which the Eagles' playing resources are stretched, Iain Dowie was not about to complain about extending his side's run to just one defeat in their past 11 games.

That fine form has helped the south Londoners not only to push into the play-off places but emerge with a healthy points margin between themselves and Cardiff, who lie just outside the top six. For their part, the visitors, with Gary Waddock in his second game as caretaker manager, suffered his first defeat.

Injuries played a part for Palace not only before kick-off but also during this London derby. Among the Eagles' more prominent absentees was their top scorer, Andrew Johnson. With just three minutes gone, however, Clinton Morrison showed that they can do without the England international when he closed to within one of his team-mate's tally of 10 League goals this season.

QPR failed to deal with a simple high ball into the penalty area from Gary Borrowdale and the Republic of Ireland striker waited for it to come down before hooking it past Paul Jones.

But it did not take long for the injury curse to strike once more, as Morrison's strike partner Jon Macken then limped off after quarter of an hour. It proved a blessing in disguise as Dougie Freedman replaced him and after 32 minutes he set up the second goal. The Scot beat Ian Evatt to the ball out by the touchline and found Jobi McAnuff, who scored from 10 yards out.

QPR made a change of their own before the break, in the shape of Paul Furlong, although, unlike Palace, no injuries had caused his entrance. With the visitors two goals behind, Waddock sacrificed his full-back Marcus Bignot, reorganised his defence and went for a more attacking approach.

He was almost rewarded with a goal just three minutes after the break when Furlong's shot was touched behind by Darren Ward. Nevertheless, Furlong scored the goal he had hinted at getting eight minutes later when, from Steve Lomas' cross, he headed past Gabor Kiraly.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Leigertwood, Boyce, Ward, Borrowdale; Andrews (Hughes, 78), Watson, Soares, McAnuff; Morrison, Macken (Freedman, 15). Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Fray, Grabban.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-1-4-1): Jones; Bignot (Furlong, 38), Evatt, Shittu, Milanese; Rose; Donnelly (Baidoo, 71), Lomas, Langley, Cook; Nygaard. Substitutes not used: Santos, Kus, Thomas.

Referee: A Hall (West Midlands).

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