Furlong strikes twice to ease pressure on Holloway

Queen's Park Rangers 3 - Plymouth Argyle 2
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The Independent Football

Finally, Queen's Park Rangers have won their first game of this season at Loftus Road, where they were unbeaten in the previous one.

Finally, Queen's Park Rangers have won their first game of this season at Loftus Road, where they were unbeaten in the previous one. It came as a relief not only for their supporters but also the manager, Ian Holloway, who last week received the dreaded vote of confidence from the board. But Plymouth, last season's Second Division champions, will not feel that on their performance in this exciting, yet often inefficient, match they were in any way inferior.

Having been in close rivalry in the lower division last season, both teams engaged an immediately forceful attitude that set the tone. When, after only seven minutes, Plymouth won a corner they committed more than the usual number forward at such a stage in the game.

It was well rewarded because as Paul Wotton sent the ball over, he had ample targets and David Friio glanced the ball past Chris Day for an encouraging start.

That certainly unsettled the Rangers defence. Even straight forward clearances tended to be driven directly into the clasp of Plymouth's midfield players and it was 23 minutes before they raised their first penetrating attack which ended with Lee Cook unleashing a long drive frustratingly a shade over the bar, but at least it brightened their outlook.

The equaliser, in the 29th minute, was hard on Plymouth's goalkeeper, Luke McCormick, who was unsighted as Paul Furlong collected a header played back to him across the penalty area by Cook. Furlong's low drive took a deflection and sped through the penalty area beyond the static McCormick.

Having shown the greater enterprise, Plymouth were clearly aggrieved to have their lead snatched away. Not only had they moved the ball accurately in midfield, they always put pressure on Rangers at moments of potential danger. Yet they contrived to miss a present of a chance shortly after half-time when Marc Bircham lost the ball some 40 yards out, allowing David Norris to run unchallenged into the penalty area, only to slide his shot past a post.

Finishing was not the strong point of either side. Often Rangers mustered half a dozen players within the Plymouth goal area without taking advantage.

Furlong was particularly culpable, which was ironic since he gave Rangers the lead in the 73rd minute after a long clearance by George Santos got to him on the left side of the penalty area. McCormick rushed up to challenge, but Furlong lifted the ball over him, and it looped under the crossbar.

Rangers were barely worth their victory but made it more comfortable when they broke down an attack near the end to leave Kevin Gallen a run on goal and he easily avoided McCormick with a deft side foot that was emulated by Plymouth's substitute Marino Keith, who slipped in an injury time consolation goal.