Gallen launches the party

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Queen's Park Rangers 3
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The Independent Football

It was not always as comfortable a victory as the scoreline might suggest, but Queen's Park Rangers yesterday returned to the First Division after a three-year absence. On an afternoon fraught with tension, strikes either side of half-time from Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong, along with an own goal, were enough to secure automatic promotion.

It was not always as comfortable a victory as the scoreline might suggest, but Queen's Park Rangers yesterday returned to the First Division after a three-year absence. On an afternoon fraught with tension, strikes either side of half-time from Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong, along with an own goal, were enough to secure automatic promotion.

With Bristol City winning at home to Blackpool, Rangers needed every single one of the 83 points accrued over the course of the season. And, given their experiences in last year's play-offs, when they lost to Cardiff City in extra-time of the final, they will be grateful to have avoided a potentially similar fate.

"We've got some celebrating to do," said Ian Holloway, the QPR manager. "Everybody has worked so hard to come back from administration. We became 'Queen's Park Rangers United'; working together has been the key. The players have put the club first and kept going, and now they've been rewarded. I can't say what it means to me. Now I want to give them all the contracts they deserve."

An estimated 8,000 QPR supporters were there to cheer their team. With Hillsborough bedecked in white and blue, it might have been difficult to tell where the away support ended and the home started were it not for the noise emanating from the visitors long before kick-off.

For Wednesday, it is a different story. Yesterday the board turned down a £10m takeover bid from Ken Bates, citing "the gulf between the proposal and what might be acceptable to the club''. With debts totalling around £25m, they are hoping the former Chelsea chairman will return with an improved offer.

Before QPR had settled, Bristol were 2-0 up. The scoreline was greeted with schadenfreude by Wednesday's fans as the goals flashed up on the scoreboard. But 10 minutes before the break, Rangers were ahead themselves. Gareth Ainsworth's low cross found Gallen, who side-footed his 17th goal of the season. Despite the relief, QPR knew an equaliser could still cost them promotion. So the scenes that greeted Furlong's drive in front of the Rangers fans three minutes into the second half were ones of pure jubilation.

Then Wednesday found a response entirely against the run of play. Jon Shaw was allowed to carry the ball to the edge of the penalty area, from where he shot low past Lee Camp. With the match - and QPR's entire season - once more in the balance, Martin Rowlands broke down the left and Chris Carr could only turn the resultant cross into his own net. The party was under way.

Sheffield Wednesday 1
Shaw 59

Queen's Park Rangers 3
Gallen 35, Furlong 48, Carr og 69

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 29,313

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