Gallen leads way as Rangers roar on

Queen's Park Rangers 3 - Burnley 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Queen's Park Rangers made a mockery of Burnley's reputation as fearsome opponents away from home as three goals in 14 first-half minutes at Loftus Road saw the bully-boy tactics of the one-dimensional visitors exposed with ease by a QPR side who look more than capable of keeping up their surprise pursuit of the Championship's front-runners.

Burnley headed to London having conceded just twice in their League travels all season and on the back of a League Cup win over Aston Villa in midweek.

But from the opening moments it was clear that the visitors' only intention would be to attempt to intimidate their opponents into submission. QPR did not rise to the bait and capitalised on the errors made as Burnley looked to bully their latest victim. The first goal, in the 12th-minute, was a case in point.

John McGreal needlessly bundled Paul Furlong to the ground and, from the resulting free-kick, QPR earned a penalty when Graham Branch grabbed hold of George Santos' shirt in view of the referee. Kevin Gallen side-footed home to give QPR the lead.

Apparently unwilling, or unable, to realise that the intimidatory tactics were not working, another needlessly conceded free-kick led to QPR's second just six minutes later as Santos headed home Lee Cook's cross.

Burnley simply had no answer but to bring back ever-increasing numbers to defend against QPR's onslaught. But, just as Burnley appeared to have steadied themselves, they shot themselves in the foot in calamitous fashion.

In the 24th-minute, a long and misdirected ball was fired towards the Burnley goal. Burnley goalkeeper Danny Coyne stumbled over and missed the ball.

His mistake lead to a QPR goal as Furlong slotted into the empty net, and Coyne was taken off on a stretcher with an injury picked up during his blunder.

For the opening minutes of the second half, Burnley pushed forwards and looked capable of finding a way back into the game. but Burnley's frailties were again exposed when substitute goalkeeper Brian Jensen was forced to tip Gallen's shot off-target seconds later.

Burnley's play became desperate, and only Frank Sinclair's scuffed shot could have handed them any kind of consolation as Furlong and Gallen missed good chances.

"It was a bit surreal really," said Ian Holloway, the QPR manager. "They're not an easy team to beat and we were three up in half an hour.

"You can't help but be happy with that. I think we eased off after that but it's all going very well and I am proud that this group of players has done so well for us," Steve Cotterill said.