QPR 1 Watford 2: Watford gain crucial edge for play-offs

Own goal from 10-man QPR wins Hornets home second leg for the semi-finals
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Adrian Boothroyd boldly declared that he was unfazed by his side's poor record against their play-off rivals this week, with Watford having failed to muster a single victory against any of their possible opponents in next month's end-of-season knockout. Of more concern to the Watford manager will be this subdued performance.

Watford's win, against a QPR team down to 10 men for the entire second half, was down more to luck than judgement. Although much of this match was played out against a raucous chorus of "We are going up" from their supporters, Watford's laboured display did little to support this verdict.

The win ensured Watford will play the second leg of their upcoming play-off tie at home.

"Football's about condensing space and finding space, and we forgot that today," said Boothroyd. "We didn't get it wide enough. We didn't find the spare man, and we let ourselves down a bit today." If Boothroyd was annoyed by the manner in which his young side edged to victory, he should be encouraged by the fact that going into the play-offs, which Boothroyd described as "a total lottery", luck is on their side.

Despite matching their opponents for much of this encounter, QPR conspired to gift the points to their opponents with a farcical late own-goal, having already ensured that the visitors played the whole of the second half with an extra man.

"I think that summed up the last five or six weeks for the team, the squad and the club," sighed QPR's caretaker manager, Gary Waddock.

"We're down on our luck at the moment." Luck, though, tells only part of the story, and in truth, Waddock's players must shoulder much of the responsibility for emerging pointless in a match they bossed.

Waddock had implored his players to match Watford's fighting spirit prior to kick-off, and it seemed that the message had been heeded when Lloyd Doyley's lazy challenge on the Rangers winger Lee Cook allowed Marc Nygaard to score from the penalty spot. However, it seemed that something may have been lost in translation. Moments before half-time, the Danish forward Nygaard, cautioned for removing his shirt when celebrating his opener, galloped down the pitch to play his part in a brawl with Watford's Darius Henderson, and was dismissed by Andy D'Urso.

"He knows that he's let the group down," said Waddock. "I'll be looking at the incident and if he needs to be fined, he will be." By then Watford had already levelled the scores through Ashley Young's smart finish, which came from a long clearance just seconds after Paul Furlong's chipped effort have hit the bar, but they struggled to find a way through QPR's resolute rearguard until Rangers' Georges Santos handed them an unlikely winner by heading a clearance past his own goalkeeper.

Boothroyd, meanwhile, will be hoping that fortune smiles on his team a while longer yet.

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