QPR 4 Crystal Palace 2: Cook raises the heat on Taylor

Winger's wizardry adds to the travails of Palace manager
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The Independent Online

The Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan, is not a man with a reputation for clemency towards under-performing managers, but the latest, Peter Taylor, was left relying on that quality after a devastating second-half performance from Queen's Park Rangers left his side 20th in the Championship.

Palace started the season as hot tips for promotion, but a fifth defeat in six games has left Taylor needing a spectacular turnaround to avoid becoming the sixth manager to be sacked during Jordan's five years at the club.

"Simon Jordan has been absolutely outstanding," said Taylor. "He's been a very supportive chairman, and I'm embarrassed for him at the results we've been having. You're always under pressure. I'd like to be very successful here, but at the minute it's not working out and we need to change things."

Palace were 2-1 up at the interval after goals from Tom Soares and Clinton Morrison had cancelled out Jimmy Smith's strike, but imploded in the second half, when QPR winger Lee Cook had a hand in three unanswered goals from Smith, Steve Lomas and Kevin Gallen.

"We were poor defensively again today," said the former Hull City manager, whose team also threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 at Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday. "We're getting in front and then throwing games away because of basic errors at the back."

Palace took the lead through Soares on half an hour, with a well-worked move that saw Jobi McAnuff sent clear to play a low ball for Soares to get in front of Zesh Rehman and knock the ball under goalkeeper Simon Royce from close range.

Four minutes later, QPR were level, following a ball from Gallen, when the 19-year-old Smith, the Chelsea loanee who extended his stay at Loftus Road by two months during the week, controlled the ball with his chest and sent a looped volley into the Palace net from 25 yards.

But the away side regained the lead on 42 minutes when Morrison bundled the ball home after Leon Cort had risen unmarked to head a Mark Kennedy corner towards goal.

After starting the second half more brightly, the home side got a deserved equaliser on 58 minutes when Steve Lomas fired home from 12 yards after an excellent cross from the elusive Lee Cook had been only half-cleared.

It was Cook who earned the penalty that allowed Gallen to send the Palace keeper, Scott Flinders, the wrong way for QPR's third goal after 64 minutes. The winger had already got Palace right-back Danny Butterfield booked for shirt-pulling and rounded him again, forcing a trip that deserved a red card.

Cook was Palace's tormentor again five minutes later, swinging in a corner for Smith to prod in his fourth goal in seven appearances at the far post.

"I know there's people looking at Cook," said John Gregory, QPR's manager. "He was excellent today and he'll be hard to hang on to."

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