Queen's Park Rangers 4 Southampton 1: Blackstock strikes twice to punish struggling Saints

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The Independent Football

Southampton's manager played for the Netherlands in the 1978 World Cup final and their red-and-white shirts may remind observers of former European champions PSV Eindhoven, but going Dutch is not proving a happy arrangement right now for the Hampshire club.

Conceding a goal with less than a minute gone and seeing a man sent off before half-time gave Saints a challenge they rose to for 40 minutes, but fatigue inevitably played a part on the hottest day of the month and QPR eventually profited, this win taking Iain Dowie's men to fourth.

However, even before debutant Oliver Lancashire was sent off, there was little respite for the visitors as Dexter Blackstock scored after 37 seconds against the team that gave him his professional bow. That's gratitude for you.

Yet Lancashire, 19, saw his day worsen. With 31 minutes gone, Damien Delaney, QPR's quick left-back, was running into clear space two yards inside the touchline when Lancashire charged in. The speed and ferocity with which he approached meant he had to make a perfect tackle. He miscalculated by a fraction and scythed down Delaney, leading to an instant red card, although Dowie did not feel he deserved it, stating his debut as a mitigating factor. Television replays suggested he touched the ball.

If there were still some questioning whether he should have been cautioned instead, the more enduring mystery was why the hosts took so long to build on their first-minute goal. It was not until 13 minutes from the end, when Blackstock had his second and QPR's third that they were able to put a series of missed first-half chances behind them.

Even so, it was only that tap-in, after Patrick Agyemang's penetrating run, that gave QPR a legitimate victory, for Southampton were justified in complaining about the Londoners' second goal of the afternoon. With the match level after Adam Lallana's run and finish, QPR had a free-kick 25 yards out. Martin Rowlands curled in a dangerous ball which Damion Stewart glanced past Kelvin Davis. However, unseen by the officials, he was two yards offside. Jan Poorvliet, the visitors' manager, admitted: "That goal killed us."

Lallana's goal, after a 40-yard run and a one-two with Simon Gillett, had been deserved, if only for the way the visitors regrouped after the red card and refused to buckle. Davis in particular was outstanding, producing three saves in the last seven minutes of the first half, the best being a punch over the bar after Blackstock's header from six yards. But the fourth goal was inevitable with Southampton tiring fast. Their defenders were falling over as Agyemang scored from 20 yards.

Goals: Blackstock (1) 1-0; Lallana (53) 1-1; Stewart (63) 2-1; Blackstock (77) 3-1; Agyemang (90) 4-1.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-1-1): Cerny; Ramage, Connolly, Stewart, Delaney; Ephraim (Agyemang, 60), Leigertwood, Mahon, Cook; Parejo (Rowlands, 60); Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Camp (gk) Gorkss, Balanta.

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; James, Lancashire, Cork, Surman; Lallana, Wotton, Gillett, Holmes (Dyer, 23); Schneiderlin (Pekhart, 70), McGoldrick. Substitutes not used: Bialkowski (gk), Perry, John.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

Booked: QPR Leigertwood, Delaney; Southampton Schneiderlin, Dyer.

Sent off: Lancashire (30).

Attendance: 13,770.

Man of the Match: Agyemang.