Royle endures one of those weeks

Ipswich Town 0 - Queen's Park Rangers 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Ipswich and Wigan - up until now, the dominant forces in the Championship - will play each other at the JJB Stadium in five days' time. Given their results on Saturday, it starts to look like the meeting of a resistible force and a moveable object.

While Wigan were losing to relegation candidates Gillingham, Ipswich - six points clear just over a week ago - dropped to third place after Queen's Park Rangers inflicted their second home defeat of the week, assisted by two mistakes from the normally reliable goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

According to the Ipswich manager, Joe Royle, Davis "put his hand up" for both Rangers goals, of which the first, after four minutes, was the stuff of nightmares. Paul Furlong was penalised for handball after grabbing the ball in the belief that he had been fouled by Richard Naylor. But as the Rangers striker jogged forlornly back, Davis drove the free-kick squarely into his back, and Furlong turned to witness an inviting prospect - ball, goal, back-tracking goalkeeper - before dispatching the gift into the bottom corner.

When Davis came and missed the 75th-minute corner which Danny Shittu headed easily into the net, the game was up for Ipswich.

"You're not going up," sang the Rangers fans, and that is the dreaded scenario for a team which has known so much frustration in recent years. Royle had described Tuesday's defeat by Watford as "one of those nights". This he called "one of those games". Ipswich fans will be praying their team is not about to have one of those seasons.

The home side are clearly missing their talismanic forward Shefki Kuqi, whose thigh injury may keep him out until the end of March. The former Ipswich favourite James Scowcroft, back on loan from Leicester City, has so far managed a tally of three - bookings, that is. He is suspended for the Wigan game.

"Our forwards collectively aren't having the best of times," said Royle, who, right now, could do with a version of his younger self. As for Ian Holloway, the QPR manager, he is already planning a party to celebrate Championship survival at the same pub where his men marked last year's promotion. "It's owned by my fitness coach," Holloway said. "That sort of thing goes hand in hand."

Goals: Furlong (4) 0-1; Shittu (75) 0-2.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Davis; Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Unsworth; Miller, Magilton (Couñago, 57), Horlock, Currie (Bowditch, 72); Scowcroft (Westlake, 57), Bent. Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Karbassiyoon.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Royce; Bignot, Shittu, Santos, Edghill; Rowlands, Rose (Miller, 54), Bircham, Cook (Ainsworth, 81); Furlong, Gallen. Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Padula, Cureton.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

Booked: Ipswich De Vos, Scowcroft; QPR Edghill.

Man of the match: Wilnis.

Attendance: 29,008.