Troubles off the field weigh down weary Rangers

Queen's Park Rangers 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0
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The Independent Online

It's fair to say this has not been the happiest fortnight in QPR's history. First, their director Gianni Paladini was allegedly threatened at gunpoint inside their Loftus Road stadium before their opening home game of the season. They were soundly beaten 3-0 at Coventry City last weekend and then lost away to Northampton Town in the League Cup at the start of the week.

To round things off, in a boardroom coup on Wednesday the chairman, Bill Power, was removed by Paladini with the chief executive, Mark Devlin, also ousted into the bargain.

Footballers are masters of saying they are never affected by off-field events but this squad would need the hides of rhinos to ignore what has gone on behind the scenes, and the evidence would suggest they are not coping as well as all that.

Twice inside the first half-hour the Rangers captain, Kevin Gallen - pushed up from midfield to partner Paul Furlong in place of Stefan Moore - had good chances to open the scoring. With 10 minutes gone, Gareth Ainsworth ploughed his way past three Sheffield Wednesday defenders only for Gallen to curl his shot over the bar.

His next chance was far easier when Tommy Doherty, restored to midfield, slipped him a neat pass but all Gallen could do was poke it tamely to David Lucas.

Gallen showed he is more provider than finisher when a sublime cross-field pass picked out Ainsworth but his Marco Van Basten-style volley from a tight angle was well blocked by Lucas.

Wednesday's hopes of extracting anything more than a draw from this game were further diminished when they lost their central defender Drissa Diallo early in the second half.

The Owls did not make life any easier for themselves either. With 13 minutes remaining the left-back John Hills, who had already been booked, made a rash and ugly tackle on Ainsworth and was sent off.

That should have been the cue for QPR to take advantage and almost immediately Doherty tried his luck from 25 yards but Lucas was able to save as Wednesday clung on.

QPR (4-4-2): Royce; Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Milanese; Ainsworth, Bircham, Doherty, Miller (Moore, 56); Furlong, Gallen. Substitutes not used: Bean, Brown, Shimmin, Hislop.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Lucas; Simek, Diallo (Wood, 51), Coughlan, Hills; Partridge, Whelan (Brunt, 22), Rocastle, O'Brien; Graham, Peacock (Proudlock, 41). Substitutes not used: Lee, Eagles.

Referee: C Penton (Sussex).

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