Sinclair lacking the final touch

Queen's Park Rangers 2 Newcastle United
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The Independent Online

The return to Loftus Road of Les Ferdinand clearly inspired him to give of his best and lend weight to the view that he might be the next multi- million pound departure from Queen's Park Rangers. As for the promising two-goal Daniele Dichio, he still has a way to go.

Trevor Sinclair was the player who captured the imagination on Saturday, upstaging the duelling No 9s of both teams in a rollicking good match. Displaying as many twists and turns as the game itself, he led the Newcastle defence, and England new boy John Beresford in particular, a merry dance. If only he could discover the necessary composure at the end of those slalom runs to deliver the final shot or cross with greater consistency...

"He's easy on the eye, isn't he?" his manager, Ray Wilkins, said. "You see him flying across the surface and you think, 'Christ, what a player' - and then he gives the ball away."

Wilkins was entitled to feel a trifle cynical after his team, who have a penchant for committing hara-kiri in their own front room (four home defeats in five), plunged the blade in yet again, courtesy of Karl Ready's aberrational back-pass. Keith Gillespie was on hand for the second time in the match to take decisive advantage and give lie to the view that, without the finishing of Ferdinand, the League leaders would not be sitting so pretty.

As it was, of course, the England striker, controversially left out in the cold in Oslo in midweek but warmly welcomed back here, again hit the target, for the 12th time in 11 matches. But such was the attention paid him by his old mucker, Danny Maddix that, had he not been given the opportunity to beat Maddix for pace in the 55th minute, he would almost certainly have left his old hunting ground a frustrated figure. "Are you watching, Terry Venables?" crowed the Magpies. If the England coach had been, his obvious misgivings about the player might have been confirmed by the way Ferdinand struggled against man-marking.

Even so, there is still plenty about his game that would give foreign defenders, as well as domestic ones, cause for concern. It was not just through modesty that young Dichio asked beforehand that he not be compared with his Rangers predecessor. "Les is the finished article," he said a little generously. However, when it comes to aerial ability, the 6ft 4in Dichio - who is of Italian extraction - sizes up pretty impressively; he came within a whisker of a hat- trick of headers.

Asked by an Italian voice what would be the position of new signing Mark Hateley when he is fit in the light of Dichio's seven goals in six games, Wilkins replied with deadpan face: "He won't get a game."

Goals: Dichio (45) 1-0; Gillespie (46) 1-1; Ferdinand (55) 1-2; Dichio (67) 2-2; Gillespie (71) 2-.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Impey, Ready, Maddix, Brevett; Holloway, Osborn, (Goodridge, 7) Barker, Yates; Dichio, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Wilkins, Gallen.

Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Hislop; Barton, Peacock, Howey, Beresford; Gillespie, Lee, Clark, Ginola (Sellars, 68); Beardsley; Ferdinand. Substitutes not used: Watson, Srnicek (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland, Dorset).