Thomas inspires Wolves fightback: Football

Queen's Park Rangers 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
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The Independent Online
For a team that had built its reputation on its performances away from Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers had looked vulnerable on their travels of late. Three successive defeats, all away from home, were in danger of becoming four when they trailed by two goals inside half an hour at Loftus Road yesterday.

Deciding then that with Rangers "making runs off us for a laugh", the visiting manager, Mark McGhee, made two substitutions that changed the course of the game and possibly the whole promotion issue. Most significant was his introduction of Geoff Thomas.

Rangers, hitherto rampant, suddenly found they were in a match, which considering what had gone before proved doubly frustrating for their manager, Stewart Houston. "We were outstanding in the first half-hour," he said. "That was the best I've seen from any First Division side this season."

Even Alex Ferguson, watching his son Darren in the Wolves midfield, must have been impressed by the slick one-touch play. Using fine angles, sharp passing and devastating runs off the ball, Rangers would have been out of sight by half-time had Daniele Dichio had any of the luck going.

Denied once by goalkeeper Mike Stowell's legs, the Sampdoria-bound forward also headed Paul Murray's cross against a post and was narrowly wide with another header.

Doubtless Dichio must have envied the header John Spencer placed beyond Stowell from Gavin Peacock's cross for his 14th goal of the season. Peacock then lashed in the second after Simon Barker's cross had bounced off his chest.

Wolves protested that he had used a helping hand, but the complaints were all from QPR when Don Goodman halved the arrears. Jurgen Sommer, according to the home side, was impeded by Iwan Roberts as he went for Steve Froggatt's corner.

Minus the suspended Steve Bull, Wolves eventually forsook their unedifying muscular approach for a more subtle one, personified by Simon Osborn's thoughtful passing. It was in pursuing a ball threaded through by the midfielder that Goodman fell under Alan McDonald's clumsy challenge. The original referee, Steve Baines, had given way to a calf strain at half- time, but Roger Coxhead, who was promoted from assistant referee during the interval, had no hesitation. Nor had Keith Curle as he swept the kick just beyond Sommer's reach.

As McDonald went to redeem himself by attempting a late winner, he sparked off an 18-man brawl, which brought no action from Mr Coxhead save a booking for the protesting Stowell, who had gone down under a heap of warring players.

Queen's Park Rangers (3-4-3): Sommer; Yates, Maddix, McDonald; Impey, Barker (Quashie, 77), Murray, Brevett; Peacock, Dichio, Spencer (Slade, 77). Substitute not used: Graham.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Curle, Atkins, Venus (Law, 41); Smith, Osborn, Ferguson, Corica (Thomas, 33), Froggatt; Goodman, Roberts. Substitute not used: Thompson.

Referee: S Baines (Chesterfield) replaced by R Coxhead (Huntingdon) at half-time.