Blackpool 2 QPR 2
By Ben Kosky IT S hard to know which came as the more pleasant surprise – a 25-yard Matt Connolly screamer or a QPR team displaying some real backbone. Both, of course, were very welcome. Connolly s first goal for the club capped an efficient display at l
By Ben Kosky
IT'S hard to know which came as the more pleasant surprise - a 25-yard Matt Connolly screamer or a QPR team displaying some real backbone.
Both, of course, were very welcome. Connolly's first goal for the club capped an efficient display at left-back and earned Rangers a point they deserved on the balance of the second half.
Adel Taarabt, restored to the starting line-up by caretaker boss Mick Harford, produced his best performance since the heady days of October, while Hogan Ephraim made a much greater impact than the out-of-form Akos Buzsaky.
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But what really caught the eye in the second half was a renewed intensity and desire - so conspicuously lacking throughout the tedious five-match tenure of Paul Hart.
Frankly, the first period looked like an extension of Hart failure as Blackpool, with Charlie Adam and David Vaughan pulling the strings in midfield, passed Rangers off the park.
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Barry Bannan's curling effort was comfortably held by goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, but the Rs debutant was left helpless as the home side grabbed the lead on just nine minutes.
Brett Ormerod wriggled free of Fitz Hall, who struggled throughout in the right-back berth, and whipped a cross to the far post, where Adam got clear of a static defence to volley into the roof of the net.
Ormerod snatched at a chance to double the lead soon afterwards, while Keith Southern's drive and a header from ex-QPR defender Ian Evatt flew just wide of the target.
At the other end, Taarabt's trickery offered Rangers' only route back into the match, but the success of the Seasiders' offside trap meant a frustrating first half for him, along with Patrick Agyemang and Wayne Routledge.
It all changed after the interval, with Taarabt incredibly unfortunate not to level as his finish beat Paul Rachubka, only to strike one post, then the other and fall for the grateful Alex Baptiste to hack clear.
But Taarabt's karma was quickly balanced out in the 54th minute as his next attempt on goal hit the hand of Neal Eardley and referee Trevor Kettle incensed the Tangerine faithful by signalling a penalty.
The Moroccan sent Rachubka the wrong way with a cheeky dink and, as he and Ephraim kept the Blackpool defence under pressure - while Routledge began to sparkle on the opposite flank - the match seemed to be tilting in the Rs' favour.
Restricting their hosts to largely harmless long-range efforts, Rangers looked the sharper side at this stage and it came as a surprise when they slipped behind again 13 minutes from time.
Vaughan outstripped Hall again and a delivered a cross that was headed out by Kaspars Gorkss, but the ball fell straight to Southern, whose drive was turned in by Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
If Blackpool's second goal was unexpected, it paled into insignificance against what followed seven minutes later - Connolly flicking the ball up on his knee and dispatching a left-foot volley that sailed over Rachubka and gave the QPR fans something, at last, to smile about.