Meaker wants to make it a Masters hat-trick
By Ben Kosky HAT-TRICK hero Michael Meaker is setting his sights on another treble after helping QPR s golden oldies retain the London Masters title on Saturday. Meaker s three goals in the final enabled Rangers to recover a 3-0 deficit against West Ham a
By Ben Kosky
HAT-TRICK hero Michael Meaker is setting his sights on another treble after helping QPR's golden oldies retain the London Masters title on Saturday.
Meaker's three goals in the final enabled Rangers to recover a 3-0 deficit against West Ham and beat their east London rivals in a penalty shoot-out at Wembley Arena.
The Rs had already pulled off one astonishing comeback during the evening, coming from two goals down to triumph 3-2 against Tottenham before Marcus Bignot hit a hat-trick of his own to stun Arsenal 3-0.
Meaker, who turns 39 next month but is still playing for Mangotsfield United in the Southern League, told the Times: "It was great to win the tournament again and hopefully we can come back and retain it a third year running.
"The new boys who came in made a big difference and I hope they'll all be there for the national finals because this year we're looking to do better than we did last time.
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"It was all new to them and maybe that was why we started off slow against Tottenham, but that first half gave us a kick up the backside and we never looked back.
"QPR were my first pro side and they're always going to be one of the most important things in my career. The fans were fantastic again, as they were last year, and I know it means a lot to them, winning tournaments like this."
Bignot was one of four new faces in the Rangers squad, along with Matthew Rose, former assistant manager Tim Breacker and Simon Royce, who took over from regular goalkeeper Tony Roberts.
But the Rs' grip on the London Masters crown seemed to be weakening as they fell 2-0 behind to an Allan Nielsen double against Tottenham and, although Tony Thorpe hit the bar, there seemed no way back at half-time.
Meaker pounced on a defensive slip to halve the deficit, though, and Bignot tucked away his first goal in Masters football to make it 2-2 before Meaker set up Thorpe to curl home the winner with a minute remaining.
Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Spurs meant that Rangers had to beat the Gunners in their second game to reach the final and Bignot went close when he struck the woodwork in a scoreless first half.
But the former QPR skipper scampered onto Meaker's pass to open the scoring after the break and provided another cool finish to make it 2-0 before wrapping up his hat-trick late on.
The second group proved far tighter, with Chelsea, Fulham and West Ham all drawing twice to set up a penalty shoot-out between the two sides with the most goals - Chelsea and West Ham.
Former QPR left-back Keith Rowland netted the decisive spot-kick to clinch a 4-3 win for the Hammers and set up a repeat of the 2009 final.
It looked as if West Ham would gain revenge for that defeat as Kenny Brown's thunderbolt broke the deadlock and Don Hutchison and Kevin Keen then set each other up to make it 3-0.
But Meaker pulled one back before half-time and gave Rangers a glimmer of hope as he curled home a second with a minute remaining before turning in Breacker's cross to complete his treble in a dramatic climax.
Hutchison sent his spot-kick wide and Karl Connolly, Thorpe and Breacker were all on target for Rangers before Royce saved Rowland's effort and Meaker then sealed their second successive title.
Rangers will now contest the national Masters title at Birmingham on Sunday September 5.