QPR 1 Ipswich Town 3
By Ben Kosky NO doubt this match will be remembered as the one where QPR fans vilified their own captain, but it wasn t as simple as that. Yes, Gavin Mahon had a stinker – gifting Ipswich one goal and another opportunity that should have resulted in one –
By Ben Kosky
NO doubt this match will be remembered as the one where QPR fans vilified their own captain, but it wasn't as simple as that.
Yes, Gavin Mahon had a stinker - gifting Ipswich one goal and another opportunity that should have resulted in one - but he certainly wasn't the first armband wearer to be booed by the Loftus Road crowd.
Or the first defensive midfield skipper with a receding hairline, for that matter - many fans will recall Steve Morrow being made the scapegoat for all Stewart Houston's failings and Steve Palmer taking stick during the dark 'Vauxhall Motors' days.
In fact, the fans were voicing their discontent at Paulo Sousa's reluctance to substitute his floundering captain and his bewildering team selections in general.
Why was Damion Stewart, the Rs' most consistent defender all season, relegated to the bench? Why was Samuel Di Carmine selected ahead of both leading scorer Dexter Blackstock and second placed Heidar Helguson?
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True, Di Carmine did what is required of any striker with a clinical finish to put QPR ahead in the third minute, pouncing on Wayne Routledge's cross to the near post.
But the youngster doesn't have the presence to lead the line alone - and Sousa ignored the need for reinforcements until his side were 2-1 down midway through the second half.
Even when Blackstock was given the nod, Sousa blundered by sacrificing left-back Damien Delaney - and almost at once Jon Walters nipped into the space vacated to make it 3-1.
Rangers never looked like building on Di Carmine's opener and were pegged back just 11 minutes later, David Norris' drive deflecting off Pablo Counago for Jon Stead to nip between Matthew Connolly and Lee Camp and tuck it away.
Stead was presented with a glorious opportunity to give the Tractor Boys the lead when Mahon's loose header fell to Counago, but Camp covered the gap and the striker fired wide.
Routledge's pace and crossing ability always looked like the Rs' best chance of salvation, but they had to revise their thinking just after the hour mark when Mahon again yielded possession to Counago, who took the ball on and clipped it beyond Camp.
But Sousa's substitution backfired as Walters collected Alan Quinn's searching pass, controlled it and slotted home the visitors' third.
A chorus of 'you don't know what you're doing' rang around the ground as Sousa inexplicably took Liam Miller, rather than Mahon off - and the evidence of the final quarter of an hour backed that opinion up.
Richard Wright kept out headers from both Helguson and Blackstock, as well as a Mikele Leigertwood drive, but the Town goalkeeper hardly had to break sweat. Sousa may be sweating a little more heavily.
QPR: Camp; Connolly, Hall, Gorkss, Delaney (Blackstock 67); Mahon; Routledge, Miller (Balanta 73), LEIGERTWOOD*, Cook; Di Carmine (Helguson 55). Subs not used: Stewart, Alberti.