QPR 4 Southampton 1
PUBLISHED: 12:11 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:21 24 August 2010
GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICS
By Ben Kosky DON T be fooled by the scoreline - Rangers will have to play much better to make the fans predictions of promotion anything more than wishful thinking. For much of the contest, the Rs struggled to get on top of one of the Championship s weak
By Ben Kosky
DON'T be fooled by the scoreline - Rangers will have to play much better to make the fans' predictions of promotion anything more than wishful thinking.
For much of the contest, the Rs struggled to get on top of one of the Championship's weakest sides - who were also a man short due to a harsh refereeing decision.
"It was a good result but not a great team performance," was manager Iain Dowie's verdict. "We were very decent in possession, very poor out of possession.
"I'm very pleased with the start but there's a lot we can improve on. Southampton played with a real freedom - they put the ball about but they never really worked Radek [Cerny], while their keeper made a lot of saves."
It looked as if a rout might be on the cards when Dexter Blackstock gave Rangers the perfect start after 40 seconds, thumping gratefully into the roof of the net as Southampton failed to deal with Gavin Mahon's throw.
But the home side never built on that platform and Saints were beginning to find a foothold when referee Kevin Friend proved anything but what his name suggested.
Damien Delaney played a one-two with Lee Cook and was sent flying by debutant Oliver Lancashire's challenge - untidy and poorly timed but not worthy of the red card Friend raised aloft.
Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis twice denied Blackstock in the run-up to half-time, pushing away a diving header and tipping a close-range effort onto the post.
At the other end, the unmarked Adam Lallana should have done better than to swing Andrew Surman's cross tamely into Cerny's hands, but it served Rangers a warning they failed to heed.
Mahon's powerful effort was held by Davis eight minutes after the restart and the keeper quickly returned the ball to play, allowing Lallana to scamper through, collect a return pass from Simon Gillett and tuck in the equaliser.
QPR's apparent lethargy prompted a double change from Dowie and that paid dividends a few minutes later when one of the new arrivals, Martin Rowlands, swept in a free-kick that was touched in by Damion Stewart.
The Jamaican defender was offside by some distance, but Rangers gratefully accepted a second generous decision - and at last they went on to dominate 10-man Southampton as they should have done sooner.
Mikele Leigertwood's half-volley flew over, but the outcome was effectively settled 10 minutes from time as Davis denied Patrick Agyemang, but Blackstock popped up to slot in the rebound and seal his former club's fate.
Davis tipped another Agyemang effort behind after Rowlands had created the opening while, at the other end, Nathan Dyer captured a stray Leigertwood pass but fired over with only Cerny to beat.
Delaney and Cook both had efforts ruled out for earlier fouls, but it was Agyemang who added gloss to the scoreline in added time as he collected a ball from Leigertwood and rifled it past the helpless Davis.
Just what the crowd wanted to see - but they seemed to have forgotten the disjointed performance of the first hour and some uncertain defending all too easily.
QPR: Cerny; Ramage, Connolly, Stewart, Delaney; Mahon, Leigertwood; Ephraim (Agyemang 60), Parejo (Rowlands 60), Cook; BLACKSTOCK*. Subs not used: Camp, Gorkss, Balanta.