Sheffield Wed 2 QPR 1
PUBLISHED: 15:32 10 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:13 24 August 2010
By Ben Kosky EVEN in a season strewn with wasted winning positions, it was astonishing to witness a transformation as rapid - and potentially costly - as this. With five minutes of the first half remaining, Wednesday s dispirited side were there for the t
By Ben Kosky
EVEN in a season strewn with wasted winning positions, it was astonishing to witness a transformation as rapid - and potentially costly - as this.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Wednesday's dispirited side were there for the taking and fortunate to be only 1-0 down after Rangers had ripped them apart.
Yet an inspired double change from Owls boss Brian Laws and goals either side of half-time swung the pendulum firmly in the home side's favour and, even with so much time left, QPR suddenly looked dead and buried.
That lack of fighting spirit has been evident too often in the latter part of matches - although substitute Hogan Ephraim did his best to prove otherwise in injury time, elbowing Franck Songo'o in the face to earn a straight red card.
Referee Neil Swarbrick hastily ended the contest as tempers boiled over in the aftermath - but in reality it had been over ever since the 51st minute, when Deon Burton's penalty gave Wednesday the lead.
Swarbrick's performance was inconsistent and, as Rangers boss Luigi de Canio pointed out, he should have dismissed Owls striker Marcus Tudgay for kicking the ball away late in the game - having booked him earlier for an identical offence.
"I don't like to comment on technical decisions on the part of the referee, but I do believe he was below par and made some judgmental errors," De Canio declared.
"Hogan reacted in the wrong manner and was rightly sent off but before that there were a couple of occasions when the referee could have blown the whistle and calmed things down.
"In the first half there was really only one team on the pitch, but we wasted too many chances to kill them off and in only a few minutes they managed to overturn the result. That gave them a big boost."
QPR opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Rowan Vine found space on the left and cut the ball back for left-back Damien Delaney (pictured left), charging into the penalty area, to stab home his first goal for the club.
Rangers pierced the Owls' defence almost at will and Vine and Blackstock both blazed chances over, while Patrick Agyemang turned Mark Beevers and toe-poked past Lee Grant, but the ball struck the outside of the post and trickled behind.
Wednesday were so bad that Laws made two substitutions before half-time and that inspired them to snatch an injury-time equaliser, with the dangerous Songo'o chipping a pinpoint ball into the area for Graham Kavanagh to nod over the stranded Lee Camp.
And, although Vine set up Blackstock for a shot that Grant parried soon after the restart, it was the Owls who scored again when Camp spilled a greasy ball and was adjudged to have felled substitute Sean McAllister in the ensuing scramble.
Burton, the other substitute, then sent Camp the wrong way from the spot and the tables were well and truly turned as Kavanagh and Tudgay both went close to increasing the lead.
Apart from a Blackstock header that Grant dived to save, Rangers created nothing in response and only a flying stop from Camp, tipping Kavanagh's free-kick around the post, prevented Wednesday from wrapping up the win.
Ultimately it made no difference and Matthew Connolly hooked Tudgay's header off the line before Songo'o, wasting time by the corner flag, was floored by Ephraim to bring the proceedings to a close.
QPR: Camp; Mancienne, Stewart, CONNOLLY*, Delaney; Buzsaky (Balanta 75), Rowlands, Leigertwood (Mahon 66), Vine (Ephraim 63l); Agyemang, Blackstock. Subs not used: Pickens, Rehman.