FA Carling Premier League, Monday, 8 April 1996; Loftus Road, London
Previous Match: Everton v Bolton Wanderers Next Match: Everton v Liverpool
Gallen 15, Hateley 42, Sinclair 61; Ebbrell 78.
Queens Park Rangers: Sommer, Bardsley, Brevett, McDonald, Yates, Wilkins, Holloway, Impey, Hateley, Gallen, Sinclair. Subs Not Used: Ready, Dichio, Brazier. Booked: McDonald, Holloway.
Everton: Southall, Hinchcliffe, Unsworth (Short 63), Watson, Ebbrell, Hottiger, Horne (Grant 73), Parkinson, Kanchelskis, Ferguson, Limpar (Branch 45). Booked: Hinchcliffe, Horne, Ferguson.
Ref: P Durkin (Portland).
CarlingNet: Trevor Sinclair inspired Queens Park Rangers to a convincing victory that keeps alive the prospect of FA Carling Premiership football at Loftus Road next season.
Sinclair's skills snuffed the life out of Everton's European bid and boosted Rangers' morale for the relegation crunch at Coventry on Saturday.
He outshone Andrei Kanchelskis who received scant service from his colleagues in a poor Everton performance.
The Merseysiders, with top scorer Graham Stuart, Paul Rideout and Daniel Amokachi all out injured, offered precious little threat until 17-year-old Michael Branch replaced Anders Limpar at half-time to support the isolated Duncan Ferguson.
But by then Sinclair had secured the points for Rangers. He skipped past half-hearted challenges from Limpar and Barry Horne to set up Kevin Gallen for his seventh goal of the season after 15 minutes.
Kanchelskis might have had a penalty when he was tripped by Rufus Brevett nine minutes later but this was Rangers' day to show they are not ready for the last rites just yet.
Three minutes before the break, Mark Hateley climbed above Dave Watson to head in the second from Ian Holloway's right-wing cross. Hateley had been recalled by player-boss Ray Wilkins after a nine-match absence and responded with his first home goal for the club.
Everton had their best spell on the restart when Ferguson cracked a shot against the Rangers crossbar and was then denied by Jurgen Sommer. Then when Ferguson released Kanchelskis the Russian international pulled the ball back across goal where the in-rushing Branch just failed to get a touch.
Just at it began to look as though Everton might salvage something from the game, Sinclair took over.
He charged down David Unsworth's attempted 61st-minute clearance and drove in an angled shot beaten out by the diving Neville Southall. Sinclair was quickest to the rebound and tapped the ball past a still-grounded Southall.
Unsworth's part in the goal obviously did not impress manager Joe Royle who was celebrating his 47th birthday. He immediately sent on Craig Short for the England defender - and at least Everton managed a consolation goal 12 minutes from the end.
Ferguson had the beating of Alan McDonald in the air most of the afternoon but few of his headers fell to colleagues. At last he got it right as he nodded down for John Ebbrell to volley crisply past Sommer.
Graham Williams: There was apparently a squad of 17, with Jon O'Connor, Graham Allen and Michael Branch added to the squad from the Bolton match. The odd thing was that Amo was not included in the team and was not even a sub. I imagine he was injured - a report on the Bolton match said he had breathing problems on Saturday for a while.
The team that started had Rhino with Dave Watson in central defence, Ebbrell, Horne and Parky all playing, both Limpar and KK, and Dunc up front. Short, Grant and Michael Branch on the bench. Perhaps JR felt QPR's midfield is quite solid and wanted to counter it with our solid trio.
The first half was pretty bad from Everton's point of view. The only consoling thought was that it was no worse than the first half of last year's game at QPR, which saw Brett Angell making his swan song, if I remember right. Their first goal I think originated from an Everton corner which Big Dunc won, but the ball went out to Limpar who lost it as only Anders can. Swift counter attack found two QPR players against one, and Gallen (is he related to all those QPR Allens?) slotted it home. Their second quite simply saw Hateley out-jump Dave Watson and head a cross back across the goal and in. I thought Parky, Dunc and Nev were all right in the first half, the rest of the team was below par.
As last year, the second half was a different story, except we didn't come back to win. Branch came on at the start instead of Limpar. Unfortunately although things were much improved, while we were stretched they got away, Sinclair down the right who cut in near the goal line, passed back and it was apparently Impey who put in another. Ebbrell got one back, a volley so credit to him - it could have gone over. Short came on after their third for Rhino and Grant later for Horne. Dunc hit the bar, but that was it -- 3 -1 to QPR.
Branch struck me as being quite promising. He looked about 5' 10", stocky, fast and with a few tricks up his sleeve. Also competitive attitude, but he'll need to control himself -- he can't stick his finger up at all central defenders when he doesn't come out on top, as happened with Yates/McDonald once (I mix them up). I'm not sure how he and Dunc would gel - still to be worked out yet.
Guy McEvoy: A good number of Blues turned out to see this miserable attempt at pushing into Europe, so many in fact that despite announcements at Goodison on Saturday that you could pay cash on the gate, "just turn up", a good many travelled an awful long way to find themselves locked out. They didn't miss much.
It started bruisingly. Referee Paul Durkin is head and body above his counterparts by averaging six bookings a game over the season. He seemed in determined mood not to let his treasured average slip as the first quarter of an hour was only notable for three 'nothing' yellow cards, including a mystifying one for Dunc after a clash with Somers who for my money should have been the one in the book.
Everton had by this point failed to muster anything, QPR were looking much the brighter and when the mercurial Sinclair picked the ball up inside his own half, skipped past first Limpar then Horne, played a fine ball through to Gallen who had managed to shake off Watson, you knew that the ball was only going to go one place. 1-0 QPR.
I expected that the goal would give Everton the kick up the backside they required but it just didn't happen. We tried to launch things through Limpar but he had his worst match of the season, nothing worked for him, passes went astray, dribbles were tackled, his shot was scuffed. Limpar's haplessness seemed to be rubbing off on Kanchelskis who was also failing to reproduce the form he's shown for the last few games. It was the game we've all been dreading, the one were both wingers have an off day and consequently Everton looked absent of ideas.
Before half time we gave Rangers the chance to extend their lead, the impressive looking Holloway took advantage of Hinchcliffe's standing off to put in fine cross in which 'haircut' Hatley was able to comprehensively out-jump Watson leaving Southall helpless. 2-0 QPR.
The highlight of the half for the blues (if there was one) was a superb strike from Hottiger that thundered into the net, unfortunately the ref had stopped play at least five seconds earlier, so the blues who leapt up thinking we'd equalised were left with red faces. The half though was really a poorly executed 45 minute exercise in attempting to soak up pressure.
Something had to give in the second half and Joe made the correct call in cutting his losses with Limpar and bringing on Branch for his second first team appearance. We very quickly managed to put together more chances than we had in the entire first half. First Hinchcliffe hit a lovely through-ball to Ferguson who did everything right, hit the ball over the keeper, only to see it crash onto the crossbar. No-one was following up for the rebound.
Soon after, Ferguson played Kanchelskis through into the box; the shot looked on but he took it too far and instead chose to play the ball across the goalmouth. It was a fraction too far forward for Branch to make the slight connection it would have needed.
Just when everything looked back on though we made one of those dreadful defensive botches that put the game beyond us. Sinclair again had the freedom of the park as he cruised into the box and forced a good save from Southall, the parry unfortunately fell kindly to Impey who was grateful for the open goal. 3-0 QPR. Getting embarrassing.
Further adjustments to the team gave us a lift, Short had come on for Unsworth and Grant for Horne but it was all too late now. As has happened in the last two games, we really turned it on at the end, but this time we were doing the score chasing, not the score extending and perhaps the pressure was the difference in the finishing.
Ebbrell gave us a bit of pride, and just a little false hope when he finely volleyed home Dunc's header from the edge of the box, but after that the ball and the net could have been magnetically polarised to repel. Despite the final peppering of attacks, nothing went on target. When the final whistle went you could feel the collective sigh of relief from the Rangers fans, but in truth I thought they were worth their 3 points and always looked likely to get them.
The only good bit of the day was the fact that they all stayed in the stadium for ages after the whistle to hear the other results. This meant for the first time this season in London I didn't have to queue up for hours for a Tube and I was thankfully able to get far away from Loftus Road quickly (back in Lancaster for 8:30pm by a miracle of public transport!).
It is a cliché but Rangers do look too good to go down. Everton meanwhile look too poor to play in Europe. We need three wins now to stay in with a shout, no more second chances.
Southall 6 - Not really helped by his defence. Nevertheless, only made one noteworthy save and the rebound from that was knocked in. A big change from the two previous clean sheets.
Hottiger 6 - Back to his old tricks, some poor passes, caught absent without leave more than once and had two completely scuffed long range efforts. Still attempting to get a good understanding with Kan, but done no favours by the Ukrainian's off day.
Watson 6 - Couldn't get to grips with QPR. Dave's poorest showing for a while. Should have done better with the Hatley goal.
Unsworth 6 - Like Watson just couldn't do the business today when it counted. Got to grips with Holloway better than anyone else but it wasn't enough.
Hinchcliffe 7 - Must share some of the blame for the second goal, but other than that played OK. Corners all looked good again and played some important through-balls. Picked up an unnecessary yellow card (Durkin really is a wanker!)
Parkinson 6 - Heard quite a few people say he played OK, but I really thought he failed to settle into his role, as a defensive midfielder he must take some responsibility for the pressure QPR were allowed to put us under, particularly in the first half.
Horne 6 - Started brightly enough, but quickly the midfield area was surrendered and Barry didn't have any answers either. Showed way too much respect to Wilkins. Correctly subbed for the more creative Grant.
Ebbrell 7 - The pick of our men in the middle, battled all game and scored a good goal too.
Limpar 5 - Absolute nightmare day out for him.
Kanchelskis 6 - We know he can do so much better than this. 10 out of 10 to their left back for keeping him so quiet.
Ferguson 7 - Will be lying in bed worrying himself stupid about how he got through Easter without increasing his goals tally. Has done everything right in the build-ups got into the positions, made some good connections and it just hasn't gone in (dare I say deja vu with Amokachi?)
Branch 7 - Showed, pace, confidence, a couple of tricks and fine positional awareness. I'm impressed.
Short 6 - Probably brought on to add an extra attacking option but in the event offered nothing different to Unsworth.
Grant 7 - It was noticeable how much our attacking tempo increased once Tony came on, he's forging himself into an important play-maker, only criticism was that he seemed to have developed a reluctance to take men on.
Steve Malone: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I have to say that EFC's first half performance was one of the worst I have ever seen. I have never heard the EFC supporters so angry or disgusted at the end - the 2/300 Blues not able to get in the ground had a lucky escape.
This was not a case of plucky, determined relegation strugglers giving their all in the face of class and superiority, rather one of the teams playing with crass stupidity. How many times this season have we seen promising midfield possession blown away by a vaguely struck high ball lobbed pathetically in the general direction of big Dunc? Yet for virtually all of the first half and much of the second, this seemed to be the sole tactic of the whole team, including Big Nev. Predictably, we were punished time after time again by losing possession in this way.
Several players had absolute stinkers - Horne gave away the ball for Rangers' first, to the fury of the EFC end, then continued to give the ball away whenever it was possible. To crown the worst bad hair day in living memory, in sheer frustration he needlessly dived in on Sinclair from behind, and JR took him off straight away. Limpar looked ill from the start and looked like he was avoiding the ball for much of the first half. Even Kanchelskis looked jaded, and never once managed to have the beating of Rangers' number 3 (who was outstanding - can't remember his name, sorry). AK did manage one or two of his jinking runs from the right wing touchline, beating several players into the middle of the pitch, but once he did this on the half way line when he had loads of options for a simple pass, and his distribution today was strangely poor.
I felt very, very sorry for Duncan, who struggled all afternoon with the aforementioned vaguely hit high balls and despite winning the ball on most occasions, just never had the support to nod it on to anyone apart from the QPR defence. Even he managed to miss a free header from 7 yards out with 15 mins to go.
The referee was a total disgrace, and added to the sense of disbelief and growing frustration of the Blues fans by unbelievably moronic decisions concerning fouls and bookings. Yet again Duncan was booked for a totally innocuous challenge early in the match by a ref unable to show any authority except through the yellow card. He also denied Branch what looked like a good penalty chance and refused to play advantage on several occasions in the second half when it might have helped us score.
Thankfully JR took Limpar off during the interval and put Branch up with Duncan as a second central forward. This seemed to make quite a difference, and the energy, skill and commitment which Branch displayed contrasted harshly with much of the rest of the team. Hottiger, who also played well, was also brought forward, with Short (replacing Unsworth) and Watson staying back. Sadly, that lanky streak of you-know-what, Hately, had Watson well beaten for their second goal, although Watson had much too much to do considering the amount of possession we managed despite giving the ball away all afternoon.
Sinclair was outstanding, possessing that strange ability (if you're an EFC forward, that is) of being willing to fall back, defend and tackle well when necessary. Three or four times he managed to win the ball in his own half near the wing and speed past three or four tackles before a good distribution. In contrast, when Rangers scored their third goal I counted three EFC players hovering on the half way line and another three within 10 yards of the halfway line, and none were rushing back to help defend with Rangers on the break. No wonder they scored three.
For the last five minutes of the first half JR stood in the dugout staring trance-like ahead, and didn't appear to be watching (or wanting to watch) the game. Sadly, we were that bad. Even the two ManU supporters in our party sensed the humiliation in the air and didn't crow.
Hearing about the Bolton performance, and thinking about all the other bad games we've been involved in this season, I have to say that I don't think we deserve to be in Europe next season - we need to be a lot better. Better put a shroud over the club motto until things get a little more professional.
Let's hope that our failure to qualify ('cos it looks that way now) doesn't put off the big signings we need to make in the closed season.
By John Ley, Electronic Telegraph
WITH three points separating the bottom five in the Premiership, the relegation issues are far from clear; however, if survival was awarded to the form teams, Queens Park Rangers would retain their status.
Unfortunate at Newcastle on Saturday, they responded admirably to record their second successive home win and move up to 18th.
That Everton lost for only the second time in eight games was ultimately down to a catalogue of wasted chances towards the end. However, with Trevor Sinclair in inspirational form, Rangers will consider they have a chance of sneaking out of the fray.
Rangers now travel to Coventry on Saturday in a game with massive significance in the relegation stakes. Another victory could take them out of the bottom three for the first time since Boxing Day.
Unfortunately for Rangers, they have only three games left in which to complete what would be a major rescue act, and only one of those is at Loftus Road. Even so, Ray Wilkins, who produced another dominant performance in midfield, remains confident.
Wilkins, the Rangers player-manager, said: "It was an excellent result and we played some good football. They have worked their socks off in the last few days and got their just rewards.
Holloway's long, looping cross found Hateley, who beat Dave Watson to send a header over Neville Southall.
"Considering the pressure they are under, they are still trying to do the right things. Saturday's game is now one we cannot lose. After the season we have had it would be absolutely marvellous if we stayed up."
Rangers opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Sinclair set off on a 50-yard sprint, flicking the ball over Anders Limpar and rounding Barry Horne before presenting Kevin Gallen with the chance to record his seventh goal of the season.
Everton, their outside hopes of a place in Europe boosted by a good late run, were outpaced in midfield where Ian Holloway was particularly impressive, and they conceded a second goal after 41 minutes.
Mark Hateley, whose appearances in the first team have been limited since his arrival from Glasgow Rangers, was recalled for his first game for two months and, after a sluggish start, headed his second goal.
Holloway's long, looping cross found Hateley, who beat Dave Watson to send a header over Neville Southall.
The two-goal cushion was crucial; Everton, who replaced Anders Limpar with Michael Branch at half-time, began to find their way back into the game and were unlucky not to respond two minutes later when Duncan Ferguson hit the angle of left post and crossbar.
When Branch just failed to make contact with a superb Andrei Kanchelskis cross, it seemed inevitable that Rangers would win and that view was enforced when Sinclair beat David Unsworth, his shot was parried by Southall but touched home by Andrew Impey.
Still Everton pressed forward and when John Ebbrell scored from 15 yards, with 11 minutes remaining, Rangers feared the worst.
Ferguson had further chances, marginally wide with an overhead kick, but Rangers held on for their fifth home win of the season.
Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc
By Alyson Rudd, The Times
THIS is turning into a through-the-looking-glass season for Queens Park Rangers. They spent much of it worrying when there was really no need to and now, when relegation is more likely than not, they have jumped off the psychiatrist's couch to play free-flowing, counter-attacking football as if without a care in the world.
Victory against Everton moved them one place nearer safety. It was an exemplary team performance, with Sinclair top of the class and Hateley bottom but even the former (Glasgow) Rangers forward managed a goal in the midst of an embarrassing overall contribution.
Everton, in the first half, gave a wonderful rendition of a team with nothing to play for. Only in the second half did they remember that there is a place in Europe at stake and at last they put the Rangers goal under sustained pressure.
Fifteen minutes into the match, Everton were left exposed after a run by Sinclair, who had simply to slide the ball into Gallen's path for a goal. So many times this season, similar situations have failed to result in Gallen scoring. Yesterday, however, he confidently assessed the angle and beat Southall.
Sinclair was in one of his more effective moods. Indeed, Hinchcliffe was booked in the 27th minute after a clumsy attempt to stop one of his dashes down the wing.
By contrast, Hateley seemed unable to do anything right. Sinclair found him unmarked in the penalty area, Hateley wasted the opportunity; Wilkins found him with a clever pass and Hateley booted the ball into no man's land; but not even Hateley was going to squander Holloway's cross in the 42nd minute. Again, he was given space; this time, he looped his header over Southall, who remained motionless, simply glaring at his defenders.
Everton, lifted from their stupor by a half-time chat with Joe Royle, the manager, almost scored within three minutes of the restart. Hinchcliffe fed the ball through to Ferguson, whose powerful shot hit the woodwork.
The second half gave Rangers the chance to show off their new-found defensive repertoire and Brevett and Yates, in particular, were impressive. Sommer, too, played his part, bravely meeting the ball when under pressure and refusing to be even gently shaken by the towering presence of Ferguson.
Rangers then went 3-0 ahead. Sinclair, skipping down the right flank, chose to shoot while Impey, unmarked, called for a pass. The ball fell to Impey, anyway, on the rebound from Southall.
Everton snatched one goal from their continued assault, Ebbrell prodding the ball past Sommer after Ferguson had flicked the ball on to him. Thereafter, there was constant goalmouth action. Ferguson headed wide, wasting Hottiger's cross, and Hateley once again squandered a ball from Sinclair.
After the final whistle, the home supporters clung to each other in rapture as the day's other results were announced. All in all, a splendid day in west London.
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