Date: 20th September 2008 at 7:22pm
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AN ELLIOTT Ward first half penalty was enough to condemn their R`s to the second defeat of the season, as Rangers will look to a lack of cutting edge as an evident problem.

Despite a spirited second half performance, with the R`s retaining the vast majority of the ball they simply could not break down resolute Sky Blue`s defence marshalled by goal scorer Ward.

Wave after wave of attack and excellent retention of the ball wasn`t enough for the R`s despite their domination in the second period.

Rangers will look to key chances for Blackstock and Ledesma as they faltered to defeat at the Ricoh Arena.


Rangers made one enforced change from the side that battled its way to victory against Norwich at Carrow Road. Supsended Matthew Connolly made way for Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss, with Fitz Hall taking his place on the bench.

The R`s once again lined up with one up front, the in form Dexter Blackstock, supplemented by wingers Emmanuel Ledesma and Lee Cook, with skipper Martin Rowlands the attacking option in a central three.

Coventry remained unchanged from the side that picked up a point against Sheffield United. The potent strike force of Freddie Eastwood and Clinton Morrison was complimented by Leon McKenzie who played wide left.

The Sky Blues could once again look to a decent bench with Maltese Michael Mifsud, nicknamed `the mosquito` named amongst the substitutes.

Kick Off: Coventry City v Queens Park Rangers

Rangers started by far the brighter side, as they eclipsed the side that put in a tepid display last year, and yet somehow earned themselves a point. Lee Cook had the ball at his feet and space at his disposal, which is certainly a dangerous combination, as he knocked it sideways for marauding full back Damien Delaney who cut inside and drilled a powerful shot narrowly over the bar.

The early stages were played out in tentative fashion with both sides looking to retain possession and bring the ball forward. Coventry were looking dangerous in wide areas with the danger-man Clinton Morrison peeling off to dig out an outstanding far post cross, Peter Ramage dealt adequately despite the attentions of strike partner Freddie Eastwood.

Rangers nearly went behind moments later when more good work down the right flank, saw Elliott Ward marginally close from heading the Sky Blues home from the near post. He managed to fend off central defender Kaspars Gorkss to glance a header, which R`s stopper Radek Cerny saved well.

Coventry had their chance to take the lead courtesy of a penalty decision granted by referee Dean Whitestone. In his first Championship game of the season, Whitestone had no option to blow when Leigertwood mindlessly bundled over midfielder Jay Tabb in the area.

In truth Leigertwood was nowhere near the ball, as Tabb managed to earn himself the spot-kick by putting his body between the man and the ball. Central defender Elliott Ward, who had missed a penalty last time out at Bramall Lane, stepped up and drilled an effort towards the target. Czech stopper Cerny got a hand to it, but couldn`t stop the ball from trickling over the line as the Sky Blues had the advantage after 13 minutes.

Coventry City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

Rangers in truth were looking second best in every department in the early stages, but a mystifying decision to give a free-kick on the edge of the area, handed Coventry the chance to double their lead. Iain Dowie signing Daniel Fox fired a free-kick which deflected off the top of the wall and dipped narrowly over Cerny`s cross bar.

Rangers had a good chance to pull back the deficit as Peter Ramage was found wide by Gavin Mahon following a useful build up on the edge of the area. The former Newcastle United defender picked out a classy first time cross to the far post where the in form Dexter Blackstock was prowling, only an excellent defensive header from Elliot Ward denied the R`s forward.

Coventry were beginning to look rampant as they took the ball wide, and some scything crosses were inches away from finding their designated target. In almost a carbon copy to an initial chance, Freddie Eastwood made some space for a cross wide right, and Rangers arch-nemesis Clinton Morrison nearly made it six goals in six fixtures against the R`s, once again Ramage was on hand to scoop the ball away.

The R`s for all their difficulties in some departments, should have had the equaliser courtesy of Emmanuel Ledesma. The winger on loan from Genoa, found himself in acres of space after an excellent guided ball from Leigertwood. He coasted into the box, but his placed shot was met by Keiren Westwood, who smothered the Argentinean`s tame effort to keep the R`s goalless.

As has happened so many times in recent history Rangers were nearly punished on the counter attack. More good work by Morrison down the right created a chance for Jay Tabb bursting through the middle but his effort was tame, and once again smothered by Cerny, who was finding the going tough and refusing to be budged from the comfort of his line.

Mr. Whitestone drew the half to a close, in which Rangers flattered to deceive but elements of play going forward, certainly promised for much improvement in the second period. It was Coventry who had the advantage and rightfully so going into the break.

Half Time: Coventry City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

Rangers began in slightly tentative fashion early in the second period, as they sensed they had a job on their hands to break down a resilient Coventry backline, with former West Ham United defender Ward in particularly good form.

Icelandic central midfielder Aron Gunnarson teed himself up delightful and drilled a volley narrowly wide in the early stages. The shot flew narrowly wide of Cerny`s right hand upright as the Coventry fans sensed a second period to emulate the first.

That was as good as it got for City as here on in Rangers took control. Ramage got forward from the right once again to send in another testing cross, skipper Rowlands managed to flick the ball on for Dexter Blackstock, who was marshalled well by Ward who cleared to safety.

From the resulting corner Martin Rowlands worked himself some space on the edge of the area to fire a right footed drive that deflected through a pack of players to fall to defender Damion Stewart. The big Jamaican drilled a left footed shot inches over the bar from just inside the area.

Dowie`s attacking midfield ploy began to spark positive mutterings from the away following, 1,700 Rangers fans doing their club proud from start to finish. Real Madrid loanee Daniel Parejo took to the field along with the Magical Magyar Akos Buzsaky. A move that saw Mikele Leigertwood revert to right back for the injured Peter Ramage.

After a lacklustre first period, Lee Cook broke out of his shell and started to dazzle full back Isaac Osbourne with his brand of technique and breathtaking skill. The self-professed QPR fan worked his way into the box, before his deflected shot looped over goalkeeper Westwood for a corner. Such was the R`s luck in the second period as the ball could have gone anywhere.

A similar situation ensued moments later as some excellent midfield play culminated with Dexter Blackstock poking the ball towards the target, it took a deflection and once again left the former Carlisle stopper dumfounded as it flew over his bar. Rangers began to threaten but lady luck refused to shine.

Rangers were looking rampant, and they displayed such excellent possessional play in the midfield with seemingly wave after wave of attack ensuing, as the Coventry fans were beginning to grow restless. In fact there were brief moments of booing as Rangers harried and hassled their opponents to play the ball back to Westwood.

The Sky Blues simply could not retain the ball and they looked over the top persistently to substitute Michael Mifsud, whilst looking live-wire, never looked like he was going to receive the ball to his feel, with Damion Stewart in truly outstanding form, accompanied ably by Kaspars Gorkss.

Such was Rangers luck deflections and moments of mystifying luck gave them the opportunity to clear. At one point a defender had three chances to clear the ball when his initial two efforts struck nearby players and returned straight to his feet.

Credit to Coventry however as they were not to be broken, despite the best intention of the Rangers midfield quintet with substitute Patrick Agyemang looking to make an impact after replacing Dexter Blackstock late on.

Some shameless time-wasting became all the more embarrassing when Keiren Westwood threw himself to the floor after being sandwiched between a pack of players. Westwood was down for a good five minutes before taking to his feet in sprightly fashion and blasting a goal kick up the field.

The stunt had its desired effect as the R`s took another five minutes to get back into their stride, but they soon got back into the groove and created chances at will, with the Sky Blues seemingly unable to keep the ball as the home supporters grew frustrated.

Rangers were looking excellent going forward, retaining the ball and knocking it wide for impressive wingers Lee Cook and Akos Buzsaky running the rule over their full back opponents. But for all their possession they lacked that killer instinct in front of goal to break down a stubborn defence that would not give an inch.

In the dying stages Rangers fans were palpably close to that equalising goal they craved for so long in the second period. Spanish starlet Daniel Parejo had wowed the Ricoh Arena, with some audacious touches and passing in a seemingly effortless fashion, he managed to create some space on the edge of the area before chipping the ball delightfully towards toward the top left hand corner.

The effort rippled the side netting as R`s fans saw their final chance in succession bring a frustrating and disappointing day to an end. A bitter pill to swallow for the R`s ample following, but it was a losing return for Iain Dowie and Tim Flowers at the Ricoh Arena.

Full Time: Coventry City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

Coventry City:Westwood, Fox, Ward, Dann, Doyle, Eastwood (Best 75), Gunnarson, McKenzie (Mifsud 79), Osbourne, Morrison, Tabb (Beuzelin 84).

Subs not used: Marshall, Hall.

Rangers: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage (Daniel Parejo 56), Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss, Emmanuel Ledesma (Akos Buzsaky 53), Lee Cook, Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands, Dexter Blackstock (Patrick Agyemang 76).

Subs not used: Camp, Hall.

Player Ratings

Radek Cerny – 6/10
In truth didn`t have an awful lot to do, however he was glued to his line and didn`t inspire the confidence of his defenders. It seems mystifying that Dowie persists to stick with a older goalkeeper that is far inferior to the benched stopper Lee Camp.

Peter Ramage – 7/10
He defended very well and mopped up the majority of problems at the back for Rangers. Everything he did he performed confidently, as he got forward and put in two crosses that Lee Cook would have been proud of. Had to be withdrawn through injury.

Damien Delaney – 6/10
Got forward to support Lee Cook well and rifled an excellent drive narrowly over the bar in the early stages. However he was found wanting in defensive departments on a couple of occasions as Clinton Morrison and Freddie Eastwood dropped in behind the Irishman. On the whole not back but pace is a real worry against this man.

Damion Stewart – 8/10
Was immense at the back today and has made himself the first choice central defender after being seemingly on the periphery for the start of the campaign. He has added a useful asset to his game of getting out in front his man before he has a chance to receive the ball, and has the intelligence to use his fellow defenders to offload the ball. Excellent performance and is a cert for Villa Park.

Kaspars Gorkss – 7/10
Kaspars looked competent once again today, and was certainly useful on the floor as well as in the air. He had a commanding presence throughout and brought the ball out from defence, being the catalyst for the majority of Rangers late counter-attacks. He and Fitz Hall will be vying for the place against Aston Villa, and this performance will stand the Latvian international in good stead.

Emmanuel Ledesma – 6/10
It was a tough day at the office for Emmanuel as he missed a guilt edge opportunity in the first half, and failed to make a real impact on proceedings in the second. However having seen his recent performances he may well get the nod midweek, but his replacement Akos Buzsaky certainly caught the eye.

Lee Cook – 8/10
After some initially disappointing play in the first half where a lot of his crosses couldn`t beat the first man, Cookie improved dramatically in the second period and was the main outlet for all of Rangers chances. Cook was impressive throughout the second half, beating Osbourne all ends up – here`s to hoping he dazzles his brother in similar fashion on Wednesday.

Gavin Mahon – 7/10
Mahon was strong in the middle, moving the ball on well for the attack. His strength in the air and in the tackle provided much for Rangers, as he won the ball back and switched play frequently. It has been shown why you shouldn`t drop this man and I don`t assume Dowie would make the same mistake twice.

Mikele Leigertwood – 6/10
Not one of Mikele`s more accomplished appearances, as he searches for consistency in his displays. He reverted to right back, where he coped OK, but certainly won`t be featuring as a first choice in that position. His strength was a real bonus at times, but his place may be at stake with the likes of Parejo and Buzsaky impressing.

Martin Rowlands – 8/10
He was Rangers driving force in the midfield and frequently found himself the link between midfield and attack. His driving runs were the catalyst for nearly every counter attack as players flooded forward to support the R`s longest serving player. He created space for himself and perhaps could have shot more frequently to give his performance the goal it deserved.

Dexter Blackstock – 7/10
Dexter put in a good shift upfront today and had the unenviable task of breaking down a stubborn defence. He was pulled wide and held up the ball admirably well, before laying in Rowlands to create the opportunities. Dexter has impressed in a lone strikers role which is set to continue against Villa. Samuel Di Carmine`s performances in the reserves and Agyemang`s impact off the bench are the only challenged to Dexter`s lone mantle.

Daniel Parejo – 7/10
Replaced Peter Ramage.
Parejo came off the bench and helped turn the tide the R`s way. Some impressive touches and passes with all the effortlessness you`d expect from a Real Madrid youth product. It`s a real pity he couldn`t bag that goal to cap off his performance. Right at the end half the away end jumped up in near celebration.

Akos Buzsaky – 7/10
Replaced Emmanuel Ledesma.
Buzsaky came on in the unfamiliar position of wide right, he looked to cut inside frequently to suit his style. His skill on the ball saw him weave his way past defenders, but is certainly not an out and out right winger. Maybe could replace Leigertwood against Villa in the middle.
Replaced Dexter Blackstock.
Pat never really got a chance to break the deadlock, but he looked lively and promised much for more cameo`s from the bench after his Southampton delight.

Manager Rating
Iain Dowie: 6/10 – Was slightly surprised that he persisted with one up front despite the fact the R`s were losing and had their opponents on the back foot. It will be interesting to see what sort of changes he makes for the game mid-week, if any.

Opponent Rating
Chris Coleman: 6/10 – Will be at a loss to explain how his side came out of the game with all three points. He made the right changes at the right time and the movement of Morrison and Eastwood pulled wide to stretch the R`s defence. Will be delighted with three points to ram down the throats of a minority of moronic home fans.

Mr. D Whitestone: 7/10 – After some initial trepidation surrounding the young official, he performed admirable and wasn`t conned by some evident time-wasting, but perhaps could have added on more time at the end.


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