GARETH Ainsworth`s men come home to W12 with a confidence boosting point away at Reading.
They face table toppers Birmingham City side who have become rejuvenated in recent weeks dispatching most recently of Sheffield Wednesday, and the Blues are of course undefeated on the road this season.
The flourishing partnership of O`Connor and Phillips is proving formidable opposition with Marcus Bent, James McFadden and Cameron Jerome waiting in the wings for their chance.
The Blues can boast a great strength in depth notably in attacking areas, and they bolstered their squad including Queens Park Rangers youth product Nigel Quashie who could be in line to start in W12 tomorrow night.
Following a 1-0 defeat at the start of this month at St Andrews, Rangers now round off the month against the Blues with fresh faces looking to inspire a turn in fortune.
Rangers caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth was quick to praise former boss Iain Dowie following his sides useful point against Reading.
‘The work ethic of the players was instilled by Iain, and today they showed just what they are capable of. Ainsworth told QPR.co.uk
‘I spoke with Iain yesterday. He wished me luck, and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I learnt so much from him.”
While the R`s picked up a useful point Ainsworth admitted that he is glad to see the back of a turbulent week in W12:
‘This result marks a pleasing end to a difficult week,
‘I can’t describe the emotions running through my body right now, they’re probably more powerful than anything I ever experienced as a player.
Ainsworth was proud of the support that the fans showed for the side, and hope they`d continue their support into Tuesday night:
‘I am so proud of the lads and every single fan who was here this evening to back the team. They sang their hearts out.
‘I just hope the fans come out in their numbers for the game,
‘Let’s get the place rocking and see what we can do!’
Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish praised the side that got the better of Sheffield Wednesday at St Andrews to keep them top of the pile:
‘It was a very good performance following on from a good performance in midweek,’ Mcleish told Blues.co.uk
‘I think we took it a step further today. You could see the spring in the step of the players and the confidence.
‘Apart from the equalising goal, I thought we were pretty much in charge.’
‘I would have liked us to get in behind Sheffield Wednesday a bit more in the second half, as we did in the first half,’
‘But it was a professional performance and the first half was as good as I’ve seen from us.’
QPR Team News:
Damien Delaney will be ineligible for selection due to his suspension, so Rangers look set to stick with the same back four that performed so admirably in the Reading stalemate.
Fitz Hall and Damion Stewart will continue their partnership in the middle, while Mikele Leigertwood will start at right back and Matthew Connolly on the left.
Rangers will once again pack the midfield with Mahon, Rowlands and Parejo in the middle, with Cook and Buzsaky on the flanks. Dexter Blackstock looks set to replace Samuel Di Carmine in attack after his excellent contribution from the bench.
Damiano Tommasi looks set once again to take to the bench after finally getting a place in the 16 upon Dowie`s departure.
Player to watch: Lee Cook
The self-professed Rangers supporter will be looking to once again hit the heights of form as the Blues come to W12.
Cookie has improved vastly in recent games, looking to get the ball from deep, before deceiving his opposing full backs with skills and trickery in order to get his cross away. He is evidently Rangers most potent creative threat, being the best deliverer of the ball in the side, and the R`s look their most dangerous with Cookie on the ball.
Starting at Watford, Ian Holloway secured the services of Cook in December 2002, following an impressive loan spell with York City. After returning to the Hornets he had an extended run in the side that saw him become a hot prospect in the Championship.
Rangers snapped him up on a permanent deal in their first year back in the newly re-branded Championship, making his debut off the bench at Vicarage Road. Since then Cookie left for West London rivals Fulham in a move that would secure the R`s long-term safety – efforts to get him back to Loftus Road resulted in a season long loan deal, for which the R`s are attempting to make permanent.
Birmingham City Team News:
Alex McLeish may be tempted to tinker with his table topping side ahead of tomorrow nights trip.
Two confidence boosting home wins for the Blues have helped all but dispel that disappointing home defeat against Blackpool.
In Kevin Phillips and Garry O`Connor they have a strike force in form, with several other options awaiting their chance. Cameron Jerome in fact bagged the winner last time the two sides met in W12.
McLeish named an unchanged side for the weekend`s comfortable win over Sheffield Wednesday, but with the likes of Quincy Owusu-Abeyie nearly fit for selection once again it seems that Scot will be given a selection headache.
Blues skipper and Rangers fan Liam Ridgewell will continue his partnership with former R`s target Martin Taylor in the heart of defence.
Player to watch: TBA
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: D L W D D
Birmingham City: Last 5 Games: D W D W W
Rangers have kept a clean sheet in the past two games, but from the other angle have also failed to score in two games, with the latter seemingly more of a problem. Gareth Ainsworth`s men have only lost one home game this season against Derby County.
Birmingham City have yet to lose on the road this season, as the Blues lie top of the Championship. They have in fact only lost one game in total as they look to make a swift return to the top flight. £2.6m signing Garry O`Connor has bagged 3 goals in his last 2 games.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Birmingham City: 21
Last time out
Saturday 4th October 2008 – St Andrews
Coca Cola Championship
Birmingham City 1 (Phillips 45)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage (Matthew Connolly 87), Fitz Hall, Damion Stewart, Damien Delaney, Martin Rowlands (Emmanuel Ledesma 80), Mikele Leigertwood, Gavin Mahon (Akos Buzsaky 68), Lee Cook, Dexter Blackstock, Patrick Agyemang.
See also: One Day In History – Birmingham City 1970-71.
Referee– Mr S Attwell
Assistants – Mr M Bull & Mr J Flynn
Fourth official – Mr S Hooper
Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire takes charge of Rangers clash against Birmingham City tomorrow night.
To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
Blues gave Rangers a tough test at St Andrews and in truth could have taken the game by more goals. Now Rangers are motivated by a fresh face with Gareth Ainsworth`s home-coming they are in with a chance of taking some points off the table toppers; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-1 Rangers
Who– Ipswich Town
Where– Portman Road, Ipswich
When– Saturday November 1 – 3:00pm