WITH Rangers once again losing out in the second half after being a goal in front, they now come home to Loftus Road in search of 3 points in the strive for a top-half finish.
They face newly promoted Blackpool, who after an initial struggle in this division, have really made their mark on the Championship, with a good succession of home victories and some memorable away wins.
Luigi De Canio had some strong words for the referee following the defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday:
‘It is never nice to see a situation like the one that escalated at the end of the game, but the referee made some fundamental errors and we saw what happened as a result’
‘The referee’s parameter of judgement changed rapidly in the second half. He showed a lack of personality.’
‘He (Hogan) reacted in the wrong manner, but the referee could have easily cooled things off moments earlier. He allowed the situation to escalate.’
De Canio spoke about the game itself stating:
‘It was a typical game of two halves.
‘Our tempo was exceptional for 40 minutes and I’m amazed with what occurred in the second half.”
‘If we had finalised our opportunities in the first half we would not have lost the game.”
‘Conceding just before the break hurt us and gave them a big lift.”
‘We lacked continuity in the second half and the penalty kick early in the half galvanised them but finished us off.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers may make changes to their line-up following a disappointing second half performance against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Fitz Hall may return to the squad after missing out on a place in the sixteen in Yorkshire. Gavin Mahon will also be pushing for a starting place after getting a 15 minute run out in his return from a knee medial-ligament injury.
Hogan Ephraim picked up a red card in the tie in Sheffield and looks set to miss out in the tie against Blackpool courtesy of a 3-match ban. Other than that Rangers have a fully fit squad ahead of the encounter in West London.
Player to watch: Patrick Agyemang
It`s very much time to re-instate this man as the man to watch. Agyemang is certainly due a goal, after 8 goals in 6 games, Pat has now failed to score in the last 5 games; What on earth is going on?! In all seriousness Agyemang`s trailblazing start to his Rangers career has been a catalyst in Rangers revival as they pull away from the relegation places.
The striker still makes the same intelligent runs, using his pace and strength as a key asset in giving defenders a hard time in every department.
It`s about time Pat got back on the score sheet and Vital QPR is backing him to end his “drought” and give Rangers a much needed boost on home soil.
Blackpool Team News:
The tangerines can call upon a fully fit first team squad going into the encounter in W12. Following the 2-2 draw with Southampton at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool may make changes to freshen up the starting line-up.
Paul Dickov passed a late fitness test to face Southampton, but 2 games in the space of 4 days, may be too much for the 35 year old who may drop to the bench with either Ben Burgess or Andrew Morrell pushing for a starting place.
Former Rangers defender returns to Loftus Road for the first time since his departure, and will be looking to prove a point for the Tangerines, playing alongside free scoring Kaspars Gorkss.
Player to watch: Wes Hoolahan
Wes Hoolahan has been a revelation since joining the Tangerines from Livingston in 2007 following a season long loan. The tricky winger have proven himself a worthy asset for Blackpool making 41 appearances in all competitions and scoring 6 goals, making 16 assists in his time at Bloomfield Road.
Hoolahan started his career in his native Ireland with Shelbourne in 2001. He was used sparingly in all competitions for the Irish outfit making 30 appearances scoring 11 goals. He did however excel in their run in the Champions League Qualifiers in 2004/05 season, and he was also awarded with the PFAI Young Player of the Year in 2002/03.
Wes moved on to pastures new, and tried his luck in the Scottish Premier League, with Livingston. During his time with the Livi Lions he made 17 appearances for the Scottish outfit without scoring and was sent out on loan to Blackpool for the 06/07 season. He made 49 appearances for the Tangerines scoring 10 goals.
Wes made the permanent move to Blackpool somewhat under a cloud. Livingston still claim to the day that the Tangerines broke the term of the loan agreement. The ruling when from the F.A. of the representative countries all the way to FIFA, who sanctioned the move pending compensation to Livingston.
Wes has had a solid first season in the Championship, with Blackpool having to fend off interest in the January transfer window. Rangers were beaten by the Tangerines 1-0, with Hoolahan contributing heavily to Rangers downfall, back in December.
The winger is definitely once to watch as Rangers look to fend off a plucky Blackpool side at Loftus Road.
Match Facts & Stats
Rangers, in their last 5 games have only been defeated once, at the weekend at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday. In the month of march Rangers have fairly summarised the season, a win, a draw and a loss, inconsistency has plagued Rangers at every turn this season.
Rangers have only had once home defeat in their last 8 games as they look to make Loftus Road a real fortress. Included in this run are the 3-0 thrashings of Bristol City and Stoke City respectively.
Blackpool have been in sterling form of late, with only 1 defeat in their last 8 games, that at the hands of home specialists, Ipswich Town. These 8 games have been eventful with 15 goals for, and 12 goals in the wrong end. This included an extremely eventful encounter at Bloomfield Road against Charlton, defeating their opponents 5-3.
The Tangerines have had patchy recent away form, with 1 win, 1 draw and 3 defeats, with defensive shortcomings being highlighted alarmingly with only 2 clean sheets this year.
Historically, Rangers have had the better of their opponents in the head to head record, winning 9 games to Blackpool`s 3 with the teams drawing 3 times. Rangers have crushed their opponents at Loftus Road several times; August 1969, 6-1; March 1973, 4-0 both in the old division two. Whilst in the F.A. Cup 1981/82, Rangers trounced their opposition 5-1, on their way to the Final. Not to mention the 2003 win outlined below.
Last time out
9th August 2003- Loftus Road
QPR 5 (Ainsworth 4, 69, Langley 43, Gallen 56, Palmer 90)
Rangers Team: Day, Forbes, Padula, Carlisle, Shittu, Langley, Ainsworth (Rowlands 75) Palmer, Bircham, Gallen (Williams 81) Furlong (Sabin 85).
Last time out
1st December 2007- Bloomfield Road
Blackpool 1 (Burgess 90)
Rangers Team: Camp, Malcolm, Stewart, Leigertwood, Barker, Rowlands, Buzsaky (Moore 75), Bold
Referee– K.D. Hill
Assistants – I.J Cooper & J.E Pearce
Fourth official – S.A. Hooper
Mr. Hill first refereed the R`s in a 1-1 Home draw against Stockport in February 2000; He then was back at Loftus Road in August 2000 to see Paul Furlong score a winner for the R`s in a 1-0 victory over Crewe.
A home victory over Notts County 3-2 was overseen by the same official with Dominic Foley bagging the winner with 5 minutes to go; In September 2002 he saw the R`s dumped out the League Cup by Leyton Orient, a young Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Gary Taylor-Fletcher were on the score sheet. He saw two games in Rangers promotion season with the 3-0 home win against Chesterfield and 1-1 away draw in the local derby against Brentford in the 2003/04 season.
He didn`t meet the R`s again until 2006, presiding over the away defeat to Sheffield Wednesday 3-2, a Dexter Blackstock brace. Finally this season he got a collectors item when he saw a rare Stefan Moore goal in the 1-1 home draw with Watford.
So far this season Mr. Hill has officiated 26 games, handing out 96 Yellow Cards and 5 Reds. Most recently he sent off Port Vale defender Krystian Pearce, in a real heartbreaker up at Hartlepool losing the game in the final few minutes after being in front.
Rangers were given a lesson once again that if you don`t take your chances they can come back to haunt you, and I don`t think they will make the same mistake again, Conversely Blackpool`s defending hasn`t been up to scratch of late, and if you can stop them scoring you`ll have a chance; That`s why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-0 QPR
For all the latest match odds click on www.williamhill.com
Who– Scunthorpe United
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 15th March 2008: 3:00pm