BACK to back home wins over Blackpool and Scunthorpe have catapulted the R`s into the top half of the table; they now travel to Mick McCarthy`s Wolves with a view to picking up some points for a top-half finish.
With an outside chance of the play-offs still open to the R`s, they will look to scupper the progress of one of their rivals at Molineux.
Luigi De Canio was beaming following the 3-1 home defeat of Scunthorpe:
‘The attitude of the squad was first class,’
‘On several occasions this season we’ve been very complacent, but today the attitude was fantastic.”
De Canio continued:
‘The players really wanted to win the game and we were resilient in our approach right up until the final whistle when Vine scored our third goal.’
‘I don’t think anyone can have any complaints with the final scoreline.”
‘We played very well and took full advantage of the clear-cut chances that we created.”
Gigi also had kind words for Scunthorpe:
‘They (Scunthorpe) made us work very hard for the three points and their Manager deserves a lot of credit for the way he set his side up.”
‘But our players were excellent and the fighting spirit told in the end.’
Following their ascent into the top half of the table, De Canio refused to be drawn on Rangers playoff hopes:
‘We’re reaching new heights all the time, but it seems impossible to me.
‘I am happy with the direction we are heading in, but it is important not to get too carried away.’
Wolverhampton Wanderers Team News:
Mick McCarthy has defensive woe, going into the encounter with Rangers at Molyneux. With Gary Breen suffering through illness and Jody Craddock and Rob Edwards suffering hamstring complaints. George Elokobi and ex-Ranger Darren Ward proving able deputies should they fail to make the game.
Elsewhere, January transfer window signing David Edwards, is still carrying an injury and doesn`t look set to feature. Stephen Elliot also looks doubtful for the encounter nursing an ankle injury, or is he still hiding his blushes following that harrowing miss at the School End at Loftus Road.
With these players missing it is clear to see whilst they may have defensive frailties, they have the squad to cover, and look a formidable force going forward.
Player to watch: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
The Cambridge born striker has proven himself a worthy asset to any Championship side causing misery and torment to opposition defences up and down the land. His brand of pace and power, combined with excellent finishing has made him a formidable opponent for any side.
Sylvan started his footballing education at Manchester United, where he made only two appearances both in the League Cup; the 3-0 win away at Crewe and the 4-1 Home win over Barnet, he scored his first and only United goal in the latter.
He was loaned out in January 2006 to United`s feeder club in Belgium, Antwerp, where he bagged 4 goals in 9 games, attracting the attentions of the already interested Plymouth manager Ian Holloway, who had previously wanted him to sign for QPR.
In July of that year Holloway got his man for only £200k, little did he know then how much of a steal that would prove to be. He bagged his first goal for the Pilgrims at Home Park in a 1-1 draw; Dexter Blackstock opened the scoring for Gary Waddock`s side that day. In a season that yielded 10 goals for the striker, he faced the R`s again at Loftus Road, the same scoreline, 1-1, with Nalis this time scoring for Argyle, with wing wonder Lee Cook drawing the sides level.
He started his second season with the Greens with a bit more of that killer instinct in front of goal, banging 12 goals in the first half of the season, making him a highly sought target in the transfer window. Including a brace against the R`s at Home Park on Boxing Day.
Wolves got their man for a reported £1.5m, making it a nice little profit for Plymouth, and he has currently scored 6 goals in 12 games for the playoff chasers.
A player of great ability that must be stopped by what is becoming a very capable Rangers rearguard.
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers only have one injury looming ahead of the tie at Molineux. Third choice Goalkeeper Jake Cole is out of contention for the clash, to have an operation on his elbow. However with Lee Camp playing being his usual tremendous self, and Matt Pickens having a blinder for the reserves, Jake`s presence will not be missed that much.
Rangers may also recall Gavin Mahon to the starting line-up after some impressive displays from the bench, most notably getting an assist for Rowan Vine in the third of the R`s three against Scunthorpe. Mikele Leigertwood may be the man to make way.
Player to watch: Patrick Agyemang
After getting back to scoring ways on Saturday, Pat will no doubt be looking to notch once more.
Always very lively on and off the ball, if not extremely effective in the air; on the ground he is a real danger and his goalscoring tally since moving to Rangers will suggest that.
After scoring 8 goals in his first 6 league games for the club, Agyemang went off the boil a touch, not scoring in the following 6 games. However after scoring on Saturday it appears if patterns are anything to go by with are in for another swift 7 goals from the Ghanaian. We live in hope anyway.
Match Facts & Stats
Rangers have only lost 1 in 7, the away defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in their search to pull away from the relegation places. Take it back a little further and its only defeats in 10 games.
QPR`s form on the road has been slightly patchier however, with only one win away from Loftus Road this year, away at Southampton. Good away points against Barnsley and Coventry were wiped out by defeat up in Sheffield
Wolves have only lost 1 in 6 following a disastrous February that threatened the ruin their promotion ambitions. They lost away to Preston on a Tuesday night which is not a huge surprise taking into account PNE’s record under the lights, away wins over Colchester and Burnley have been supplemented with a home win over Scunthorpe, and a only a last minute equaliser from Jason Euell stopped them from claiming all three against Southampton.
Wolves` home for has been somewhat sporadic, beating Scunthorpe at home, was their first at Molineux since January. Drawing against Southampton in the dying seconds, and losing in a thrilling encounter at home to Stoke, were the only results in between as Molineux hasn`t seen a lot of football of late.
The team in gold and black have the edge in the head to head record beating the R`s 13 times, with Rangers winning only 8 and the teams drawing 12. Rangers don`t normally get a lot of joy at Molyneux; but no doubt take inspiration from the side that defeated Wolves 4-0 at Molineux in September 1983.
Last time out
8th April 2007- Molyneux
Wolves 2 (Keogh 57, Kightly 64)
Rangers Team: Cole, Bignot, Kanyuka (Timoska 59) Stewart, Milanese, Rowlands, Lomas, Bolder (Bailey 77) Smith, Furlong (Jones 65) Nygaard.
Last time out
5th December 2007- Loftus Road
Rangers Team: Camp, Malcolm, Rehman, Stewart, Barker, Ainsworth, Leigertwood, Buzsaky, Rowlands Blackstock (Sinclair 8
Referee– C W Oliver
Assistants – S G Cooke & C Dunn
Fourth official – P N Gibbs
For a full report on the match official click here
After back to back home wins, in whatever fashion, the players will no doubt be buoyant. Scoring three in both games also shows that we have learnt take our chances, with Wolves also looking a threat upfront it makes for an interesting encounter; That`s why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-1 Draw
For all the latest match odds click on www.williamhill.com
Who– Ipswich Town
Where– Portman Road
When– Saturday 29th March 2008: 3:00pm