RANGERS picked up a difficult point away to relegation threatened Coventry City, on an evening and performance, which promised so much more for the Sky Blues.
Lee Camp was in inspirational form to single-handedly deny good efforts from Leon Best, Jay Tabb and Michael Mifsud.
A lacklustre Rangers side could offer little in response until the second period, with Akos Buzsaky, Mikele Leigertwood and Damien Delaney all going close from range.
But it was a point a piece for both sides despite Coventry`s dominance in territory and possession.
Buoyed by their excellent Sunday performance infront of the Sky cameras, Gigi De Canio opted to stick with the same team that did the R`s proud by naming an unchanged line-up. The only change was made to the bench, with the returning Chris Barker making the 16 at the expense of Manchester United loanee Kieran Lee.
Coventry were able to call upon influential midfielder Michael Doyle following a 3 match suspension from his sending off in the FA Cup loss at Home to West Brom. Towering defender Elliot Ward returned at the expense of Marcus Hall. There was also a place in the side for creative midfielder Stephen Hughes in place of namesake Michael Hughes as Chris Coleman opted to make changes from the side that lost away at fellow relegation strugglers Scunthorpe.
Coventry were on the front foot from the off looking to put the Rangers back-line under pressure. They even had the ball in the back of the net in the 3rd minute when Scott Dann latched onto a ball from Michael Doyle to strike past Camp; however the defender was in an offside position.
The Sky Blues were really forcing the issue early on, and not giving Rangers a chance to play the ball freely, and their attacking style was really testing for the Rangers rearguard. Defender Elliot Ward missed a good chance in the 9th minute when a surging run from Leon Best found the defender on the edge of the area, but the ex-West Ham player blazed his shot over.
Leon Best then missed another guilt edge chance for City; the ball was bouncing about in the Rangers area and a horrendous attempted clearance from Fitz Hall was sliced and fell to the feet of Best; the striker scuffed his left footed shot, hitting the ball into the ground and onto the roof of the net.
This prompted a reshift for the R`s, with Rowan Vine moving out wide, and Akos Buzsaky going into the middle to support lone striker Patrick Agyemang. This was a defensive move by Gigi De Canio, presumably with a view to retain possession. This however pushed the R`s further back and Michael Mifsud raced in behind Delaney, as yet another ball over the top to a pacey winger looked to be Rangers undoing; however the strikers first touch was too heavy, and Camp smothered the ball at the Mosquito`s feet.
Rangers seemed incapable of holding onto the ball, with long balls up to Patrick Agyemang leaving the Ghanaian isolated and the ball kept coming straight back. Leon Best`s trickery was clever in nudging Matthew Connolly out of the way to race clear of the R`s backline to find himself one-on-one with Camp, the R`s stopper pulled out a good save to deny the former Southampton striker.
Leon Best had another effort which crept through the legs of Matthew Connolly but merely trickled to the Rangers keeper, in one of the easier saves he had to make. This was followed up with a rasping drive from the returning Michael Doyle, as Coventry looked to force the issue in a first half of domination.
Camp was in inspired form as opposed to Rangers as a whole, who appeared disjointed, bewildered and unable to string two passes together. He next in a string of wonder-saves was to deny once Brentford player, Jay Tabb who was really giving the Rangers rearguard a torrid time, the R`s custodian this time saving with his feet. The last act of an entirely forgettable first period for the R`s, with the Sky Blues bemoaning a lack of killer instinct infront of goal.
Half Time: Coventry City 0-0 QPR
In a second half bereft of detail there were few chances of real note. The Rangers players still cheered on by their away support in excess of 1,000 fans were seeking a better second period. But it was the Sky Blues who started the second period in a similar vein, holding the impetus from the off.
Rangers seemed unable to get hold of the ball and distribute the ball to a player in hoops. However they had the first clear cut chance of the second half. Akos Buzsaky took it upon himself to drive from the midfield, the ball sat up nicely for The Magical Magyar and his dipping volley was sent onto the roof of the net.
Rangers` next chance was from the most unlikely of sources. Marauding full-back Damien Delaney found himself in a similar scenario to Buzsaky, but left-footed effort was slightly more wayward, drifting wide of Andy Marshall`s right hand post.
Dangerman Leon Best was then booked for deliberate handball, after latching onto an attacking cross from the influential Michael Mifsud. The striker just couldn`t take the ball in his stride and was forced to handle.
The Rangers fans were cheering and chanting for Akos Buzsaky, and midfielder nearly obliged with a goal, only a splendid 73rd minute save from Andy Marshall denied the Hungarian, who stood out as one of Rangers better players on the evening.
Michael Mifsud was a constant thorn in the Rangers backline, the long searching balls over the top for him were starting the dry up, and the Maltese international found himself coming short and running at Damien Delaney who found it difficult to cope with the trickery and pace of the slayer of Old Trafford. He failed to create any more chances of note for Coventry who were reduced to half chances for all the games possession.
Mikele Leigertwood`s prod at goal which dipped narrowly over the bar was all that Rangers had to muster in the second period apart from the effort which was arguably Rangers best chance of the match. Substitute Dexter Blackstock, who had entered the fray at the expense of the ineffective Patrick Agyemang, almost latched onto an incisive cross from the lively Hogan Ephraim, with defence and goalkeeper at odds to deal with the striker, the ball rebounded off Marshall for a corner.
A somewhat disappointing point, but a point nevertheless for the R`s, who on another day could have succumbed to a heavy defeat, if Leon Best and Coventry had had their shooting boots donned.
Full Time: Coventry City 0-0 QPR
Lee Camp 8/10
As above, made some fanstastic saves to deny Leon Best, Jay Tabb and Michael Mifsud on numerous occassions, really showing himself as a Premier League goalkeeper, and perhaps one day a contender to the England goalkeeping jersey.
Michael Mancienne 5/10
The on-loan defender’s distribution was patchy and sporadic in periods. Really needs to attain some form of consistency. His tackling was marvellous however, in a time of poor tackling and terrible injuries, the defender knows when to tackle and when not to.
Damien Delaney 5/10
Was given a harsh time by the nippy forward Mifsud. Really struggles against players with pace, and needs to get to grips with how deal with the fast wingers in order to keep his place.
Fitz Hall 6/10
Solid as ever at the back, tried initially to pass the ball out of trouble, but when he realised the midfield wasn’t working resorted to long ball. Had one shaky moment that could have led to a goal, but best was wasteful.
Matthew Connolly 5/10
Was somewhat hesitant at the back on occassions. By and large did quite well coping with some tricky forwards, but waited that extra second too long in spells when something needed dealing with. A bit more assurance in his own ability might go a long way
Akos Buzsaky 7/10
A performer that got better as the game went on. Started to find more space and drop into gaps, and picking the right passes at the right moments, spreading the play. Had a couple of good efforts and looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck once moved into the middle.
Hogan Ephraim 7/10
An outlet that was rarely used by Rangers. He was effective every time he recieved the ball as he hugged the left flank. His trickery was proving difficult to deal with, and if he had seen a bit more of the ball it may have been a different outcome.
Martin Rowlands 6/10
Not one of his better displays, and struggled to get hold of the ball and pass it on. Was put under alot of pressure by the Sky Blues midfield, and the pressure told on occasions with some sloppy passes and mistimed tackles.
Mikele Leigertwood 5/10
Both ends of the spectrum in the space of 4 days for Mikele. Outstanding of Saturday, out of his mind tonight, couldn’t cope with the pressure that Coventry were asserting on him and really should have done better with ball winning and distribution.
Rowan Vine 4/10
Very Poor. He gave the ball away on numerous occassions, and he could find a player in black and red all evening. Once he was moved out wide he lost all his enthusiasm, and frankly didn’t look as if he was trying, De Canio didn’t look to happy with his performance.
Patrick Agyemang 6/10
Tried his heart out upfront, but was isolated and didn’t get much support from Vine in terms of movement. Didn’t win enough headers for the target man and ball kept coming straight back. He kept himself lively but not one of his better games.
Dexter Blackstock 6/10
There was some murmurings in the away end that the game suited Dexter’s style of play… Whatever that means! In all fairness he came on and really looked up for it and interested, more so than Vine, he nearly got on the end of a half chance to win it for Rangers.
Luigi De Canio 6/10: Clearly lacked ambition coming into the game, and looked to play for a point early on when he changed the formation to 4-5-1 when things got difficult. Could have been more positive, there is a reason why they are down there.
Chris Coleman 7/10: Got his players motivated and fighting for it, and they won every 50/50 going, whilst pressurising the R’s at every turn. Good selection of Mifsud wide V Delaney, his scouts are earning their pennies.
I predicted a close game and 2-1 before the start of the game. I got neither, Coventry dominated proceedings especially in the first period, but no goals for either side epitomised a drab affair.