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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Saturday 21st April.

Lou Macari moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform! Since taking over from Steve Bruce Lou Macari has done a very good job in getting us back to a position where safety is still a possibility, but sometimes I puzzle over his team selections. Today he dropped Adie Moses and I cannot disagree with this decision, but instead of restoring crowd favourite (and mine) Kevin Gray to the central defence he elected to play Craig Armstrong at left back and Steve Jenkins as centre back. In a more orthodox move fit again Andy Booth was restored to the attack to partner Delroy Facey.

As soon as the game began they looked like a side that didn’t know how they would be lining up until 10 minutes before kick-off. The midfield lacked the bite and aggression of Craig Armstrong who after a poor start to the season must now be a serious contender for player of the season, and after weeks of adjusting to the role of left-back Steve Jenkins was asked to adopt a different approach in central defence. Town looked disorganised and unsure of themselves and we have to be thankful that QPR must have one of the worst strikers in this division spearheading their attack.

Peter Crouch must be challenging Kevin (‘Freak’) Francis as the tallest player in English football at something like 6’7”, but he is built like a stick of bamboo and looks as though he would snap if he received anything like a meaty challenge. Quite honestly he was absolutely useless and we have to be thankful for his lack of ability as he fluffed an excellent opportunity inside the first minute scuffing the ball wide when he really should have done better. Despite the ridiculous reshuffle Town did begin to get themselves organised, and could have taken the lead in the 9th minute when Andy Booth latched onto Baldry’s excellent through ball, but his shot from an angle was scooped from the line by QPR defender Mark Perry.

Rangers continued to look sharper than Town for the most part but thankfully the defence was well marshalled by Jenkins and Lucketti, and fortunately the latter is returning to the sort of form we all know he is capable of producing but failed to show in the earlier part of the season. Clear-cut chances were at a premium but both sides had good opportunities as the half hour approached. Firstly Andy Thomson had a clear header from 10 yards out but his effort lacked power and was easily collected by Vaesen and then in the 28th minute Town were denied again by a goal line clearance. Thomas Heary played a raking free kick into the penalty area where it was met by the head of Andy Booth, his flick-on was only partially met by Simon Baldry’s head and as the ball was weakly cleared Chris Lucketti smashed a shot towards goal only to see it hit Ian Baraclough on the line and away to safety.

Just as we started to get the feeling that it might be ‘one of those days’ we finally broke the deadlock albeit more through luck than judgement. In the 33rd minute a long cross-field ball found Simon Baldry who then contrived to deliver one of his trade mark crosses, you know the ones which are played in too early and hit the opposition defender. Luckily on this occasion the ball fell kindly to Dean Gorré who linked up with Delroy Facey, and after playing a one-two fired the ball towards goal. The ball would have been easily covered by QPR keeper Lee Harper, but took a wicked deflection off a defender and into the back of the net. When you are so desperate for points you will take goals however they come, and perhaps Lady Luck was wearing a blue and white striped shirt today.

Unlike Town QPR didn’t allow their heads to drop, and the goal only seemed to strengthen their resolve not to lose this game and we began to struggle to achieve any sort of fluency. Once again the approach of the interval proved to be our Achilles heel as we conceded a soft equaliser. A lofted ball over the top was met by the suspiciously offside Andy Thomson who efficiently lobbed Nico Vaesen who was stranded in no-mans land on the edge of the 6-yard box. The warning wasn’t heeded as a couple of minutes later Leon Knight was given time on the edge of the box, and his shot from the edge of the area passed inches wide of the sprawling Vaesen's goal. Somehow we survived to the break, but the mood of the crowd was subdued, as we all knew we simply had to win this one.

Thornley had an early chance in the second half but Harper easily saved his effort, and then it was business as usual with QPR looking sharper and Town looking devoid of ideas. I couldn’t fathom out why Macari didn’t make any changes at half-time, or even early in the second, period when it was obvious that we looked ineffective against very modest opposition, and with the midfield shorn of Craig Armstrong, Chris Holland battled manfully to get possession but was having to do the work of two men. Events, however, conspired to force Macari’s arm when Steve Jenkins was involved in a nasty clash of heads with Craig Armstrong and on this occasion the Welshman’s head proved not to be hard enough and he was stretchered off to be replaced by Kevin Gray on 57 minutes. The popular (with the fans at least) centre back received a huge cheer when he entered the fray, and we were thankful (and relieved) that Gray got the nod over Moses.

The game continued as a nervy disjointed affair with QPR looking more ambitious than Town and little was seen of Booth who was presumably suffering from a lack of match practice after his 2 game lay off. Rangers’ manager, Ian Holloway knew that only a win would be enough to try to stave off relegation today and brought on Kiwomya and Paquette to try to bolster their attack. The game had lulled into a torpid stalemate that only served to increase my frustration with Macari’s unwillingness to make further changes. Perhaps he could see something in the game that I couldn’t and my berating from the John Smith’s stand came to nought. We were reduced to half chances with headers from Lucketti and Booth easily saved by Harper, but a draw wasn’t really good enough despite the scoreboard showing the welcome news that Palace were only drawing with Tranmere.

The ineffective Ben Thornley was replaced by Kenny Irons with 5 minutes to go, but with the end of the game approaching and a single point looking more and more likely, QPR launched an attack down the left and a raking cross was well met by the head of the gangly Crouch with Nico Vaesen doing well to pluck the ball out of the air as it progressed towards the top corner. Holloway tried one last throw of the dice replacing Baraclough with Wardley as the fourth official indicated 4 minutes of injury time resulting from Jenkins’ lengthy treatment. With the visitors looking more ambitious we found ourselves watching the clock and the scoreboard hoping we could hold onto what we had. As QPR continued to press, a poor clearance from Lucketti was met by Crouch and to our great relief Richard Paquette's headed ‘goal’ was adjudged to be offside, followed by a header from Chris Plummer that passed just wide of the post.

Suddenly, with stoppage time more or less expired, events conspired to change the mood of both sets of supporters. QPR began to launch yet another attack but the ever-busy Chris Holland managed to break up the play and Dean Gorré raced onto the loose ball. He threaded the ball through to the lurking Booth who ran towards the QPR area and unleashed a fierce right foot shot that could only be parried into the path of the lurking Facey. With the goal at his mercy young Delroy needed no second invitation calmly stroking the ball into the back of the unguarded net, and the stadium erupted as joy and relief washed over the home fans. Despite indicating 4 minutes of added time, the referee still managed to conjure up almost 3 more as the fans nervously awaited the final whistle.

To our unbridled joy the final whistle arrived, and with it misery for 1500 or so visiting fans who knew the result would condemn them to life in division 2 next season. Draws for Tranmere, Crystal palace and Portsmouth lifted us into 20th place and with our superior goal difference it looks as though one more win might just be enough now. The bottom two of Tranmere and QPR were both relegated today and so it is starting to look as though it will be either Palace, Portsmouth or Town for the remaining place in division 2.

TOWN 2 (Gorré 32, Facey 90)

Queens Park Rangers 1 (Thomson 42)

Position in table – 20th

Town – Vaesen; Armstrong; Jenkins (Gray 57); Lucketti; Heary; Thornley (Irons 85); Holland; Gorré; Facey; Booth; Baldry. Subs not used – Margetson; Moses; Gallen.

Queens Park Rangers – Harper; Perry (Kiwomya 76); Plummer; Ready; Baraclough (Wardley 89); Knight (Paquette 76); Bignot; Peacock; Crouch; Thomson; Darlington. Subs not used – Bull; Kulscar.

Referee – Tony Bates (Stoke). Attendance 12,846



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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