On the Cross verdict: QPR 0 Saints 2

Last updated : 21 January 2007 By Chris C

George Burley made just the one change in personnel from the 0-0 against Burnley, but reshuffled the midfield in an attempt to find more creativity from his injury-hit side. Striker David McGoldrick lost his place to Viafara with the rest of the midfield shuffling across one and Jermain Wright drawing the short draw on the left.

In truth the reshuffle did little to solve Saints' problems in midfield. Viafara looked a fish out of water on the right of midfield, until he was moved inside to central midfield to much greater effect. In turn Licka when moved to the right failed to influence the game as he had in the first half, being replaced by McGoldrick mid-way through the second half.

The hero on the day was the selfless performance of Jermaine Wright who put in a true team performance to enable Gareth Bale to work his considerable magic down the left. Indeed without the young Welshman's influence it was difficult to see how Saints were going to open up dogged QPR on a tight and muddy pitch.

At the back Saints restricted QPR to two real chances, one when Blackstock was put clean through only to fluff his lines and the second when Blackstock reacted quickest to a Davis fumble only for the ref to blow for a debatable foul on the keeper.

On the Cross verdict

With neat symmetry, as with last season it was a tale of two identikit moments with different results. Last season both sides had a penalty, QPR scored and Quashie missed for Saints.

This season both sides reacted to a goalkeeping fumble under pressure. Our goal was allowed, QPR's was not. Both decisions could have gone either way. A beautifully taken goal by Wright-Phillips added gloss to the victory, but it is debatable he would have had the space to work his opportunity had we not been 1-0 up.

Make no mistake, this was an ugly win against a poor QPR side struggling for form and short on quality on a muddy pitch. Time to trot out the old cliché about good teams winning when playing badly and how important we did.

The win keeps us in the hunt for the promotion slots, as a loss when those about us won would have given us a mountain to climb even with many games still to play.

Hopefully by next week Rudi Skacel will have returned to solve the gaping hole at left midfield and we will be a week closer to a return of one of Dyer, Belmadi and Surman. Even better if Saints can get their act together and sort out a loan move for a right midfielder and a striker.

Yes, two of our strikers scored, but Rasiak needs a more threatening partner than the hard working, but inconsistent Jones. Much tougher tests than this will come and Saints will have to be much better both to concrete our place in the play-off slots and to put pressure on the top two.

Man of the match: We've seen so many great performances from Gareth Bale this season that sometimes we forget just how good he is for a 17 year old. He drove Saints forward and as usual provided most of our attacking threat down the left. Showed some lovely footwork in somehow finding the space to whip in some dangerous crosses. Add another few million onto the asking price.

Cameo of the day: Another goalscoring cameo from Bradley Wright-Phillips who makes a great impact as substitute against tiring defences. Worked himself an earlier chance on his right foot with a jinking run, but then showed how it's done with a beautiful turn and shot past the keeper on his left foot.

Thorn in the side: An energetic and powerful display from former Hammer Steve Lomas whose ginger barnet shone out in the QPR midfield.