Verdict: Saints 2 QPR 3

Last updated : 09 February 2008 By Saint Bobby
Worse still, it brought an urgent need to address the looming nightmare of falling through the trapdoor into the third division of English football. Saints fans can console themselves that they don't need to save up for an away trip to Tokyo or Delhi any time soon...

Familiar line-up

The now semi-permanent managerial duo of Gorman and Dodd started with the same eleven as against Crystal Palace last Saturday. Wright played as makeshift left-back, Thomas on the right and Andrew Davies and Darren Powell in the central positions.

Safri and Euell started in the middle of the park, flanked by Surman to their left and Hammill to their right. Stern John and Bradley Wright-Phillips began up front.

First half - dream start, nightmare finish
The home side got a dream start when - after 40 seconds - a free kick was given for QPR keeper Lee Camp handling outside the box. Hammill whipped the ball in from the left wing and in an inelegant scramble, Powell was credited with knocking the ball over the line.
Far from using this as a base to impose themselves on the match, it took Saints a full twenty minutes before putting together anything approaching a flowing passing move.

But QPR began to make a match of it, forcing a number of corners and Rowlands lashed an impressive effort just wide halfway through the first period.
With ten minutes to go before the break, Euell was let in on the right side by a shambolic attempted clearance by Rangers, his cross found Stern John with a simple opportunity to double the Saints' lead.

Not content with his comedy penalty against Norwich ten days ago, John skied the ball even further towards the back of the Chapel stand with this effort. He had the time and space to blow the ball in the back of the net with a straw. His woeful snatch would prove costly.
Once Wayne Thomas had just failed to connect at the far post from a corner on 37 minutes, it was hard to escape the uncomfortable feeling that - whilst we were 1-0 up - this just wasn't to be our day.
Sure enough, a fancy-dan backheel from Hammill just seconds later gifted the ball to Rangers. In the absence of any whole-hearted challenge, they snatched a deserved equaliser.

Not content with the hospitality already extended to the West Londoners, a cross from the left flank just a few minutes later eluded an ineffective half-jump from Jermaine Wright and Ageyman put QPR in the lead going into the break.

Second half - comedy goal, consolation finish
Amazingly, the wholly useless Bradley Wright-Phillips and Jason Euell - who was back to his worst - survived the half-time interval but Hammill was replaced by Saganowski as Saints moved to a 4-3-3. 

And on 52 minutes, Viafara emerged from the bench to replace Wayne Thomas at right back - presumably due to injury as by this stage Euell's continued haplessness made him into a walking advert to be substituted.
Following a burst of Saints' pressure, an absurd mix-up between Wright and Davis shortly after the hour mark gifted Ageyman his second goal. He rubbed salt into the wounds by taking his time to swivel on the ball and back heel it into the net.

If only Saints' forwards had shown a similar appreciation of the limits and scope of time and space, the game would have been over in the home team's favour prior to the interval.
The entirely anonymous Wright-Phillips was taken off on 68 minutes, with Lallana taking over the right midfield berth and Euell moving back to the centre as the home team switched back to 4-4-2.
Once Safri was given a straight red with just over ten minutes to go, all hope was extinguished and a 90th minute goal by John set up four minutes of wholly pointless injury time, the only notable feature of which was Jason Euell trying to prove he really is a pub footballer by contriving to shin a ball fifty yards towards his own goal when he had ample opportunity to launch a final last-gasp effort for an equaliser.

Verdict - painful
A lamentable home performance which drops Saints to their lowest league position at this stage of the season for decades. Relegation is far from likely, but is now a much more credible prospect than making it to the play-offs.

Sky Sports asked whether the alarm bells are ringing at St. Mary's. Nothing so dulcet. Just a collective groan of despair.