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From The Observer


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Merry Murray

David Foot at Ashton Gate

Sunday April 4, 2004

The Observer

Here were two teams clearly shamefaced for much of the season about playing in Division Two and desperate to be elevated, though Queens Park Rangers' engagingly talkative manager Ian Holloway, himself born in Bristol, did not think what he had just seen was the way to go about it.

He admits he has been taking a course in anger control and there was certainly a measured deliberation as he said: 'To be honest I was quite bored about the whole game. I wanted my team to do me proud back here in Bristol, but I don't think they did.'

The game had considerable significance as a promotion pointer. That may have accounted for the tense, nervous attitude of some of the QPR team. By contrast, however, Bristol City were faster and more fluent. After three straight defeats and only one victory in six - a grim sequence to follow 11 wins in a row - they produced the greatest skill, had the edge in midfield and snuffed out the forwards.

This match was something of a triumph, sentimentally at least, for Scott Murray, the speedy winger who did nothing but score for City last season and then caused the fans to shed tears as he went off for a brief frustrating spell at Reading. This was his comeback, marked by warm applause.

His contribution grew as the London club became wary of him. He grew in confidence, produced several nostalgic runs down the right wing and left every City fan willing him to succeed with a goal himself. He went tantalisingly near in a solo raid in the second half.

But he had already conjured up the most precise of centres for the crucial winner five minutes before the interval. The ball came to him from Lee Peacock and he in turn found Christian Roberts, an always lively and lurking striker. Roberts held off the faltering challenge of Arthur Gnohere for a clinical success.

Roberts could so easily have scored earlier; that time the ball came over from Matt Hill and was helped on by Peacock. Roberts' header was brilliantly turned away by Lee Camp. The QPR goalkeeper was always busier than his opposite number, who had nothing to do in the first half. Yet he excelled 10 minutes from time with a superb save when substitute Tony Thorpe - once with City himself - seemed certain to net.

QPR revised their tactics after the interval, though they still failed to gell or trouble a compact home defence. Just once Martin Rowlands was prominent with an assault down the left; that came to nothing, but QPR did at least force a succession of token corners. In midfield, City held the edge with the subtle play of Tom Doherty. The return of Mickey Bell hinted that manager Danny Wilson was resorting to the experienced players that served him well in their run to third a year ago.

Wilson said: 'Our discipline was excellent and the score would have been greater, but for Camp's fantastic save. We have every right to be proud of our performance. I get the impression we respond to the bigger games. But don't talk of promotion - its wide open.'

Holloway added: 'In many ways this was a close affair and we didn't come out on top. Too much of our play was static. We have to bounce back.' But his side must still play close rivals Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town in what will be taut fixtures.

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Guest Cyprus_Red

good to see the neutrals gave a better account of us.

speaking to a qpr fan after the game he thought they were the better side!!!!!!!!

i wondered what game he was watching

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