Harry’s Hoops in a bet­ter place

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/ By Chris Green

HARRY Red­knapp has had to weed out the prima don­nas at Queens Park Rangers this sea­son, but he be­lieves the heavy at­mos­phere has fi­nally lifted at Lof­tus Road af­ter grind­ing out a win against Bolton.

Andy John­son’s sec­ond-half tap-in, as­sisted by a ma­raud­ing per­for­mance from left-back by Clint Hill, was the soli­tary goal in a gritty af­fair at the Ree­bok Sta­dium.

Red­knapp has pre­ferred to draft in play­ers with a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in Eng­land over the sum­mer – in­clud­ing de­fend­ers Danny Simpson and Richard Dunne and for­mer Wolves man Karl Henry – and he in­sists his re­cruits are pay­ing div­i­dends in im­proved at­ti­tude.

“We’ve got a good dress­ing room now and I think that’s the key,” he said.“About 17, 18 play­ers have gone out and with the lads who have come in there’s a dif­fer­ent feel around the place at the mo­ment.

“I know win­ning does that but the lads we’ve got in are good pro­fes­sion­als and good peo­ple, and that rubs off on the kids that are around too.

“They’re good char­ac­ters and if you get beat you get beat, but you know they’re go­ing to do their best for you.

“Clint is a cen­tral defender, a great pro­fes­sional, and he’s got for­ward from left-back with a great run and ball in – I had a joke with him when he came off as he was like Leighton Baines the way he bombed on. The space was there for him be­cause of Bolton’s di­a­mond in mid­field.

“John­son’s al­ways been a goalscorer and lively around the box so it was good to see him get a goal, he’s been in­jured all week but we took a gam­ble on him and it paid off.”

Slow to re­act to a Joey Bar­ton pass, Dunne let Jer­maine Beck­ford race past him with 15 min­utes gone but the for­mer Le­ices­ter City man fluffed his lines from just out­side the penalty box.

And the home side con­tin- ued to press as a Jay Spear­ing free-kick forced Rob Green to tip over the bar five min­utes later.

A fully-stretched Green was at it again af­ter 30 min­utes, bat­ting Medo’s strike from 20 yards onto the up­right.

QPR came alive af­ter the break though and John­son capped off a fine move in the 54th minute when Hill – fol­low­ing a one-two with Char­lie Austin – slid the ball across the six-yard box for the eas­i­est of fin­ishes.

From then on the Trot­ters had trou­ble break­ing down a res­o­lute de­fence un­til sub­sti­tutes Jor­dan Hall and Craig Davies com­bined late on – only for the lat­ter to fire too close to Green.

And de­spite pick­ing up just two points in their open­ing four games in the Cham­pi­onship, Bolton man­ager Dougie Freed­man has no qualms with his play­ers’ stut­ter­ing start to the cam­paign.

“I'm proud of the lads’ ef­fort. Things aren't go­ing our way at the mo­ment but they gave me a lot to be happy about,” said Freed­man.

“I felt our per­for­mance, es­pe­cially first-half, mer­ited at least a goal.We showed great ap­proach play against a top team in QPR and have played very well.

“Sec­ond half it was two good teams play­ing against each other in a very even con­test. But QPR cut us open with their only op­por­tu­nity and scored. From then, they showed ruth­less­ness, ex­pe­ri­ence and closed the game out.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

ON TAR­GET: QPR’s An­drew John­son cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the only goal of the game

MY BALL: Medo and Karl

Henry com­pete

STAR MAN CLINT HILL

QPR

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