...CHER­RIES RIPE FOR CHAL­LENGE

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Fisher To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

QPR boss Harry Red­knapp says his side blew their chances of au­to­matic pro­mo­tion af­ter los­ing to ten-man Bournemouth.

Red­knapp re­turned to Dean Court for the first time since 1992 and de­spite his side en­joy­ing the open­ing stages it was to be an un­happy re­turn to his old stomp­ing ground.

Goals from Tommy El­ph­ick and top-scorer Lewis Grab­ban sealed vic­tory for Bournemouth who had mid­fielder Harry Arter sent off for a whole-hearted chal­lenge on Ju­nior Hoi­lett.

The Hoops be­gan well as West Ham loa­nee Ravel Mor­ri­son found Jer­maine Je­nas with the for­mer Eng­land mid­fielder forc­ing Lee Camp into a smart save.

But the hosts soon gath­ered mo­men­tum af­ter a jit­tery start and Grab­ban’s 20th goal of the sea­son se­cured Ed­die Howe’s men a fourth win on the bounce.

Howe’s side out­classed the star-stud­ded vis­i­tors and QPR boss Red­knapp ad­mit­ted his side’s dreams of land­ing an au­to­matic pro­mo­tion slot are now a mere mem­ory, with the R’s ten points be­hind sec­ond-placed Burn­ley with six games left.

He said:“It is al­most im­pos­si­ble now to be fair. No­body is go­ing to catch Burn­ley now are they?

“I thought we started great and played some re­ally good foot­ball and then we be­gan to give it away.

“I thought we would go on to win af­ter scor­ing early in the sec­ond-half but we lacked the imag­i­na­tion.

“We kept slap­ping the ball out wide af­ter they went down to ten men and I felt we should have been a lit­tle bit clev­erer.

“We lacked that bit of flair to open them up, you are look­ing a bit more from Ju­nior Hoi­lett and Ravel Mor­ri­son, your flair play­ers to open them up and they didn’t re­ally do it.”

Red­knapp could only watch as Bournemouth’s very own goal-ma­chine Grab­ban net­ted on the hour, re­act­ing quick­est to a re­bound.

The Hoops boss threw on for­mer Bournemouth trans­fer tar­get Char­lie Austin – who has been side-lined since Jan­uary – but nei­ther he nor fel­low sub­sti­tute Bobby Zamora could con­jure up an­other equaliser.

Red­knapp said of Austin:“He is the one guy who looks like he will score a goal. We are short of goals – that is our prob­lem.”

It was Bournemouth’s sev­enth win in nine matches and Ed­die Howe’s side face sixth-placed Read­ing on Tues­day.

And the Cher­ries boss ad­mit­ted his troops could still clinch a play-off spot.

Howe said:“I can­not deny that there is still a chance for us and Tues­day is ob­vi­ously go­ing to be a very spe­cial game for us.

“Lewis has had an ex­cel­lent sea­son for us and hope­fully there is more to come.

“It is a ter­rific achieve­ment at this level when you look at the names he is up there with and there is more to come from him.”

Howe also ad­mit­ted they had prac­ticed go­ing down to ten men in train­ing, in prepa­ra­tion of his side’s fix­ture against the Hoops.

“We work on it quite a lot and it was a rel­a­tively easy sub­sti­tu­tion to make be­cause we had worked on it,” he added.

“It is not rocket sci­ence to work on dif­fer­ent game sce­nar­ios.

“But I was de­lighted with how they adapted to the chal­lenge.”

PIC­TURE: De­nis Mur­phy/ TGSPHOTO

ON A ROLL: Tommy El­ph­ick heads in Bournemouth’s first goal to shock QPR and boost his club’s hopes of a play-off place

PIC­TURES: TGS

FLY­ING: Tommy El­ph­ick climbs high­est to score the open­ing goal for Bournemouth

SAVED: Pit­man heads

of the line

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