QPR con­tin­ued their resur­gence by beat­ing Villa on Fri­day night

But Mac laughs off claims

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Robert Hock

AS­TON Villa boss Dean Smith called for Jack Gre­al­ish to be given more pro­tec­tion by ref­er­ees af­ter ac­cus­ing QPR of tar­get­ing him “like a tag team”.

Pawel Ws­zolek’s first-half goal gave in-form Rangers a third con­sec­u­tive win and the fourth vic­tory and clean sheet of a five-match un­beaten run.

Ws­zolek fired in via the un­der­side of the bar af­ter rac­ing on to Ge­off Cameron’s ball over the top seven min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val.

And the hosts kept Villa at bay, de­spite be­ing un­der pres­sure for much of the game.

But Smith, whose side have now suf­fered back-to-back de­feats, in­sisted ref­eree Dar­ren Eng­land should have done more to clamp down on QPR’s treat­ment of Villa’s star mid­fielder.

“They need to pro­tect Jack Gre­al­ish more. QPR were like a tag team kick­ing him,” fumed Smith.

“A player of that qual­ity needs pro­tec­tion from ref­er­ees and they should be bran­dish­ing yel­low cards.

“They were a tag team tonight. (Mas­simo) Luongo’s had four or five kicks at him and other play­ers have.

“He needs pro­tec­tion. If they bran­dish a yel­low card very early then it stops it. He’s the most fouled player in the league, we all know that.

“Does he get the pro­tec­tion he de­serves? I don’t be­lieve he does at the mo­ment. I sup­pose it’s the only way the op­po­si­tion can stop him.”

Villa have won just one of their past seven games, but new head coach Smith in­sisted has seen pos­i­tive signs in his three matches in charge.

“In the short time we’ve worked to­gether there’s a good struc­ture about us, we just haven’t put the fin­ish­ing touch to it,” he said.

“We played well and didn’t de­serve to come away with noth­ing from this game.”

QPR man­ager Steve McClaren laughed off Smith’s sug­ges­tion that the home team had taken it in turns to kick Gre­al­ish.

“I’ve got to say I wish we were that clever to ro­tate around to kick him,” McClaren joked. The former Eng­land boss added: “Jack Gre­al­ish is a player we had to stop and I thought we did that to a cer­tain de­gree.

“I don’t think they took turns, I just think we had to stop him. He’s just that good a player – you think you’ve won the ball and you just nick him.

“They were all small fouls, not big ones. That re­ally up­set his rhythm, which we needed to do.”

Gre­al­ish hit the wood­work and the home side should arhe guably have been awarded a penalty be­fore Ws­zolek struck seven min­utes be­fore half­time.

Ws­zolek drifted into the mid­dle, in be­tween de­fend­ers James Ch­ester and Axel Tuanzebe, to col­lect Ge­off Cameron’s ball over the top.

The Pol­ish winger then un­leashed a shot which bounced down off the un­der­side of the bar and over the line.

It clinched a third con­sec­u­tive win for Rangers to main­tain their push for a play-off po­si­tion.

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

HERE WE GO: QPR’s Pawel Ws­zolek scores the only goal of the game

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