Championship - Derby delay QPR promotion party

Tue, 19 Apr 06:48:00 2011

QPR and Derby County are within one result of promotion and survival respectively after battling to a 0-0 stalemate in the Championship at Loftus Road.

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Highlights were few and far between throughout the 90 minutes, though Adel Taarabt wriggled away from the superb marking job of Robbie Savage long enough to force a fine save from Brad Jones with a classy long-range curler in the first half.

Danny Ward created the chance of the second 45 by racing past Bradley Orr and cutting back for Stephen Pearson to break the deadlock, but the brilliant reflexes of Paddy Kenny denied him.

And with both sides regarding a safe point as more important than gambling on three, the contest fizzled out to a fair result.

Though the visitors began confidently, it came as no surprise that the big chances in the opening period came QPR’s way.

A clever lifted ball into the area by Alejandro Faurlin allowed Wayne Routledge to fire towards goal from a tight angle on the right, and Heidar Helguson was inches away from converting with his head as it flashed across the goalmouth.

Tommy Smith came close to netting his 100th career goal, against his former club no less, on the quarter hour mark but could only guide his header just over the crossbar.

And on 17 minutes, Taarabt almost capped his recent crowning as Championship player of the year in fitting style with an audacious curling 25-yarder which Jones had to tip over at full stretch.

It was the peak of the Moroccan playmaker’s performance, as the wily veteran Savage continued to closely mark and frustrate Taarabt, getting the better of the majority of their exchanges and leaving the former Spurs man visibly frustrated.

It took 63 minutes for Nigel Clough’s men to seriously threaten, and Ward did well to skin the impressive right-back Orr and find himself in acres of space to pick out Pearson in the penalty area.

The Scotsman’s first-time shot looked unstoppable, but Kenny lifted an arm at full stretch to deny the visitors.

Five minutes later, Routledge twisted and turned before crossing to the far post where Smith once again looked to net his landmark goal, but brave defending from John Brayford prevented him the space to get a good head on it.

Brayford went from hero to villain on 76 when he was kept from stopping a goal kick by the strength and timing of Kaspars Gorkss, who was shoved headfirst into a nearby camera by the right-back.

The reaction earned Brayford a yellow card, one of four picked up by the Rams on the night.

But it appeared to be a worthwhile price to pay en route to collecting a point away from home against the top side in the division.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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