A 2006-07 campaign that already seems doomed for relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers turned uglier last night at Kenilworth Road, where Rangers’ 1-0 FA Cup replay defeat to Luton Town was marred by a glaring loss of composure, writes the Guardian’s David Ornstein.
Luton’s progress to the last 32 of the Cup was soured by a 20-man brawl in which the QPR midfielder Stefan Bailey, sent off for a two-footed lunge on Ahmet Brkovic, appeared to head-butt the referee Mike Jones. As pandemonium ensued, the Cheshire official was seen clutching his face and the incident is certain to be investigated further by the Football Association.
Any punishment will compound QPR’s woes, the defeat denying them a lucrative fourth-round tie at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and a £150,000 bounty for the television coverage, a sum already earmarked by the Loftus Road board for new signings.
“That’s a big blow to me personally and the club,” said QPR’s manager John Gregory, who defended Bailey over the bizarre incident with the referee.
“It certainly wouldn’t have been intentional,” he said. Remarkably, the former Aston Villa manager also backed his player over the horrific two-footed challenge that earned Bailey a red card, describing it as “a great tackle”. Brkovic was last night in hospital for x-rays on a suspected broken ankle.
The 74th-minute melee turned this third-round replay on its head and, within six minutes, Luton took a scarcely deserved lead that proved decisive. QPR, in Gregory’s words, “should have been 4-0 up at half time and 7-0 by the end”.
Blackburn Rovers have confirmed they’ll be using loot from the Premiership’s latest TV deal in order to lower ticket prices. I just hope Larry Lucchino is sitting somewhere comfortably before anyone reads the story out loud.