Bristol City Match Report
by, 21-03-2009 at 09:10 PM (835 Views)
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Saturday 21st March 2009
Loftus Road Stadium
Referee: G K Hegley
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Bristol City
Queens Park Rangers starting line-up: Cerny, Delaney, Leigertwood, Gorkss, Ramage, Connolly, Lopez, Alberti, Di Carmine, Ephraim, Taraabt.
Bristol City starting line-up: Basso, Orr, McAllister, Fontaine, McCombe, McIndoe, Skuse, Sproule, Johnson, Adebola, Maynard.
Queens Park Rangers beat Bristol City 2-1 in a game in which skilful football prevailed over the physical style of play. The Robins were tough and organised but the Rs dealt with this well, displaying some very good passing movements at times. Sousa’s decision to revert to a 4-4-2 formation after the break gave the Rs more balance and a cutting edge up front. In my opinion, it was this tactical move that turned things in Rangers’ favour during a pulsating second half.
I could see why Bristol City are doing well in the Championship. Their play was not pretty but it did cause Rangers problems, especially during the first half. However, QPR managed to cope with the Robins’ physical approach and they ultimately came out on top.
After Tuesday night’s victory over Swansea City, Sousa chose to remain with the 4-5-1 formation. Di Carmine started up front, with Lopez, Leigertwood and Ephraim behind him in central midfield. Taraabt kept his place on the left-hand side after a sublime performance against the Swans, whilst Alberti took up position on the right flank. Damien Delaney returned to the starting line-up in place of Fitz Hall and Matthew Connolly partnered Gorkss in the heart of defence. Peter Ramage continued at right-back after having several solid games over the last few weeks.
Rangers started the game brightly and forced the first chance of the game in the 5th minute. Matteo Alberti broke through on the right-hand side but scuffed his shot straight at Basso in the Bristol City goal. I didn’t think that Alberti looked as effective as he did against Swansea. He seemed to struggle against a very strong full-back and was often shoved off the ball very easily.
Bristol City hit back in the 10th minute, when Dele Adebola headed Lee Johnson’s corner towards goal. Matthew Connolly blocked it and cleared the ball away, much to the dismay of the Robins supporters who felt that he had used his hand.
The game started to get quite scrappy and the referee, Mr Hegley, began to become noticeable with some bizarre decisions. In the 12th minute, Adel Taraabt was booked for diving in the area, yet when a Bristol City player did exactly the same thing a few minutes later, he wasn’t punished.
In the 21st minute, Queens Park Rangers should have taken the lead. Adel Taraabt picked out Samuel Di Carmine unmarked in the penalty area. To my despair, the Italian was denied by a great save from Basso.
At the other end, Ivan Sproule missed an absolute sitter in the 26th minute when he scooped Michael McIndoe’s cross over the bar from only a few yards out. Rangers’ marking was poor here and they were very fortunate not to be trailing. The Rs rode their luck again in the 30th minute, when Adebola flicked the ball on to Nicky Maynard in the box, who somehow managed to fire his volley miles over the bar.
The final action of the half came just before the break when Dele Adebola was played through on goal. Gorkss and Connolly caught up, putting him under pressure and forcing him into taking a dramatic-looking dive. This time, the referee did show a yellow card to the Bristol City player.
Half-time: QPR 0-0 Bristol City
Sousa made one change for the second half, bringing on Wayne Routledge at the expense of Matteo Alberti. Despite the introduction of the pacey winger, it was Bristol City who started the second-half on the front-foot. In the 46th minute, the ball dropped to Adebola in the area, who then smashed it across the goal. Fortunately, it couldn’t find a red shirt.
As the game started to open up, Rangers began to put the City defence under some pressure. They nearly took the lead in the 52nd minute, when Hogan Ephraim found Jordi Lopez on the edge of the area. The Spaniard fired his shot inches over the bar.
In the 61st minute, Matthew Connolly, who was not having his best game and appeared to sustain an injury, was replaced by the off-form, Heidar Helguson. As a result, Mikele Leigertwood moved back into central defence. The change to 4-4-2 gave the Rs more balance and as a result the team looked far more likely to score in open play. However, it took another set-piece for Rangers to score the opening goal.
Samuel Di Carmine was fouled on the edge of the area in the 65th minute by Jamie McCombe, who somehow managed to escape without a booking. Jordi Lopez stepped up to take the set-piece. He couldn’t have struck it better. It curled beautifully into the top corner, leaving Basso with no chance of saving it. QPR were finally in front.
Heidar Helguson, who put in yet another disappointing performance, should have doubled the Rs’ advantage in the 67th minute. Taraabt beat the full-back on the left-hand side and found the Icelandic forward unmarked in the area. However, the former Watford man sliced his shot well wide of the goal.
Sousa then made his second substitution of the match, replacing Samuel Di Carmine with Lee Cook. Adel Taraabt was moved to partner Heidar Helguson in attack.
Disaster struck in the 77th minute when City equalised against the run of play. Ivan Sproule pounced on a misplaced pass from Helguson and chipped the ball into the far post, finding Michael McIndoe, who thumped his volley into the back of the net.
I feared that the Rs’ heads would drop after conceding, however, I was delighted by the response from the players. In the 80th minute, Damien Delaney progressed down the left wing and drilled in a wonderful ball for Taraabt to tap in. The Hoops were deservedly back in front.
The final ten minutes were nerve-racking. Gary Johnson threw everything he had at the Rs, bringing on Styvan and Elliott but the Queens Park Rangers defence, led by Leigertwood and Gorkss, held firm. The Fourth Official signalled for four minutes of added time and I could feel the tension a****st the Loftus Road crowd. However, it was the Rs who looked the most likely to score again and almost did so in the 93rd minute when Routledge’s volley forced Basso into a dramatic save.
After what had seemed like an eternity, Mr Hegley finally blew the full-time whistle. A superb result for Queens Park Rangers.
Full-time: QPR 2-1 Bristol City.
What the managers said….
QPR Manager, Paulo Sousa: “There have been a lot of critics, but now we have had two good results. We have a good spirit and the players believe in me because I always say the same things - because I believe in what I'm saying. Every team has a moment where results are not good. The important thing is to show spirit and unity, which we did."
Bristol City Manager, Gary Johnson: "Of course I'm disappointed with the outcome. We didn't do ourselves justice. That wasn't our game we played out there. For some reason we kept lumping the ball forward. It was a poor game for us and I didn't recognise what we were doing. The pitch wasn't great and it wasn't easy to play good football on it."
I think that Paulo Sousa is right in saying that the team displayed spirit and unity. The response of the players was excellent after Bristol City’s equaliser, going straight down the other end and scoring again. Today, the Rs showed that they are capable of playing good football and winning against physical Championship sides.
I thought that Rangers were superb all over the pitch today. Jordi Lopez ran things in midfield and capped off his fine performance with a fantastic goal. Adel Taraabt was guilty of giving the ball away with fancy flicks but did cause City some problems down the left-hand side. Ramage and Delaney both played well. Mikele Leigertwood and Kaspars Gorkss did a good job during the final 20 minutes, keeping the likes of Adebola at bay. Overall, there were plenty of positives to take from the match.
If the Rs can continue their momentum into the next few games, a late play-off push may not be out of the question.
Man of the match: Jordi Lopez. The Spaniard ran the show in central midfield today. I don’t recall him giving the ball away on even a single occasion. His free-kick for the first goal was world-class. I’ve been impressed by him so far and if he continues his fine form then Sousa surely has to offer him a longer contract during the summer.