by, 30-01-2010 at 11:17 PM (399 Views)
Saturday 30th January 2010
The Coca Cola Championship
Loftus Road Stadium
Referee: G Hegley
Queens Park Rangers 0-1 S****horpe United
By The Godfather
Queens Park Rangers starting line-up: Ikeme, Leigertwood, Vine, Buzsaky, Gorkss, Quashie, Connolly, Faurlin, Hill, Simpson, Taraabt.
S****horpe United starting line-up: Murphy, Williams, Togwell, Byrne, McCann, Hayes, Hooper, Thompson, Jones, Mirfin, Woolford.
Oh dear. Today we saw a club in crisis; a club that is rotten to the core with instability, a club whose players look uninterested and, most significantly, a club that has lost all contact with its fanbase. In truth, I wasn't surprised to hear that a protest had taken place outside Loftus Road after the match.
You'll have to forgive me for this being a shorter report than usual. It really was the same old story; an abundance of attractive passing patterns, with little end product. Once again, there was a lack of cutting edge in QPR's attack, with young Jay Simpson struggling to link up with fellow striker, Rowan Vine. Frankly, I am starting to fear that Vine will never regain the form he enjoyed before his horrific injury. Perhaps it is time for him to move on. In any case, it is clear that Rangers desperately need a new striker...
Another disappointing aspect of this display was the performance of Akos Buzsaky. Once again, I felt that he struggled to influence proceedings, giving away possession carelessly and failing to deliver on set pieces. I wouldn't be surprised to see either Hogan Ephraim or Lee Cook replace him next Saturday.
Moreover, I felt that Nigel Quashie and Matt Hill produced mediocre home debuts. The former seemed to get "stuck in" at times, but didn't have a major impact upon proceedings. The latter, meanwhile, looked far more solid than Ramage and Borrowdale. However, I do have concerns about his distribution (he resorted to "hoofing" far too often). The goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, made a couple of decent saves from close-range, but in my view, it is too early to judge him (or any of the new signings for that matter).
On a more positive note, I was pleasantly surprised by Lee Cook's return from injury, with the winger coming on for Adel Taraabt towards the end of the match. I have to say I wasn't sure whether "Cookie" would ever fully recover from his knee problems, but I was impressed by the skill and energy he showed during those final minutes. His crossing ability could prove to be a major asset to Queens Park Rangers over the remainder of the campaign.
Harford set out with a 4-4-2 formation, with Vine and Simpson in attack. Buzsaky and Taraabt occupied the wings, whilst Faurlin and Quashie took up central midfield. Gorkss and Connolly started in central defence, whilst Hill and Leigertwood played in the fullback positions. Ikeme retained his place in goal.
The first half was a very dull one. Although there were plenty of opportunities, many came as the result of defensive mistakes and positional errors. S****horpe forced two decent chances, the first of which came in the 4th minute, when Hooper, picking it up on the edge of the area, forced Ikeme into a good diving save. They came close to scoring again in the 40th minute, when a well-worked corner resulted in Hooper progressing down the by-line. The QPR goalkeeper pushed out his cross into the path of Togwell, who could only smash the ball over the target.
At the other end, Rangers' best opportunity came in the 18th minute. Taraabt picked the ball up in acres of space on the left wing, progressed into the penalty area and smashed a shot at goal. To my despair, the S****horpe goalkeeper managed to get a hand to the ball and palm it out to safety. Five minutes later, the Rs had the ball in the net after Taraabt had played it through to Simpson, only for it to be disallowed for offside.
Half-time score: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 S****horpe United
S****horpe substitutions: Mirfin off for Wright (46 minutes).
Woolford off for McDermott (46 minutes).
Once again, Rangers enjoyed the lion's share of the possession during the second half. Gorkss should have scored minutes after the restart when Taraabt's corner found him unmarked at the near post. However, he somehow headed over. Simpson was at the centre of the action in the 54th minute, breaking from midfield and forcing Murphy into an excellent diving save. However, I felt that he should have looked for the pass instead of going for goal himself.
S****horpe responded by carving out a fantastic opportunity in the 62nd minute, with a little help from the referee. Quashie's pass bounced off Mr Hegley and fell to Hayes just outside the penalty area. Fortunately, Ikeme managed to tip his shot away to safety.
Then came a key moment in the match. In the 68th minute, McCann sent Faurlin flying to the floor with what appeared to be a horrendous sliding challenge. A heated altercation ensued, with several players getting involved. Frustratingly, the referee brandished only a yellow card. Had he dealt out a red then I expect things would have turned out very differently.
After that escape, the Iron thought they had taken the lead in the 68th minute when Hooper headed into the top corner of the net. To my relief, the referee ruled out the goal due to a push on Kaspars Gorkss.
To the Rs' credit, they responded to that scare very well indeed, forcing two golden opportunities of their own in the 70th minute. First, Leigertwood cut inside and unleashed a powerful drive from 25 yards out, which was well saved by Murphy. Next, from the resulting corner, the ball fell to Connolly inside the area, but he stumbled and sent his scuffed effort wide of the target. He should have done better.
Then, disaster struck. Again Hooper was involved, picking up the ball on S****horpe's right-hand side and crossing it to Thompson inside the penalty area. Completely unmarked, he carried out the simple task of tapping it past Ikeme and into the back of the net.
Harford's response was to bring on Cook, Balanta and German at the expense of Taraabt, Buzsaky and Vine. As already mentioned, I thought that Cook was excellent during his brief spell on the pitch. And, with under ten minutes remaining, he created a fantastic opportunity, his cross being headed wide by Jay Simpson.
S****horpe United substitution: Hooper off for Forte (90 minutes).
Queens Park Rangers simply couldn't break down S****horpe's hard-working defensive unit and, after three minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the full-time whistle. Unsurprisingly, it was met by boos.
Full-time score: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 S****horpe United
I do hope that Pete is right and that Rangers have signed a proven goalscorer. It has been clear for some time that a new striker is desperately needed and, until the Board address this issue, I can't see the team improving upon their league position.
These are dark times for Queens Park Rangers FC, as illustrated by the protests outside the ground earlier this evening. The whole situation as depressing as that FA Cup match against Vauxhall Motors several years ago. Well, almost.
It's obvious that the Board has damaged the club's relationship with its supporters. I can't help thinking that the issue would be resolved if:
1. The Board appointed a manager with a proven track record (Alan Curbishley or Steve Coppell, perhaps) and promised to give them at least a season in charge.
2. The Board gave the new manager full control of team selections and transfer dealings, abandoning the Sporting Director role.
3. The Board gave the manager a substantial amount to spend on two quality strikers.
4. The Board improved its communication with the supporters, perhaps by holding more fan forums (focusing on specific issues e.g. ticket prices) and open days.
But how likely is that?