Terriers steamroller woeful Rangers – Report
Sunday, 6th Dec 2020 14:17 by Clive Whittingham
QPR turned in their worst performance of the season so far and were comprehensively beaten by Huddersfield Town in West Yorkshire on Saturday – in truth by a scoreline that flattered the visitors.
Half an hour into this debacle Queens Park Rangers were awarded a free kick just inside the Huddersfield Town half of the field. Not a bad position really, a chance to put some men into the penalty box, a chance to hold possession in a dangerous area, a chance to test the home defence, who knows, maybe even a chance to register that mythical holy grail: a serious shot on target. What’s more, QPR actually had a lot of time to consider their options. Bright Osayi-Samuel, face like a smacked arse, was engaging in his latest quest for a red card with full back Harry Toffolo, requiring referee Dean Whitestone to come across and deliver a stern lecture, so there was actually some thinking time there to set something up, make a bit of a plan, get some people in position, maybe even bring something off the training ground playbook into a live game situation. Imagine that. When it was time to get underway, Yoann Barbet aborted his first attempt, stopping just shy of the ball at the end of his run up, not liking something he was seeing up ahead. He started walking back to try again, but midway through thought he might have seen a quick and short option so suddenly approached the ball a second time only to think better of it once more. Bit of a shrug, lot of pointing, and then eventually, at the third time of asking, a long, aimless, hopeless punt sent out for a goal kick via one bounce without a QPR player within 15 yards of it. Pub football.
And that my friends is what they call a microcosm. A situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger. One incident among many that summed up the reprehensible, slapdash, careless, unprofessional, sloppy approach of our team to this game and the festering beer shit of a performance they phoned in. This is the issue created by the Brentford and Bristol City defeats, the problem that undermines the hopeful ideal that as long as we keep playing like that results will surely come – that level is difficult to maintain for even a whole game at a time, never mind multiple games over weeks and months, and if you lose even when you play like that it doesn’t bode well for what’s going to happen when there is an inevitable dip. QPR dipped so low here they were barely recognisable as the same team from a few days ago.
Huddersfield, only one place and one point higher than us in the league table at the start of play, beaten comprehensively at Cardiff in the week, were superior in every single department. They were faster, stronger, fitter, and harder working. They were more inventive, more creative, more exciting, more attacking, stronger defensively and more attractive to watch. They were cleverer, better set up, tactically in a different league. Every single one of their players was better than every single one of ours bar goalkeeper Ben Hamer, who needn’t have changed out of his club suit while his opposite number, Seny Dieng, performed a number of rescue missions to prevent the scoreline reaching the proportions it really should have. From front to back, left to right, side to side, up and down, all over every blade of grass on that pitch, it was total domination. QPR looked like a League Two side enduring a tough cup tie away to a team many divisions above them – not a good League Two side either, one of the shit ones like Oldham or Crawley.
The home team scored after three minutes. Josh Koroma invited to run 60 yards down the middle of the field, cut inside onto his favoured foot once he’d reached the edge of the box, and seek out the far corner with a fine finish without anybody laying a glove on him, without anybody really getting within ten yards of him at any point. Let’s just let him run half the length of the field with the ball shall we, what harm can come? Missing: QPR Midfield, reward offered. Todd Kane, talk to me about your thought process with this one could you? I can’t really recall ever seeing a goal like it. Christ on a fucking tiny motorbike.
It would have been two nil after five minutes had Dieng not saved fairly brilliantly down to his right in the bottom corner as Jonathan Hogg tried to turn the ball in from eight yards. Lewis O’Brien crossed for Fraizer Campbell to skew wide at the near post. Koroma curled over the bar from a similar position to the one he’d scored from after Rangers, again, handed Huddersfield cheap possession and then allowed them to maraud downfield unchecked. Rob Dickie gave the ball away shambolically on 24 minutes and then seemed to suffer a nasty looking groin injury getting back and recovering the situation with a block on Campbell – he played on after extensive treatment, though never really looked right. A super counter attack with the excellent Koroma at its heart really should have yielded a second goal ten minutes before half time but Campbell shot straight at Dieng.
QPR’s best hope at that point was to keep it to 1-0 going in at the break and start all over again, preferably with all five substitutions made at once, but it never looked likely and another sweeping move ended with Toffolo scoring essentially a more ornate version of the first goal to make it 2-0. There was still time for Mbenza to get in behind Hämäläinen and cross into a penalty area where a Morrison’s meat counter queue of would-be suitors had formed but the shot was eventually blocked, and Toffolo to do likewise down the left and cross to the near post where Dieng claimed bravely to prevent a third.
QPR’s input to the half began and ended with one weak Chris Willock shot at Hamer. When offered the chance to deliver a dangerous set piece from the corner of the penalty area Ilias Chair turfed the ball to the far post as all his team mates ran to the near. If I didn’t hope I know better, I’d say they were doing this on purpose. Spineless. Should have been 4-0 at this point. QPR’s performance so utterly hateful I actually found myself wishing it was.
Huddersfield had dominated QPR every bit as comprehensively as we had Brentford and Bristol City earlier in the week, but there were two key differences. The first, obviously, was they’d stuck a couple of chances away and built a healthy lead, whereas we didn’t. The second, was that Thomas Frank and Dean Holden took decisive half time action, performing major surgery on their teams and set ups to turn the tide back in their favour. They’d been outplayed, they knew it, they did something about it, making multiple substitutions and changing their formations. Mark Warburton said after this game he could have made five changes at half time, given how badly Rangers had played, and that rather begs the question why he didn’t. Out we came for the second half in the same shape, with the same players, bar Macauley Bonne on for Lyndon Dykes in a like-for-like swap.
Now, had Lyndon Dykes played well? No. He’s settling into a new city, new team, new level of football, and has done ok so far, with some quite good performances and some not so good, frequently starved of decent support and service. He’s going to need time, and the team could do a lot more to help him, we accept this. I do think, however, that I’d like to see a bit more Scotland Lyndon Dykes, tearing around the place with a big smile on his face, roughing defenders up and bringing team mates into play, as opposed to the slightly sad and bereft looking Lyndon Dykes we find so often back on his heels when the chance comes along. Simply put, he looks happy playing for Scotland, and a bit miserable playing for us, and he couldn’t have too many complaints at being hooked. But he must be looking around that dressing room yesterday, at the body language and at times behaviour of sacred cows like Bright Osayi-Samuel and Yoann Barbet, at the performances of Kane, Geoff Cameron, Ilias Chair and others, and wonder with some justification exactly why it was him, and only him, to be dragged at the break. I wonder what that’s going to do for his mood, morale and confidence. I await his response in future games with interest.
The like-for-likes continued. Ten more dire minutes drifted by with Rob Dickie, looking half dead, desperately clearing one good chance behind for a corner, and Mbenza flashing a nice delivery right through the goalmouth untouched. Kane just about did enough to avert disaster on 53 when Huddersfield’s other impressive full back, Pipa, stood one up to the far post for Koroma to come steaming in on. Dieng made an unorthodox save when the Spaniard took one on himself from long range. That was all before the fifty fifth minute, at which point we took off one one-dimensional, leaden footed defensive central midfield and replaced him with another, and removed Chris Willock to be replaced by George Thomas. There was some suggestion we’d switched to a midfield diamond, and brought Osayi-Samuel infield, but it looked much the same mess for the same result to me. What exactly did we like so much about our shape in that first hour to keep banging away with it? It’s all the same, only the names have changed.
Compare and contrast not only the decisive effective changes of Frank and Holden with this, but also Huddersfield’s highly tailored and creative approach to picking us apart. Toffolo and Pipa had a field day all afternoon, getting in on our exposed full backs with ease. Jonathan Hogg, meanwhile, gave a defensive midfield masterclass, positioned on the right shoulder of Ilias Chair not only crowding his space but also cutting off the passing lanes Tom Carroll had utilised so well in the previous two games, and waiting on hand for whenever Chris Willock cut in field from the left. The Terriers had basically taken three of our four best players from the prior two fixtures out of the game with one man. Hats off Carlos Corberán, very impressive, but where’s that sort of clever, inventive idea from us? Oh yeh we put all sorts of bits and pieces together with the ball, attacking wise, we love all that. But I can only really recall that Cardiff match, where Geoff Cameron suddenly turned up at right back to great effect, where we’ve done something out of the ordinary, that we didn’t expect, to combat an opponent defensively. We set up the same for Huddersfield away as we would for Las Palmas away. Not only was each individual battle lost on the field, we were comprehensively schooled in the dugout as well.
Changes made to no effect it was now a case of how many. To be fair, it had been that for a while. Ball introduced himself to the game by miscontrolling the ball and then chucking himself into a loss-chasing tackle from which no good could come. Perhaps lucky to only receive a yellow. Likewise Bright, kicking and niggling his way through a sulky performance, eventually booked by Dean Whitestone for clattering O’Brien. He would finally go round his full back for the first time on 74, and Schindler did himself a nasty looking injury rescuing the situation, but it was the first and last time we saw it. Any watching scouts hoping to take advantage of that contract situation may well have left thinking Toffolo would be a far better investment – who knows, he may even arrive with Osayi-Samuel still in his pocket and you could get two for the price of one.
Pipa, in again on sixty-four, picking out a specific team-mate with a good final ball (sorcery), O’Brien went on his weaker foot with the shot and Dieng saved well in the corner. Two minutes later another lousy set piece from Chair set up a counter attack with Mbenza, but Campbell just missed his connection with a diving header at the near post.
Barbet might have scored when Rangers did finally put something cute together from a corner ten minutes from time but I’ll be perfectly honest right now, hands in the air, I wanted Huddersfield to score more. I wanted them to score again, and again, and again. I wanted them to score because at 2-0, you could potentially brush this under the carpet as a bad day at the office. Indeed, Warburton said afterwards that the schedule had got the better of us, we looked leggy, and it was one match too many, which rather ignores the fact that Huddersfield are not only playing to the same schedule as us, but have played three of their last four games away from home including monster midweek trips down to Wycombe and Cardiff while QPR have played four consecutive games in West London prior to this. The game was a 4-0 or 5-0 in all but name. They deserved it, we deserved it, and I ended up rather hoping for it because everybody involved in this needs to know it is not in any way acceptable and sometimes only a proper tonking will do that.
We’ll end where we began, with a QPR free kick. The Schindler injury meant seven minutes of stoppage time to enjoy and within that Thomas was fouled on the edge of the area. More Gallic testiculating and arm waving from Barbet who’d no doubt picked out a nice seat in the stand behind the goal for his shot. In actual fact Dom Ball took it. Dominic Ball. A direct free kick from the best part of 25 yards. He takes those for us now apparently. And that’s where we are this week.
Huddersfield: Hamer N/A, Pipa 7 (Bacuna 73, 7), Schindler 6 (Edmonds-Green 79, 6), Sarr 6, Toffolo 8; Eiting 8, Hogg 8, O’Brien 7; Mbenza 7 (Duhaney 87, -), Campbell 7 (Ward 73, 6), Koroma 8
Subs not used: Pritchard, Diakhaby, Brown, Schofield, Daly
Goals: Koroma 3 (unassisted), Toffolo 39 (assisted Koroma)
QPR: Dieng 7; Kane 4, Dickie 5, Barbet 4, Hämäläinen 5; Cameron 4 (Ball 56, 4), Carroll 5; Osayi-Samuel 4 (Kelman 82, -), Chair 4 (Adomah 82, -), Willock 5 (Thomas 56, 5); Dykes 4 (Bonne 46, 4)
Subs not used: Masterson, Bettache, Kelly, Kakay
Bookings: Ball 62 (foul), Osayi-Samuel 71 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Seny Dieng 7 Three good saves to prevent the scoreline getting to where it really should have done.
Referee – Dean Whitestone (Northants) 8 Very little to referee, such was the uncompetitive nature of the game, but very few mistakes and both cards absolutely justified.
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