|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 0 Leeds United|
Saturday, 18th January 2020 Kick-off 12:30
Wells hands victory to QPR
Sunday, 19th Jan 2020 13:43 by Tim Whelan
Another trip to London and another defeat in controversial circumstances, this time at the hands of Queens Park Rangers.
With Leeds having a bit of a mid-season wobble, we could really have done with three points from this game to get everything back on track. It was one of those very rare occasions when fans of Fulham and Brentford wanted their local rivals to do well, but QPR had their own reasons for needing the points, as they have their own hopes of getting into the play-offs.
Marcello Bielsa made just the one change to the stating line-up, with Douglas dropping out once again, and this time it was Dallas’ turn to have a go at playing left back. And we could really have done with a specialist in that position, with the lively Osayi-Samuel playing on the right for the hosts.
QPR made the better start to the game, and Eze forced Casilla into the first save of the encounter. But we had a possible shout for a penalty when Costa went down after coming into contact with Wallace. To be fair to the ref, I thought Costa had made the most of it, but the TV replay showed that Wallace had clipped his foot and got nowhere near the ball.
Bamford was already starting to look isolated and from one break he was reduced to trying a very ambitious lob from distance, which got nowhere near the target. But he’d had no other option, with several defenders around him and no team-mates in support. We went a bit closer a few minutes later, when a Hernandez free kick took a deflection off Masterton, which Kelly needed to tip over the bar.
But QPR took the lead in the 20th minute, from a free kick after Osayi-Samuel had his heel clipped by Hernandez about 25 yards from goal. Ayling did his job at the end of the wall, but knocked it into the path of former dog-botherer Nakhi Wells, who scored after the ball had bounced off his arm. Under the new rules it shouldn’t have stood, but the ref and linesman would both claim later that their view had been blocked by other players.
The Rangers continued to have the bulk of the possession for the remainder of the half, with Chair and Wells going close, but Bamford had a couple more efforts at the other end. The first was from a narrow angle, which Kelly was able to smother. And our best chance of the half came when he was played in with the keeper rushing off his line.
For the second time in the game Bamford tried to lob Kelly, but he went for power rather than accuracy and his shot went wide. Had he put the ball in the right place Kelly would have been stranded. Whenever I used to play football I would aim for the spot directly above the keeper’s head in such circumstances and wait for gravity to do the rest once it had passed him. But what do I know?
At half time Bielsa replaced Dallas with Alioski at left back, though I would have removed Costa and moved Dallas to the wide right position. We were playing towards the Leeds end in the second half, and came out looking like we meant business. A decent spell of pressure produced headers narrowly of target from Cooper and Harrison, and Bamford sent another header wide from an excellent cross from Ayling, though Harrison would have had a better angle if Bamford had left it.
But we seemed to be back in the game on the hour, when a penalty was given after Bamford was tripped by Kelly as he tried to go round the keeper. The QPR players protested he’d gone down too easily, but there was definitely contact, and it looked like Bamford was trying to hurdle Kelly’s challenge.
That left the same two players facing each other from 12 yards, but this time it was Kelly who came out on top. Bamford’s penalty was feeble and too close to the keeper, and Kelly was always going to save it if he went the right way. How many penalties have we now missed in the last couple of seasons? At least two from Bamford and one each by Hernandez and Klich.
We kept pressing for an equaliser, and the next chance came when Kelly spilled a long range shot from Phillips, but managed to gather it before Harrison to get to the rebound. The nearest we came to scoring was a free kick from almost the same spot as the one that led to QPR goal. Hernandez sent it over the wall as Kelly went the wrong way, but it clipped the outside of the post.
Jordan Stevens was sent on for Kilch as time ran out, but had little time to make an impact before the day went from bad to worse as Leeds were reduced to ten men. Phillips let his frustrations get the better of him and launched into a ludicrous two footed challenge on Cameron when he had no chance of winning the ball.
There was a set-to as the Rangers man reacted angrily, before the referee produced the inevitable red card. So not only were we without our influential midfield man for the rest of the game, he will now be absent from the next three, which will include our vital trip to Nottingham Forest. There were five minutes injury time, not least due to the QPR fans refusing to give the ball back for a goal kick, but that wasn’t long enough for Leeds to force an equaliser.
And so we went down to yet another frustrating defeat in London when decisions have gone against us. We complained about our first experience of VAR at Arsenal, but if it had applied in this game QPR wouldn’t have got their goal, and we might have had that early penalty. If we are to be in a division where VAR is used next season, we urgently need to break that London hoodoo when we go to Griffin Park next month.
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