Former keeper back to haunt R’s, Camp denies Taarabt in stalemate – full match report
Monday, 15th Nov 2010 22:53 by Clive Whittingham
QPR and Nottingham Forest drew a blank at the City Ground on Saturday in a game dominated by Adel Taarabt and Lee Camp.
QPR kept their unbeaten run intact, but were left cursing former charge Lee Camp and referee Andy D’Urso after clocking up a seventh draw in their last nine matches. Considering Rangers have never won at the City Ground in some 28 visits stretching back to the 1930s, and injuries and suspensions stretched them to such a point that top scorer Jamie Mackie was deployed as an emergency right full back, this was certainly a creditable result.
But had Camp not made three fine saves, or an obvious foul on Tommy Smith in the penalty area been awarded as a spot kick, it could have been so much better. Then again, QPR’s own Paddy Kenny was in very decent form himself and made an improvised save with his shins in the closing minutes to keep hold of a point and prevent a first defeat of the season.
Camp’s performance was particularly galling considering his recent form, which has been patchy, and the manner of his departure from QPR. The former England Under-21 stopper was forced from Loftus Road at a fraction of his true worth after successive manager were forbidden from picking him by interfering chairman Flavio Briatore who preferred Radek Cerny, a man ten years Camp’s senior. The current Forest stopper could have played between the sticks for QPR for a decade, instead Rangers lumped all their eggs in Cerny’s basket at the chairman’s say so and consequently had to loan in Wolves’ fourth choice last season and then spend three quarters of a million pounds on Kenny this summer.
There’s actually little to choose between the two keepers, who could both be considered a little on the small side for their position standing at six feet tall – Camp needed every inch of that to reach a clever Adel Taarabt lob in the second half. Camp was named in the division’s Team of the Year last season while Kenny kept the most clean sheets in the Championship the campaign before and the Irishman is well on his way to beating that total of 20 set with Sheffield United this term. He’d been helped in reaching ten shut outs already before this match by playing behind a settled defence but suspensions for Bradley Orr and Matthew Connolly for red cards in the last two games meant a big reshuffle ahead of him on Saturday.
With Fitz Hall and Peter Ramage injured and Mikele Leigertwood away on international duty Neil Warnock was forced to play top scorer and striker Jamie Mackie at right back, Kyle Walker at left back, and Clint Hill who has played at full back since signing from Crystal Palace in the summer at centre half along with Kaspars Gorkss. Consdering the upheaval, all four put in commendable showings. Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlin played in the centre of midfield with Hogan Ephraim recalled to the attack alongside Adel Taarabt, Rob Hulse and the in form Tommy Smith.
Forest had another former QPR charge, Dexter Blackstock, in their attack with support from Radoslaw Majewski. They were able to call on Paul McKenna again after a family issue consigned him to the bench for Tuesday night’s home win against Coventry. QPR would have been mindful of the fine goal scoring form of Lewis McGugan, who seems to be running his own Goal of the Season competition from the Forest midfield, prior to kick off.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in honour of Remembrance Sunday, a silence that was sadly ignored by one idiot in the away end shouting ‘You R’s’ and another pillock high up to our right in the home end shouting ‘You Reds’. No doubt these morons would be quick to make pathetic excuses about alcohol intake if quizzed on their disgusting behaviour but for me it’s just another example of how little respect there is in our society today from all races and religions. One of Forest’s oldest surviving players and World War Two fighter pilot Sid Ottewell and SSgt David Lafferty, a Forest fan about to fly out to Afghanistan to serve, were on the field with the teams for the silence and to be too pissed or thick to shut up and show some respect for one minute is utterly, utterly pathetic.
With only one out and out striker in either line up, and neither Blackstock nor Hulse playing particularly well, this game proved to be a bit of a damp firework with all the potential for major incident and explosion but ultimately offering little entertainment. By the time Blackstock had lamely headed the first corner of the game over the bar news was already seeping through the 2,000 QPR fans behind the goal that Cardiff had surged into a two goal lead at lowly Scunthorpe. A not altogether surprising, but disappointing development.
QPR attempted to respond in kind and Camp was extended for the first time on the day in the twelfth minute when Jamie Mackie’s long throw was cleared out to the edge of the area where Kyle Walker improvised a powerful headed effort that the keeper had to wait to miss Faurlin in the six yard box before he could dive off to his left and palm away.
Taarabt was next to test the keeper, sending a routine low shot straight into his hands from the edge of the area after good work by Alejandro Faurlin who won the ball back as Forest attempted to build from the back. But within a few minutes Faurlin had uncharacteristically given the ball away after initially retrieving Kyle Walker’s mistake. The mess in the Rangers midfield allowed McGugan to spring forward into space in front of the back four and in the form he’s in, four goals in six games before kick off, he will have been disappointed to fire clear over the bar from 20 yards out.
This did spark a little period of Forest pressure midway through the second half but when Radoslaw Majewski sent in a dangerous cross after his own corner was cleared out to him Shaun Derry once again proved to be the man in the right place at the right time to execute a fine clearing header from almost underneath his own crossbar.
QPR should have had a penalty on the half hour. Kyle Walker intercepted a loose pass in his own half and tore away down the left channel in typical fashion before laying the ball into Adel Taarabt. The Moroccan carried the ball to the edge of the penalty area but his shot was then blocked into the path of Tommy Smith who seemed likely to score until he was clearly hacked down from behind by McGugan. Even from our seats behind the goal at the far end of the ground it looked like a certain spot kick, and the replays have since shown that. Referee Andy D’Urso, who has a chequered past with QPR but performed well here apart from this incident, waved the appeals away. QPR have already been awarded, and scored, eight penalties this season and you never expect to see everything given, but they certainly should have had one here.
Unperturbed Rangers kept coming and Adel Taarabt went close to scoring three times in the final ten minutes of the half – one a free kick, the otherchance he created from nothing, the third a product of lousy defending that he should have done better with. First Alejandro Faurlin was chopped down 30 yards from goal and Taarabt fired wide. Then he worked himself into space 25 yards away from goal and then curled a shot towards the top corner only to find Camp in flying form and able to touch the ball wide for a corner. Finally when Tommy Smith’s routine low cross into a sparsely populated penalty area caused needless amounts of trouble the ball bounced off two Forest defenders and fell perfectly for him but he volleyed yards over the bar from a presentable range.
One minute of time was added to the first half despite there being no injuries, no substitutions and no goals but it passed without incident and the teams were left to reflect on a first half that QPR had enjoyed much the better of.
After such competent first halves both goalkeepers had nervy moments at the start of the second. Paddy Kenny spilled a high free kick from McGugan in his six yard box and needed Clint Hill to sweep the ball away down the field. Then in the next attack at the other end Tommy Smith got to the byline and crossed towards Hulse whose presence seemed to intimidate Camp into missing the ball that ultimately flashed right across the face of goal without getting a touch from anyone.
Forest went straight down to the Trent End and attacked with Majewski but the Pole, almost completely unplayable on our last visit here when we lost 5-0 in January, couldn’t keep his shot down. The home side, while never getting close to matching the heights of that massacre nine ten months ago, were a good deal better in the second half and started to exert more pressure on the makeshift QPR back line.
On the hour Dexter Blackstock, laboured and ineffective for the most part, stung Kenny’s hands with a low drive. Having repelled that danger QPR went seeking a goal of their own and within a minute Tommy Smith had seized on Adel Taarabt’s crossfield pass and played Jamie Mackie in behind the Forest back line but the angle tightened with each passing yard and eventually the former Plymouth man could only find the side netting with a tame shot.
Midway through the half, with ideas at a premium, frustration creeping in on the pitch and the cold starting to bite into my toes in the always brisk Forest away end there was a sudden flurry of substitutions. Taarabt had just dragged two shots wide from range with little else on for him so it made sense for Warnock to try and change things – Rob Hulse’s frustrating start to life at QPR continues as he was the man replaced by Patrick Agyemang. Hulse is currently in a difficult situation – much is expected of him because he has a good reputation at this level and Heidar Helguson was playing superbly in his position prior to his injury, Hulse has had little action this season and is currently trying to get to know his team mates and the system while recovering from injury. These extenuating circumstances are sadly lost on some QPR fans, one gentleman near me was slagging Hulse from the first minute on Saturday and calling for Patrick Agyemang to be brought on – obviously forgetting the last two years in which Agyemang has been absolutely awful. Still, it’s a game of opinions, I just wish QPR fans wouldn’t insist on this silly need for a scapegoat all the time. Like Blackstock all Hulse had to show for his afternoon of toil was a yellow card.
Forest looked to pep up their meagre attack by adding Robert Earnshaw and Dele Adebola, two men with ten career goals between them against Rangers, instead of Blackstock and Majewski who’d both been below par.
Earnshaw, typically, had the ball in the net within four minutes but he goal was quickly ruled out for offside. QPR responded in kind with Shaun Derry volleying wide from a Jamie Mackie long throw. I saw long throw, neither Mackie nor Walker are anything like the Championship Rory Delap but that didn’t stop either of them trying, and wasting, several throws in attacking positions during this game.
The substitutions certainly improved Forest, and Kenny had to be at his improvised best 15 minutes from time when McGugan’s shot from 15 yards out deflected off Clint Hill en route to goal Kenny kicked the ball out with his shins having seemingly dived too far to his right. The rebound fell to Earnshaw who claimed he was bundled over by Faurlin, but wasn’t, and then Cohen who drilled it into the six yard box only to find Hill in the way again and QPR survived. This was our biggest scare on the day by some distance.
It seemed as though QPR were starting to just dig in for a point but with players like Taarabt available there is always a chance Neil Warnock’s side can come out and win a game against the run of play and on a counter attack nine minutes from time they came agonisingly close. Taarabt set Agyemang away down the right and then chimed back into the move on the edge of the area when Tommy Smith passed him the ball and he tried an audacious first time chipped shot that seemed to have beaten Camp only for the keeper to thrust up a glove and palm it over the bar just as it was about to drop into the net. It was pure Taarabt brilliance, and the goal would have been fitting reward for a fine performance that actually included a fair amount of defensive work for once. As frustration grew with their inability to cope with him, Paul McKenna was booked for tripping the mercurial attacker in full flight.
In the final ten minutes Forest went twice on two further occasions. A cross from the right narrowly eluded Adebola in the six yard box, loitering for his annual goal against QPR, and then Kenny made another fine two handed save right on the line to prevent what looked, from our position at the other end at least, like it would have been a disastrous own goal, possibly by Hill, who was otherwise outstanding.
Three minutes of stoppage time came and went, both sides had long since accepted a draw as a likely and acceptable outcome but the time the board was raised, with the only action of note being a booking for Shaun Derry for a crude challenge on Adebola. With little danger on and a composed 90 minutes under his belt I wondered whether Derry might have actually done this deliberately, ensuring his one match ban for accumulated bookings comes against bottom of the table Preston this week rather than top of the table Cardiff seven days later.
All in all this was a good result on a ground where positive scorelines have been few and far between for QPR. I thought Hill, Derry and Taarabt were our outstanding players down the spine of the team, with Walker and Mackie also impressing at full back. Paddy Kenny was a virtual spectator in the first half, stopping only to laugh at the taunts about his weight and that bizarre “come and get your peanuts” song the Forest fans sing, but when called upon in the final ten minutes he produced two brilliant saves.
Faurlin was a little bit hit and miss with some good and some bad in his game, Ephraim flitted in and, mostly, out of the game and needs to assert himself more on proceedings as he was doing earlier in the season if he is to usurp Tommy Smith from the line up who was reasonably impressive again himself.
This was a game of what ifs for me. What if we’d had Orr, Connolly and especially Helguson available? Would the score have been different? Hulse was so ineffective in Helguson’s place, and QPR so dominant in the first half despite that, that I can’t help but think it might have been. What if Camp hadn’t made those saves? What if we’d had the penalty we should have done. Such is life and football sometimes.
The certainties at the moment are; we’re still unbeaten, if we can beat Preston at home next week we’ll be back ahead of the two point a game average that all but guarantees promotion, we’re a bloody good side at this level even when down on numbers.
Nottm Forest Camp 8, Gunter 6, Morgan 6, Chambers 6, Bertrand 6, Anderson 6, McGugan 7 (Tyson 79, 6), McKenna 6, Majewski 6 (Earnshaw 61, 7),Cohen 6, Blackstock 5 (Adebola 61, 6)
Subs Not Used: Smith, McCleary, Moussi, Lynch
Booked: Blackstock (foul), McKenna (foul)
QPR: Kenny 7, Mackie 7, Hill 7, Gorkss 7, Walker 7, Derry 7, Faurlin 6, Ephraim 5 (Clarke 79, 5), Taarabt 8 (Rowlands 89, -), Hulse 5 (Agyemang 67, 6).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Hall, Borrowdale, Andrade
Booked: Hulse (foul), Derry (foul)
QPR Star Man – Adel Taarabt 8 A persistent threat to Forest throughout the game, and it’s noticeable that he’s suddenly starting to play extra minutes in games now his fitness and work rate is improving. The chipped shot in the second half would have been fit to win any game and would have been our Goal of the Season hands down. Since the dire performance he put in at Bristol City Taarabt has been our best player in three of the four games we’ve played.
Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex) 6 Not a bad display at all overall and no arguments from anybody over the four bookings. But the big decision in the game was a penalty, and it was a penalty, and he got it wrong, so the mark cannot really be any higher.
Attendance: 22,859 (2,076 QPR approx) A good following from QPR numbers wise, but there was very little noise and atmosphere around the away end which was a shame. The atmosphere at the City Ground is noticeably quieter this season with the team not doing as well, the “come and get your peanuts” song was belted out once bringing just as many confused and perplexed looks from the visiting fans as it always has done. What on earth is that one all about?
Photo: Action Images
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