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Patched up QPR sweep aside Preston to regain top spot — full match report
Patched up QPR sweep aside Preston to regain top spot — full match report
Sunday, 21st Nov 2010 21:04 by Clive Whittingham

Despite a host of injuries, suspensions and unavailability QPR were still far too good for the Championship’s bottom side Preston North End at Loftus Road on Saturday.

They say the Championship is a marathon not a sprint, and if that’s the case then this game was one of the water stops. A blessed relief in a period of taxing fixtures, a chance to restock both points and confidence, a game that defied the assertion that there are no easy fixtures in the Championship.

QPR were missing ten players on Saturday who may well have started had they been available –Heidar Helguson, Lee Cook, Peter Ramage, Shaun Derry, Gavin Mahon and Bradley Orr were all absent through injury or suspension, Mikele Leigertwood and Josh Parker arrived back too late from international duty to be considered for starts, George Tofas awaits his debut while recovering from a hamstring injury and Tommy Smith was technically between loan spells as part of the strange deal we set up with Portsmouth to ensure he is available for the busy Christmas period. A goalkeeper short of a full side there, and not a bad side at that.

Preston signed three Premiership players on loan during the week and that added an extra element of uncertainty to this fixture. The world weary QPR fans have seen cock ups like this before at Loftus Road and when the Rangers starting eleven was revealed prior to kick off backsides clenched just that little bit tighter. With Cardiff to come next week the last thing Rangers needed here was an arm wrestle with a revitalised team with nothing to lose. In the end the only uncertainties were just how bad were Preston before these three players arrived, and how many more could this have been than 3-1 had QPR put a full team out and taken all the chances they created with a patched up side?

It was the type of one sided thrashing we’ve been on the end of ourselves a few times away from home, and it was hard not to sympathise with the small gaggle of visiting supporters who ignored the shambolic excuse for a football team they had come to support and sang throughout the game, and down South Africa Road after the match.

The QPR team was much changed with injuries, suspensions and Tommy Smith’s bizarre loan set up forcing Neil Warnock into a reshuffle. He gave a first start of the season to Leon Clarke down the left, Jamie Mackie returned to his more recognised role on the right of the attack after a stint at right full back last week at Nottingham Forest and Adel Taarabt provided support to Rob Hulse. Matthew Connolly returned from suspension in an unorthodox central midfield role next to Alejandro Faurlin with regular starter Shaun Derry himself suspended for this game for accumulating bookings. At the back Fitz Hall started for the first time since August alongside Gorkss, Walker and Hill played at full back with Kenny in goal.

Preston slumped to the bottom of the league with a 2-0 defeat at home to Hull City last weekend and responded by bringing in three players on loan from the Premiership, all of whom started in this game. Ritchie de Lait was borrowed by manager Darren Ferguson from his father’s Manchester United squad and lined up in defence, Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh came in from Stoke for their respective second spells with North End and started in midfield. Jon Parkin and Iain Hume, two players QPR have struggled with in the past, started in attack.

Sadly for Ferguson the new additions made little difference and it didn’t take long for QPR to go in front - four minutes to be precise. Leon Clarke had already chested down and fired the first shot of the game wide when Kyle Walker went on a typically eye catching and pacy run down the right, skinning new boy Danny Pugh before delivering a cross into the six yard box that was spilled amateurishly by keeper Andy Lonergan straight to the feet of Rob Hulse and he bundled I his first ever QPR goal from close range. He could hardly miss after the keeper had laid it on a plate for him – Lonergan once again defying the plaudits that flow his way for the rest of the season by making key mistakes against QPR as he seems to do every season. The goal was no more Hulse deserved for a much improved overall display, admittedly against meagre opposition.

To their credit the visiting team didn’t let their heads go down straight away, and rallied to cause a few nervy moments in a prolonged period of pressure just after the ten minute mark. The whole heart stopping sequence of events began with a sliced clearance from Paddy Kenny which dropped 30 yards out from his goal where Matt Connolly was penalised by referee David Phillips for trying to lever Adam Barton out of the way as the ball dropped. Michael Tonge went for goal from the set piece but found the ample frame of Leon Clarke in the way and it deflected out for a throw in. From that Iain Hume tried his luck from the edge of the area and saw his shot deflected wide and when QPR failed to clear their lines from the corner adequately Clint Hill was then penalised on the edge of the area leading to another free kick that in turn led to another scramble in the Rangers’ penalty area. When the ball was finally cleared and the home side launched a much needed counter attack that ended when Kyle Walker’s back post cross was turned behind for a corner which came to nothing.

The early goal was just what QPR needed, but the repost from Preston served to focus minds on the task in hand and between the twentieth minute and the half hour Rangers created three great chances for a second goal. Not before the most blatant piece of cheating you’re likely to see at Loftus Road this season from somebody other than Adel Taarabt though. The disgraceful act was the work of Preston centre half Sean St Ledger – once a hot property on the cusp of a big money move to Middlesbrough, now a flimsy, nervous wreck of a centre half who struggled to cope with Hulse all day and looked like a player several leagues above his true level.

It began with a simple ball knocked up towards Hulse and St Ledger midway inside the Preston half – it haad fractured skull written all over it as both players wholeheartedly set off on a collision course to try and win the initial header. The collision looked sickening from the front of F Block and I feared the worst when St ledger immediately hit the floor clutching his head and didn’t move. The referee obviously thought the same, he immediately stopped the play and summoned medical treatment and several seconds passed with a worried hush descending on Loftus Road as fans from both sides waited to see if the player was alright. Suddenly the situation changed. St Ledger, signing in at the Pearly gates one minute, leapt to his feet and angrily lunged at Hulse’s throat. Whether he was angry with the initial challenge, which was a fair one, or something Hulse had subsequently aid who can know but having pretended, and there is no other word for it, to be seriously hurt to then spring up and start a fight was absolutely disgraceful behaviour and the referee rightly showed him a yellow card. St Ledger was cheating to try and get Hulse booked, simple as that, and any sympathy I may have held for his clear, total and utter loss of form and confidence in recent weeks evaporated in that moment.

The incident seemed to fire QPR up a little bit and the chances started to come and go with encouraging regularity. First Adel Taarabt turned brilliantly on the halfway line and raced away towards the Preston goal with Connolly up in support to his left and Walker to the right. Unselfishly he tried to play in Connolly but Preston scrambled back and cut the ball off – it then flew back in the opposite direction and even though he stretched every sinew to reach it Walker could only prod the ball a yard wide of the target from 12 yards out.

br> Within five minutes it was Mackie’s turn to approach the Preston goal at pace after robbing Brown of the ball. Lonergan made a decent save one on one from the striker and only Leon Clarke will know how he failed to find the target with the rebound which he lifted high over the bar with most of the goal to aim at. Clarke did have the ball in the net ten minutes before half time but referee Phillips disallowed what would have been his first for the club for either a non-existent foul on Lonergan in the build up or handball as the ball arrived back with Clarke – the decision was an early Christmas present for the goalkeeper who had come for a ball that was never his, wildly flapped it straight to Clarke and been clinically punished.

A minute later Mackie was in again, fed by consecutive flick ons from Hulse and Clarke, but Brown covered round and took it off his toe as he prepared to shoot. The resulting corner saw Gray produce a brave block in the area, which he genuinely needed treatment to cure afterwards, and a second set piece was then headed over by Kaspars Gorkss, who would have deserved a goal for a fine performance at centre half.

Back in more familiar territory Gorkss produced two fine pieces of play in quick succession – first winning a header against the odds against Parkin as he prepared to direct an effort on goal, then muscling the giant striker out of a chance in the area and allowing Kenny to comfortably claim the loose ball. Gorkss has struggled in the past against physical centre forwards, and a couple of times in recent years up at Deepdale Parkin has crawled all over him, but he was superb on Saturday and a potential man of the match candidate.

The final five minutes of the half became a story of near misses. Adel Taarabt’s brilliant cross from the left was just out of reach of Hulse as it travelled through the corridor of uncertainty between goalkeeper and centre backs, then Kyle Walker’s opportunistic strike from distance after receiving a short free kick that Preston were expected to be hung up towards the back post missed the bottom corner by no more than a yard with Lonergan confused and reduced to prayer as it flew towards his net with him standing on the opposite side waiting for a cross to come in.

And for all that pressure and all those chances Rangers could so easily have been pegged back in first half stoppage time when Kenny uncharacteristically and inexplicably flapped at a high ball in his six yard box, sending the ball bouncing agonisingly behind him towards the goal. Connolly swooped in and ensured the sheet remained clean but Kenny left the field at half time with his head in hands, knowing he’d got away with a bad mistake.

Both goalkeepers could have done with taking a leaf from Spark the Tiger’s book – QPR’s furry mascot produced a penalty save in the half time shoot out better than any I’ve seen in the professional game for many a long month although I couldn’t help but think a certain Mr Gavin ward probably would have ordered a retake for early movement, such is the pedantic and joyless nature of that particular serial wrecker of football matches.

The sides exchanged attacks with each other at the start of the second half. Preston went on the offensive right from the kick off but again found Kenny in better touch this time with a save using his legs to deny Adam Barton, then Rob Hulse seized on a clever through ball from Taarabt but found himself flagged offside. Parkin headed the first corner of the second half wide and Kenny made a routine save from Adam Barton, one of Preston’s few impressive players on the day, before Taarabt produced some terrific tricks and flicks on the edge of the area but spurned the chance to lay in Leon Clarke for a clear sight of goal.

The rather harsh summation in F Block was “would you pass to Clarke if you were Taarabt?” but just as questions started to rumble around about Taarabt’s perceived selfishness he produced a second goal of genuine quality from absolutely nothing.

While Lonergan always seems to have a poor game against Rangers, Adel Taarabt usually excels against Preston. He scored QPR’s goal of the season in this fixture last season and was at his mesmerising best in the return fixture eat Deepdale in March. Here Rob Hulse did superbly to manoeuvre St Ledger into a position where he could beat him in the air and flick the ball down to Taarabt and after advancing on goal the Moroccan lifted a beautiful curling shot over and around Lonergan and into the top corner. A fine, fine goal in which Hulse’s contribution should not be overlooked.

Taarabt had a strange first half – he produced a fine cross that Hulse failed to convert, and laid in matt Connolly when he could easily have taken it on himself. But he also tried a number of things that didn’t come off and towards the end of the half played a wildly overhit through ball straight out for a goal kick when Mackie seemed relatively easy to find – having done that he then started throwing his arms around all over the place in a style we’ve become accustomed to with him during the last couple of years. You take the rough with the smooth with Taarabt though, and on Saturday the smooth was very enjoyable indeed.

Rangers threatened to cut loose after this. Matthew Connolly played a splendid pass in behind Gray for Taarabt to seize on and win a free kick that Clarke headed back across the face of goal to Hulse who was denied by a fine Lonergan save down in the bottom corner. Yet another corner followed, QPR managed an unprecedented 17 of these on Saturday, and Hulse was again denied by Lonergan and then Gorkss by a goal line clearance as the ball bobbled around the six yard box for what seemed like an eternity without ever quite crossing the line.

Further corners followed – Matt Connolly received one low on the edge of the box in the old Teddy Sheringham/Paul Scholes style but his shot deflected over. Then from the next delivery Clint Hill headed clean over the bar having met the ball powerfully in the six yard box. The game wasn’t much of a contest by this stage, Preston looked totally demoralised and ripe for an absolute stuffing.

That said the visitors could, and possibly should, have halved the deficit 18 minutes from time. A long throw caused confusion in the QPR box where Matt Connolly and Fitz Hall filed to communicate and challenged each other for a header leaving Jon Parkin with a shooting opportunity the home side did well to block away.

Play was quickly flowing back towards the Loft End though and Taarabt should have scored his second of the day when he ran into a penalty area loaded with QPR shirts but failed to beat Lonergan with a low shot from close range. Jamie Mackie was absolutely furious with Taarabt, demanding an explanation for the lack of a pass, but in fairness to Taarabt, who is prone to greediness as we know, when you’re on the corner of the six yard box with only the keeper to beat you shoot end of story.

Changes followed soon afterwards. Fitz Hall, a bit wild with his distribution but otherwise very solid with his defending, went off and Rob Hulse followed him after a much improved showing to be replaced by Patrick Agyemang and returning folk hero Martin Rowlands. It won’t surprise those of you who were absent to know that Rowlands got a rousing reception from the home crowd, and Hall seemed to be limping as he left the field.

Warnock later sent on youngster Bruno Andrade for his first team debut and he caught the eye with some confident runs and decent turn of pace but if anything the changes took away the shape and solidity of the QPR team and not for the first time on the day I thought we were lucky to be playing such poor opponents.

Nevertheless the game was put to bed five minutes from time when Taarabt exploded into the action once more. Picking up a ball that Leon Clarke had done well to win and turn infield with a sliding tackle by the dug outs Taarabt raced into the space he’d scored his first goal from and powered, rather than curled as he had done previously, a fierce shot into the roof of the net. Lonergan got a firm hand to the ball, but weak wrists allowed it to fly in off his gloves, once again his performance level against Rangers has to be questioned – perhaps he’s a closet Super Hoop at heart.

After such a comfortable and routine afternoon for QPR, despite the raft of absentees, it was a shame not to keep a clean sheet at the end of it all. Preston’s goal came in the last minute of normal time, a lofted free kick to the back post was missed by Gorkss and that confused Connolly directly behind him – the defender-come-central-midfielder inadvertently steered the ball into his own net without knowing too much about it. The fast diminishing visiting support barely mustered a cheer, their team didn’t deserve to score at all and the farcical nature of the consolation rather summed up their performance. One of the worst sides to visit Loftus Road in living memory.

QPR did what they had to do. There was some rustiness, particularly in the first half, and several instances where bad choices were made or communication broke down. When you consider the changes that had to be made to the team that’s perfectly understandable and while QPR did very well to battle through and dominate the game despite that, I do think we were quite fortunate to be playing a team quite as bad as Preston were. With players like Walker, Gorkss and of course Taarabt still available we had more than enough quality to win at a canter – with a full side out this could have been a far, far bigger win.

I felt Hulse was worthy of praise for his performance. He looked a bit more on his toes, a bit sharper, than he has done so far and he dominated the awful Sean St Ledger throughout. Clint Hill played well again after impressing at centre half last week, and I thought apart from some poor distribution this was the best game I’ve seen Fitz Hall have for some time alongside Gorkss who was almost faultless, albeit against poor opponents. Paddy Kenny was lucky to escape a couple of fumbles and flaps – again, better opposition may have punished us and him.

It’s hard not to finish with Taarabt though. A month ago he was at his sulky and selfish worst as we drew against Bristol City who were bottom of the table at the time. He seemed to think that because City were so poor it was an ideal opportunity for him to show off live on television and the consequences were incredibly harmful to our performance that night – we were somewhat lucky to draw and it’s the only thing close to a bad result we’ve had all season.

Since then QPR have won two and drawn three scoring eight goals in the process. Of those, Taarabt has scored four, three from outside the area, and assisted another two winning us one point against Burnley, two against Reading and two again against Preston. Without that we would currently be level on points with Swansea and only three head of inform Derby – instead we’re clear at the top of the table again.

He’s a frustrating, inconsistent pain in the arse, but he’s supremely talented, he’s a match winner, he’s incredible to watch and he’s in terrific form at the moment. In your quieter moments this week when you’re worrying about Chopra, Bellamy, Bothroyd, Whittingham and the other talented players Cardiff will bring to Shepherds Bush next week remember Taarabt, and Tommy Smith, and Jamie Mackie, and Rob Hulse, and Alejandro Faurlin. We’re a good side – to watch and to support. And we’re still unbeaten after 18 matches. And we’re top. Again.

Links >>>Have Your Say >>> Intteractive Player Ratings >>> Messge Board Match Thread

QPR: Kenny 6, Walker 8, Hall 7 (Rowlands 81, -), Gorkss 8, Hill 7, Connolly 6, Faurlin 7, Mackie 7 (Andrade 88, -), Taarabt 8, Clarke 6, Hulse 7 (Agyemang 80, -)

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Leigertwood, Helguson, Ephraim

Goals: Hulse 4 (assisted Walker), Taarabt 56 (assisted Hulse), 84 (assisted Clarke)

Preston: Lonergan 3, Gray 5, Brown 5, St. Ledger 4, De Laet 5, Tonge 5, Barton 6, Russell 5, Pugh 4, Parkin 5, Hume 5

Subs Not Used: Arestidou, Morgan, James, Mayor, Parry, Jones, McLaughlin

Booked: St. Ledger (play acting/fighting)

Goals: Connolly 88 og (assisted Hume)

QPR Star Man – Kaspars Gorkss 8 Taarabt scored two sumptuous goals but was a little hot and cold in the first half. Gorkss was right on his game throughout, dealing brilliantly with Parkin who has caused him many problems in the past.

Referee: David Phillips (West Sussex) 8 Not much to referee, and I thought Clarke’s goal in the first half should have stood, but other than that he got very little wrong and deserves credit for acting against St ledger’s histrionics in the first half.

Attendance: 13,505 (300 Preston approx) A poor crowd considering our league position, not helped by a non-existent visiting support, and a subdued atmosphere for the most part considering the scoreline and quality of the goals. Credit to the little gang of Preston fans in their yellow away shirts who sang and celebrated throughout the game regardless of how awful their team was. I think the atmosphere suffered from everybody expecting us to just turn up and win, and the attendance from a run of five Loftus Road games between pay days which concludes with Cardiff next week – bizarrely after that we don’t have a Saturday 3pm home game until the middle of February.

Photo: Action Images

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cornwallmike added 21:30 - Nov 21
'This game was one of the water stops' - brilliant analogy. Agreed with every single word of a comprehensive report, always worth looking forward to after a game. Preston were the worst visiting team in living memory. I left Loftus Road feeling exuberant. Rangers were right on the money despite absentees.

QPRCambs added 21:31 - Nov 21
Great report, Clive albeit that I think you've been very generous with your assessment of Fitz Hall who I thought was pretty mediocre really. He does seem to enjoy wrestling with people (for which he was penalised at least twice) and, as you say, his distribution was peculiar. If I had been doing the match report my notes would have included incidents such as 'poor starting position - not goal side when ball broke forward (twice)', 'wild defensive header that was effectively a near-post flick on' and 'turned his back on someone as he tried to make a tackle'. Maybe he just makes me ultra nervous!

It was a strange game in many ways with neither the pace nor the atmosphere in the first half helped by the generous early goal. And we've discussed Taarabt at some length and I agree with everything you say; the highs are very high indeed :)

Roll on next week. Yesterday's results were a dream to us in that regard - win and we are five points clear; lose and they are only back where they were last Saturday morning.

silky added 21:37 - Nov 21
What else is there to say Clive? Fantastic report fella, Totally sums up how we are atm, Top of the League again, Good Times!

Elliott42 added 22:29 - Nov 21
Great report Clive. I was worried about this game before, but my view certainly changed after about 10 minutes. Preston were one of the worst teams I have seen for a long time. With players missing, I was very happy with the win. Back to full strength bar Buzsaky next Saturday. Cant wait for the game, bring on the mugs!

Myke added 22:51 - Nov 21
Great report. Interesting that Clarke got the nod over Ephraim in the absence of Smith. It seems that having persisted with Ephraim for several games after he had lost form and having given him another chance last week, Warnock seems to have lost patience with him. Clarke seems to have had a decent enough game Clive, whats your opinion of him overall?


Spaghetti_Hoops added 00:54 - Nov 22
"He’s a frustrating, inconsistent pain in the arse.......

Have to say this seems to be the common view of Taarabt, but I have never shared it. Anyway it's becoming a cliche.

Yes he sometimes doesn't play the simple and obvious pass. That frustrates a certain type of football supporter with limited perceptions about how the game should be played. The way I look at it is that he will inevitably fail most of the time with individual efforts but it is more than worth him keep trying for the end product. Just as it was with Marsh and Bowles.... Marsh is a good comparison. He dominated possession, indulged himself with long mazy dribbles that often went nowhere, sometimes only passed when he had got tired or bored and was the epitome of arrogance. And the crowd loved it. These days crowds are very different. Obsessed with winning rather than there to be entertained, impatient and quick to criticise.

Inconsistent? Not as far as I am concerned. He had a stinker at Bristol City where he tried too hard to impress, it didn't work, so he tried even harder and lost all perspective on the game. That apart he is consistently our most dangerous attacker. Sometimes he is double marked. In that situation even a Messi tends to disappear from the game, but rarely does a game go by without a goal, or an assist, or chances made for and wasted by others. Hard working Mackie does not get this criticism but you tell me who has delivered the goals, assists and chances on a more regular basis?

Sure he shows his frustration when things go pear-shaped, but that is typical of gifted young sportsmen who know what they are capable of and disappointed with themselves when they don't succeed. A young Rooney and Andy Murray were examples of that and could be a pain in the arse, but Taarabt isn't a problem to anyone else. Why would anyone be bothered by a bit of arm waving? Certainly not his manager or teammates.

18StoneOfHoop added 09:08 - Nov 22
That's as accurate and sensible a summary of Adel Taarabt talents as I've seen anywhere by Spaghetti_Hoops.In this incredible season so far he is the stand-out special excitement no-one else can provide.The least likeliest Captain you could ever imagine,Warnock is handling him superbly.

shooters47 added 09:08 - Nov 22
Cheers Clive and might not go next week and just read your report!! I know Preston were poor but how many times have we watched us play like that away from home. Regarding the attendance, we know not everybody is as mad as us and go every week so a choice between paying £25 to £35 to watch Preston or Cardiff is a bit of a no brainer.There will only be an extra 4000 next Saturday and 2000 of them will be sheep!! See you Saturday.

French_Hoops added 09:33 - Nov 22
From where I sat (Block B), it did look like handball from Clarke and very few of us complained his goal had been therefore disallowed.
And yes, Sparky made a fine save indeed!
It was a bit disappointing though to only have 13k+ fans at LR but this isn't new and I guess that won't change much.

LambournR added 11:04 - Nov 22
This was only the third game I have managed to get to this season (after the Doncaster and Norwich games), and it was great to watch Taarabt on Saturday as he wasn't particularly influential in either of those games. He made the game enjoyable to watch - yes a lot of the things he did didn't come off and we would have had 3 more goals had he passed when he should have done, but watching him play was worth the match fee in itself. How often in the modern game do you see player taking teams on and bamboozling opposition players as many times as he does? The buzz when he gets the ball is obvious, and it was the only time the two guys behind me stopped moaning and actually watched the game (even though it usually gave them more to moan about).
His gesture to the dug out after scoring his first goal was revealing - whatever Warnock said at half time obviously made a difference and was appreciated.

NorwayRanger16 added 11:12 - Nov 22
Thanks for the report Clive. Was in attendance last year against Preston, and based on your report they must have declined rapidly in quality! I remeber that game as tightly contested until the penalty that made it 2-0. Regarding Taarabt, even though i almost lost my mind watching him against Bristol City, i think Spaghetti_Hoops just nailed that summary spot on! As you have said several times, we must take the good with the bad and move on.
Bring on Cardiff, can't wait, this will be the ultimate test regarding our title credentials.

spencer added 11:45 - Nov 22
Walking back towards white vcity station after ground, was talking to two fans in linee with Clarke,Both thought it was handball.
Agree about Gorkss, thought he was immense today.Hill once agin showed us what we have been lacking at left back

benbu added 14:42 - Nov 22
A job well done by Rangers this weekend! Could have proven a tricky fixture but from the first minute we looked more confident and able. Probably the worst Preston side ive ever seen and one of the worst sides to play at Loftus Road for a very long time. Taarabt is simply brilliant and for the odd poor game here and there (which every player will have) he is just a joy to watch and our ticket costs are truly worth it just for him. As for rest of the team, impressed with Gorkks as usual and both full-backs looked solid. Clarke's finishing left little to be desired and I personally thought Fitz Hall was very average (as always). Some bad mistakes and positional play. Looks so much better MC and KG as centre backs. Pleased for Hulse to get off the mark -what a fine strike that was :-) )

A great day for results - Arsenal, Chelsea and Cardiff all losing....can all saturdays be this good????

cant wait for saturday already, bring on the cardiff scum! you Rs!!

Northernr added 14:47 - Nov 22
Cambs - You know my thoughts on Hall, I fear he may keep his place for the Cardiff game which really will be scary. He was decent on saturday but didn't have much to mark and was helped out by Gorkss in superb form.

Myke - I don't rate Clarke at all, never have. Very poor opposition on Saturday and shouldn't be used against anybody much better IMO. Warnock took a punt on him and hopefully it didn't cost too much.

Spaghetti - I love Taarabt, as you probably know as a message board regular. I actually found myself walking through Sheffield to the train station at 6am on Saturday looking forward to seeing him play, wondering what he would produce. He's frustrating in as much as occasionally he plays like he did at Bristol City, but after some of the sht we've had in recent years to moan about Taarabt is churlish IMO. As I've said before if he produced his best consistently then he wouldn't be playing for us, although since City he has been consistent so maybe we should start to worry about keeping him. A superb player all the same, and Warnock is doing an amazing man management number on him this year.

Monahoop added 14:56 - Nov 22
Another first class report Clive. I'm always apprehensive before top v bottom matches. Classic banana skin scenarios with the top clubs often coming off worse. But I need not have worried on Saturday. An early goal from Hulse, surely a candidate for goal of the season, settled things quickly. Sarcasm aside, it was good to see him score at last.
It just goes to show how far this team has come in a few months. Even with a 'weakened' team as on Saturday we still have the resources to put out a half decent team, something we could only dream about in the last few seasons.
Preston look doomed even at this relatively early stage of the season. So does Fergie jnr. Out of his depth at this level I think. But he is young and he will learn. Rushing in 3 loan players and mediocre ones at that in the desperate attempt to kick start your season is not the way to go. To think almost a year ago we had to endure this kind of charade under those clueless clowns Hart and Harford.
I agree that there are comparisons to be made with Taarabt with Bowles and Marsh.Skillfull, selfish,very talented, often showboating. A very necessary evil to have in a team. I may even add Roy Wergele into the mix here [remember him], a lazy genius if ever there was one, but one who could turn a desperate situation into a jubilant one in seconds if the mood suited him.
Great to get ahead of Cardiff again [thanks Forest].Look forward to next Saturday. Win this one and I think we will, we could be really moving forwards.

DesertBoot added 17:58 - Nov 22
Great report as usual Clive. We couldn't have picked better opposition nor planned a better match for the big test on Saturday.
Incredibly the first forum message I read when I got back was along the lines of "we want six!".
I hope Connolly is restored next to Gorkss for next week and can't wait to see Smith and Derry back in the team.
As you rightly point out, we have a front line that is more than a match for Cardiff City's much-lauded attack.

radfords added 20:57 - Nov 22
"I agree that there are comparisons to be made with Taarabt with Bowles and Marsh.Skillfull, selfish,very talented, often showboating. A very necessary evil to have in a team."
True of Marsh but not true of Stanley. He worked hard for the team on the pitch and played unselfishly. Off the pitch well.........

Monahoop added 20:09 - Nov 24
Didn't mean to be harsh on old Stan, Radfords. I'd rate him as my favourite all time player. However I do recall the odd game particularly towards the end of his tenure at R's where his attitude changed slightly. His work rate was not as sharp and his awareness of his team mates was not so astute either. The old magic when under Jago and Sexton had waned. He wasn't half the player he once was when he played for Forest, Orient and Brentford. He was also shafted by England who were under Don 'the crook' Revie. His talents simply weren't appreciated.
We all know his off field affairs were another story!

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