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Golden Graham smashes QPR’s unbeaten record — full match report
Golden Graham smashes QPR’s unbeaten record — full match report
Friday, 10th Dec 2010 23:32 by Clive Whittingham

QPR’s record breaking start to the season ground to shuddering halt in front of the television cameras on Friday night as an impressive Watford side won 3-1 at Loftus Road.

How quickly things can change in football. Seven points clear, bang in form, brimming with confidence, free scoring, freewheeling, Premiership bound. That was the script. It seemed the one actually delivered to the QPR team prior to Friday night’s live BBC encounter with Watford was meant for Coronation Street actors celebrating their fiftieth anniversary on the other side in the time honoured manner - disaster, destruction and uncertainty. Train wreck this most certainly was.

It was always going to happen. We were never going to go through an entire season unbeaten. But the immediate reaction is to ask why now? Why did it have to happen in a winnable home game, against an out of form team, live on television with Steve Claridge sitting in the studio, cock in hand, vigorously masturbating while wearing an ‘I told you so’ smile? It is, in many ways, the worst possible time with a horrendously difficult Christmas period featuring three away games against sides chasing us in the league plus a home match against third placed Swansea.

But better it happen in these circumstances - against a Watford team that created more chances, kept possession of the ball better, passed with more purpose and were the more impressive team on the night – than, say, a month ago at Portsmouth where defeat would have been the work solely of an incompetent referee. We could talk about at least one penalty QPR should have had, or the fact that Watford’s second and third goals could feature as pictorial examples in the rules of the game next to the word ‘offside’, but these would be Steve Cotterill like excuses designed to paper over the cracks of what was a sub standard performance from QPR, and an above par showing from Watford.

The Hornets deserved this. By far the better side throughout as QPR once again froze in front of the television cameras. Televised defeats have become a regular feature of supporting QPR, televised humiliations by Watford come like night follows day. Four times the cameras have screened fixtures between these sides since we were promoted back to this level in 2004 and in those games Watford have won four times, scored 12 goals and conceded just two.

Neil Warnock, still in shorts, was forced into a team change with Rob Hulse poorly – Heidar Helguson was recalled to the starting eleven against the club he had played for twice before, Hulse was forced to sit on the bench when Patrick Agyemang failed a late fitness test on the latest of his catalogue of poxy, niggly, insignificant knocks. Never before has somebody of such muscle and power missed so much action for so little.

Smith, Taarabt and Mackie provided support for the lone striker with Derry and Faurlin tucked in behind as usual. At the back it was the usual foursome of Walker, Gorkss, Connolly and Hill ahead of Paddy Kenny.

While Rangers were victim of the health and safety Nazis on Humberside and sat out last weekend, Watford recovered from a run of seven games without a win to snatch a late 3-2 home victory against Leicester thanks to a goal from Danny Graham. That was the former Middlesbrough man’s tenth of the season and he tormented QPR here, benefiting from lenient application of the offside law to turn in a man of the match performance that was rewarded with two goals.

Things had started reasonably well for QPR. In the third minute Paddy Kenny launched a quick counter attack down the right flank with a drop kick that Jamie Mackie ensured turned into a QPR throw in a promising position. That throw was hurled in to Heidar Helguson’s feet and after a neat touch and lay off to Mackie the former Plymouth man was able to skip along the edge of the area and drag a low, left footed shot wide of the post.

A minute later Mackie was involved again, driving in down the right with a direct run at the heart of the Watford defence. After reaching the edge of the area he played a one two with Faurlin, the second part of which was majestic from the Argentinean and almost sent Mackie through on goal. As the ball skipped up off the turf Mackie improvised and headed the ball down to Helguson who controlled in the area and after being afforded time to turn sent a snap shot goalwards that Loach palmed over the bar. Either side of him and it was in, but Rangers had to settle for a corner which Clint Hill attacked and looked set to lodge a decent effort on goal only for John Eustace to reach up and palm the ball away from him with his left hand. The QPR players appealed as one for the penalty, which it obviously was, but referee Darren Deadman showed little emotion in waving the appeals away. This would not turn out to be the finest evening for Deadman and his team of officials who, live on television, showed clearly just what abysmal standards of officiating we have to put up with below the Premiership.

The first warning of what was to come came on eight minutes. Danny Graham picked the ball up wide on the right flank and comfortably turned Kaspars Gorkss before feeding Buckley who had more time and space than he really allowed himself in crossing hurriedly onto the roof of the net. This is the sort of incident you may see 30 times in a season. It was nothing in truth; a broken attacking move of little consequence. But with the benefit of hindsight the ease at which Graham manoeuvred Gorkss into position and then turned him, and the space Buckley was able to find down the flank was a sign of things to come.

As the time ticked into double figures Buckley had a golden chance to open the scoring. Again Gorkss was caught napping, with a lazy defensive clearance straight onto the substantial forehead of Martin Taylor. The former Birmingham man, and one time QPR transfer target, headed the ball back into the danger area. Gorkss then floundered in front of Buckley, first allowing himself to be nutmegged and then buckling as he tried to turn with the same deft and speed of the Exxon Valdez. Buckley ran clean through into the area but always seemed to be lacking sufficient confidence and conviction to finish and ended up side footing a weak effort on goal from the corner of the six yard box that Paddy Kenny saved well with his shins. A golden chance that should have been taken.

QPR responded with another penalty claim as Helguson collapsed optimistically under minimal contact by Andrew Taylor as Smith lofted a high cross into the area. That was never going to be awarded as a spot kick and QPR seemed too pre-occupied with both the referee and showing off in front of the cameras. More slack play on the quarter hour saw Rangers mess around needlessly with the ball on halfway and when Clint Hill slipped Watford were in behind them again with a chance that turned into a corner when Gorkss hacked it behind. Helguson cleared with ease, but that was hardly the point.

At the other end the recalled Iceland striker managed to create a chance for himself by flicking on a long ball, then collecting the rebound as it came to him from Lloyd Doyley and hacking a mishit shot wide of the target from outside the penalty area. That was pure luck really, a scratchy, bitty piece of play that didn’t really deserve to result in anything other than the goal kick it brought. Watford on the other hand were purposeful, direct and dynamic. Cowie drilled wide of the target after an attractive one two with Graham but again the chance came from QPR giving the ball away while gratuitously trying to play out from the back.

At the exact halfway point of the first half QPR fell behind. The move was some time in the making, Watford forming a number of triangles down the QPR right and playing the ball neatly between each other without ever really threatening. Throughout this it was clear that QPR were outnumbered. A Watford player would join in without a marker, and another would peel off into an increasingly loaded penalty area. It was a nervy situation that developed quickly into a complete disaster as Andrew Taylor was played in behind to the byline. His cross was deflected high up into the air by Walker and the only player in the penalty area who read it was Graham and he was subsequently able to calmly steal in unmarked and side foot in from eight yards out. Watford can be pleased with the build up and finish, but QPR didn’t do enough to affect the play and get in the faces of their opponents – a feature of the season so far at Loftus Road but a quality sadly lacking in this game.

Within four minutes it was two nil, and while Rangers had only themselves to blame for the first they could justifiably point accusing fingers at the officials on this occasion. A free kick, half cleared, was stuck in behind the QPR defence to Graham who looked offside at the time and subsequently turned out to be the best part of three yards off on the television replays. Kenny rescued the situation initially with another leg save in a one on one situation but the ball was immediately returned to the area by Mutch following a throw in and when Martin Taylor climbed but missed the ball Kenny was helpless as it sailed into the far corner of the net unchallenged. A failure in concentration certainly, but it should have been a free kick the other way before the situation had ever occurred.

QPR looked shell shocked, Watford were buoyant, and just after the half hour the irrepressible Graham ran in behind the sluggish back four of Rangers again before winning a corner when his half volley was deflected wide. QPR struggled to clear the first set piece for a second which Martin Taylor attacked at the back post but headed wide.

Watford were better than QPR. I could search for different adjectives and hence forth with hyperbole but it really was as simple as that. They were sharper, keener and more assertive across the field and consistently outnumbered QPR in wide areas. Rangers didn’t keep possession well enough, easily hustled and harried from the ball by a Watford side right on top of their game. Dare I say the visitors out-QPRd QPR? Everything we’ve come to expect from Rangers this season turned up in spades tonight, but it turned up wearing yellow shirts.

With around eight minutes remaining the half Buckley picked up the first yellow card for a canny bodycheck on Clint Hill as Rangers attempted to construct a rare move on the edge of the area. Smith and Hill’s neat exchange of passes drew the free kick which Taarabt smacked over the wall and past the motionless goalkeeper but half a foot wide of the top corner as well. Loach tested the referee’s patience with some flagrant time wasting, a theme of the remaining hour of the game, but in truth even by this stage that appeared an unnecessary measure with Watford well in control and destined to win however long the game went on for.

Taarabt’s free kick was a rare good moment from him and the home side, and he quickly reverted to type when seizing on a loose ball after John Eustace lost his footing only to reject two obvious passing opportunities in a four on three counter attack and drag a tame shot wide of the post. This was Bristol City all over again, the former Tottenham man at his absolute worst live on national television. Quickly Rangers were forced onto the back foot. Faurlin, another who suffers the Taarabt trait of performing badly on television, weakly lost a 50/50 challenge in midfield that resulted in another Watford attack which ended when Mutch blasted over from the edge of the area. Mutch, a loan player from Birmingham, was just one of a clutch of outstanding visiting players on view.

Had the half time scoreline been three nil complaints would have been few and far between and that’s exactly what it should have been. The Watford time wasting after taking the lead yielded three minutes of stoppage time, but that almost brought a positive outcome for them. Rangers won a corner midway through that extra period and although Taarabt delivered a reasonable cross into the box it was cleared back out to him. When it’s your day it’s your day, when it’s not don’t try it on. A fortnight ago against Cardiff in an identical situation Taarabt took on the full back, beat him, and went on to score the winning goal against our nearest title rivals. Here he lost possession, facilitating a lightening Watford counter attack that at one frightening moment numbered six yellow shirts to three blue and a goalkeeper. Mutch and Graham finished the move, racing towards the QPR penalty area with the home side frantically back tracking as Watford teased them with one slick pass after another. When Graham finally cut the ball back to Mutch eight yards out and unmarked the writing was on the wall and the finale was ready to be completed with a flourish only for Clint Hill to sling his carcass in the way and produce an unlikely block of Mutch’s shot that had beaten Kenny all ends up and seemed destined for the bottom corner. A lucky escape Rangers scarcely deserved.

Pass me a tea cup and let me throw it at the wall. Half time was a crucial moment. QPR have recovered from similar positions before this season, in fact they turned around a two goal deficit in two and a half minutes in stoppage time at Derby back in August, and Watford aren’t exactly a side you’d trust with dog walking duties such has been their attitude to leads this season. Even in victory against Leicester last week they had blown a two goal lead to put the whole shooting match in doubt at one stage. A new script was submitted for consideration. Warnock, clad in shorts, heroically delivering a famous team talk to rouse his troops to a glorious recovery. Television pundits would swoon yet, it was just a matter of time.

What a cruel mistress time can be. That woman you had an affair with at work only to find she’s not that interested after all once you’ve left your wife. Three minutes QPR were permitted before the final nail was hammered in by a Teeside lad gleefully clutching a hammer and cackling into the night sky against the backdrop of the floodlights. Danny Graham was offside as McGinn played him through by winning a sliding tackle as Rangers dallied once more, but then the offside law had been treated more as a guideline than an actual rule all night and he was waved on in the name of laziness and incompetence and calmly slotted beneath Paddy Kenny to kill the game off.

“Was that offside?” Text messages flooded into LoftforWords Towers from the poor sods sinking deeper into a frozen depression in W12. Does anybody really know what offside is anymore? Apparently not. Graham was the definition of offside, but by the close of play an angle had been found by the television director where if the play was stopped at just the right moment he was only two yards off, and his foreskin may have been on, and we’re meant to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacker anyway so who’s arguing? Not me funnily enough, because despite the illegitimacy of it all it was thoroughly deserved. Graham, and Watford, were superb. Offside, but superb.

Referee Darren Deadman was a man let down by his assistants. Two marks against Watford’s name in his notebook that, had the lines not been run by representatives from the Royal Society for the Blind on an equal opportunities venture, should not have been there. Keen not to miss out, he quickly donned his bathers and leapt into the pool of farcical incompetence himself.

Two minutes after the third goal Heidar Helguson was hacked to the ground by a tackle from behind as he received the ball to feet. Play was waved on, seemingly just for the hell of it. Watford strung two passes together and Danny Graham was then crunched in identical circumstances by Matthew Connnolly who won the ball, but in a manner not permitted since the late 1980s. This time a free kick was awarded. And Kyle Walker was yellow carded. Why? Who can say? Maybe Walker had picked up Rob Hulse’s stomach bug and was looking a little peaky. Excuses for booking a black right full back for an offence committed by a very white centre half are, I’m afraid, few and far between.

Deadman has the name, appearance and mannerisms of an undertaker, and it was nice that he produced the standard Championship refereeing display live on terrestrial television for the nation to see tonight. If you’re one of those people who says they support Liverpool while sitting at home watching their games on television, and then feels the need to ring 606 to hence forth about how Roy Hodgson has had quite enough time with the mess he inherited and should be replaced by Kenny Dalglish, oh and by the way the referee was rubbish as well, then please take note of tonight. This wasn’t even a particularly noteworthy performance from the officials and yet they awarded two goals that should have been disallowed and failed to spot one blatant penalty. This is Championship refereeing my friends, brain activity scans of these officials could actually produce enough evidence to switch off their life support machines – if only the useless fuckers were attached to them.

Feeling a little hard done to Rangers waved an Audley Harrison like fist of retaliation by way of three mishit crosses and a low shot from the edge of the area by Clint Hill which was deflected wide for a corner but even without opposition would have struggled to reach the back of the net from 20 yards out. As had been the case throughout the game the subsequent set piece proved to be more dangerous for Watford as they showed exactly why they have scored 35 goals this season, equal to QPR and Cardiff at the start of play, with a swift counter attack. This time Faurlin slipped on the edge of the area, the Hornets broke down field and Mutch should have done much (sorry) better when played in with time and space at the back post – he checked back inside and side footed a tame effort that did beat Kenny, but was headed off the line by Shaun Derry.

Unbelievably, and depressingly, we’re only ten minutes into the second half at this point. I should drink more, I make less notes then. Ahem, 56 minutes and another soft Watford free kick was awarded wide on the QPR left. Rangers spent some time retreating into the area to line up for the anticipated cross only to find that Watford were sharper in body and mind once more – a quick set piece was laid to Mutch who drilled a routine low shot at Paddy Kenny. The keeper made a bit of a mess of it all, fumbling and bumbling the ball out into the six yard box for a gift wrapped early Christmas present to Danny Graham – only the Watford man and QPR goalkeeper will know how the subsequent shot from point blank range struck the stricken QPR keeper on the end of his foot and ballooned over the bar. Watford wasted the resulting corner, probably confused at what they’d just seen.

Substitutions before the hour saw mercy killings of Alejandro Faurlin and Adel Taarabt, replaced by Bradley Orr and Leon Clarke. Orr seemed keen to make an impression and organise the beleaguered back line as Kyle Walker moved into midfield, Leon Clarke seemed keen to get back into the main stand and have something to eat. Andrew Taylor was yellow carded for time wasting over a throw in while all this was taking place – needless and unnecessary. It’s an hour after the final whistle as I write this and if we were still playing Watford would still be winning. The sun rises just before 8am tomorrow and if we were still playing then Watford would still be winning. We’re at Leeds next Saturday at 3pm and if that game was postponed to allow this game to continue through next weekend like some fortnight long test match to settle this odd rivalry between the two once and for all Watford would still be winning. To be booked for time wasting here was naïve.

Shaun Derry knew all this and his frustration boiled over just after the hour when he had a minor spat with John Eustace – the Watford captain’s Graham Alexander like tendency to referee the game, get away with repeat offending, and play handball in his own penalty area with no comeback from the officials was too much for QPR’s overworked central midfielder to stand and the pair had a little bump and barge like a pair of posh bankers arguing over a spilt pint of Peroni. QPR were awarded a free kick as a result, and then got another one straight away when it was launched forward towards Helguson who caught Mariappa flying out of his defensive position and milked him for a foul. Tommy Smith took the kick with Taarabt now withdrawn, and curled it right across the face of goal and wide from just outside the area.

With around 25 minutes to go the linesman on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground momentarily removed his flag from his rectum and raised it to flag Danny Graham offside. This brought resounding cheers from three sides of the ground, relieved to see that the official hadn’t passed away as was the fear after his failure to disallow Watford’s third goal. The sarcasm was short lived and swiftly punished. QPR, as they were somewhat prone to do all evening, punched the free kick downfield straight onto the head of Martin Taylor and the ball was floated in behind Gorkss and Connolly once more. Graham received it, offside again but having had one decision it was unfair to expect another, and he teed up Mutch whose powerful effort was held cleanly by Kenny under the cross bar.

At the other end the linesman who had waved Graham on prior to the second Watford goal used his eagle eye to flag Clarke offside as he attacked a long ball which was just as well because his flick on fell to Mackie who was crudely upended in the area for what would surely - even with Snap, Crackle and Pop running affairs - have been a certain penalty.

To their credit Mackie and Helguson kept plugging away. The latter picked up a scramble on the edge of the area and bumbled a low shot straight at Loach 20 minutes from time, then won a cross from Walker at the back post and headed down towards the former whose improvised effort required a tip over from Loach at full stretch. The Watford goalkeeper, in recent England squads, had been faultless to this point and remained so with a fine save away to his left to deny Helguson who won the resulting corner powerfully at the near post. That resulted in a second corner that was again won by Helguson and this time clearly handled by Martin Taylor, who was rewarded with a free kick was a perceived pushing offence by Gorkss. Another generous decision, but it is the season of giving after all.

Helguson was then taken off and replaced by Rob Hulse who introduced himself to the game first by inadvertently causing a fierce looking black eye to McGinn with a stray arm, and then picking up a yellow card for a similar challenge on Adrian Mariappa. Neither looked like serious intentional fouls to me, but the unfortunate injury caused by the first challenge clearly played on the referee’s mind in the second instance.

QPR were circling the drain by this stage. They looked better when Hulse came on, and his flick on nine minutes from time should have resulted in a goal for Jamie Mackie but he spooned the gilt edged chance over the bar. But within 60 seconds Watford broke with a substitute of their own Marvin Sordell drawing Kenny in a one on one situation but taking too long over his finish and ultimately being forced too far wide. A four goal lead would have been a fair reflection of the game.

In the end, rather embarrassingly, QPR managed to cut into the deficit slightly. After Kyle Walker had found Loach on his guard with a 40 yard shot that never really threatened the keeper, Rangers did finally pull one back when Clint Hill’s cross was flicked on by Hulse, held and touched back by Mackie and Tommy Smith calmly, and rather forlornly, side footed home against the club he and most of his family supports.

Five minutes of added time followed, sparking tantalisingly brief hopes of a Pride Park style comeback but all that followed was another fairly blatant handball by Eustace in his own area (one hand on the ball, the other clutching his own version of the rules of the game that includes numerous perks and benefits for players in yellow) and another golden chance for Sordell to get the fourth goal Watford deserved as he drew Kenny from his area and dribbled a tame shot towards the open goal that was run away from danger by Clint Hill who had scampered back onto his line.

This was a vintage QPR on television performance. Everything good that the R’s have been doing lately, everything you’ve been telling your friends about, was completely abandoned in favour of a limp, lifeless, one dimensional performance. They’ll wonder what on earth you were talking about having seen this – it was ever thus when QPR play on television.

Kaspars Gorkss was a lumbering oaf, Shaun Derry a plodding old man, Alejandro Faurlin a timid shadow of his former self and most of all Adel Taarabt, after six awe inspiring weeks, was back to the selfish, showboating liability he had been the last time he turned out in front of the television cameras against Bristol City. These are our outstanding players, all off their games and behaving as if a win was a formality. It needed Rob Hulse and Bradley Orr from the bench, and the ever impressive Kyle Walker and Paddy Kenny, to provide reminders of what has gone before this season. The only four players who can leave W12 tonight knowing they could have done no more.

It was a chastening experience, and the key is now how QPR respond. Next Saturday we travel to Leeds who are sixth, then it’s third placed Swansea at home, and then we go to Coventry who are fifth and Norwich in fourth. The key to this promotion push has been for some time the way the fans and players react and respond to the first defeat and any drop in form. Games come thick and fast now so we’ll soon know.

Links >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Kenny 7, Walker 6, Gorkss 4, Connolly 5, Hill 6, Derry 5, Faurlin 4 (Orr 59, 6), Mackie 6, Taarabt 4 (Clarke 59, 5), Smith 6, Helguson 5 (Hulse 70, 6)

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Hall, Rowlands, Ephraim

Booked: Walker (mistaken identity), Hulse (elbowing)

Goals: Smith 89 (assisted Mackie)

Watford: Loach 8, Doyley 7, Mariappa 6, M Taylor 7, A Taylor 7, Buckley 7 (Deeney 80, -), Eustace 7, McGinn 7 (Sordell 75, 6), Cowie 7, Mutch 8, Graham 9

Subs Not Used: Gilmartin, Hodson, Jenkins, Bennett, Massey

Booked: Buckley (foul), Andrew Taylor (foul)

Goals: Graham 26 (assisted A Taylor), Mutch 30 (unassisted), Graham 48 (assisted McGinn)

QPR Star Man – Paddy Kenny 7 Some nervy moments, and three goals against, but kept the score down with several fine saves including three one on ones. But it’s an award made of tin this week, rather than a golden statue or magnum of champagne.

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire) 3 I have cringed in recent weeks listening to Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill and Reading boss Brian McDermott demeaning one refereeing performance after another when in truth the officials have done little wrong in the game. While I cannot possibly give Deadman any kind of positive remark for this often ridiculous performance that included wild inconsistencies, two goals incorrectly allowed and at least one obvious penalty missed, it is important to point out that QPR lost because Watford were much better than them, not because the referee was a knob.

Attendance: 14,079 (1,500 Watford approx)

Photo: Action Images

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Monkey added 23:51 - Dec 10
Good stuff but would add that Walker was booked - quite rightly - for picking the ball up and throwing it hard down in a big huff. Was stupid of him.

silky added 23:54 - Dec 10
Wow that must be the quickest write up after a game ive ever seen. Sorry its a loosing one Clive!

Like you said, its where we go from here that counts, Loosing a game was gonna happen sooner or later!

Come on you rrrrrrrrrssssssssss still a great start to the season!

Toast_R added 00:01 - Dec 11
Pretty much how I saw it from the stand. The third goal all I could go off was the shear disbelief on Derrys face that the lino failed to flag it offside. What in Gods name is he doing on the sideline if if can't do his job? at?

Overall though as you say, Watford were great. I was almost forced to do a Mike Bassett's assistant '3 cheers for Ramirez' for them at half time such was I in awe of job they had done. Looked like they fancied it 10 times more then Rangers tonight. Fair play.

Bad day at the office I hope, I believe Warnock has enough in his locker to get the lads back in order for Xmas.

baz_qpr added 00:02 - Dec 11
surely kenny deserved more than a 6 clear man of the match

Northernr added 00:14 - Dec 11
You know what Baz you're right. An edit, and an apology.

billericaydicky added 01:08 - Dec 11
Agree with most of that Clive. Good job you weren't in your seat tonight mate as you've have been going mad with the performance of the officials. I've just seen the 2nd and 3rd goals and neither should have stood due to offside. The Linesmen had nightmares. Not to detract from our awful performance and the fact that Watford were better than us, but hard to stomach as the text's continue to come in from non Rangers friends who can't understand how we can be top of the league...

Kiwi76 added 02:34 - Dec 11
They need to think of their NZ fans - have been able to watch 2x 90mins and had the pleasure of Bristol and Watford making us look like pants rather than potential champions. Hope we get an appropriate response at Leeds - have played well there in past?

French_Hoops added 03:19 - Dec 11
So it happened... We lost for the first time this season. Oh well...
Yes, it is ugly that it happened live in front of the cameras and yes, I asked myself many times how the nation could believe we're currently top of the Championship with our display tonight but I want to believe it is only a blip. One of those days you know...
Having a game postponed last weekend normally doesn't help the players in regaining a bit of freshness and tonight it showed. We looked rusty.
We lost the midfield battle and that was key. Almost always second best to the ball and great difficulties to tie a sequence of 3 or more passes without losing the ball.
Surely enough the referee and his assistant were having a poor day too but as you mentioned Clive, even without them muppets we were below par.
Too often we chose to kick the ball in the air. Too often we went for route 1 while Watford were ingenuously using the wings. Last time we played like that was against Port Vale in the Carling Cup. We all know the result. But what came after that game has been a delight to watch until tonight. There is still hope!
In the stands I got angered by those slamming Taarabt (recurring topic it seems). Yes he should have given the ball when he kept it and he should have kept the ball when he gave it. But that's who he is! We can't be one week in awe of him and the week after asking for his head! Consistency must also come from the stands!
He is only 21 and still developing. I trust Warnock in having a quiet word or two with him in the next few days.
I thought Clint Hill was our best player tonight and that says enough when you have to nominate your left back...
The relationship between Warnock & Rowlands must indeed be like the temperature tonight as he wasn't brought on even when we needed an extra midfielder but I thought Orr, Clarke & Hulse did relatively well.
Loach was on fire tonight and Martin Taylor dominated. Fair play to Watford. They deserved to win although they gave me an impression to only be an average Championship side and no more.
We knew a night like this could happen. We've had enough of those in the past.
But I passionately believe that this team is made of something else, that this manager has this extra little thing to bring back the fire into his squad. The mental of this team is now tested.
Seriously, Rangers fans from all around the world, is there a better place to pick our game up where we left it after the Cardiff game than Elland Road next weekend? We are going there and we're going for the win, we're going to show some pride!

18StoneOfHoop added 05:05 - Dec 11
Clive, I missed your usual comments at the end on what you thought of R's fans vocal backing.For me it was a real silver lining of the night's experience how well the fans got behind the team when three down : "3-0 DOWN WHO GIVES A DUCK?WE"RE QPR AND WE'RE GOING UP!" Supporting your team when they are spit true test of decent fan fervour.
Favourite bit? No,deffo not Claridge's ostentatious self-pleasuring of his member but this passage half-way through:

With around 25 minutes to go the linesman on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground momentarily removed his flag from his rectum and raised it to flag Danny Graham offside.

Brian Glanville,Hugh McIlvaney,David Lacey,Harry Harris,Ian Wooldridge,Rob Murrow,Yann Tear,Paul Warburton,Ben Kosky,David McIntyre... throw away your 'puters and go on extended gardening leave...there's a new prematurely balding power in the land of footie journalism...U CAN'T TOUCH THAT! *

*How are my sycophancy levels this week,CW?Cheque in the post,tout-de-suite s-il vous plait.

qprmick added 05:38 - Dec 11
The key to this promotion push has been for some time the way the fans and players react and respond to the first defeat and any drop in form. Games come thick and fast now so we’ll soon know.

Chucking stuff at the opposition was not very bright, we will hear more about that. I thought Mackie was the best of a poor bunch.

YorkRanger added 19:27 - Dec 11
Missed the game due to work Christmas party - probably a good thing!

The positives are results have gone well today (Norwich, Derby and Cardiff all losing). We always knew we would lose at some point and I thought it might come when we least expect it.

Massive game next week and boxing day. I'm confident that Warnock will get things back on track. A bad day at the office - let's put it behind us. We're still a good side and top of the league!

Mattnme added 19:55 - Dec 11
On the face of it I agree with everything you have written certainly in terms of watfords performance and ours. What I would say and offer a slight disagreement in is that I firmly believe bad decisions change games. A scored penalty after 5 minutes, a different game, a second goal disallowed, a different game as equally the third. All of those decisions came at crucial points and had alot to do with our momentum. I think in summary I would say watford and us got what we deserved from the decisions that were or not made. I hope that makes sense.

ShrivHoop added 12:09 - Dec 12
Right, I'm talking to myself here rather than you guys!
1. In August I would have bitten hands off for Dec with 4 points clear and a game in hand, even with a trouncing by Watford.
2. Having seen every homegame (but only tv of away) I believe that generally (but not always) the Gods of Run of the Ball, Penalties and Other Teams' Results have been on our side. Even this weekend the latter was still supporting us.
3. Rs were so awful on Friday that its a waste of time to single out individual performances.
4. Having seen the full match again on tv, I have changed my views in one or two areas. For example on Friday at LR I thought we should have lost 0-7. I think I was a tad harsh, I now think 2-6. I also thought Taarabt should have gone at ht but now think, despite his awful performance, he was still the only R likely to create anything. Anyway he is what he is which means he will win more games for us than he loses.
5. Because of the aforementioned Gods we are probably not as good as we think we are in a Division which is not brilliant this year. A couple of weeks ago I would have put a lot of money on 2 of the top 3 being the auto promoted clubs. Now I'm not so sure - there could be lots of twists and turns before May, maybe starting over Xmas.
6. Is Friday a blip or start of a slump? If Leeds beat us easily I'll be worried but if we play reasonably well even a narrow defeat won't worry me too much. I'm reasonably confident the old heads we now have around will steady things.

Thanks for letting me talk to myself!

extratimeR added 16:16 - Dec 12
Great report Clive

Just curious, is their now a zone in front of F Block where the off-side rule does not apply any more?

(Bellamay, anyone in Yellow shirt), no complaints though, fair result.

Northernr added 16:57 - Dec 12
I'm actually wondering if there has been a renewed directive to linesmen to give the attackers the benefit of the doubt more. Spurs have just scored against Chelsea with Deefoe offside in the build up and watching the highlights last night there were two or three others.

AshteadR added 19:51 - Dec 12
Thanks for the report Clive - summed it up very well.

We were always going to lose at some stage, but talk about doing it in style. Not sure why we struggle so much against Watford, and when we're on TV, but let's hope we sort it out soon - with 3 more live games coming up!

QPRski added 21:36 - Dec 12
4 points clear at the top and 1 game in hand after 20 games. Who would have betted or believed it at the start of th season? Certianly not meI!

We lost- as it was bound to happen somtime. Now it has.
Lets not panic and pehaps some pressure is off.

Lets be in the top 2 postions by mid January (as ststed by NW) and stay there for the end of the season! Then lets celebrate!

Keep the faith and stay cool!

NorwayRanger16 added 23:16 - Dec 12
Mattnme added 19:55 - Dec 11 i think you make an excelent point! But i have no complaints about the result, that would be harsh on Watford who thoroughly deserved their win.

Horrible feeling watching the final 15 minutes of the first half only praying we wouldn't concede another one so that there were hope i the secong half. Well that lasted for long...

As i have mentioned before we have live championship games in Norway every saturday + the "official" live games you have in England as well. So far QPR have been screened on three different occasions, only the Cardiff game have the performance been good, the others being Derby and Palace.
TV don't suit us, never has, but it must improve if we are to go up. Much more TV games now than in 1995/96...

Hope NW keep his promise, "Death or Glory" at Elland Road. You R's!

JB007007 added 08:28 - Dec 13
A bad bad night at the office. We were second best everywhere and lucky to come away with only a two goal deficit.
I'm pretty confident that we will bounce back, we have the Manager and players now that have been there, seen it and done it. And I dont care really that we imploded on TV. Us proper fans know what we are about this season so stuff the rest of them. Leeds away is the perfect test for us and cant come quick enough.
Agree Clive about the better R's players tonight. I know I keep on about Walker, but he must be top of the shopping list either to sign him until the end of the season or permanently. Thought he did well when moved into the middle and gives us good options when we need to change things.

JB007007 added 08:42 - Dec 13
A bad bad night at the office. We were second best everywhere and lucky to come away with only a two goal deficit.
I'm pretty confident that we will bounce back, we have the Manager and players now that have been there, seen it and done it. And I dont care really that we imploded on TV. Us proper fans know what we are about this season so stuff the rest of them. Leeds away is the perfect test for us and cant come quick enough.
Agree Clive about the better R's players tonight. I know I keep on about Walker, but he must be top of the shopping list either to sign him until the end of the season or permanently. Thought he did well when moved into the middle and gives us good options when we need to change things.

benbu added 11:46 - Dec 13
definitely a match to forget! Watford do seem to have this strange nack of beating us on tv and beating us well. Hopefully some good will come from the poor performance and NW will show them the many errors throughout the game. We were unlucky with some decisions but didnt play well enough and Watford were excellent. At 3-0 down, minus the odd bit of booing at the end, I thought the majority were behind the team and the atmosphere coming out of the lower loft was incredible at the end with our fans all singing and chanting - 3 1 down, who gives a f@ck, were QPR and were going up!!

Some tough games over xmas period but if we could get 6 points from the next 9 available thats a good turn around. If we lose at leeds the pressure is back on slightly for Swansea Boxing Day. Once we get Norwich out of the way, we only have Cardiff left away in the top 7 or 8.

Another pleasing point - Cardiff winning 1 in 7 and they are still 2nd, we can afford a blip here and there but just have to maintain that 2 point per game average. Great set of results saturday bar leeds winning

SomersetHoops added 20:35 - Dec 13
I rarely comment on games I haven't been to, but work precludes me getting to games in the week and I watched all of this on this on the TV. It was very disappointing to see our side so comprehensively beaten, but it is Warnock that needs to take on board the lessons from this defeat. McKay sent his team out to do a job on us and didn't they do it well. Watford players were in the faces of Derry and Faurlin as soon as they were on the ball and prevented their normally imperious ball distribution. Watford were on Taarabt as soon as he got the ball and issolated him from the rest of the team. Unless we can learn from this and work better as a team other teams we come up against will watch this game and deal with us in the same way.

There are several strategic things that we could and should have improved in this game. Our players need to give their teamates more options and support when we are in possession. Taarabt has a deserved reputation for being selfish, but when he goes on a run and the nearest four players to him are from the opposition he doesn't have much choice. Sometimes its necessary to try and anticipate the direction of a run and give the man on the ball a reliable pass option. Mackie has been good at this, but he can't be everywhere and its time for some of our other players made themselves available rather than getting in each others way at the back post waiting for a cross that never comes and hoping for glory from a tap-in.

Kenny seems to have only the thought of hoofing the ball as far as possible when its in his hands nearly always resulting in giving the ball to our opponents, we need to think about other options. Warnock crows about how good the atmosphere is in the dressing room and training pitch with good reason, but we have to adapt to our opposition and this was missing in this game. I noticed before Taarabt's first free kick he was shouting for somebody to be his side of the near post, nobody moved to that position, but he put the ball there anyway straight to Watford. When this happens so early on in a game it suggests that there is something not quite right somewhere within the team. Whether it is some team members resenting Warnock's tolerance of things that Taarabt does and nobody else can get away with or just a bad moment is not clear, but it needs to be dealt with or our season could unravel from here as it has done before. We should appreciate, as Warnock has said many times, we are very lucky to be where we are and it doesn't get any easier. I think our position flatters the quality we have, but with the correct approach and direction from our manager we can be near the top at the end.

themodfather added 14:09 - Dec 14
why were we so bad?
was the squad suffering a virus? or was the upcoming xmas party on their minds?
qpr fans are used to losing but try to avoid humilaition v rivals and it's not as if watford fancied it as their support was extremely low ( though noisy from 2-0 up) !!
so many losing managers have bemoaned refs and decisions ( cotterill and jones being 2 very noisy ones) in media, mr deadman i am surprised allowed qpr to re-strat the game after each goal, missing that early handball proved vital.
watford were better, but ane arly goal may have meant they changed set up or we got more momentum it was, we were truly stuffed.

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