Frustration for QPR as City snatch late leveller - full match report
Tuesday, 4th Jan 2011 19:24 by James Bishop
QPR conceded a last gasp equaliser to Bristol City at Loftus Road at Monday to end their Christmas fixtures five points clear at the top of the Championship. James Bishop was there for LFW.
A couple of months ago I believed that days like this could be in the past, so it was a reminder that we can’t and won’t continue to get away with poor defensive errors. Having outplayed and quite frankly battered Bristol City for nearly the whole 90 minutes, somehow we only have a point to show for it today. We managed to score two goals, but a mix of bad luck and bad finishing in front of goal meant we could and should have cruised to a comfortable victory against a side that offered very little attacking threat.
I had a feeling just before kick off against Barnsley back in August very similar to the feeling I had prior to the Blackpool game in 2003 and since then I keep looking for similarities in our season. Now, as then, we have come into the season on the back of some dire times, we now have a very decent manager, the spirit is strong amongst the squad, we are hard to beat and awkward to play against and so on and so forth.
Being a bit of saddo for stats, I also notice that we are in almost identical shape at this stage of the season as we were then - give or take a few goals scored and conceded - played 25, won 13, drawn nine, Lost three, Points 48. We were second then but top now. However, the lead at the top can soon be swallowed up and overtaken if we are to continue giving teams easy chances and goals. No one can say four games in eight days contributed to the mistakes made against City particularly after watching us perform with pace and energy for the rest of the game.
There were three changes to the line up that lost at Norwich. A back four in front of the ever present Paddy Kenny consisted of Bradley Orr starting against his former employees as Kyle Walker moved to left back in place of Clint Hill who moved to the centre of defence to partner Kaspars Gorkss in Matt Connolly’s banned absence. The defensive midfield duo of Shaun Derry and Ali Faurlin backed up an attacking quartet of Jamie Mackie, the now officially signed Tommy Smith in for Leon Clarke, skipper Adel Taarabt and Rob Hulse in for the injured Heidar Helguson.
City’s line up was unchanged after their New Years Day drubbing of Cardiff, despite a couple of injury doubts to Marvin Elliott and Cole Skuse. Ex England stopper David James was in goal, with a back four of Skuse, Steven Caulker, Kalifa Cisse and Lewin Nyatanga. Albert Adomah, Lee Johnson, Elliott, and Jamal Campbell Ryce made up a four man midfield with regular scourge of QPR Jon Stead and in form Brett Pitman up front.
The game started at a high tempo which was to continue and although City forced the first corner of the game it was QPR that took control very early on.
Adel Taarabt running at the City defence with pace caused problems and he soon put Kyle Walker throught but his low cross into space in the box was not met by any blue and white hoops. Just a minute later Taarabt cut inside from the right to try his luck from 30 yards flying just wide of the post.
On ten minutes the lively Tommy Smith sent an inch perfect cross into the box which Rob Hulse headed well over and should have done better - a real chance. Rangers were showing ambition and a corner from the right hand side could have brought more but Ali Faurlin failed to trouble the City goal with a header. Soon after, Smith sent in another teasing cross from the left which was half cleared and fell to Shaun Derry on the edge of the area. Derry, not known for his eye for goal, managed to clear the cross bar with something to spare.
City were looking to counter and in between the waves of QPR attacks Jamal Campbell Ryce was testing Bradley Orr, however anything into danger areas was dealt with by a solid looking pairing of Gorkss and Hill.
On 18 minutes Taarabt again made a half chance for himself from 25 yards, but again saw his effort go wide. Rangers then had a goal chalked off for offside. Smith played in Hulse whose low drive beat James to his right, but the flag had already been raised.
Then Taarabt and Jamie Mackie combined resulting in the Scottish International seeing his first chance of the afternoon go agonisingly wide of David James right hand upright. James seemed content to watch that effort go wide but it was the closest we had come to scoring. Then the chance of the half did arrive. Clint Hill floated a lovely ball up to Smith who again worked a cross perfectly onto the head of Hulse. His downward header was well saved by James down to his left, but Hulse should have scored from that range.
Just two minutes later another ball in to the box, this time from Taarabt, saw James spill it, but no Rangers players had anticipated this and the loose ball was hacked clear.
City were trying to counter again and Campbell- Ryce beat Bradley Orr for pace which resulted in the first booking of the game. The free kick into the box was cleared by Hill.
Then Mackie had another half chance from distance but again this failed to trouble the ex England goalkeeper. However the pressure was building on the visitors again and Taarabt’s thirtieth minute shot was blocked for another R’s corner and only then to see the Moroccan’s corner scrambled away. Another Taarabt cross from the right five minutes later was waiting to be attacked only to see this flicking off a City head to safety. QPR then had a free kick just outside the City area. Smith took this very quickly feeding Adel Taarabt in the area, but again his shot failed to test James on his left.
Then on 40 minutes the Robins had their best chance of the half. Lee Johnson and Marvin Elliott combined to set up Brett Pitman who found himself one on one with Paddy Kenny, but he scuffed his shot to the relief of Loftus Road and Kenny saved easily. City then stretched the R’s defence but when Pitman was forced out wide by Gorkss a straight chase was on between Walker and the former Bournemouth forward. Here there would be only one winner to the ball first.
Just before the fourth official indicated a minute of added on time at the end of the first half there was still time for Hulse to miss another couple of chances. First Faurlin had a shot inside the box deflect into the six yard area which the former Derby man fired over with and then a cross from Jamie Mackie saw Hulse stretch with a header that sailed over the bar.
Half time came and although there was only one team in this game you felt that we would regret these misses and domination. We said at the interval, what could Neil Warnock say? We had played very well, created good chances, pretty much sniffed out any threat the opponents had.
The second half started in similar fashion - Rangers forcing Bristol City back and dominating possession.
But, in the fiftieth minutes after a couple of Rangers corners and desperate clearances the inevitable happened albeit from an unlikely source. A nothing ball pumped up towards the R’s defence found Clint Hill, solid so far, caught in two minds and only he knew what he tried to do with his header. It was neither cleared nor went anywhere towards Paddy Kenny. Brett Pitman anticipated and stole in to fire his eleventh goal of the season into the far corner of the net past the stranded goalkeeper.
This just spurred Rangers on and Walker ran at the visitors with real pace and sent a shot into the Loft, but just two minutes later Jamie Mackie jinked his way into the box and sent a teasing cross over. Taarabt picked the ball up on the far side of the area and he to tricked his way to the byline and picked out the incoming Ali Faurlin to side foot into the opposite corner of the net past David James. At last a good move completed with a good finish.
Had we gone ten minutes or so without responding, frustration would have set in, so the goal came perfectly timed and set the tone for the rest of the game. Just a couple of minutes later and Bradley Orr sent a ball up to Hulse who controlled it, turned but again misfired over with his shot.
A succession of corners came for the R’s over the next ten minutes, but we either failed to put quality into the area or failed to attack them.
City then made their first change, Clarkson on for the mercifully quiet Jon Stead.
Taarabt was still proving influential and was the main threat tricking his way past defenders, but credit to the Robins for their brave defensive display. Five minutes later and Smith sent in another cross for Hulse to attack, this time he failed to connect properly.
On 74 minutes City made another substitution, Danny Haynes replacing Albert Adomah.
The respite didn’t last and first Mackie found the ball at his feet in the area, but his shot was poor and wide although it did deflect kindly, but again no Rangers player anticipated. Then Walker set off on one of his trade mark bursts only to carry the ball too far at the critical moment.
Then with five minutes of normal time remaining the R’s were awarded a very dubious penalty. A ball up towards Hulse and Faurlin in the area saw City’s Marvin Elliott adjudged to have climbed on or pulled Hulse back. No real appeals but referee Mr Graham immediately pointed to the spot and booked Elliott. Taarabt sent James the wrong way and the R’s were on their way to nine out of 12 festive points. I was expecting us to go on and add to the lead too.
With four minutes left the lively Campbell- Ryce worked a chance and tested Paddy Kenny from the edge of the box which the Rangers keeper saved low to his right.
We then saw the introduction of new Norwegian signing Petter Vaagan Moen, on for Adel Taarabt. Then City made their last change which saw a first return to W12 for big Damion Stewart, replacing Lee Johnson who had been booked a few minutes earlier. Stewpeas was put up front in an attempt to salvage something for the Robins.
With four minutes of time added on we then had what I thought was to be one late scare. Another poor defensive header this time from Kaspars Gorkss looped up in the air which Bradley Orr had to deal with. His attempted clearance was sliced for a corner. From this corner Jamal Campbell- Rice picked up the ball and sent a curling shot from the edge of the area. This ball was in from where I am, but somehow Kenny got across and pushed it around the post for a corner. A fantastic save.
But disaster struck and the corner was perfectly delivered into the danger area for Spurs loanee Steven Caulker to power in a header unmarked.
There was still time for another Rangers effort, Vaagan Moen’s centre fell to Tommy Smith, but his shot was snatched at and fired over.
This felt like a defeat and you will rarely see a game dominated with possession and chances finish 2-2 again.
The positives are there for all to see: we look very capable of breaking teams down with many attacking options, Derry and Faurlin bossed the midfield and our passing and movement was good and crisp, we have some strength in depth and have players that can come on to change games, we also have the financial backing should the manager and board wish to exercise this.
On the negatives: goals are creeping in again from unnecessary mistakes and we still lack a genuine out and out goal machine. But the system we play doesn’t lend itself to a Phillips type striker, so the formation would need to be adapted to accommodate.
An interesting couple of weeks are coming up with the transfer window now open. Personally, I want to see us concentrate on the league, Neil Warnock has his wish of being top by the end of the Burnley game, but I feel we will need to add to the squad like we did last time we were promoted for a good push on. We have lost the services of Kyle Walker who has given us a taste of the quality we may be seeing next season, so we need more defensive cover and we do need more goals from a striker.
QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 7, Hill 6, Derry 7, Taarabt 8, (Vaagan Moen 87, -) Mackie 7, Gorkks 6, Faurlin 7, Walker 7, Hulse 6, Smith 7
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Clarke, Rowlands, Agyemang, Borrowdale, German
Booked: Orr (foul)
Goals: Faurlin 53 (assisted Taarabt), Taarabt 85 (penalty, won Hulse)
Bristol City: James 7, Skuse 6, Caulker 7, Cisse 7, Nyatanga 6, Adomah 6, (Haynes 6) Johnson 6, (Stewart) Elliott 6, Campbell Ryce 6, Stead 5,(Clarkson 6) Pitman 6
Subs Not Used: Gerken, Sproule, Ribeiro, Edwards
Booked: Johnson (foul), Elliott (foul), Caulker (over celebrating)
Goals: Pitman 50 (unassisted), Caulker 90 (assisted Campbell-Ryce)
QPR Star Man – Adel Taarabt 8 Another influential display. I was close to going with either Derry or Faurlin as they had really good games, but once again Adel assisted and scored the goals. Who knows, if he hadn’t have come off when we thought the job was done we may have got another.
Referee: Fred Graham 7 Thought he let the game flow very well when we have seen needless stoppages time and time again. The only big decision I think he got wrong was our penalty. At the time of writing this I have only seen it once again quickly, I would have been thoroughly disgusted if that had have gone against us. His job was made easier by the game not getting niggly but he also has to take credit for that.
Attendance: 15,618 (1100 Bristol City) A good atmosphere during the game. Rangers fans getting behind the team , plenty of encouragement even when some passes went astray and most notably when we went a goal behind. How good does it sound hearing “We’re Queens Park Rangers, we’re top of the league”. The Bristol City fans were very quiet until they scored so there was a lack of banter to and from the away end.
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