Mackie’s double fracture overshadows latest cup defeat – full match report
Sunday, 9th Jan 2011 21:42 by Clive Whittingham
QPR stretched their run of years without an FA Cup win to 11 against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, but a double leg fracture sustained by Jamie Mackie was of far greater concern than the 1-0 defeat.
For Stevenage, Notts County, Burton Albion, Brighton and others the romance of the FA Cup was truly alive and well on Saturday. For QPR, their trip to Blackburn was less E-harmony, more Chatroulette. An eleventh straight year without an FA Cup win thanks to a 1-0 defeat played out in an atmosphere more befitting of a reserve team fixture coupled with a sickening season ending injury suffered by Jamie Mackie, and some deplorable organisation and behaviour in the aftermath of that incident, made for all the romance of an ageing pervert flashing in front of a webcam.
This was so nearly mission accomplished for Neil Warnock. The battle plan was to get to Blackburn, get knocked out without being humiliated and get home without extending a frightening injury list any further. Cardiff and Leeds both face replays, Swansea and Watford will both play fourth round ties while QPR rest, and there will be further involvement for five of the six teams immediately outside the play offs. QPR, against a strong Blackburn outfit, competed well despite leaving a raft of first teamers at home and twice hit the cross bar in pursuit of a replay that nobody really wanted.
But it’s the Mackie injury, a double fracture of his leg sustained in a first half challenge with Gael Givet, that overshadowed the whole trip. One of our outstanding performers of the season so far will now miss the majority of 2011 as he attempts to recover – and he only has to look at Rowan Vine, who returned from Brentford without playing a single game in a month long loan spell this week, and Lee Cook, who finally got a little bit of action here in his latest comeback from four years of injury heartache, to know that such a recovery should not be taken for granted.
That Mackie had to suffer abuse from the ever loathsome El Hadj Diouff while receiving care and was treated like a mangy stray dog the Blackburn medical staff had found in the street while Givet, with a much less serious swollen knee, was carried from the field like a King felled in battle only exacerbated a terribly sad situation further.
It had been hoped by many that Mackie would be among those rested for this match with the focus this season very firmly fixed on promotion. Neil Warnock had stated his intentions to do this several weeks ago when the draw was made but a substantial list of absentees for QPR’s first trip to Ewood Park since 2006 rather tied his hands. Long term absentees Patrick Agyemang, Peter Ramage and Akos Buzsaky were joined on the missing list by Matthew Connolly (suspended), Antonio German (cup tied), Tommy Smith, Fitz Hall, Martin Rowlands, Gavin Mahon, Heidar Helguson and Hogan Ephraim (all injured) – a goalkeeper away from a full team.
Under the circumstances Warnock did well to find 11 fit and healthy bodies to take to the field and although he did find enough wiggle room to grant Adel Taarabt a weekend off he was forced to use several recently overworked first teamers, including Mackie, who he probably would like to have left out. The scratchy starting eleven produced in these trying circumstances saw Rob Hulse start in attack low on confidence after his succession of missed chances against Bristol City with Mackie, Leon Clarke and Norwegian Petter Vann Moen making his debut in support. Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlin anchored the midfield as always when I’m sure one or both of Rowlands or Mahon would have played if available. Paddy Kenny started in goal behind a back four comprising Bradley Orr, Kaspars Gorkss, Clint Hill and Gary Borrowdale.
This was the much maligned Borrowdale’s first start since the League Cup defeat by Port Vale in August and I don’t think it’s too unkind to suggest that he seems to have spent that time in various eating and drinking establishments. I was reminded of the Top Gear tour of the United States where they introduced the Stig’s American Cousin bursting out of the usual white uniform as Borrowdale took to the field here looking like somebody who may well have eaten the real Gary Borrowdale and since assumed his identity.
Rangers were only able to name six of the allotted seven substitutes with youth teamers Bruno Andrade, Michael Doughty and Michael Harryman all brought along to make up the numbers.
Blackburn are under new management, and the controversial agent led circumstances behind the departure of Sam Allardyce and appointment of Steve Kean has not left the new gaffer with a great deal of good will to trade off with the Rovers fans. An early FA Cup exit would not have helped his cause, and besides as said in the match preview this is a competition the likes of Rovers should be going all out to win. Kean may well agree because although his starting 11 showed changes from the midweek win against Liverpool it was still a very strong side with a number of first teamers involved – Ryan Nelson, Michel Salgardo, Morten Gamst Pederson, El-Hadji Diouf, Benjani, David Hoilett and Mame Biram Diouf all started as you would expect them to do in a league game.
As has become the pattern in recent games QPR started well, but left themselves open at the other end in doing so. Despite a bright start from the visitors they had to survive two quick fire scares in the fourth minute. First El-Hadji Diouf played in Mame Biram Diouf who fired a shot across the face of goal, then Hoilett teed up the more acceptable Diouf for a low drive that went straight at Paddy Kenny. Hulse returned fire with a similar low poke goalwards that rolled straight into the hands of Rovers’ keeper Mark Bunn.
Rovers went on the attack again in the tenth minute, and sustained pressure for the majority of the first quarter of the game thanks to the superior ability of their team combined with the usual one sided refereeing performance QPR have come to expect from Peter Walton down the years. As the time ticked into double figures young winger Hoilett got in behind Borrowdale and crossed to the near post where Kaspars Gorkss diverted the ball a foot or so wide of his own post at full stretch.
Ryan Nelson then headed farcically wide of the target having dived full length onto a Pederson free kick after Gary Borrowdale had committed a foul on the lively looking Hoilett. That decision was fair enough, the subsequent Blackburn free kick awarded for an alleged foul by Hill on Biram Diouf was ridiculously harsh and Rangers were grateful that Kenny was able to watch Pederson’s ambitious shot into his hands and avoid the injustice that a one nil deficit in such circumstances would have been.
With Borrowdale at left back and Leon Clarke lumbering around ahead of him Blackburn had rightly picked out QPR’s left flank as a weak spot to exploit with Hoilett looking dangerous every time he went near the ball they were very effective down that side throughout the first half. Pederson had a crack down there himself after 20 minutes, crossing to the back post where Biram Diouf had been left unmarked and met the ball with a firm header that looked like a certain goal from the moment it left his forehead until Paddy Kenny flung himself across and pulled off an unlikely, awesome save right up in the top corner.
Against Bristol City last Monday a similar gravity defying save from Kenny was followed by a devastating injury time equaliser by a centre half up for the resulting corner kick and Rangers nearly repeated the trick here when Ryan Nelson was left unchecked and headed powerfully for goal only for Kenny to produce another eye catching stop. The next corner wasn’t well defended either, but QPR were able to clear their lines after the ball had dropped into the six yard box.
While Kenny was the most impressive QPR player overall, Petter Vaagan Moen was the outfield player who was having the most positive effect for the visitors. Midway through the first half he showed excellent tenacity and a great awareness of where his team mates are by riding challenge in the centre circle and then playing a fantastic pass out to the right where Jamie Mackie was completely unmarked. Mackie cut into the area and hit a shot which appeared to beat Bunn only to then be cleared from the goal line – although all this comes with the usual qualifying remarks about it being difficult to tell exactly what’s happening at the far end of the pitch when you are sitting low down in an away end behind the goal.
Then, on the half hour, the incident that everybody connected with QPR will remember for years to come. A loose ball in the QPR right back slot had Jamie Mackie approaching in typically committed style with Blackburn full back Gael Givet on a direct collision course. It looked like a fool’s mission from the moment Mackie left the ground and flung himself into the challenge and the pair collided with a sickening crunch with the ball barely involved at all.
There then followed a rambling sort of a chaos that lasted for several minutes and left QPR nursing several thoroughly justified grievances. Clearly Mackie was in very big trouble, prostrate on the ground and waving his arm frantically in the air to signal he had a serious problem. Nevertheless he was left to lie on the turf with attention only from his team mates and the QPR physio. Givet meanwhile have four stretcher bearers, a physio, a doctor and the referee to attend to him and he was quickly lifted from the field with his knee, which turned out to only be badly bruised, heavily strapped and held in place by a splint as fans from both sides applauded him off.
Mackie meanwhile was left on the ground with only our physio for company as El-Hadji Diouf hovered in the vicinity handing out abuse and demanding he get to his feet, which Mackie typically did try and do despite fracturing both bones in his leg in the incident. Referee Peter Walton probably should have intervened and moved Diouff away, but was too busy ensuring Givet got the best possible care, and when he did belatedly come across to have a look at the QPR man he then spent a minute or so calming a Blackburn Rovers fan who had rushed out of the side stand to hang over the advertising hoardings and give Mackie some abuse himself – the fan was allowed to return to his seat for the rest of the match after screaming abuse at the player with the double leg fracture with no attention from either the police or stewards. Mackie was eventually stretchered from the field on what looked like a flimsy wind break with the kind hearted Blackburn fans booing him on his way.
The reaction of both the Blackburn players and fans, the medical care Mackie received and the way he was dealt with and carried from the field compared to Givet was an absolute disgrace and an abject embarrassment to a club that is supposed to be part of this country’s elite. Losing a player of Mackie’s commitment and ability in such agonising circumstances was bad enough without him being afforded treatment akin to a Sunday league footballer on Hackney Marshes.
Rangers sent on young Bruno Andrade instead of Mackie, Blackburn introduced Josh Morris for Givet, and it was Rovers who settled back into the game quicker with El-Hadji Diouf drilling a foot over the bar from the edge of the penalty box. Gary Borrowdale then received the first yellow card of the game for a crude challenge on Hoilett as the young Canadian’s torment of QPR’s left full back continued unabated.
The half was extended by four minutes, which seemed like a conservative estimate on Mr Walton’s part when the Mackie incident was taken into consideration, but that was almost long enough for QPR to take the lead. For once, and this only happened a measly seven times in the entire match, the referee actually awarded QPR a free kick when Ryan Nelson blatantly crawled all over the back of Rob Hulse as he received the ball with his back to goal.
No sooner had the conversation about it being too far out for a shot in our corner of the away end finished than Petter Vaagan Moen stepped up and let rip with a blockbusting left footed shot that looked destined to fly into the roof of the net until Bunn thrust up a desperate hand and flicked the shot onto the crossbar and out for a corner. Moen’s delivery from set pieces, particularly in wide areas, was excellent and threatening all day which made a refreshing change from how things have been in recent weeks. I was impressed by Moen on Saturday, and he’s a player I’m looking forward to seeing more of.
With around 20,000 empty seats in Ewood Park on Saturday, and the atmosphere befitting a reserve match between the two, it was understandable that both teams seemed to find it difficult to raise themselves into anything like a performance after a half time when the health of their respective team mates would have been at the forefront of minds in the dressing rooms. It took ten minutes for anything of note to happen, when it did QPR were the team doing the pressing.
The first meaningful attack of the half saw Faurlin and Moen combine on the edge of the area with a one two that broke down when the Argentinean ambitiously tried to flick the return ball through the air. The ball did eventually bobble through to Moen in the area but he snatched at the chance and it failed to trouble Bunn in goal. But when Hulse met a back post cross with a header that flashed just wide it was clear that QPR were looking the brighter off the two sides.
Naturally Blackburn were given a foothold in the half by Mr Walton, who awarded 21 free kicks to Rovers (three times as many as QPR) during a far from dirty game. A set piece just before the hour set up by a foul from Hill on Roberts allowed Pederson to cross for Biram Diouf who somehow bundled the ball wide of the post from inside the six yard box when it seemed easier to score. QPR’s marking from set pieces remains a big concern.
Bruno Andrade has been waiting patiently for another chance of first team action since his brief cameo against Preston in November and while he certainly wouldn’t have chosen these circumstances he seemed keen to impress on the extended run out he was afforded here. Built like a chicken stick and possessing the suspect ball control that afflicts everybody who comes out of our youth team Andrade nevertheless caught the eye with a performance high on effort, endeavour and enthusiasm. His hard graft and ambitious, cheeky step overs in front of the away end just after the hour earned a warm reception from the travelling fans and a corner which was subsequently cleared.
Blackburn introduced a substitute of their own at half time when Jason Roberts, often linked with a move to Loftus Road, came on for the ineffective Benjani. Roberts’ first action of the half came with 25 minutes left to play when he was allowed to run across the face of the area unchecked and unload a shot that deflected fractionally over the bar. Morten Gamst Pederson cleared everybody with the resulting corner to the frustration of the home supporters.
I’ve always really rated Pederson so I was interested to see on QPR Report’s interview with a Blackburn fan before this game that he was described as a “Match of the Day player” who is long past his best. Certainly he didn’t play particularly well in this game, although his delivery from another corner five minutes later was substantially better and Gary Borrowdale was forced to produce a brave clearance inside the six yard box facing his own goal.
Roberts then teed up El-Hadji Diouf for a shot into the side netting from the edge of the area.
Blackburn were starting to turn the screw and sure enough with 13 minutes left they made their quality count with the only goal of the game. Sadly after what had gone before it was El-Hadji Diouf at the heart of the move, although that tells you why Premiership teams are willing to put up with his flaws as a human being. The Senegalese forward picked the ball up wide on the left and ran laterally across the face of the penalty area before teeing up Hoilett for a crisp low finish into the bottom corner. If any Blackburn player, apart from Salgardo who was a cut above all afternoon and could have played in a suit, deserved a goal then it was Hoilett who had been a constant menace as a winger in the first half and then through the middle in the second.
In the final ten minutes Neil Warnock sent on Lee Cook for his first appearance of the season instead of Alejandro Faurlin and youngster Michael Doughty, son of the Nottingham Forest chairman, for Rob Hulse. I didn’t think it was possible but Doughty was actually slighter in frame than Andrade and neither he nor Cook received much of the ball in their time on the field.
Both teams had gilt edged chances to score in the closing stages. Rovers could have been out of sight had Jason Roberts not contrived to head wide from barely two yards out at the far post when it seemed easier to score. And they could have been punished for the profligacy when Moen’s well flighted free kick to the back post was headed onto the face of the cross bar by Kaspars Gorkks at the back post when, again, it seemed like a goal was a certain result. Nobody really wanted a replay at Loftus Road a week on Tuesday so it’s probably for the best that it stayed out, although with everything that had gone before it would have been nice to ram an equaliser down one or two Blackburn throats and see just how many of the terribly brave 12-year-olds to the right of the away end who booed Mackie from the field would have travelled to W12 for the return game.
Frustration boiled over in injury time with El-Hadji Diouf attempting to waste time by keeping the ball in the corner, prompting chants of “how shit must you be, this is our reserves” from the QPR fans, but succeeded in both running the clock down and extracting a booking from Shaun Derry who undermined a fine performance with a needless hack at Pederson that brought him yet another yellow card that could come back to haunt him, and us, later in the season.
It’s usually at this stage that I sum up the positives and negatives from the day, but of course this weekend there is just one great big negative.
On the plus side in a weekend where all but three of the top half of the Championship won themselves yet another fixture later in January, and three of them were forced into difficult replays, Rangers will be glad of the free week at the end of the month – although common sense should probably dictate that we arrange our postponed Hull City game for that free Saturday now. I was also impressed with Moen who looks capable of slotting straight into our team in a variety of positions and has terrific shot and range of passing with his left foot.
But all the post match talk was about Jamie Mackie. He has attracted what I would call questions, rather than criticisms, lately as his goals have dried up and his energy levels have been sapped by a packed fixture schedule. I’m sure he would have been rested here had we had more men available, and today with hindsight we can all say that we wished he had been. I would suggest that those criticising Mackie lately will see just how important h is to us over the coming weeks. Mackie’s work rate and attitude sets the tone and tempo of our side and there is nobody else at our club who does the same thing quite as effectively. He’s had a tremendous first six months at QPR and we will miss him terribly in the second half of the season.
Blackburn Bunn 6, Salgado 8 (Linganzi 81, -), Hanley 6, Nelsen 7, Givet 6 (Morris 30, 6), Hoilett 8, Lowe 6, Pedersen 6, El-Hadji Diouf 7, Mame Diouf 7, Mwaruwari 6 (Roberts 46, 6)
Subs Not Used: Fielding, Goulon, Doran, Cotton
Goals: Hoilett 77 (assisted E H Diouf)
QPR: Kenny 8, Orr 7, Gorkss 6, Hill 6, Borrowdale 5, Derry 7, Faurlin 7 (Cook 81, -), Clarke 5, Mackie 6 (Andrade 31, 6), Moen 7, Hulse 6 (Doughty 88, -)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Tofas, Harryman
Booked: Borrowdale (foul), Derry (foul)
QPR Star Man – Paddy Kenny 8 A string of impressive saves in the first half probably make him the outstanding QPR player on the day, but he was run close by Moen who was our best outfield player. Derry, Faurlin and Orr all had their best games for some time.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire) 5 I thought his performance was summed up by an incident in the second half when a long ball was knocked towards Mame Biram Diouf who backed into and then shoved Clint Hill out of the way only to then be awarded a free kick himself. The linesman on the far side saw how ridiculous this was and flagged for a QPR free kick which brought a sarcastic fist pump celebration from Hill. Basically the default option throughout this match was Blackburn free kick. Any physical contact saw the whistle blown and a Blackburn free kick awarded. Just as poxy and one eyed as he always is – QPR committed 21 fouls to Blackburn’s seven according to the stats and if that was actually the case then I’m a Chinaman. Completely ignored Mackie’s plight when he was injured, choosing instead to stand next to Gael Givet and make sure his much less serious injury wasn’t causing him too much discomfort.
Attendance: 10,284 (963 QPR) I’ve been to noisier funerals. The QPR support didn’t make four figures, a marked difference from our last third round tie here where we brought several thousand. Why, with thousands of empty seats elsewhere in the ground, a small gang of 12-year-old weirdoes were allowed to gather as close to the away end as possible to goad the QPR fans throughout the game I don’t know. It meant Blackburn had to employ and pay for dozens of stewards and police officers in the away end who would not have been needed had the idiot brigade been allocated seats elsewhere in the ground.
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