Bore draw relegates Royals and Rangers – full match report
Sunday, 28th Apr 2013 22:43 by Clive Whittingham
QPR and Reading were both relegated from the Premier League this afternoon with three matches of the campaign left to play after labouring to a dire 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium.
Sky were almost embarrassed to show it. Arsenal v Manchester United was what the people had come to see and even that, in this least competitive Premier League in living memory, mattered little. A quarter of an hour into the broadcast they had to confess that they were showing Reading v QPR first; not so much a relegation dog fight as two dogs sniffing each other’s behinds. By the time it was over these two hapless outfits had contrived to finish each other off - a lifeless, goalless draw relegates both with three matches left to play.
Reading believe they’re better set for the impending Championship campaign. John Madejski, who sold the club earlier in the season and now just sort of loiters around the place, spent the week in the lead up to this battle of the damned emphasising that through whatever media channel would listen. Harry Redknapp tried to rally his own troops in return, but sounded like a man as fed up as the club’s supporters. His noises about sticking around to tough out the division below remain unconvincing – excuses about the challenges posed by the second tier aplenty and everything always qualified with a comment about his future being up the board and the club’s finances. In the director’s box Steve Cotterill sat next to chairman Tony Fernandes and wrote things down/drew pictures.
A turgid 2-0 defeat by an almost equally woeful Stoke side a week ago suggested a QPR side that had exhibited questionable commitment to its work all season anyway had well and truly clocked off altogether with relegation all but confirmed, but the early evidence here was more encouraging. Redknapp started with Loic Remy in attack with support from the lesser-spotted Jay Bothroyd and Adel Taarabt arriving late from deep. Taarabt, suitably recovered from a shoulder injury that forced a premature withdrawal from that meek defeat a week ago, jinked past one and set up Jermaine Jenas to hack over the bar early on and then won a free kick which midfielder Esteban Granero pulled rank on and clipped the top of the bar with young Reading keeper Alex McCarthy beaten.
When a tidy pass from Granero gave Bothroyd a sight of the target McCarthy’s inexperience got the better of him and he raced forward presenting an open target which the former Cardiff man contrived to miss with a tentative lob. Taarabt then side footed wide when Bothroyd nodded another set piece down into his path – a firmer strike may have yielded greater reward but the signs were reasonably positive.
Reading were notoriously slow starters in the second tier but twice staged dramatic late runs of form to claim a play-off final place and then, a year later, a league title. A burst of six wins and a draw from eight matches over the New Year period suggested Brian McDermott might be about to pull off the same trick at a higher level but in truth apart from that six week spell the Royals have been every bit as bad as Queens Park Rangers this term. McDermott paid with his job in March but his replacement Nigel Adkins has struggled to arrest the slide with three defeats and a draw from four games in charge prior to this encounter.
Here the home team’s great white hope from last summer Pavel Pogrebnyak was anonymous – well marshalled by Nedum Onuoha who was given a rare start at centre half in the absence of Chris Samba who was either injured or actually thought the game was taking place the previous day if you want to take his light hearted Tweets literally. But there were troublesome signs for the visitors in the full back areas. The tireless Jobi McAnuff supported Pogrebnyak along with young Nick Blackman and Garath McCleary. They had a good deal more success than their Russian team mate, aided and abetted by Rangers right back Jose Bosingwa’s lethargic approach to his day of work. Dislikeable midfielder Danny Guthrie swung an early free kick through the six yard box from wide with Robert Green – still preferred to fancy dress enthusiast Julio Cesar – stuck on his line when he should have commanded the situation. A weak pass back from Bosingwa placed Green in danger again a while later but this time the keeper was alert to the trouble – although he was still somewhat fortunate that his hurried clearance smacked into the onrushing McAnuff and flew out for a goal kick rather than anything more serious.
Bosingwa oozed apathy from every pore and when he lazily pushed McAnuff to the floor eight minutes before half time a quick free kick spread terror in the six yard box. Green was suddenly panicked by the sight of football and Portuguese right back was required to redeem himself and execute a goal line clearance to keep the game deadlocked.
Sustained Reading pressure then brought two quick fire penalty appeals. First Traore upended Blackman and then Bosingwa hung a lazy arm and leg out to knock McAnuff to the ground. Both could easily have been given had referee Kevin Friend been so inclined but the Leicestershire official waved the claims away. Reading had good cause to feel aggrieved.
The second half began much as the first half had ended. Stephane Mbia, partnering Jermaine Jenas in a less than dynamic midfield set up, tried his luck from ambitious distance and found the adjacent retail park. Redknapp, Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie couldn’t hide their amusement on the substitutes’ bench but, as John Gregory found right at the very beginning of the dawn of the minted Queens Park Rangers, laughing in the face of our own side’s incompetence wins few friends among a long suffering support base.
Rangers tried again. Taarabt and Remy combined well to set the former up for a sight of goal but he bounced a volley into the ground and felt his shoulder. Moments later a half cleared cross fell to Taarabt and he side-footed a half volley wide. The Moroccan’s fascination with taking chances with his instep when the ball cries out for a firm strike with the laces continues to frustrate. Taarabt isn’t a player you would associate with a lack of confidence but his recent performances betray the toll the last 18 months have taken on Rangers’ outstanding talent. Redknapp removed him midway through the second half and sent on Junior Hoilett who introduced himself to the action by giving the ball away and then spent the next half hour doing much the same. Both players will hope for moves this summer, but their recent form may force them to go down with the ship; both look like a summer of rest and recuperation followed by a harsh fitness regime and confidence rebuild is required.
Reading were every bit as bad and will enjoy the same joints to Burnley, Blackburn and Birmingham next season. They could easily have taken the lead on the hour when a QPR counter attack broke down with a poor pass from Remy and Pogrebnyak cut inside Bosingwa before curling a shot wide when he should have scored. Five minutes later a downward header from the Russian bounced wide.
He should have at least hit the target, as should Jenas when Jay Bothroyd cut in from the left and pulled the perfect ball back into his path only for the former Tottenham man to skew hopelessly into the stand behind the goal. Redknapp sent on Jamie Mackie late in the day and he sniffed round a Bothroyd shot that McCarthy threatened to spill into his path but the keeper gathered at the second attempt.
It was little wonder both managers turned to their benches early in search of game changer such was the paucity of quality on display. Adkins sent on Adam Le Fondre and Hal Robson-Kanu but by removing Blackman and McCleary rather than Pogrebnyak he made little difference to the pattern of play. Le Fondre is out of favour and seemingly angling after a move which should really interest QPR this summer but here he could only head a chance over the bar ten minutes from the merciful, merciful end.
Redknapp decision to take off Bosingwa for Fabio Da Silva smacked of a mercy killing and the Portuguese full back endeared himself further to the Loftus Road faithful by laughing as he headed down the tunnel at full time, seconds after his club had officially been demoted to the Championship. Bosingwa crossed himself three times on the way off the field and to be honest if I pulled his salary each week as a reward for playing football as badly as this I’d be thanking God every day as well.
Ultimately Reading were left to rely on set pieces, and even those were reasonably predictable. Each corner and free kick was lofted high to the back post for giant centre half Sean Morrison to arrive late and attack. Although QPR have been poor at defending dead balls this season – and conceded twice from set pieces against Reading earlier in the season when former hooped favourite Kaspars Gorkss scored in league and cup – the intentions were so obvious even the beleaguered Rangers could read what was coming. Clint Hill won pretty much whatever came his way bar a late Morrison effort which Green palmed over the bar with one hand. Granero and Da Silva were both yellow carded by Friend for their part in conceding the free kicks in the first place.
The QPR fans regaled their current charges with songs about their predecessors. Kevin Gallen, Marc Bircham, Gareth Ainsworth and Paul Furlong were all more technically limited than the current crop but far more effective on the field because football isn’t about ability alone and teams always succeed against groups of individuals. Whatever is said about Mark Hughes, Tony Fernandes, Philip Beard, Harry Redknapp, Kia Joorabchian and a host of others who have had a hand in this dire campaign – this QPR team has enough ability to have made a better fist of things than it has. Much of the talk over the coming weeks and months will centre around incoming and outgoing personnel, but a change in mindset is required here just as urgently. Redknapp and Fernandes sit down tomorrow morning at 11am to start planning who is going to enact that and how.
Reading: McCarthy 6, Gunter 6, Mariappa 6, Morrison 6, Kelly 5 (Harte 76, 6), Karacan 5, Guthrie 6, McAnuff 7, McLeary 6 (Le Fondre 64, 6), Blackman 6 (Robson Kanu 55, 6), Pogrebnyak 5
Subs not used: Taylor, Pearce, Caricco, Hunt
QPR: Green 6, Bosingwa 4 (Da Silva 73, 5), Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Traore 6, Granero 6, Mbia 6 (Mackie 89, -), Jenas 6, Taarabt 5 (Hoilett 68, 5), Bothroyd 5, Remy 5
Subs not used: Cesar, Ben Haim, Derry, Park
Bookings: Granero 71 (foul), Da Silva 90 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Nedum Onuoha 7 Presumably a late replacement for regular centre half Chris Samba but showed – albeit in the face of meagre opposition – that he can be a future mainstay for Rangers in that position if he sticks around.
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 Very little to referee bar Reading penalty shouts in the first half – both of which could have been given, both of which he waved away. I thought Traore and Boswinga were both fortunate not to be penalised.
Attendance – 23,388 (1,800 QPR approx)
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Saturday Comes #17 by wessex_exile
Honestly dahling, playing on a Saturday is so passé these days. Yep, When Saturday Comes and yet again we’re not playing on a Saturday afternoon, meeting the 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic at the dreadfully uncivilised kick-off time of Sunday lunchtime at 12.30pm. Mind you, the only one of our six games in November that we lost, the Stevenage horror show, was also the only one played on a Saturday afternoon, so maybe I shouldn’t complain too much about rearranged kick-offs? If our improved performances avoiding Saturday afternoon continues into December, I certainly won’t be complaining, with five of our seven scheduled matches also on days other than a Saturday.
When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
Queens Park Rangers Polls
[ Vote here ]