Hill’s stylish revenge helps unbeaten QPR to away win – report
Sunday, 25th Aug 2013 20:31 by Lewis Jones
Andy Johnson’s goal - courtesy of a moment of attacking quality from an unlikely source - kept up QPR’s unbeaten start to the season at Bolton. Lewis Jones was at the Reebok Stadium for LFW.
Clint Hill had unfinished business with Bolton Wanderers and the Reebok Stadium.
A shambolic refereeing decision here a year and a half ago cost him a deserving Premier League goal following years of hard graft through the lower leagues to reach the top table of English football. It was a moment he should have been able to cherish.
It was hard not to feel his pain. Thanks to that moment, Clint Hill will almost certainly retire without a top flight goal to his name. His face as he wheeled away to celebrate his ghost goal was one of disbelief, anger and frustration. The thought of scoring for QPR then having it disallowed wrongly is a nightmare all us fans have had at one stage. We can relate.
Fast forward 18 months and Hill, in his 101st game for the club with two Supporters’ Player of the Year’s gongs under his belt, was again wheeling away, this time at the other end of the ground in front of 564 maniacs in the away end.
He had just produced a moment of magic and guile on the left-flank to set up a tap in for Andy Johnson to net the important winner. Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan, who clawed Hill’s ‘goal’ from three yards past the line in the previous meeting here, even had the cheek to look across to the linesman again. Stevie Wonder could have given this one. Cheeky. Git.
It was a goal of sheer brilliance in a turgid game. Rangers pinged the ball through midfield before Hill showed the awareness of mind to get beyond his opposition full-back Alex Baptiste by linking up cleverly with Charlie Austin. A quick one-two and an uncharacteristic rapid change of pace by the 34-year-old bamboozled the Bolton backline. Hill then had the presence of mind to roll a perfect ball across Bogdan for his teammate to notch the easiest goal he’ll ever score.
Prior to the goal, QPR had been about as threatening as a boxer with no fists. Bolton packed more of a punch but their knockout blow was limp in comparison to the defensive brilliance of Robert Green and Nedum Onuoha, who were protected impeccably by a destructive, enforcing performance by the previously snail-like Karl Henry. This ugly clash was right up his street.
This was a game that not only showed the downsides to the Championship as an entertainment commodity but also the tactical ineptness showed at this level by both players and managers. QPR and Bolton spent three quarters of the game attacking down both flanks, hoofing balls into the box from unthreatening angles only for inadequate cross after inadequate cross to be cleared by one of the four centre backs. It was like Groundhog Day at times.
It was no surprise to see that when attacks came through the middle or in behind the full-backs - like Hill did for the goal - good chances were created. A team of Zat Knight, David Wheater, Richard Dunne and Baptiste, would fail to win a relay race at a primary school sports day such is their lack of natural speed. Ask them to head balls all day and they’ll gladly step-up, but get them on the turn and it’s a different ball game. Both teams failed to realise that, especially Bolton.
The Wanderers’ manager Dougie Freedman was even given a first-hand example of the lack of QPR pace in Dunne’s legs on 17 minutes but failed to switch his tactics. A shocking pass back from Joey Barton caught Dunne short and within a flash, Jermaine Beckford was through one-on-one with Green. Those who remember Beckford from his Leeds days would have expected the net to bulge but the locals didn’t seem too surprised when he scuffed a poor shot three yards wide. It rather summed up the entire game. Shit defending. Shit attacking.
Green had to be alert six minutes later to deny Jay Spearing, who showed he’s more than just a midfield bully with a technically sound showing. This free-kick wasn’t potent but it still had to be tipped over by Green, whose fingertips were called upon again 13 minutes later. His next save was a stunner.
Since moving to QPR Green’s quality hasn’t been in doubt as much as his mental strength. With Julio Cesar now out of the picture, or seemingly so, his game has looked strong and the save to deny Mohammed Kamara was a thing of beauty. This was a 25-yard-strike set for the top-corner. It was near perfect. But in this form Green only gets beaten by perfection itself. He somehow flung himself across and got the slightest, but a very valuable, touch, to push it onto the woodwork. The away end stood and applauded.
Junior Hoilett’s pace and dribbling ability continued to be missed and an Austin 30-yard-drive that was deflected over was about as good as it got from a QPR attacking sense. But the back nine stood strong and showed a great level of organisation. Henry deserves huge credit for that. He marshalled his troops with real passion and led by example with some important sliding challenges.
After the goal on 54 minutes, Rangers were intent on shutting up shop and they completed the task with flying colours.
The introduction of Bobby Zamora for a hot-headed Austin, who needlessly got involved with Marc Tierney and picked up a booking, signalled QPR’s intent for the final 20 minutes. This is what Zamora does well, supposedly, holding the play up and slowing the game down by keeping the ball. It was hardly an inspiring cameo though, yet his work-rate couldn’t be questioned.
Bolton’s best chance came when, like QPR, they found that sliding balls through the middle in behind slow human beings was the key. Lively sub Robert Hall, on loan from West Ham and somehow not deemed good enough to get in this Bolton side, tried this Dunne targeting tactic and it nearly paid off. He released fellow sub Craig Davies through the heart of the QPR backline but Green was alert with a strong one-handed save to his right. If only Craig Davies could re-e-wind.
QPR dropped deeper but a dogged last ten minutes of clearances from Dunne, Hill and Onuoha never really gave Bolton the platform to build up enough pressure. Job done. Three points.
It’s clear that this bunch of players are now pulling in the same direction and the togetherness and organisation shown for long periods in this match was a very positive sign. Speaking to a couple of them after the match for West London Sport, it’s also pretty certain that they expect to take it up a notch over the next few weeks. Improvement can be expected, especially in attacking areas.
The goal was a taster of what the players think they can achieve. It was one of such quality - both individually through Hill and collectively as a team - that if Manchester United had scored it, Sky Sports pundits would still be wanking now.
And all from a player who was once quoted: “I’m not quick, I’m not skilful and I don’t stand out.” You’re not fooling us, Clint. This one counted and the ghost goal was laid to rest.
Hill the hero. Redemption at the Reebok.
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Bolton: A Bogdan 6; A Baptiste 6, Z Knight 7, D Wheater 7, M Tierney 6; T Ream 5 (R Hall 72 7), M Kamara 7, J Spearing 8, C Lee 7; J Beckford 5 (C Davies 67 6), D Ngog 5 (Moritz 67 6).
Subs Not Used: A Lonergan, T Mears, M Mills, O Odelusi
Bookings: Tierney 58 (unsporting behaviour)
QPR: R Green 8; D Simpson 7, R Dunne 7, N Onuoha 8, C Hill 8; S Wright-Phillips 6 (Traore 6), K Henry 8, J Barton 6, G O'Neil 7; A Johnson 7 (Jenas -) C Austin 6 (Zamora 71 6)
Subs not used: B Murphy, Y Suk-Young, T Hitchcock, A Faurlin.
Goals: Johnson 54 (assisted Hill)
Bookings: Dunne 8 (foul), Barton 21 (foul), Henry 49 (foul), Austin 58 (unsporting behaviour), Simpson 84 (foul), Onuoha 87 (foul).
QPR Star Man – Robert Green 8 Harsh to ignore Hill’s contribution to the game but his all round play was sloppy at times despite his brilliant assist. Green was solid throughout. His save from Kamara in the first half was bordering on world-class and he owned his penalty area with some confident takes from corners. Near faultless.
Referee – James Adcock (South Yorkshire) 5 An early booking to Richard Dunne for some reason meant every other wrongly timed tackle was a booking. QPR picked up six yellow cards during a pretty timid affair.
Attendance – 16.999 (564 QPR) Atmosphere was non-existent but you can blame Sky for that not the fans. Only chants came from those brilliant people in the away-end, who got their reward for travelling to the other end of Britain for a televised 12:15 kick-off. Beautiful morons.
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