Nothing to see here – report
Thursday, 31st Oct 2013 17:26 by Clive Whittingham
QPR and Wigan fought out the most turgid of 0-0 bore draws at a rain lashed DW Stadium on Wednesday night, leaving Rangers three points behind league leaders Burnley.
There is a scene at the beginning of lamentably lowbrow 2000 teen flick Road Trip where Amy Smart, so desperate is she to sleep with Breckin Meyer, stands before him at the end of the bed and slowly peels away a flimsy t-shirt to reveal the naked breasts beneath.
I throw this in here mainly for something stimulating to talk about - because there was literally nothing of any note to come crawling out of 90 dire minutes of lethargic rubbish at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night and we’ve got to talk about something – but also because there is another sub-plot to Road Trip which feels strangely appropriate.
While the video tape – kids always video tape these things – of Smart and Meyer subsequently going at it is accidently posted to his girlfriend on the other side of the country, necessitating the stealing of a car and a school bus and a mentally disabled lad losing his virginity to an enormous gospel singer, one of the road tripper’s pet snake Mitch is left at home with Tom Green whose sole role in this depressingly dreadful movie is to feed it a live mouse at some point during the week.
Green, narrating the story, is captivated with his task and places the mouse in the tank immediately. For the next hour and a half we return to him intermittently to find him staring at the snake which steadfastly shows no interest in killing its prey to Green’s increasing, audible chagrin. “Unleash the fury Mitch” he yells. “Unleash the fury Mitch” over and over and over again.
With three minutes to go at Wigan on Wednesday Queens Park Rangers were awarded a free kick in a reasonably promising position some 40 yards from the home goal wide on the left. It was an opportunity for them to deliver a ball into a penalty box which they could happily have populated with Charlie Austin, Clint Hill and Richard Dunne – all fearsome aerial opponents – and hunt for a late winner. What they did instead, in fact what they did with all their free kicks at Wigan on Wednesday, was to quickly take it short and resume the aimless passing to nothing that suffocated the entire match.
It’s like QPR can, or could, but don’t want to. For a Championship team they have some outstanding creative talent at their disposal and an attacking trio of Niko Kranjcar, Charlie Austin and Junior Hoilett should have been more than enough to pose problems to a limited Wigan side. But somewhere along the line they’ve become lost in some football hipster ideal that a completed pass is almost as good as a goal; like 100 of them would count half on the scoreboard. Surely to goodness even Brendan Rodgers would concede that there’s no shame in delivering a last minute free kick to the heart of the penalty box? We’re not exactly suckling at the teat of Tony Pulis by doing that are we? God this was frustrating stuff.
QPR boss Harry Redknapp would tell you, and in fact did tell you afterwards, that this was a good result – and he’s not wrong. Wigan's position in the bottom half of the league owes more to the excessive workload heaped upon them by a Europa League campaign than the quality of their squad and the come with all the same parachute payment advantages that QPR enjoy. No visiting team has won at the DW Stadium this season in eight games spread across twocompetitions.
It could have been even better had referee Michael Naylor not inexplicably turned a blind eye to Wigan’s rookie goalkeeper Lee Nicholls shoving substitute striker Andy Johnson to the ground as he waltzed around him in ten minutes from time, and it could have been worse had Chris McCann’s header hit the back of Robert Green’s net in the fifty second minute rather than the outside of his post during a period of sustained Wigan pressure – Callum McManaman should have done more than hammer the rebound over the bar as well.
But in truth this wasn’t a game that deserved a goal, and it limped hopelessly into a rain soaked stalemate.
Redknapp would also point to injury problems in his midfield – Little Tom Carroll isn’t allowed up late enough to accommodate a midweek game at Wigan and Kranjcar limped out of the first half injured. Joey Barton was suspended which meant a recall for Ale Faurlin, who thankfully played better than he has done for some time, and Karl Henry was dropped in favour of Jermaine Jenas.
Despite that upheaval there was some reasonably decent stuff from the Londoners early in the game. Kranjcar shot over in the third minute and the move of the match at the midway point of the half worked Benoit Assou-Ekotto in on the overlap for a cut back cross that Gary O’Neil struck towards goal but, farcically, right at his own man Austin who was flagged offside as a result.
O’Neil later had a proper shot saved by young Phillips, impressive in difficult conditions on a full home league debut, and Austin side footed wide after a long period of pressure seven minutes before half time. Clint Hill headed a corner off target in the first half and Richard Dunne did likewise in the second when on both occasions the QPR man looked favourite to score. So it wasn’t like QPR were dreadful, in fact they were much the better of the two teams, they just seem so anaemic and limp at times. No thrust and urgency. No tempo to the play.
Wigan - who made three changes before the game with Ryan Shotton, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez coming in for Thomas Rogne, James McClean and Ben Watson after a 0-0 draw at Charlton on Saturday - were even worse. Shining light Nick Powell cut into the area in their first attack of the game and executed a clever step over that fooled the otherwise excellent Danny Simpson but he could only fire into the side netting. But mostly the Latics were restricted to long range shots and set pieces in the first half – Jordi Gomez whipped a free kick over the bar after Faurlin had been penalised for a foul on the edge of the area, Green looked nervous punching away a Powell delivery from wide but got the job done well enough.
McManaman and Gomez both had shots wide in open play before the break, both coming after QPR had been caught fannying around with the ball deep in their own half – it’s hard to deny that the R’s are becoming reasonably easy to play against, with pressure high up the field enough to induce panic and chances.
Manager Owen Coyle removed lumbering oaf Grant Holt at half time and tried a different adding a bit more pace to his attack with former West Brom striker Marc-Antoine Fortune and that seemed to have an effect for a while with a succession of early corners culminating in the McCann header and McManaman miss. But they soon reverted to type as the game slumped back into the slow, meandering pattern of the first period.
The Latics secured a loan deal for Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton right on the cusp of the deadline and he was slung on for the final quarter of an hour alongside Brain of Britain James McClean with McManaman and Gomez making way – but QPR’s defence stood firm and Wigan lacked sufficient imagination to break through.
A free kick for the home side deep into the second half of the game bobbled around the QPR penalty box after first Assou-Ekotto and then Gary O’Neil failed with attempts at headed clearances but, again, the chance of a serious shot on goal went begging. Robert Green didn’t have a taxing save to make all evening.
Neither, really, did Nicholls although his handling and penalty box command was exemplary for one so inexperienced playing in awkward weather. Hoilett hammered a cross shot through the goal mouth agonisingly out of Jenas’ reach and Matt Phillips, who is still to find any kind of fitness and form since a summer move to W12 from Blackpool, found substitute Johnson at the back post but he could only toe the ball wide.
Rangers did look slightly more threatening once Johnson was on – much needed support for the previously isolated Charlie Austin – but it was only relative to what had gone before and Wigan were hardly quaking in their boots. The Nicholls foul on Johnson apart they didn’t look overly threatened by the London side at any point and to be fair to referee Naylor he seemed as bored as the rest of us in the last ten minutes of the game and made some peculiar decisions – Phillips aggrieved that a goal kick was awarded when his late strike deflected over, Owen Coyle onto the pitch at the end to remonstrate with the officials over two robust late challenges from Hill on Fortune and Dunne on Powell that were for some reason given as QPR free kicks.
The possession stats for this one are heavily weighted 63-37 in QPR’s favour. I’d estimate that 98% of that ball retention went absolutely nowhere.
Unleash the fury QPR. Unleash the fury.
Wigan: Nicholls 7, Boyce 6, Barnett 6, Perch 6 Shotton 6, McManaman 7 (McClean 74, 6), McCann 6, Gomez 6 (Albrighton 74, 6), Powell 7, Holt 5 (Fortune 45, 6)
Subs not used: Watson, Pollitt, Espinoza, Beausejour
QPR: Green 6, Simpson 7, Hill 7, Dunne 7, Assou-Ekotto 6, Faurlin 7, Jenas 6, O’Neil 6, Kranjcar 6 (Phillips 44, 6), Hoilett 5 (Johnson 75, 6), Austin 5
Subs not used: Henry, Murphy, Chevanton, Onyewu, Traore
QPR Star Man – Danny Simpson 7 Since signing for QPR in the summer Simpson has quietly gone about settling straight into the team and playing consistently well – he looks like he’s played for QPR all his life and is an unfussy, reliable right back. On Wednesday he hardly put a foot wrong either with or without the ball – although it says something for the match that I thought the top player in it was one of the right backs.
Referee – Michael Naylor (South Yorkshire) 5 Not a lot to referee for 75 minutes or so but, perhaps through boredom, he turned the last quarter of an hour into a bit of a farce, inexplicably failing to award a foul and card for the Nicholls attack on Johnson and then seemingly trying to even that decision up with several very harsh calls against the home side that had Owen Coyle on the pitch at the end of the game having a strop. To be fair, at least it livened things up a bit.
Attendance – 13,143 (600 QPR approx) A very creditable size of following from QPR for such a long trip on a Wednesday night. Not much atmosphere around the DW but to be fair to everybody who was there on a filthy night there wasn’t a great deal to get excited about.
Pictures – Action Images
Photo: Action Images
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