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Sunderland too good for poor QPR side
Sunderland too good for poor QPR side
Tuesday, 28th Nov 2006 15:58

Rangers fell to a second straight defeat in pitiful circumstances at Loftus Road on Tuesday.

In typical fashion QPR have managed to undo some improvements that have happened over the last few weeks. In the space of four days our five match unbeaten run has come to an end and we appear to have taken a few steps backwards and this culminated in our fifth home defeat of the season. That's certainly not pretty reading at this stage of the season.

Talk of the play-offs may have been slightly ambitious following the win over table toppers Cardiff but our free-scoring road show was exciting and thrilling nevertheless. Have the goals started to dry up now? Please don't let us just be left with the comical errors from our shaky back four - surely not? We aren't relegation certainties as we were when Gregory came in, but are some players starting to settle back into the pre-Gregory routine and slip back into bad habits?

Yes and no. This was a game where the referring was poor and we were poor too. Much as I would like to totally blame the idiot in charge we just weren't good enough and unfortunately Gregory got some things wrong (in my opinion) but hopefully he'll have learnt a lot about his men tonight.

Gregory made a couple of changes; unfortunately none were in the back four although he hasn't got a lot of quality replacements lining up. Rowlands returned to the side - he occupied the holding midfield role that Bailey, Lomas or Bircham would normally fill. This was to be vitally important because Rowly had an off-night and just couldn't control things like Kavanagh could.

Ward continued on the right with a patched-up Lee Cook on the left alongside Jimmy Smith. Kevin Gallen started in attack with our other patched-up player, Dexter Blackstock. Furlong, Nygaard and Jones were all on the bench.

Sunderland brought a healthy following from the North East and started impressively, their passing was crisp and they looked solid at the back and were cutting through our thread-bare midfield and defence far too easily.

Daryl Murphy has an early effort that was blocked by Rehman and then Grant Leadbitter struck a left footed shot that was gathered well by Royce. Damien Stewart was lucky to get away with an error as again Murphy got the better of our defence. It was to be Stewart's only bad mark on an otherwise steady performance. Luckily for him Murphy's lob beat Royce but went wide of the post.

Sunderland took the lead after 17 minutes and it was Murphy who got the goal. A corner was played in and cleared, Leadbitter shot and there appeared to be a deflection before Murphy headed past the stranded Royce. Too all Rangers fans it looked like offside - from the South Africa Road stand we had a great view and it looked offside. However, Rennie gave the goal much to the vocal criticism from the crowd.

Now, replays appear to contradict this and prove that Rennie was correct (I haven't seen them yet) - but it was a real kick in the teeth. The man coming off the line had kept them on. To add even more drama to the affair we went straight down the other end and evened things up - but this was disallowed by Mr Rennie.

Cook took an excellent free kick on the right and Blackstock found a bit of space and headed home. It looked fine (from my bad view!) and the music started playing but the linesmen flagged. Another kick in the teeth. But - looking back on it, we could complain if we had made a real game of it and produced some good football but overall we were disappointing and didn't deserve anything from this match.

Next, even more drama. Mr Rennie stopped the game as two objects were thrown at the linesman who gave the Sunderland goal down by the Ellerslie Road stand. Queue more drama from this so-called referee who just loves the spotlight. I can understand why the Preston stadium announcer said what he did on Saturday.

Four minutes of total time-wasting while Rennie prances about and stewards run back and forwards not really doing a lot. Well done to Damion Stewart though for at least trying to calm the crowd down and defuse the situation. Those people shouldn't have thrown things and we'll probably get in big trouble - and rightly so. Although if we were Stoke would we get fined? Answers on a postcard to the FA please.

We were all over the shop by now and looked there for the taking and they did just that in stoppage time of the first half. Once again they played football round us while we watched and Leadbitter latched on to Wallace's excellent ball and rounded Royce before rolling the ball into the half. A disappointing end to a disappointing half.

Cook didn't make it out for the second, he looked to be struggling and after Saturday it was no surprise really. Ray Jones warmed up while the team were in the dressing room and he came on and partnered Blackstock. Gallen moved to a slightly deeper position.

Sunderland continued where they left off and looked impressive - Leadbitter this time had a chance but he shot wide. The change in formation and with Cook coming off meant we had little width now and a lot of the play was going down the middle.

We looked short of ideas really until Ward managed to find a touch of class from somewhere. He's been disappointing but he's made our last two goals now, he's not the finished article by any means but hopefully this shows there is something there. He floated a lovely ball through the crowded area and Ray Jones somehow managed to turn and fire home.

It was game on now and QPR should have battered their opponents in every department. This didn't happen and Sunderland continued to attack at will. In fact the Mackems could have easily had another two or three before the final whistle.

Ross Wallace was one of the guilty parties for what has to be one of the misses of the season. He met the ball unmarked at the far post and somehow managed to scuff the ball wide of the post from a matter of yards. Unbelievably Connelly then had another chance but his fierce shot cannoned back of the post after beating Royce.

During this time Furlong came on for QPR, but it was a bit too late and he didn't have a chance to get into the game. There was still time for one final chance and it could have been an undeserved equaliser for QPR.

Bignot's wild shot went wide and Rowlands managed to play it back in the middle. Ward was there but his shot was smothered by the grateful keeper and that was it for Rangers as we fell to another home defeat.

Overall, it was another frustrating night. We are badly missing a ball-winner in the middle of the park. Bailey, Lomas or Birch all do a job there but so far Bailey has played poorly at home and JG decided against him tonight.

Rowlands is a massive player for us but just didn't do it there. He's more dangerous and provides more of threat going forward. Smith was largely missing and this was down to the partnership not working in the middle.

The back four were all at sea for this game and were as bad as we've seen them all season. Stewart has improved vastly, he still makes mistakes but nowhere nearly as much as his partner in crime at the heart of defence. He is absolutely rapid and is getting better in the air. He does however still get caught out of position.

It clearly doesn't help playing alongside Rehman, a player lacking confidence. Macienne was also very poor tonight, playing out of position he gets dragged out of the right back spot too much and this is causing us big problems.

Gallen too was disappointing although we didn't play to his strengths. Why hit high balls to him? He's never going to win them, balls to feet and chest are his strengths but we went about it all wrong. Sunderland were strong at the back and Jones and Nygaard could have really battered them for the last half hour or so. Nygaard is no means pretty but may have done a job. Worryingly, Ray Jones seems to have picked up some of his bad habits in giving fouls away and he was booked for this.

Finally to the referee. He was poor. The replays may show the decision was correct but he epitomizes what is wrong with some referring. He loves the spotlight and the attention and by stopping the play all the time he played into people's hands. He gave us so many petty decisions after the goal to try and keep the fans at bay - some were never free kicks but it was all too little too late. A poor show.

Hopefully JG has learnt a lot more about his team, the need for certain players to fill certain positions and for us to play a certain way that suits our style of play. It about bouncing back as losing is a bad habit and that's two defeats in four days now. Palace and Stoke away to come, neither a particularly appealing game but hopefully we'll relax a bit more when we are away from W12.

QPR: Royce 6, Mancienne 5, Rehman 5, Stewart 7, Bignot 6, Ward 6, Rowlands 6, Smith 6, Cook 7 (Ray Jones 46, 7), Gallen 6, Blackstock 6 (Furlong 82, 6).
Subs Not Used: Cole, Bailey, Nygaard.
Booked: Ray Jones.
Goals: Ray Jones 73.

Sunderland: Ward, Nosworthy, Caldwell, Varga, Collins, Miller (Connolly 57), Kavanagh, Leadbitter (Whitehead 63), Wallace, Stephen Elliott, Murphy.
Subs Not Used: Fulop, Hysen, Robbie Elliott.
Booked: Wallace.
Goals: Murphy 17, Leadbitter 45.

Att: 13,108.

QPR Man of the Match: Ray Jones - Made a difference when he came on and should have started. He's got a decent scoring record and its getting harder for JG to leave him out. Just sign the bloody contract now and stop giving away fouls in a Nygaard fashion! Damien Stewart ran him close for this one as he was solid apart from the one mistake.

Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire) 3 - Well what can you say. Everyone was expecting it and he gave a bad account of himself yet again. He obviously wants to become a cult figure but he's doing it for all the wrong reasons. Caused unnecessary stoppages all night and needlessly blew up for petty things, moving the ball back a few yards etc… I would love to blame him for the result but we can't even do that. Depressing stuff.

Photo: Action Images

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