QPR’s Chariot of Fire derailed again - report
Thursday, 10th Apr 2014 10:20 by Jack Gordon-Brown
QPR slipped quietly to their second defeat of the week at Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday, going down 2-0. Jack Gordon-Brown was there for LFW.
And was Jerusalem builded here, among these dark Satanic mills? In a word, no. For the few hundred hardy Rangers souls who chose to spend a Tuesday night in this old fashioned Lancastrian mill town outpost, it was more a case of Groundhog Day.
Starting line up tinkered with again? Check.
No apparent game plan, especially after going behind? Check.
‘Arry barely visible all night bar one five minute trip to the technical area – hands thrust deep in pockets, motionless? Check.
Kevin Bond having to instruct certain players to acknowledge the travelling support? Check.
A few of said travelling support not reacting well to those players; the majority however seeming to be beyond caring? Check.
Feeble Rangers midweek awayday capitulation up north? But of course.
If you went to Forest, Derby, or Sheffield Wednesday this season, or indeed have taken in any number of midweek trips like this over the last 30 odd years, you probably guessed what was coming – and you could probably have a stab at writing as accurate a report as me on the events that unfurled with mind-numbing inevitability.
Rangers make relatively bright start, then concede soft goal early doors. Opposition tails go up as Rangers huff and puff to no avail. Soft second goal shortly after half time kills the game as a contest. Opposition frequently threaten to add to their tally, Rangers don’t. Home fans gleefully rejoice getting one over money bags southern softies. Team slopes off at end looking totally disinterested. Fans slope off into the night, once again wondering why they bothered.
Arguably this wasn’t quite as rank as Forest or Wednesday, but there was never the sense as at Derby that an equaliser might be possible.
By contrast Rovers, with only the slimmest of hopes of sneaking into sixth place, played with passion and vigour. And guess what? That was returned in kind by a positive home support. All presided over from the touchline by an enthusiastic manager. A team full of Championship journeymen and the odd C list import, they were organised rather than inspired, enterprising rather than exciting, but alas that was enough.
Three times in the opening eight minutes Rangers had threatened, with Morrison firing wide, Keane lacking the confidence and instinct to capitalise on a Hanley error, and Hoilett missing the target after a sharp one-two with the United youngster. Then after nine minutes Rovers took the lead. Despite the presence of a back line that has several hundred Premiership starts to its collective name, supported by a five man midfield all with alleged top flight pedigree, the R’s contrived to give Rudi Gestede the freedom of Lancashire on the edge of their box, and he needed no second invitation to direct a drive into the bottom corner.
The rest of the first half was for the most part fairly innocuous sparring. The lesser-spotted Luke Young blocked Rhodes with a last ditch tackle; Simpson earned a yellow for a rash challenge on Conway; Green saved from Rhodes after Gestede flicked on Spurr’s bullet throw; and Morrison had a sumptuous volley well saved by the reliable Robinson after a pull back from Benayoun.
As the half trundled laboriously to its conclusion, Assou-Ekotto neatly summarised the less than inspiring proceedings by foul throwing the ball five-year-old-style six inches from his head and watching it literally plop onto the ground – ground which he surely would have wished would swallow him up if he actually gave a shit.
The match was all over bar the shouting (or in Rangers’ case, more of a strangled bleating) on 47 minutes. Tommy Spurr, a Paladini-mooted transfer target for the hoops when a Sheffield Wednesday youngster, was allowed far too much freedom to work himself some space on the right hand apex of the QPR penalty area – the shot he subsequently unleashed was nicely struck, but should still have been dealt with comfortably by Green down at his near post. Instead, in that characteristic style that seems to happen just a few too many times for him ever to have made it as a truly top keeper, he could only help bundle the ball over the line.
Rovers players and fans went mental. Rangers players and fans all watched the replay on the big screen, shook their heads, and, if I may use up my one allocated Whittingham-ism for the night, put their cues on the rack.
The only real surprise was that the hosts didn’t add a third. It wasn’t for the want of trying – or for the want of the visitors being second to absolutely everything and frequently giving away possession. Surpisingly, the best chance of the final half hour fell to Rangers. For the first and as it transpired only time all night, Hoilett managed not to trip over his feet, made it to the D, and slipped a precision ball through to Keane, whose excellent body feint lost his marker and left him eight yards out with only Paul Robinson between him and a much-needed debut goal for his temporary employers. He looked up, picked his spot, confidently side footed the ball passed the stationary former England man – and against the post.
That was the cue for poor Charlie Austin to be rushed into another cameo sub appearance, and the inevitable belated and panicked switch to 4-4-2, with Maiga also coming on in place of Carroll, the latter’s ineffective five yard passes being replaced by equally ineffective long balls towards two strikers who have probably played together in training for a sum total of ten minutes.
As the game petered out, and I checked what was happening elsewhere in the division. I noted that Burnley, their deadly strike partnership now injured, got a winner through their cannily acquired January back up buy...that Derby’s loaned striker from a Prem big boy made it onto the scoresheet yet again...that Brighton seem to have loaned in a striker from Manchester United who can find the net...and as I looked up from my mobile musings I saw Modibo Maiga waddle helplessly towards a hopefully punted long ball like a freakishly tall, somewhat constipated duck. There was only one question to be asked: why on earth am I here?
So that was pretty much that. One other feature of the night summed up the Rs’ current plight (and plight it most certainly is, whether or not a Play Off spot is all but certain). Junior Hoilett, late of this parish, was jeered and heckled throughout by the Rovers diehards. Bar the trickery that set up Keane for his miss, he was, frankly, hopeless all night. By the end the home fans were virtually laughing at him in disbelief. Recalling all those goals he scored at Ewood, dazzling trickery as he cut in from the left and unleashed a 20 yard thunderbolt past another despairing opposition keeper, they must have been genuinely bemused that a player who barely two years ago almost kept them in the Premiership single-handed was now looking like he’d just stepped out of the crowd and been handed a shirt as a result of a half time draw.
So, five more dead rubbers to go. Only they shouldn’t be dead rubbers. They provide a great opportunity, after eight months of brainless chopping and changing, to draw a line in the sand and say: this is our favoured starting line up, this is our formation and playing style, these are our chosen ‘plan B’ subs...and use these games to build confidence and momentum for the Play Offs. That is how we could at least try to build Jerusalem.
On the evidence of this latest defeat, our mob have long since ceased the mental fight, and Loftus Road come May will be no green and pleasant land.
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Blackburn Rovers: Robinson 7, Keane 6, Hanley (c) 7, Kilgallon 7, Spurr 7, Cairney 6, Lowe 7, Williamson 6 (Etuhu 85’), Conway 7, Gestede 8, Rhodes 7.
Goals: Gestede, Spurr
QPR: Green 4, Simpson 6, Dunne 5, Young 5, Assou Ekotto 6 (Yun 77’), Hoillet 5, Henry 5, Benayoun 5, Carroll 5 (Maiga 68’), Morrison 7, Keane 5 (Austin 68’)7
Attendance: 12, 915
Referee: James Adcock
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