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Rangers rescued by Austin's powerful treble - report
Monday, 22nd Dec 2014 22:44 by Clive Whittingham

QPR climbed out of the bottom three and continued their excellent home form with a 3-2 victory against West Brom on Saturday. Charlie Austin netted the club’s first Premier League hat trick in nearly 20 years.

There's a nervous desperation around QPR home matches which is resulting in white knuckle goal-fests.

QPR cannot afford to lose at home, particularly to the teams close to them at the bottom of the table, because they're unable to find a way to even win a single point away from Loftus Road . Start suffering defeats in Shepherd's Bush as well and there'd be little point carrying on after Christmas.

That situation manifests itself first as nerves – QPR had conceded the first goal in 12 of their 16 league games this season prior to Saturday and you can now make that 13 from 17. Once behind though it brings out a care-free, Kevin Keegan-like desire to just flood everybody forward and start throwing bits of brick and old boat at whatever stands in the way. West Bromwich Albion the latest side to emerge from a breathless encounter in W12 on the wrong end of a topsy-turvy defeat in a game they should probably have won.

QPR's set up in home matches is well known, and not exactly a startling surprise from the deepest recesses of Jose Mourinho's secret big-game play book. It's a 4-4-2 with only Karl Henry in the middle of midfield any sort of nod towards protecting a back four which is often left exposed as a result, particularly in wide areas where Leroy Fer on the left and Eduardo Vargas on the right give only passing consideration to the full backs behind them.

West Brom won't be the last team to pick the defensive flaws in the plan, and others will be better placed to capitalise. Under-fire Baggies boss Alan Irvine removed a striker from his usual line up and added an extra midfielder. James Morrison sat as a holding player in the centre of the park allowing others to attack ahead of him. Stephane Sessegnon, more of a centre forward than anything else, was deployed on the wing and gave Yun Suk-Young a torrid time. The result, for the first 20 minutes at least, was a carve-up.

Craig Gardner was first to benefit from the extra midfield man always being unmarked - forcing a save from Green after two minutes by arriving late in the penalty area and meeting a low cross. Ideye Brown, a £10m summer signing manager Irvine had never seen play before, played as a lone striker and skied over the bar after Sessegnon had tied Yun in knots. Joleon Lescott headed home his first goal since joining from Man City after Sessegnon had flicked on a corner at the near post. The game wasn't even ten minutes old. Rangers – Joey Barton and Leroy Fer particularly culpable – handed possession straight back to the visitors almost as soon as they'd received it. The London side couldn't get a foothold in the game.

When Eduardo Vargas also lost possession trying to force a first meaningful attack, Silvestre Varela was permitted to run the remaining length of the field in the opposite direction and bundle the ball through Robert Green and into the net after executing a one two on the edge of the area. While Harry Redknapp hopes the team's away form will eventually catch up to the home results, here it looked like the opposite was happening.

West Brom looked like a slick Premier League side finally finding its feet. QPR looked like a creaking Championship one finally being found out.

But under a dramatic winter sky, there were plenty of plot twists to come. QPR have goals in their team and, faced with little option but to pour forward and try to outscore their opponents, the chief supplier of those stepped up like never before.

West Brom, it turns out, have a self-destruct button a mile wide. Two goals up and looking good for several more, they flung open the back door and entered into the season of giving with real relish and gusto. QPR would eventually notch three goals from corner kicks – the long-suffering Loftus Road regulars would tell you that their team couldn't take decent corners if their lives depended on it.

James Morrison, who looked like being the key man in an away victory to begin with, suddenly turned into a penalty-conceding machine. First he held Leroy Fer in place at the near post by wrapping both arms around the Dutchman's waist – referee Craig Pawson pointed straight to the spot when goalkeeper Ben Foster subsequently fumbled the ball into Fer's path. Charlie Austin, who'd missed a spot-kick on the first day of the season against Hull , lashed home right footed. Crucially, only four minutes had passed since that second West Brom goal. Momentum had swung. The mountain seemed more of an uphill slope. Something was afoot.

The home side also benefitted from an enforced change. Yun, who'll wake from dreams of Stephane Sessegnon in a sweaty panic for weeks to come, wasn't fit to continue with his water-torture and was replaced by grizzled veteran Clint Hill. First chance the former Palace man had, Sessegnon received a swift boot to the shins after the ball had gone. The Frenchman didn't want to know after that, cutting a grumpy figure for the remainder of the game.

Pawson initially embarked on a quest to even things up. Farcically penalising Henry for very little on the edge of his own area allowing Gardner to strike a deflected free kick towards goal and draw a save from Rob Green. The keeper later thrust up a hand to palm Sessegnon's powerful drive away, and Richard Dunne was rightly yellow carded for crashing into the back of Varela as he threatened to turn away into space once more. The half time positives from a QPR point of view could be scribbled on the back of a postage stamp with a thick pen: only one goal down, could scarcely play any worse second half.

In the event, they didn't need to play a great deal better to turn the whole thing around. The Baggies' chronic vulnerability at set pieces reared its head again either side of half time. Before the whistle a long free kick towards Caulker was eventually struck towards goal by Vargas and Austin only just failed to turn the ball into the net with a nifty back-flick. Then, two minutes into the second period, a header from Dunne dropped back into play off the cross bar from Barton's well-flighted delivery and Bobby Zamora was able to turn the ball back into the path of Austin to smack in from three yards out.

The tempo had increased noticeably after the restart. Barton actually succeeded in selling Richard Dunne short with a pass from the kick off – difficult to do even if you're trying to achieve it – but having abandoned his always-unsuccessful creative midfielder ambitions he revelled in a chaotic 45 minutes of football, charging around and throwing tackles in left right and centre. That's what he's good at, and he was excellent here for 45 minutes.

Barton should have had a penalty for his efforts too. Clearly tripped by a lazy hanging leg from Morrison, again, he was told to get to his feet by referee Pawson, possibly because the fall to ground was so exaggerated and theatrical. Blatant spot kick though, Morrison behaving as though he’d put QPR on his coupon.

Austin, Vargas and Henry all had shots blocked and the Loft began to hum. At the other end West Brom almost scored directly from a corner. Green sprung from his line to punch a cross away when he could have caught the ball. It had all gone a bit Zippo's Travelling Circus and it was anybody's to win or lose. Pawson refereed like a man on the brink of losing control, without ever quite doing so – Steven Caulker blatantly fouled Saido Berahino after he'd been introduced for Brown Ideye and play-on was waved. Then Sessegnon clattered into Barton with two feet showing and a free kick was awarded to West Brom.

As the frenzy unfolded, fingernails were bitten to the quick. It was frantic stuff now. Too much for Bobby Zamora's hip – his replacement by Niko Kranjcar came about 15 minutes later than it should have done. Redknapp had earlier removed Vargas for Junior Hoilett, which made little sense until the Canadian winger cut in from the right wing and laid a perfect pass in for Austin to snaffle up for a hat trick but Ben Foster raced off his line and saved well. Already doing the work of two men, Austin was at one point found down by his own corner flag, executing a tackle and hacking the ball away. He too was starting to look spent, and may have been a candidate for substitution himself, but while he remained on the field there was always a chance for the Super Hoops.

Austin’s sharp eye for goal and keen nose for space allied perfectly with West Brom’s abysmal defending from dead balls. It was mindblowingly frustrating to see Barton completely miscue a corner four minutes from time, when his deliveries had been a primary source of terror for the Baggies all afternoon. Luckily, the Midlanders even struggled to cope with a duffed effort and skewed the clearance behind the goal rather than away down the field. QPR's captain made a far better fist of his second chance and Austin, inexplicably unmarked, powered in a header at the near post.

Match ball secured, Rangers just needed to defend for four minutes of regulation time and three added to the end. You'd have been a brave man to stick much money on that and, sure enough, in stoppage time Berahino found space in the area and rattled the top of Rob Green's post from a narrow angle. Keeper Ben Foster ventured forward for a late corner but QPR cleared and the final whistle followed immediately afterwards.

Austin was almost childlike in his keenness to grab and hold onto the match ball when the final whistle finally allowed the QPR fans to retreat below decks to take on whiskey and valium. His boy’s own story continues - now 31 goals in 52 appearances for QPR in his first 18 months with the club, and 11 in 15 appearances in this his first ever Premier League season. Crucially, his all round game is coming on leaps and bounds. You couldn’t help but watch Liverpool on television a day later and conclude that everything they’re missing from their attack is currently rampaging around in blue and white hoops.

QPR’s survival in the top flight depends on them keeping Austin fit, and wearing those hoops through until May.

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QPR: Green 7; Onuoha 6, Dunne 7, Caulker 6, Yun 5 (Hill 30, 6); Vargas 6 (Hoilett 67, 6), Barton 7, Henry 6, Fer 5, Zamora 6 (Kranjcar 80, -), Austin 9

Subs not used: Ferdinand, Phillips, McCarthy, Mutch

Goals: Austin 24 (penalty, won Fer), 48 (assisted Zamora), 86 (assisted Barton)

Bookings: Dunne 38 (foul)

West Brom: Foster 5; Wisdom 6, McAuley 5, Lescott 6, Pocognoli 5 (Gamboa 91, -); Sessegnon 7, Gardner 6, Morrison 5, Dorrans 6, Varela 6; Brown 5 (Berahino 69, 7)

Subs not used: Baird, Yacob, Myhill, Mulumbu, Dawson

Goals: Lescott 10 (assisted Sessegnon), Varela 20 (assisted Sessegnon)

QPR Star Man - Charlie Austin 9 Not a close run thing.

Referee - Craig Pawson (Sheffield) 6 A weird one. Got the Fer penalty correct, although you rarely see them given, and the Barton one wrong, although you can see why the theatrical fall put him off. But just always felt like he was on the brink of losing control of it. I’m probably being very harsh.

Attendance 17,560 (1,800 West Brom approx) An odd feeling around Loftus Road at 2-0 down because, with the recent home games going the way they have and Charlie Austin in form, it still felt like Rangers might win the game. And so it proved. The QPR fans are getting better at sticking with their team when goals go in against them.

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pedrosqpr added 23:09 - Dec 22
It would be nice to be2 up after 20 minutes and cruise through the match.
just want to say that Bobby Zamora's contribution up front.
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Lofthope added 23:11 - Dec 22
I think 6 for the referee is generous rather than harsh. He was getting things wrong for both teams all afternoon.
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Pablo_Hoopsta added 23:58 - Dec 22
I think in the end we were worthy winners. They had chances, some very close, that they will put away on another day, but we had as many if not more our selves. A great come back but crikey they made it difficult for us at first!

We must keep Austin! Let's hope a-holes like Liverpool are put off in the same way Hull were should they come sniffing!
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smegma added 00:24 - Dec 23
"Charlie Austin netted the club’s first Premier League hat trick in nearly 20 years".

Tut tut. Weve gone all tabloid / SSN with the meaningless stats. It was also the first Prem hat trick in 6 seasons in the real world.
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Kaos_Agent added 00:31 - Dec 23
Thanks Clive. Didn't think we had a hope after going down two, but apparently anything can happen when playing at home. Now if we could only bottle some of that and take it on the road.

I've given up trying to figure out the likes of Barton and Hoilett. Hope and despair in equal quantity, and making random appearances.

Green and Dunne solid. Again.
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TacticalR added 00:36 - Dec 23
As you said, frantic stuff. Another pell-mell match, with West Brom playing the better football. On the positive side this was exactly the kind of match we were losing two seasons ago.

Fer. Not one of his best games and looked very sluggish at the beginning.

Green. Good save from Sessègnon and a good game overall.

Austin. His pen was a rocket and he really seems to be developing the ability to be in the right place at the right time. Is it really ten years since one of our players last got a hat trick in a league match?

Dunne. Got caught out for the first goal, but overall played well and was involved in a pitched battle with Ideye.

Hill. As to be expected he looked a bit stiff when he first came on. He was immediately issuing instructions to Caulker and Fer, probably because he didn't want to be too far from either player in case he got done for pace. His long balls forward over the top and down the left-hand side were well suited to Zamora and Austin.

Hoilett. Quite effective as a sub running against tired defenders, although his runs into the corner at the end nearly backfired when he lost the ball and Berahino hit the bar.
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Jon_in_Oz added 00:39 - Dec 23
Obviously Charlie did a great job again but we are seriously over-reliant on him. If he gets injured we are in the poo big time, I think we all remember what happened last season when he was out for a few weeks. 'Arry knows he must get hold of another striker in Jan, and preferably someone a little bit better than the useless guy West Brom had up front for most of the game (Brown) but we also need to start getting more goals from some of the other lads.
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QPRski added 07:46 - Dec 23
A tremendous game and great comeback that may be deemed as "lucky". If so, then it is justice for the "unlucky" lost points against Hull, Liverpool and Man City.

A brilliant and rare QPR hattrick by Charlie who was literally every where and also showed that he can defend! For me, he could have been rated as a 10, althought I do not believe in perfection. Perhaps he was penalised for not scoring his hattrick earlier from that great Hoillet pass?

O to be an R's season ticket holders this season! One cannot complain about the excitement, entertainment or even the results at home. Long may it continue!

Happy Christmas to all!
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ichbinnaughty added 11:18 - Dec 23
Loftus Road is the new Hampstead Heath - bottom holes twitching like rabbits noses.
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TacticalR added 12:30 - Dec 23
Enduring image, isn't it?
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francisbowles added 14:03 - Dec 23
Thanks Clive.
I think you are being extremely generous with the ref, I would have thought a 3 or possibly 4 for getting the penalty right. However he didn't give it for the initial arms around hold but for the tug back as he went to score and no card given. The Caulker foul was just ridiculous. His linesmen were poor as well.

As for Green's punch, if I have the same incident, many in the crowd around me, a long way from the action, thought he should have caught it but MOTD clearly showed it was near the limit of his forward stretch and he got a good punch on it. Modern keepers rarely catch which I would think is a combination of having been raised on foreign goalies and the movement of the lighter balls. As long as they get distance on clearances then that is pretty safe.

Is it our turn to get an early goal yet? Preferably at home otherwise we just put extra pressure on
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tsbains64 added 17:05 - Dec 23
played off the park by WBA but in Charlie we have a player that can deliver goals
Impressed with the style of play but need to be a lot tighter att the back and in the middle-too many missed passes
Reallye njoyed the game -worth my season ticket so far
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extratimeR added 19:10 - Dec 23
Thanks Clive.

Yes, its breathless stuff at the moment, funny I watched it again on SNF and yes Barton played much better than I thought, good blocking, tackling, and general chasing around stuff, ( the suicide ball to Dunne was pure Sunday morning stuff, Dunne already on yellow).

If we ever going to change this, somebody who can hold the ball is going to have to play in the middle.

Yes Yun didn't look himself, wonder what happens when he goes to Asia Cup for a month, although he has not been up to usual standard last few games, we will get slaughtered if we lose his pace on the left hand side, (unless we revert to three at the back, sorry seasonal joke).

Thanks Clive bang on as usual, always curious that a lot of Refs, (particularly this one ) struggle to control what was a relatively easy game , no on-going feuds, off the ball stuff, flying two footed stuff, (apart from one mentioned above).

Odd
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HastingsRanger added 23:49 - Dec 23
Another scrambled home win but at least it was a win. Thought that Zamora's assist was great improvisation. At least there is spirit in the home performances.

Clive, great report as always. Merry Xmas to you and all at LFW for your excellent work.

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snanker added 07:36 - Dec 24
Stupefying stuff, R's all over, not at the track in the first 20 minutes lucky to be only 2 down then Morrison has a brain fade and tugs Fer right in front of the ref !!! Ta we'll take that one, many thanks and continue to push our luck like headless chooks. I didn't know where to look most of the time as laffing too much or swallowing hard with dread ! What do we do to deserve this ? Given up tyring to calculate what may be store over the rest of X-Mas. B
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snanker added 07:36 - Dec 24
Stupefying stuff, R's all over, not at the track in the first 20 minutes lucky to be only 2 down then Morrison has a brain fade and tugs Fer right in front of the ref !!! Ta we'll take that one, many thanks and continue to push our luck like headless chooks. I didn't know where to look most of the time as laffing too much or swallowing hard with dread ! What do we do to deserve this ? Given up tyring to calculate what may be store over the rest of X-Mas. B
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snanker added 07:36 - Dec 24
Stupefying stuff, R's all over, not at the track in the first 20 minutes lucky to be only 2 down then Morrison has a brain fade and tugs Fer right in front of the ref !!! Ta we'll take that one, many thanks and continue to push our luck like headless chooks. I didn't know where to look most of the time as laffing too much or swallowing hard with dread ! What do we do to deserve this ? Given up tyring to calculate what may be store over the rest of X-Mas. B
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Marshy added 08:33 - Dec 24
It was an absolutely brilliant performance from Charlie not only the 3 goals, but his all round play was excellent too. He has improved immeasurably since last season. It was good to see Clint again, and I would like to see him retain his place at left back, as I think he would add great stability to the back four.

I just hope we give it a real go at Arsenal, but we have to improve upon our defensive frailties if we are to take anything from the game.
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romfordranger added 17:34 - Dec 24
At some stage surely our away form will improve and we can climb the table or our home form falls away and we will really struggle. Entertainment can't be faulted at home, great to watch. I just wish we could be so attack minded away from home and really have a go. Just sitting back and inviting the opposition to attack us and hoping to sneek a goal on the break is not our game and we don't have enough pace to worry the opposition. I wish Hoillet could get a run in the team and just run at the full backs and be more positive, he looked good when he came on last Saturday. Austin has been awesome and god help us if he gets injured. Not enough goals from elsewhere in the team. Expecting more of the same at Arsenal, sit back, concede a goal, then we become more adventurous and concede again late in the game to lose 2-0. I really have lost all optimism away from home and personally think we are beaten before the game starts. The players need a sporting phycologist to sort their heads out as their awful away form must now be playing on their minds!
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