QPR were denied more points with another last minute equaliser at Hull on Saturday.
1 – The Match The game was pretty poor to tell you the truth, especially considering the form and league positions of both teams. Rangers restricted free scoring Hull by pressing them high up the pitch and forcing them to knock it long towards Windass and Campbell who stood little chance against Hall and Stewart in an aerial battle. Indeed it was nearly 40 minutes before Campbell posed Rangers any threat at all and well over an hour before he started to come into the game.
QPR were the better team in the first half and had two half chances to score through Ainsworth and Agyemang before Dexter Blackstock nudged Hogan Ephraim’s cross in the general direction of the goal after a mix up between Brown and Myhill in the home ranks. I didn’t think it was over the line at the time and I still didn’t think it was over the line after countless replays but there is now a still image knocking round on the message boards that appears to show it was in, just. Have a feeling the linesman might have guessed though.
Although good value for the lead QPR lost Agyemang and Blackstock to injury in the second half and started to do their usual trick of sitting back and wasting time when leading away from home. For their part Hull sent on Fagan, Folan and Hughes who all replaced ineffective members of the home team and when Campbell finally started getting some ball to feet QPR were in trouble. The Man Utd man had three or four great chances to score, Fagan headed wide twice and finally Michael Turner stuck in a deserved equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time.
Pretty bog standard Championship stuff, Hull would be embarrassed in the Premiership on this evidence, QPR have much work to do before they can think about mounting a challenge. 5/10
2 – Rangers’ Performance An all too familiar tale on the road. QPR came with an excellent game plan that took Hull’s main players out of the game and got them into a half time lead which they deserved on the balance of play if perhaps not under the rules of the game. In the first half Agyemang and Blackstock pressured the Hull defenders and the midfield was playing very high up the pitch – that meant Hull could hardly play at all and resulted in all the chances going QPR’s way. In the second half we increasingly went away from the things we were doing well and to be honest I’m getting pig sick of saying that. You have a game plan, bloody stick to it. The loss of both forwards certainly didn’t help but once again the midfield had crumpled into the defence to form a flat back eight by the time we conceded a crucial stoppage time goal for the eighth time this season. We simply must work on team shape and ball retention as methods of defending leads rather than dropping deep and trying to run the clock down because it’s undermining some good away performances just lately. 6/10
3 - Travelling Support QPR travelled in half decent numbers, taking more to the KC than they did last season and more than Hull brought to Loftus Road. Despite us having nothing to play for the support appears to be growing in numbers and volume as the season draws to a close. A chorus of the new De Canio song lasted for most of the second half, a good half an hour, and those that did travel were in good voice for most of the match. 7/10
4 – The Ground Still the best new ground in the country by a country mile and apparently set to get even better with tentative plans for an expansion being muted if the Tigers do get promoted. The whole matchday experience at the KC Stadium is just so much better than that offered by many of the other new grounds. Why on earth did the mentalists that built Coventry’s white elephant not come and have a look at this place first? You can walk to the ground from the train station here, you can’t at Coventry. This ground is in the city whereas Coventry’s is out in a field somewhere and yet the KC is just as easy to reach from the motorway and has far more options to park your car including, shockingly, a car park at the ground. I mean who would have thought it? A car park at the stadium? Revolutionary thinking there. Not a green travel plan, an actual car park. The concourse areas are clean, bright and, just to go back to the Coventry comparison again, finished. You can’t see into the bogs from the staircase either like you can at the Ricoh. The view from the pitch is excellent from every seat, the atmosphere inside the ground is electric and best of all you don’t feel like you in a JCB Spare Parts distribution centre. It feels like a football ground. The KC Stadium is a wonderful place to watch football, every single thing that makes the Ricoh Arena a soulless, horrible place is avoided here. 8/10
5 – Atmosphere It’s very easy to get a good atmosphere going in the KC Stadium even when it’s not full and while I understand from friends and television coverage that this doesn’t carry very well to the two tiered West Stand it’s certainly plenty loud enough if you’re inside the bowl bit around the other three sides. The problem is the atmosphere for an away fan is bloody horrible. No other ground in the league offers quite so much scum quite so close to the away end and it’s poisonous in that part of the ground at times. Songs about the IRA are from a bygone era the rest of the country has been glad to leave behind and “you’re not English any more” doesn’t actually make any sense. The pond life in that part of the ground let the stadium, the club and the rest of the support down. The QPR message boards have been full of stories of friendly Hull fans, chatting to those that travelled up in the pubs beforehand, providing directions and generally being keen to help, have a laugh and socialise a bit. Then you arrive in the stadium and you’re surrounded by that baying group of low lives. Every club has them, but Hull seem to have more than most. It’s a shame, not only for the visiting fans, but for the many thousands of decent Hull fans. 5/10
6 – Pre Match Usual pre-match routine for the Northern R’s for this one. Five of us met up on the south bank of the Humber with two of us staying overnight, one arriving from Birmingham by car and the other from London by train which, after a nervy four minute connection at Newark, rolled into Barnetby at about half twelve. We ate and drank and watched the absolutely bloody ridiculous Queen of the South game and had a good time before heading over the bridge a little after 2pm. Later in the evening, despite the old man in me crying out for a night in front of the Masters with beer, we somehow ended up trawling the bars of Scunthorpe town centre and while the first place we ended up in was alright the next three were most definitely not. I couldn’t imagine ever finding a worse place than The Britannia but lo and behold we managed to – right across the road in ‘Der Schnapps Bar’. A club with a carpet. Things got a bit hazy after that, presumably after my brain decided it had had quite enough of this and gone home without me, but we were in a church with a disco for a while and then I was watching ice hockey in my underwear. Then it was Sunday. Started well and faded. 5/10
7 – The Journey One of the easier trips of the season for me. I had Friday off work so after catching 21 at a cinema in Sheffield, three stars fair to crap, I drove over and stayed overnight. That only left Saturday when Northern the Younger strangely volunteered to do the driving and although sitting in the front seat of his car is like watching your drunk mate play Colin McRae’s World Rally Championship on the Playstation he got us there and back without any major incidents and everybody was very grateful to him for that. There you go Paul, that’s sort of like a thankyou. I do hate going to football in the car though, football days means train trips and beer, not cramming into a Corsa and paying £45 to fill the tank up. 5/10
8 – Police and Stewards Stayed out of the way for the most part but there was the classic scene near the end of a lady steward coming up to tell a woman in the away end to sit down while 23,000 Hull fans were going absolutely bloody mental behind her. She got short shrift needless to say. 5/10