Trailblazing Rangers secure shock cup win – report
Wednesday, 12th Aug 2015 14:38 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, perennial cannon fodder for lower league teams in the League Cup, secured a 3-0 win at Yeovil Town on Tuesday evening, bucking the trend of Championship casualties.
QPR always have broken new ground in the League Cup. They were the first team to win it from the Third Division back in 1967, roaring back from two goals down to beat First Division West Brom 3-2 at Wembley.
More recently the R’s cottoned onto the idea of ditching out of the competition in embarrassing circumstances during the early rounds way before it became trendy and hip to do so. Leyton Orient (twice), Swindon, Rochdale, Burton Albion, Colchester, Port Vale (twice) and Northampton have all had a pound of flesh from Rangers in recent times.
It’s not like they’ve saved themselves for the FA Cup either – Princess Diana was still in leopard print leotards last time QPR got beyond the fifth round of that and their inglorious list of conquerors includes Vauxhall Motors, Stockport County and Grimsby Town.
Now it seems they’re blazing a new trail. On a night when Blackburn, Brentford, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Burnley and Bolton were all dumped out by relative minnows, QPR calmly and professionally disposed of Yeovil Town – known as the king of cup upsets during their century in non-league football, and a team that had previously humiliated QPR in the Football League Trophy a decade ago.
A 3-0 victory, secured while barely getting our first gear, was an important boost for manager Chris Ramsey. People say they don’t care about the early rounds of the League Cup only until you get beaten by the Dog and Duck XI at home, then they start looting shops and setting fire to parked cars. The gross over-reaction that greeted Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Charlton – on the message boards and social media at least – would have turned into a full on meltdown had last night’s tussle at Huish Park gone a similar way.
Ramsey’s team selection was not that of a man feeling the pressure. How tempted he was to put out his strongest possible side to make absolutely sure Rangers didn’t fall flat on their collective face we’ll never know, but he stuck to his rotation plan and rested key men. He was rewarded by three of the newcomers in particular, who all did a good deal better than the senior players they replaced had managed at The Valley.
Michael Doughty, a perennial loanee during nearly ten years with the club in which he’d only previously made four senior appearances, all as a substitute, did a good deal more than Karl Henry at the base of the midfield. Once QPR had realised after a quarter of an hour that they’d need to do rather more than simply move the ball left and right along the back four, or risk boring everybody half to death, Doughty came into his own as a fetcher and carrier, receiving the ball deep, playing it sensibly and economically forwards. Nothing spectacular, no Joey Barton Budget Beckham routine, but a quiet effectiveness. Could do with working on his shooting though – a tame effort in the second half dribbled wide from an inviting position.
Seb Polter, a former Wolfsburg academy graduate making his first competitive start in the UK after a summer switch from Germany, provided a muscular, hard-working presence up front. The Yeovil centre halves will have known all about it this morning, coming to like victims of a grizzly traffic accident after an evening of physical punishment. He seems very raw - one attempt at a cross in the second half skewed so badly off the outside of his boot it ended up bouncing off down the car park behind the away end - but he took the game very seriously, worked his nuts off and was rewarded with the opening goal of the game and his first for the club when he showed great strength and determination to hold off Fulham loanee Stephen Arthurworrey, draw the goalkeeper and force home a lobbed effort. Later a well flighted header from a corner was cleared from the goal line by a man on the post. You couldn’t have begrudged him a brace had he got it, ran hard yards and never stopped all night.
Youth team graduate Cole Kpekawa could consider himself unfortunate not to start the league season as first choice left back given he’d played there throughout the pre-season with Jack Robinson and Yun Suk-Young injured and Armand Traore terminally stupid. Paul Konchesky was signed on the eve of the campaign instead and looked, to put it kindly, rusty against his former employers at the weekend. Kpekawa was back in here and played well. He’s green but there’s an athleticism about him I like, he gets up and down the line well and can – but doesn’t always – cross a mean ball.
Having technically set up the first with a through header which Polter did the rest with, Kpekawa got a more conventional assist for the second when he darted between two would-be tacklers tight to the touchline and then cut a low cross back for Jay Emmanuel Thomas to sweep home for his first senior QPR goal on his first start for the club.
Sadly, this all has to be set against the context of the opposition. Yeovil, tragically, are about as bad a League Two team as I’ve ever seen on this evidence. The club is reeling from two quick fire relegations in the 18 months since we were last here for a Championship fixture, and they’ve gone through three managers and two entire changes of squad in that time. Paul Sturrock has experience in the dugout, but it’s a tall order to bed in 17 new arrivals as he’s attempting to do this summer and have picked enough good ones to fashion a competitive team. They conceded three defensively shambolic goals at Exeter at the weekend, couldn’t name a full bench here and on this evidence could be facing a third consecutive demotion come May if they’re not careful. This would be a tremendous shame as the town, the club and the supporters have welcomed us so warmly on our two recent visits.
The home side threatened twice in the entire match. Presumably stung by a “don’t die wondering” theme to Paul Sturrock’s half time message they looked lively out of the traps in the second period and Rob Green had to dive sharply to his left to palm a shot from Matt Dolan round the post. When the corner came in Arthurworrey’s looping header, bizarrely, bounced twice against the cross bar before dropping onto the roof of the net. Later left back Nathan Smith, who’d been particularly poor at the weekend but got the sponsor’s Man of the Match award here, tried his luck from 25 yards and Green again finger tipped the ball round the post at full stretch.
But that really was it by way of Yeovil pressure, and that brief flurry straight after half time was quickly quashed by a third goal at the other end – Nedum Onuoha marking his hundredth QPR appearance by firing a loose ball into the roof of the net after a corner had caused a panicked scramble in the penalty box.
Onuoha was playing with a head bandage by that stage, which suggests his evening was a tougher battle than was really the case. He, and debutant Grant Hall, needn’t have changed out of their club suits to play centre half and the praise for Kpekawa is tempered by his total lack of attacking opposition. He might be the worst defensive left back in the world, there was nobody here trying to find out.
Against a skyline cut straight from the Somerset Tourist Board brochure, the game slowed to a walking pace after the third goal with only a 25-yard speculator from Emmanuel Thomas to disturb the slumber of the travelling 1,000 behind the goal.
With such limited opposition it was disappointing to see that three-man attack behind Polter have so little influence on the game. Another first timer, Ben Gladwin, signed from Swindon in the summer, was anonymous for the most part as he feels his way back from the knock that kept him out of the Charlton game – although it was his industry and fine cross for Polter which won the corner prior to Onouha’s goal. Likewise Matt Phillips, who spent most of the evening in park. The pair rotated positions with Emmanuel Thomas frequently to little added effect. Tyler Blackwood joined them later for his professional debut but didn't have the time or the ball to show much other than his willingness to run. Oscar Gobern, partnering Doughty in midfield, looks a willing runner but technically deficient.
But this was about getting the job done, getting minutes into legs after a disrupted pre-season, keeping the crosshairs off the manager for another couple of days at least and getting in the hat for the next round, all of which QPR achieved without really breaking a sweat. It’ll never catch on.
Yeovil: Krysiak 5; Roberts 5, Arthurworrey 5, Sokolik 5, Smith 6; Lacey 5, Allen 4 (Fogden 46, 5), Dolan 6, Laird 5 (Burrows 63, 5); Cornick 5, Jeffers 5 (Beck 46, 5)
QPR: Green 6; Perch 6, Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Kpekawa 7; Doughty 7, Gobern 5 (Hoilett 77, 5); Phillips 5 (Blackwood 70, 6), Gladwin 5 (Henry 59, 5), Emmanuel-Thomas 6; Polter 7
Subs not used: Chery, Lumley, Konchesky, Luongo
Goals: Polter 16 (assisted Kpekawa), Emmanuel Thomas 20 (assisted Kpekawa), Onuoha (unassisted)
QPR Star Man – Seb Polter 7 Deserved his goal for a really hard working performance. Not quick, not technically brilliant, but powerful and physical and tireless. Ground out a goal from a nothing situation, unlucky not to get another with a header off the line. Whether he simply looked decent because of the poor opposition – one badly skewed cross brought laughter from the player himself, another chance when he got free of the last man but got the ball caught up under his feet showed up his lack of pace – remains to be seen but this will at least have won him friends and bought him some time to find his feet. Looks a bit of a handful.
Referee – Oliver Langford (West Midlands) 9 One of the Football League’s most lenient referees even in the most testing of times, so was never likely to have much influence over a game as uncompetitive as this one. No cards, no mistakes, but nothing to referee in truth.
Attendance – 4,058 (1,000 QPR approximately) All the atmosphere of an empty lock up garage on a quiet trading estate with the mood around Yeovil darkened by two relegations, and the game clearly only ever heading in one direction. The welcome though, from the people in the town, the Yeovil fans, the stewards and everybody else we met was – just as last time – as warm and friendly as at any other club we’ve ever been to. Such a shame to see them plummeting down the leagues, love it there.
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