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Naïve Rangers undone at the death – report
Sunday, 16th Aug 2015 16:47 by Clive Whittingham

QPR blew a two goal lead and surrendered two points in the final minute of Saturday’s home fixture with Cardiff.

QPR, found wanting for fitness at Charlton on day one, were punished for a lack of intelligence by Cardiff City in game two.

Leading 2-1 with seconds remaining, Rangers twice made a mess of chances to hold possession at the far end of the field. First substitute striker Seb Polter took a quick throw in deep in the Cardiff half hunting a third goal, when it would have been more sensible to drop the ball, allow somebody else to take it, and get hold of the ball in open play himself. Then his fellow new-comer from the bench, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, made an even bigger pig’s ear of attempting to hold a free kick by the corner flag, losing the ball immediately and sparking a counter attack to the other end.

Having invited Cardiff to attack them the home team was punished with a smashing last minute equaliser, volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards out by Scott Malone. It was the second time the left sided defender had pulled his team level in the final seconds of a game at that end of the ground having done so for Millwall here two seasons ago.

QPR surrounded referee Simon Hooper and had very good cause to believe there had been a foul on Michael Doughty in the build-up. But they had only themselves to blame - not only had they lacked the brains to hold onto a two goal lead, but they’d missed a gilt edged chance to make it 3-1 second earlier when Emmanuel-Thomas somehow rolled a sitter wide after being played through by Polter.

Manager Chris Ramsey will hope game smarts and match fitness are all he’s got to fix up. If it’s just a lack of quality, from him and/or his players, it’s looking like a long winter ahead. The church is already restless, the team was booed from the field at full time which – much like the increasingly aggressive anti-Ramsey mood online – seems ridiculously harsh just a week into the new campaign with transfer activity still occurring.

The rookie boss could have done with a win here to settle people down. Hold on at 2-1 and people would have come away talking about a captain’s knock from Nedum Onuoha. Make it 3-1 in the last minute through Emmanuel-Thomas and, again, the mood would have been very different. Last minute howitzer’s from 30 yards can fly into the top corner on occasions if your luck’s not in. Said long hard winter is going to be a boring, ballacheing one if every set back is greeted with these mushroom clouds of rage and indignation across websites and social media. When did we become such a toxic bunch?

In an even, end to end encounter of Championship quality, QPR had long spells of dominance and others of nervous panic. Tjaronn Chery was key in the first half. Playing behind Charlie Austin in his favoured ‘number ten’ position the Dutchman looked a class apart at times and will wonder why neither Austin nor Matt Phillips was able to connect with his devilish cross through the six yard box after 38 minutes.

Clint Hill had given QPR the lead by then, heading powerfully home from Phillips’ corner three minutes earlier after Lee Peltier got a back pass all wrong and conceded the set piece needlessly in the first place.

Cardiff certainly weren’t without their chances. Alex Revell looked offside when he ran in on goal after 11 minutes and squared the ball to nobody but wasn’t flagged. Joe Ralls teased Green with a low cross from the other side which Anthony Pilkington failed to connect with. Joe Mason, the visiting team’s outstanding player, shot over after half an hour with time and space to do better.

QPR, as at Charlton, looked strong at centre half and weak at full back with neither James Perch nor Paul Konchesky covering themselves in glory. Konchesky was turned inside and out by Mason straight after half time but the Cardiff man could only toe a weak shot straight at Green having worked the space. I still think Cole Kpekawa might be worth a prolonged run in his spot. Nedum Onuoha swept in with a wonderful recovering tackle as Rangers looked ragged again after 52 minutes.

Withdrawing Chery after 55 minutes seemed premature, whatever his defensive deficiencies. In Ramsey’s defence Michael Doughty played reasonably well at the base of the midfield, looking a lot trimmer and sharper than he ever has before, and Massimo Luongo really stepped up his influence on the game after being moved in behind Austin, but it might have been nice to see Chery simply moved out wide to the left and Ben Gladwin, who struggled to make an impact on his home debut, taken off instead.

Nevertheless, chances came thick and fast for the hosts after the switch as Luongo started to pull strings.

Cardiff’s reserve goalkeeper Simon Moore, in for the suspended David Marshall and fresh from an Ademole Bankole against Fulham on day one, did well to adjust his body in mid air and keep out Matt Phillips’ deflected drive. His reward was scant – from the resulting corner Clint Hill punched the ball towards goal with his fist and Charlie Austin nudged it over the line with his forearm. Hooper looked at the incident and awarded the goal.

Russell Slade responded by sending on Kenwyne Jones for Alex Revell and after half an hour of watching the big Trinidadian crawl all over Clint Hill the home faithful could be grateful he hadn’t started the game. The impact was immediate, with Hill losing centre half Sean Morrison at a Cardiff corner leaving him free to score with a diving header.

Later Jones won a header at the back post from a deep cross and caused pandemonium in the QPR area only for a free kick to be awarded to the home side and the Cardiff fans high behind the School End goal had further cause to pick up the pitch forks and flaming torches when Rob Green came for a through ball which was never his and seemed to obviously handle it outside his area. Green patted his chest, but didn’t look like even he believed it. Remarkably, Hooper bought it and waved play on.

A series of chances to put the game to bed came and went. Luongo crossed low to Austin whose shot beat Moore but was turned onto his own post by QPR old boy Matt Connolly back on the line. Austin was a lot better than he had been at Charlton, but Connolly looked nervous on his return to Loftus Road and Rangers didn’t make enough of that. Luongo then won a clever flicked header to put Matt Phillips in on goal but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and ended up forcing merely a routine save from Moore.

Polter came on for Austin and introduced himself to Loftus Road by carrying the ball in behind his own back four and then almost giving it away to an onrushing collection of Cardiff players. He rode the tackle, and his luck, and carried the ball away, like an Albino Devon White. Later an ambitious shot from 30 yards out smashed a window in the old BBC Television Centre. But his ball to Emmanuel-Thomas was spot on and should have sealed the game. Rangers rued their profligacy seconds later.

Wolves on Wednesday looks daunting.

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QPR: Green 5; Perch 5, Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Konchesky 5; Luongo 7, Henry 5; Phillips 6, Chery 7 (Doughty 55, 6), Gladwin 5 (Emmanuel-Thomas 76, 5); Austin 6 (Polter 68, 6)

Subs not used: Hall, Kpekawa, Faurlin, Lumley

Goals: Hill 33 (assisted Phillips), Austin 56 (assisted Phillips/Hill)

Cardiff: Moore 7; Peltier 5, Connolly 5, Morrison 6, Malone 7; Pilkington 6 (Ameobi 82, -), Dikgacoi 5 (Noone 68, 6), Whittingham 6, Ralls 7; Mason 8, Revell 5 (Jones 59, 7)

Subs not used: Fabio, Doyle, Gunnarsson, Wilson

Goals: Morrison 64 (assisted Whittingham), Malone 90 (assisted Ralls)

QPR Star Man – Massimo Luongo 7 Equally adept at the base of the midfield, and further forward creating chances. Very fine passer of the ball, intelligent player, a creative force. With better finishing he’d have ended the game with as many as three assists. Nedum Onuoha ran him close, but got caught under a through ball right at the end and could have cost us a goal there, while Chery impressed but was taken off prematurely.

Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 5 Three poor decisions in the game, two in favour of QPR. The second goal should have been disallowed for handball, Rob Green could have been sampling the early bath water for handling outside his area, and Rangers should have had a free kick in the build up to the Cardiff equaliser. Not a good start to the season for the Premier League’s newest referee who last weekend incorrectly disallowed a Cameron Jerome goal at Norwich v Palace.

Attendance – 14,927 (1,000 Cardiff approx) Traditionally a high-tension fixture, played in front of big crowds with a hot atmosphere, this one wasn’t even helped by the later kick off and extra drinking time. More than three thousand empty seats, Cardiff failing to sell their allocation, a funereal atmosphere for the most part and Rangers were booed off at the end. Two Malaysian owned clubs now struggling to contain rampant apathy among their support bases weary of poor results and dreadful boardroom decisions.

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Marshy added 17:29 - Aug 16
We literally threw away the victory with JET missing that sitter, which was immediately followed by the equaliser. How many games have we now conceded a late goal! Is it lack of concentration or plain stupidity.

On a more positive note I was impressed by Chery who put in at least 3 excellent crosses / dangerous balls into the Cardiff box. We definitely want more of this. Gladwin started well but faded. Onuoha was probably overall the outstanding player over the 90 minutes. He was fairly solid all afternoon. We missed Mackie!

There is clearly room for improvement, and whilst everyone is disappointed not to have won the game, I actually think we will improve!

PinnerPaul added 18:58 - Aug 16
Thanks Clive, we all see different things in different players, I thought Luango looked very ordinary, but there we go its all opinions.

One thing though I must pick up on, Green's handball, which it was, I doubt very much would have been a red card. GK handling outside box is NOT an automatic red card, has to to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity, not sure you can say there was one in that incident.

Thought you summed it up quite well "an even Championship quality contest", some people on message boards need to realise we are very likely to be watching 44 of those over the next 9 months.

OK, we might get smashed in a few games, most teams do in this division, equally most teams also hand out the odd hiding, which I'm sure we will do as well.

In summary didn't see anything on Saturday to change my "head" prediction off 11th, my heart wants the play offs, but realistically, its not going to happen, but then neither is a relegation battle IMHO.

I wonder if the many teams around the country who have 1 pt or less from opening two games consider themselves in crisis, like many of our own fans do?!

pedrosqpr added 20:00 - Aug 16
Pinnerpaul you are spot on with your comments, if JET and Phillips hadn't fluffed there lines late on would have been 3 points. Can't wait to see yun back in and Danny Simpson oh wait we sold him.

pedrosqpr added 20:00 - Aug 16
Pinnerpaul you are spot on with your comments, if JET and Phillips hadn't fluffed there lines late on would have been 3 points. Can't wait to see yun back in and Danny Simpson oh wait we sold him.

bacardiinbrissie added 22:07 - Aug 16
Thanks for the report Clive as I obviously only got TV coverage...
Looked to me as though we did ok. We were up against an established Championship side and proved we could sore-no matter how we did it. Fair enough , we threw the points away but thats another issue.
Im not making any judgements on the team or Ramsey yet as they havent really go together. I really dont understand some of the VERY toxic stuff im reading on other social media, and i think there must be more to it. If anyone needs questioning then its Ferdinand not Ramsey.
Cant disagreee with any of your report. Thank you.

izlingtonhoop added 09:00 - Aug 17
A bit aside, but, tattoos eh? I don't know what that's meant to be on the back of that lad's hand. I can't work out if it's Vivienne Westwood or Ruth Ellis.

probbo added 11:23 - Aug 17
Thanks for the report Clive. I watched it live on Sky and it struck me as a typical Championship game contested by two sides who (on this showing) look unlikely to be featuring in the top 6 at the end of the season.

I thought Doughty played well when he came on and great to see a local lad getting his chance. But it was a very defensive move to take Chery off, who up until that point was our most creative player. Henry had a poor game by all accounts and Gladwin also faded. We really need to up the pace in midfield but that's an age old problem for the R's.

Personally I think the Club needs to consolidate in this league (if we can!) for a few seasons. Its clearly work in progress and far too early to be calling for Ramsey's head. The Austin saga needs resolving too.

sexton added 13:18 - Aug 17
I agree with PinnerPaul about Luongo who looked pretty lightweight to me. A bizarre decision to take off Chery. Early doors though.

Antti_Heinola added 14:26 - Aug 17
Luongo's a really good player. Created better chances in less time than Chery too - not that Chery didn't play well. The very least of our worries and two strong performances from him so far.

TacticalR added 22:55 - Aug 17
Thanks for your report.

I found the match a strange experience. Firstly I spent quite a while trying to work out who our players were. Secondly the crowd seemed very quiet and there were a lot of empty seats.

Even though there was nobody terrible in our team, I definitely had the feeling that I was watching a very significantly lower standard of football than you'd see in the Premiership. There just didn't seem to be anybody to get the pulse racing.

Having said that, there were some good signs. Chery looks skillful, Luongo can pick a forward pass, and Gladwin showed some nice touches before running out of steam. The only player I thought really fell short was Perch.

It's interesting that it took Hill to get us going with the first goal - you just cannot keep a good man down.

Phillips doesn't look quite right. He was put through a couple of times by Luongo but didn't take his shots early enough.

romfordranger added 22:35 - Aug 18
The sooner the transfer window closes, the better. Too many players unsettled, and Austin, Phillips and Green could be leaving. All the uncertainty is not helping, and must play on their minds. Hopefully we can get anothet centre half and a decent right back. Both full backs looked poor again and we are in for a long hard season. It might be early to get on Ramsey's back, but its frustration that has boiled over from last season for many supporters. The farcical pre season and poor player fitness levels do nothing to convince supporters the club is being better run. Some of the summer signings do show promise but what Ramsey really needs is a strong and experienced number 2 who can give him guidance and support, I would loved to have seen Gerry Francis back at the club.

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