Late Chery penalty salvages draw from Leeds trip - Report
Wednesday, 6th Apr 2016 15:20 by Greg Slovick
More late drama in a QPR game on Tuesday night, this time in the R’s favour as they come from behind to draw 1-1 with Leeds United at Elland Road. Greg Slovick was there for LFW.
At least it was our turn for a late equaliser this time. Still, 1-1 is an increasingly familiar story for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s QPR – this was the eighth of his 22 match reign – and was played out by aa half-hearted QPR against more committed hosts.
The evening started well with each QPR fan who;’d made the journey receiving a free away shirt. I queued up and collected my Dennis the Menace number given out by Andy Evans, Andy Sinton and a rather attractive woman wearing a Leeds shirt who we shall call…Andy.
Rangers lined up with Alex Smithies in goal, a back four of Nedum Onuha at right back, Grant Hall, and Gabrielle Angella in the middle and James Perch on the left. Ale Faurlin and Massimo Luongo were the central midfielders with Karl Henry sitting out, while Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips started left and right with Jamie Mackie up alongside the recalled Conor Washington in attack. No place, initially at least, for in-form duo Seb Polter and Tjaronn Chery who were both on the bench.
I hadn’t been to Elland Road since 1979 when we lost 4-3 and dropped out of the First Division,. Tony Currie was awarded the Goal of the Season trophy for his curling shot prior to kick off. Oh how I wished he would sign for QPR…
They do harp on about their past glories a bit in these parts, and even still sing the Champions of Europe dirge to a team whose most recongisable player is Chris Wood. The names slide off the tongue - Bremner, Giles, Clarke, Grey, Lorimer, Chapman, Tony Yeboah and then our own JFK – and goal after goal is played on the big screen before kick off.
Leeds started with rookie teenage keeper Bailey Peacock–Farrell in goal. You’d perhaps have expected the QPR hotshot front line to pepper his goal with shots and crosses, especially as he betrayed his first night nerves with a few Rob Green-style clearances out for throw ins early in the game. Sadly I can’t recall a serious shot or cross he had to deal with in the whole first half.
In fact it was Leeds who seized the early initiative. The home side forced a mistake from Perch inside the opening minute to set up a succession of corners, then Angella had hearts in mouths with an underhit backpass which Smithies sprang forward to deal with just in time.
QPR were struggling for any possession at all, with Peacock-Farrell only touching the ball for the first time to take a goal kick (from a QPR throw in natural) after seven minutes. Direct balls up to Mackie and Washington had a predictable outcome and although Leeds didn’t threaten much themselves, the ball was all theirs.
The situation worsened for the away side midway through the half. Junior Hoilett had started to pose some threat, and one jinky run fed Jamie Mackie into the area but he was brushed off the ball. Moments later Mackie stretched for another pass and, sadly, seemed to suffer that troublesome hamstring injury all over again. After three minutes of treatment, Seb Polter replaced him. Tragic for Jamie, but in the ultra short term it did provide a much needed presence and threat up front.
And the game rather chugged along at the standard Championship pace thereafter. Mustapha Carayol, who’d burned even Nedum Onuoha for pace early in the game, hit a powerful shot straight at Smithies before the half hour, then Matt Phillips tried his own luck from the spot Roy Wegerle once scored one of the greatest QPR goals of all time but sadly this latest attempt was well off target.
Hoilett was by far our most threatening players and his mazy runs caused the Leeds defenders some nervy moments, but there was little by way of end product apart from one long range shot over the bar. The Canadian played very well defensively actually, tackline back and regularly winning 50/50 balls to set counter attacks in motions. Sadly, Matt Phillips on the other side once again hardly broke sweat and the midfield was poor throughout the first half. Fortunately, Leeds were not much better and the game was pretty awful truth be told.
The second half started much as the first had ended, with Smithies on hand to deny first Stuart Dallas and later Luke Murphy. It took until after the hour for Rangers to threaten anything in return – it came from Phillips’ belated arrival into the game and a cross into the area at the second attempt that seemed to pose some danger until Polter decided to control the ball with his hand giving the rookie keeper a chance to launch a free kick away downfield.
The game could easily have drifted away to an instantly forgettable 0-0 but unfortunately the defensive frailties so exposed by Middlesbrough on Friday night showed their face again twenty minutes from time. First Onuoha failed to get enough purchase on a clearing header when he really had all the time and space he needed to get it out for a throw, or a corner, or anywhere other than 10 yards outside the penalty box really. That allowed Murphy to tease a ball in and with Angella caught under the ball and Smithies, unusually, stuck on his line when he could have come to claim, Wood was able to poke in a soft opener.
The goal prompted the introduction of Tjaronn Chery from the QPR bench, and he could have made a fairytale entrance with his very first touch. The substitution, with Junior Hoilett leaving the field, coincided with a free kick being awarded in left-foot range after a foul on matt Phillips. Sure enough, Chery strode straight to the dead ball and attempted to score with his very first touch of the ball. Alas, the wall did its job and the chance went begging.
Nevertheless, QPR finally started to exercise a degree of control over proceedings as they chased an equaliser and Leeds started to drop back holding what they had. Onuoha’s forceful runs into home territory caused panic and Luongo and Faurlin were finally able to make their presence felt in midfield. There was even a shot on target, as Washington sent in a low effort which the keeper saved well.
Unfortunately the former Peterborough man had been largely ineffective again, and was replaced soon after by Nasser El Khayati after just not really getting going all night. There is a good player in there, it remains to be seen how Hasselbaink can get him to start hurting the opposition.
Polter, meanwhile, hadn’t seen much of the ball himself but his presence alone is enough to cause problems for defenders and one such moment of panic brought QPR and equaliser in the dying stages of the game. Hesitancy from Giuseppe Bellusci when he seemed to be clear favourite to get to a ball in the right channel first enabled Polter to muscle in front of him, surge into the area and hit the deck under heavy contact. Even at Elland Road, referee James Adcock couldn’t help but point straight to the spot.
Leeds complained long and loud, delaying the taking of the spot kick for a minute, but Chery wasn’t distracted and dispatched the ball emphatically into the top corner. No goalkeeper, young or old, would ever have got anywhere near it.
Chery raced back to the halfway line with the ball signalling it was now the visitors who felt the game was there for the winning. A two minute injury to Hoilett, six substitutions and two goals meant a whole three minutes of stoppage time was added – the mind boggles at how they work this out sometimes – and although QPR finished the stronger it needed a double save from Smithies in the very last second to preserve the point. The second stop, from Wood, was particularly good, although the New Zealander had already been flagged offside so it wouldn’t have counted.
We’re lacking an authoritative, hard-tackling figure in midfield and a real leader at the back. Matt Phillips continues to turn in anonymous displays, and Faurlin and Luongo struggled to get to grips with the Leeds midfield. But with only three defeats from 15 matches, Hasselbaink’s new-look Rangers are at least tough to beat.
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell 5; Beradi 6, Bellusci 4, Cooper 6, Taylor 6; Bridcutt 7, Murphy 6 (Diagouraga 83, -), Dallas 5 (Coyle 86, -), Cook 6; Carayol 6 (Mowatt 90, -), Wood 6
Subs not used: Bamba, Adeyemi, Grimes, Antenucci
Goals: Wood 70 (assisted Murphy)
QPR: Smithies 5; Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Angella 5, Perch 5; Phillips 5, Luongo 5, Faurlin 5, Hoilett 7 (Chery 74, 6); Washington 4 (El Khayati 80, -), Mackie 4 (Polter 24, 5)
Subs not used: Gladwin, Henry, Ingram, Robinson
Goals: Chery 86 (penalty, won Polter)
Referee – James Adcock 6
Attendance 17, 388 (322 QPR)
Photo: Action Images
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