Cardiff and QPR amble to bore draw - Report
Sunday, 17th Apr 2016 15:29 by Clive Whittingham
QPR's long, drawn-out end to the 2015/16 Championship season continued on Saturday with a dull 0-0 draw at, supposedly, play-off chasing Cardiff.
In my first proper job, as the mutli-disciplined reporter on an understaffed weekly newspaper in rural Derbyshire, it was one of my many, many duties to attend the local borough council’s planning board meetings.
These would take place every other Wednesday in the town hall on the market place and so, after a pie and a pint in the nearby public house with a friendly member of the planning board who’d give me any inside information or gossip on any agenda items for that evening, I’d take my position on the press bench every fortnight, prop my phone up in front of me with the latest football scores on, and prepare for the prompt start at 20.00.
Everything requires planning permission. Everything. A warehouse, a supermarket, a block of flats, a new house, a garage, a shed, a shop changing from a shop to a different kind of shop, an extension, a treehouse, affixing a Sky satellite dish to a historic cottage, a loft conversion, a bird feeder, a new dining room table…
These many and varied developments would be formed into an agenda three quarters of a mile long, invariably starting with the thing nobody gave much of a toss about, and ending with the application to build a coal fired power station on top of a school for deaf children that everybody had come to object about/report on. The application would be read out by the planning officer who’d give some brief details and show a few plans, the developer would have his or her say, members of the public (as many as they liked) were permitted to speak for two minutes each, members of the planning board (as many as they liked) were permitted to ask questions (as many as they liked) and make statements (as many as they liked) and then later, much later, a vote was taken, and the shed or the dining table or the bird feeder were approved or otherwise. When it was otherwise, the council CEO would intervene, say that the decision they’d reached wasn’t safe in law, the developer would appeal, and the bloody thing would happen anyway.
No matter how small or insignificant the development was, there was always somebody there to object to it in the strongest possible terms. If the scientists on a base near the south pole, 1,500 miles away from the next settlement, decided they needed a new storage shed for their snow plough, I absolutely guarantee somebody from the next settlement would travel those 1,500 miles to object to it for blocking out their light/spoiling their quality of life/affecting the nature of the local environment/trampling on the habitat of a rare newt.
Consequently these things would go on a bit, often well past 01.00 in the morning. There were times that I’d basically drive the 35 miles back to Sheffield in the middle of the night, stick a boiled egg on, eat it, turn around and go back to work the following day.
And I bring all this up here now really by way of a reference. I’ve seen boredom. I know what it looks like and feels like and smells like. I’m capable of sitting through it, for prolonged periods of time, and reporting its outcome accurately. The good NIMBY’s (not in my back yard) and BANANA’s (build absolutely nothing anyway near anything) of Amber Valley coached me well. I’ve been trained by the very best.
So I’m well placed to tell those of you who weren’t there that Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers played out 45 minutes of Championship football in South Wales on Saturday during which two things happened. The first, after 13 minutes, saw Cardiff’s most advanced midfielder Anthony Pilkington dive in the penalty box attempting to con a penalty kick out of referee Stephen Martin. He was yellow carded for his troubles. Later, on the half hour, Pilkington ushered a chance wide of the post after Stuart O’Keefe had crossed and Lex Immers had flicked it on at the near post.
That was it. ITV2 has almost certainly aired more interesting episodes of Peter Andre: My Life. At one point a chap just along the row from me snorted himself awake having drifted off into a deep sleep.
I can add, for colour, that QPR’s best and most flowing passing move of the first half, six minutes before half time, ended with Paul Konchesky, recalled at left back due to Jack Robinson’s ongoing fitness problems, skewing a cross so horribly that it barely stayed in the ground.
And it’s probably worth noting that Grant Hall, who’s had one or two issues of late, followed up a very fine ball and all tackle in his own penalty area with a mad five minutes during which he was first caught in possession in a dangerous area trying to bring a dropping ball down with a first touch when he should have just leathered it away, then tried a risky pass across his own box to Hill with similarly poor results, and finally tried to buy a free kick tight to the touchline with an obvious dive that Martin waved away again allowing Cardiff to launch an attack against a short-handed defence.
But nothing came of those moments, or anything else. Not even a shot of any real note. Matt Ingram, making a surprise debut in goal four months after signing from Wycombe with Alex Smithies presumably injured, needn’t have changed out of his club suit.
Not that David Marshall at the other end had need for the use of his gloves either. QPR, with nothing to play for, and five draws from their last six away matches, set up very much with their opponents in mind. Karl Henry started wide on the right to keep an eye on Peter Whittingham, consistently Cardiff’s most dangerous player for several years now. With Clint Hill’s no nonsense style restored to the back four it was a solid set up, but it offered next to nothing going forwards before the break. Actually that’s not true, it offered nothing at all. I can scarcely remember the ball being in the Cardiff half of the field.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seems very much to be from the school of thought that a point away from home is always a good result. He’s right, if you can win your home matches as often as QPR have done in 2016, draws away are all you need for a solid play-off season – Rangers may not have won on the road since January but they’re sixth in the Championship form table.
Cardiff’s approach was somewhat harder to fathom. Ostensibly trying to chase down Sheffield Wednesday, five points ahead in sixth, this had to be a win. The Welsh side could bring it into their hands if they can get to within three points of the South Yorkshire outfit, as they still have a trip to Hillsborough to make, and yet here they seemed almost as happy as QPR to let the game drift off into a stalemate in the spring sunshine.
In fact, when a football match did actually break out after half time, they could easily have slipped to a meek defeat.
A bumper home crowd, swelled by a free ticket offer, thought their team had taken the lead on 54 minutes when Malone crossed to the near post and Pilkington headed into the side netting. One man in a lively Primark jumper to the immediate right of the away end, and another who felt baiting the away fans and removing his shirt to flex his “muscles” while apparently in charge of a party of schoolchildren was appropriate behaviour, made themselves look rather silly celebrating that one prematurely.
But QPR finally came into the game after the hour. Ben Gladwin, as he had done a week ago against Charlton, added some thrust from the bench when he replaced Seb Polter, a move which saw Matt Phillips pushed up through the middle and suddenly showing some interest. Peltier was booked for yanking Phillips to the ground after being skinned in the right channel. Nasser El Khayati also looked lively when he replaced Tjaronn Chery, disappointingly ineffective, and Rangers subsequently had their ten minutes in the game. Marshall saved reasonably comfortably at his near post when Gladwin crossed to the near post and his former Swindon team mate toed the ball goalwards – still hunting his first goal for the club. I’d like to have seen Washington given more than six minutes at the end – the visitors were on top and could have pressed home that advantage rather than, as it turned out, letting it slip again.
This finally sprung Cardiff into a bit of life and once Sammy Ameobi had come on to provide a leggy, athletic attacking threat down the flanks they did start to look like a team for whom a win was vital to maintain an outside chance of promotion.
Ingram had a bit of a flap at a corner midway through the half but was called upon with increasing frequency for the rest of the afternoon and certainly wasn’t found wanting, or showing any first night nerves. A strong right hand palmed a firm header from Sean Morrison from an outswinging Whittingham corner off the line and out of danger.
Later, in five minutes of time added on for reasons I couldn’t possibly fathom, Ken Zohore went clean through on the keeper at a slightly narrow angle but Ingram made a fine save and Hill swooped in to clear the loose ball from the line. Pressure still on, the ball was teed up perfectly for Ameobi on the edge of the box but his shot posed more danger to the International Space Station than QPR’s rookie goalkeeper who was left to reflect on a clean sheet and a very solid debut indeed.
There were other scares in between – Nedum Onuoha flinging everything he owns in front of a powerful drive from Malone after Konchesky had been skinned showed tremendous commitment and desire to win the point in a largely meaningless match. Hall also stood his ground, and was subsequently wrestled over by Pilkington for an obvious yellow card, when Zohore sent Ralls’ back post cross all the way back through the goal mouth.
The footballing version of coastal erosion in the first half, marginally more watchable in the second, but neither team had done enough to win and both will almost certainly play this fixture out again next season when Cardiff must have learnt to show more urgency and ability to force the pace of a game, and QPR need to marry defensive solidity with some modicum of attacking intent.
Cardiff: Marshall 6; Peltier 5, Morrison 6, Connolly 6, Malone 6; Noone 6, O’Keefe 6 (Ameobi 66, 7), Ralls 6, Whittingham 5 (Gunnarsson 81, -); Immers 5 (Zohore 80, -); Pilkington 5
Subs not used: Turner, Dikgacoi, Moore, Lawrence
Bookings: Pilkington 13 (diving), Peltier 49 (foul)
QPR: Ingram 7; Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Hill 6, Konchesky 4; Henry 6, Luongo 6, Faurlin 6, Phillips 6 (Washington 84, -); Chery 5 (El Khayati 72, 6); Polter 5 (Gladwin 66, 6)
Subs not used: Lumley, Hoilett, Petrasso, Kpekawa
Bookings: Konchesky 81 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Matt Ingram 7 Tricky choice really because giving it to the goalkeeper makes it sound like Rangers were under a barrage of pressure and lucky to escape with a point. That absolutely wasn’t the case, but in such a mediocre match Ingram probably takes it with two very good saves in the final 20 minutes to preserve the clean sheet. Hill, Onuoha, Henry, Gladwin all worthy of mention, and Phillips was marginally better than he has been of late.
Referee – Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) 8 Promising performance on his first ever QPR outing. Bookings spot on, early dive from Pilkington not bought, decent control of a pretty pedestrian game.
Attendance – 27,874 (1,000 QPR approx) Surprisingly large following from West London all things considered. Massive home support, buoyed by the free tickets, and a shame for them that their team were so lacklustre in response to that backing.
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