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Blackburn peg back Chery’s world class strike – Report
Sunday, 11th Sep 2016 15:26 by Clive Whittingham

QPR had to settle for a point against bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers at Loftus Road on Saturday despite Tjaronn Chery’s wonderful opening goal.

Just 13,210 at the School of Science, and with lectures this ponderous it’s not hard to see why some are playing truant.

Games against the league’s bottom feeders at this stage of the season don’t often run according to the script. Partly because it’s the Championship, and predicting results in this nonsense division is like knitting fog, but mainly because we’re only half a dozen games in and league tables are as meaningless as politicians’ promises at this point.

But it’s a reasonably safe bet that Blackburn Rovers will be heavily involved in the shake up at the bottom of this division come May. Disgracefully mismanaged by India’s Venky’s group for the last six years they’ve been stripped of their best players, their money, their hope and their future prospects. Exasperated and helpless, the supporters have responded in the only way left to them – by not turning up. The smallest away following for a Saturday home game at Loftus Road in living memory spaced themselves out across the upper tier of the School End and waved their protest banners.

And on another day, QPR would have beaten what’s left of their team quite comfortably. The R’s took the lead in magnificent fashion on 65 minutes. Conor Washington, on for the presumably injured Seb Polter at half time, was fouled 25 yards out from goal wide on the right and Tjaronn Chery stepped up to show his class from dead ball situations with as good a free kick as you’ll ever see, whipped over the wall and kissed into the net off the underside of the cross bar. Different gravy.

Before that, visiting goalkeeper Jason Steele saved expertly when Nasser El Khayati – given a rare start in place of Yeni Ngabokoto whose father sadly passed away before the game – cleverly turned his man in the penalty area after receiving a terrific through ball from Chery and struck powerfully towards goal. Steele made another smart stop on the other side of his goal in the dying embers in the game as Idrissa Sylla searched for a debut goal from the bench, in behind the tiring Rovers defence and carrying plenty of power in the first time shot but unable to find the net.

El Khayati had another shot blocked by a defender and amidst handball appeals Conor Washington wasn’t able to bundle the loose ball home. Washington also drew a leg save from Steele when he ran clear away from the last defender into the right channel and tried to search out the far corner.

So QPR could easily have won - 2-1, 3-1 - and climbed further into the fledgling play-off picture following an August that brought three wins from five matches, two of them away from home. This performance wasn’t that far away from being good.

But, equally, it wasn’t far away from being absolutely dreadful either, and failure to beat a really poor Rovers side is hardly the ideal start to a relentless September which sees QPR facing the top two in the league in the next two matches, a Premier League team in the cup, Nigel Clough’s spirted Burton Albion away, Birmingham at home and the annual catastrophe at Fulham in the next three weeks.

In actual fact, a point was the very least Blackburn deserved. The set piece delivery of Craig Conway caused havoc all afternoon. QPR left out Steven Caulker and selected Nedum Onuoha at centre half with James Perch at right back and never once looked comfortable under wide dead balls. This terror started after four minutes when they twice failed to clear the first Rovers corner of the game and defender Tommy Hoban, on loan from Watford, tried to improvise a back header into the net having been left unmarked and onside as the defence tried to clear the area. In first half stoppage time Hoban was left free again and his powerful header was just about bundled up and over the bar by Jake Bidwell on the goal line.

The sides traded jabs for the rest of the first half but failed to land a punch between them. Hope Akpan got in behind the home defence after six minutes and slid a great ball right through the goal mouth with nobody there to apply a touch – little wonder, Blackburn started with Danny Graham as a lone striker, or rather some lumbering, hairy oaf who ate the actual Danny Graham and assumed his identity. A shadow of the player who ripped into us for Watford on this ground back in 2010 - a very large, very wide shadow mind.

Mind you, Seb Polter wasn’t much sharper when James Perch got going down the right and crossed low towards the German who failed to connect just before half time. Earlier Polter had set Perch up for a volley over the bar with a smart touch, and chested down for youngster Mo Shodipo – making a second league start of the season - to strike straight at Steele.

When Polter was withdrawn at half time it initially pepped up the attack, as Conor Washington looked a good deal more purposeful and physical than he has on his previous lone striker outings – though it only took ten seconds for QPR to pump a hopeless long ball towards him in the channel and him to concede a free kick trying to field it. But the lack of the German’s height in the penalty box at the other end exacerbated the set piece problem.

Around the hour mark Blackburn completely took over the game, starting with a free kick from a mindless foul by Perch on Marshall for which was rightly yellow carded by referee Keith Stroud. That led to the first of several goal mouth scrambles which Alex Smithies was able to defuse by falling on a loose ball a yard out. Within two minutes Smithies was diving left to parry a long distance volley from Marshall and when the resulting corner was delivered from that, the ball again spent an age bouncing and bobbling around perilously close to the QPR goal with nobody able to apply a killer touch.

Chery’s goal, and a quick flurry of chances after it, didn’t deter Rovers too much. Grant Hall was required to make a fantastic covering tackle on 72 minutes as the ball rolled through the red zone in front of Smithies once more, and then the visitors finally got their equaliser when Sam Gallagher fashioned an angled header over the keeper and into the far corner of the net. Well executed, but Smithies seemed to go after it in instalments.

Could have been worse – Graham’s last act of an insipid personal performance was to completely miss a cross at the near post when left totally unmarked from another corner.

The church was restless long before the end – manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink reacting furiously and gesturing towards the Loft End when boos greeted one of several passes back from the centre of midfield to goalkeeper Smithies. The booing doesn’t help, and there are one or two QPR fans about who seem to take sadistic pleasure in things not working out for the team at the moment -presumably so they can crow about how right they are about Ferdinad/Hasselbaink/Warnock – but it was hard not to be frustrated by this performance which was firmly wedged in second gear throughout.

There were familiar names and themes featuring high on the list of prime suspects afterwards – playing one up front at home, playing two defensive central midfielders at home, playing Karl Henry at all. Henry is far better and more useful than most fans give him credit for and is well suited to certain situations QPR will face this season – whether one of those situations is a home match against a poor team with only one point from its previous five matches is highly debatable. A 30 yard run down the centre of the pitch with the ball right at the end of the game which ended with him tripping over his own feet, falling over and losing possession while once again trying to turn out of the forward motion and look behind him for a pass option rather summed it up. There were more forward passes in the Hull v Wigan rugby league game on Friday night than QPR played out of midfield here. Even accepting Ariel Borysiuk’s injury problems, and Massimo Luongo’s jet lag, Henry’s presence here against a Blackburn side which itself sacrificed an attacker to add an extra defensive midfielder to try and crowd Tjaronn Chery out Preston-style felt like unnecessary overkill.

You have to allow for Ngbakoto’s absence, Sylla not being up to speed having only arrived at the club earlier this week, fellow new signing Pawel Wszolek being suspended and so on. QPR also ended the game with two strikers – Sylla and Washington – and two wingers in search of a winner. But the changes seemed slow to come, with the overly defensive set up, and Nasser El Khayati, persevered with far longer than they really should have been.

But QPR didn’t look a lot better for putting Sylla on and going to two up top – the Guinean’s first two touches were terrifying – even allowing for his late effort which could have won the game. That’s because the key problem here wasn’t personnel, or formation, it was just the complete lack of speed and pace in QPR’s play.

Henry’s touch, look, touch, look, touch, touch, look, shrug, touch, look, touch, touch, touch, look and pass backwards from the centre of midfield contributed to that, as did El Khayati’s budget Andros Townsend routine where he takes far more touches than he needs and always, always, always cuts in field looking to shoot – making him easy to read. But it was a team wide problem. No tempo.

No footballer in the world likes playing against pace, no football team in the world likes it when their opponents are popping the ball around and attacking with speed and purpose. And yet QPR, and the game, ambled along at an arthritic pace.

Referee Keith Stroud didn’t help this – allowing Charlie Mulgrew to piss around on the field for a good minute in the first half while play was stopped so Rovers could prepare a substitute to go on instead of him. Start the game and let them play with ten until he’s ready for goodness sake. He managed to find five yellow cards in a match of only one bad tackle (by James Perch) – Mo Shodipo booked for the tackle of the game in the second half.

But it was up to QPR to try and force some life and speed into proceedings and they hampered their own chances by not doing so. Always another touch, slowing the play down, losing the moment all the time. It’s all very well Hasselbaink remonstrating with the crowd and asking them for more, but the punters and the manager needed more from the players. Shodipo was the best of a mediocre bunch and that was simply because he kept it nice and simple – every time he got the ball he tried to get at his full back and deliver a cross. The quality of the final ball was mixed, but the intent was there and he was more dangerous than the rest of his team mates simply by not over complicating things and doing them quickly. Far too often Rangers played into Rovers’ hands with laboured build up allowing them to get set in their shape with nine men behind the ball.

If QPR can do everything they did on Saturday, but ten times as quick, they’ll cause teams problems. If they crawl along like this, there’s a very long, very boring winter ahead.

Links >>> Knee Jerks >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 6, Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Bidwell 6; Henry 5, Cousins 6; Shodipo 7, Chery 6, El Khayati 5 (Sylla 80, -); Polter 5 (Washington 46, 6)

Subs not used: Borysiuk, Kakay, Ingram, Paul, Caulker

Goals: Chery 65 (free kick, won Washington)

Bookings: Shodipo 50 (foul), Perch 61 (foul)

Blackburn: Steele 7; Lowe 6, Hoban 6, Greer 6, Wiliams 6; Mulgrew 5 (Evans 34, 6); Conway 7, Akpan 6, Marshall 6, Gallagher 6 (Emnes 77, 5); Graham 5 (Samuelsen 83, -)

Subs not used: Feeney, Byrne, Guthrie, Raya

Goals: Gallagher (assisted Evans)

Bookings: Williams 42 (foul), Akpan 47 (kicking ball away), Lowe 65 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Mo Shodipo 7 Gets the ball, gets it out of his feet, gets at his man, tries to get to the byline, tries to deliver a cross. Shodipo’s no rocket scientist, but he was QPR’s most dangerous and effective attacker here simply by not over complicating things.

Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 Just annoying really. Nothing that wrong, although the booking for Shodipo looked a bit of a joke to me. Just a bit picky, further hampering the pace of an already sluggish game.

Attendance – 13, 210 (350 Blackburn approx) I thought despite the poor quality of the game in front of them, and whatever Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink may think, the QPR fans did their best in the second half to get a flat atmosphere and match going. But, overall, the place just felt a bit dead, on and off the pitch. The very best of luck to smattering of Blackburn fans salvaging whatever is left of your club once this disgusting spell of foreign ownership finally draws to an end, whenever that may be.

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TacticalR added 16:24 - Sep 11
Thanks for your report.

I think you've got the balance right. It wasn't great to watch but it's still too early to pass judgement on where we are going this season.

I agree the match could have gone either way as both teams had a number of chances, and Blackburn had a period of dominance. Where we lost the match was not being able to press home our advantage after Chery's (unstoppable) free kick. As others have pointed out, we still have a problem scoring from open play.

Washington looked better, as he used his strength to compensate for his lack of height, and was able to hold off defenders while bring down some high balls on his chest. I am really hoping that getting a few goals will get him going. Having said that, without Polter we lack height, so long balls are not the way to go.

Shodipo looked good (actually very good considering he was shifted over to the right).

Blackburn were better than expected and got some wind in their sails after they scored. Although they looked limited up front, they defended well for long periods, and we were reduced to trying to play the ball round the edge of the box, looking for openings.
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Roller added 16:43 - Sep 11
Was Shodipo booked for the tackle or for pointing out to the ref that it was a perfectly fair one? The back row of the Loft was a long way from that action, but I thought the latter.
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connell10 added 17:12 - Sep 11
Roller mate let it go, just let it go!
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ozranger added 19:15 - Sep 11
I'm not going to make a new forum post on this, but I find the "jet lag" possible excuse of Luongo poor, if true. Why did a player who was involved in more of Australia's games get a full game on Saturday afternoon while our Mass gets the day off? That is, someone rather similar to Chery - Aaron Mooy who netted the only goal, and a classy one at that, in their 1-0 win at Leeds.

Regards Henry, he rarely turns his head to look around prior to accepting the ball and thus is not in a position to make a better decision than to send the ball back. When I went to explain this to my partner, as to why the team were passing the ball sideways or backwards, I had to say it was because these were "safer" options. Perhaps that was true in that there were no or poor options ahead of him, and perhaps it was just Henry.

ElK was hiding too often, as you have stated Clive. Many a time you could see him pointing towards Bidwell, instead of making himself available in the channel for Hall or others. He also chose not to get involved in heading contests, which I think made a number of fans unappreciative of him.

I know you cannot mention everything Clive, but when JFH swapped Shopido and ElK for a little while in the first half I felt it did both players no service and probably only hindered our game. The idea only held for about 10 or so minutes. However, I feel that we should also note Perch's partnership with Shopido and certainly this in the same context as Bidwell and ElK. I did not concentrate on this much while watching the game, but there is a case to say that the former worked and the latter, perhaps, was not as good.
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lifer added 19:37 - Sep 11
I have to agree with the report in that Blackburn were way better than I was expecting. Having said that, it was a home game against the bottom team in the division, and as such it needed to be won. I think the current problem at Rangers is pretty straightforward... we haven't got a great squad and we play dull football. That's it really. Too many mediocre players in a team playing a boring lone striker system is not likely to put rear ends on (nameless) seats. What's the answer? Play a more attacking game, add a bit of pace (at least at home). Get rid of this painfully slow side pass, side pass, back to keeper strategy...it doesn't work, does it? If JFH wants to silence the booing (albeit shameful), then he should play a more positive, entertaining system. Fans don't boo if they're enjoying themselves.
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londonscottish added 21:47 - Sep 11
"Sam Gallagher fashioned an angled header over the keeper and into the far corner of the net. Well executed, but Smithies seemed to go after it in instalments."

I was behind it in the Lower School end and it was an odd goal. Great description (& report)

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062259 added 22:13 - Sep 11
Yes it's early, but:
-No goals from open play in 6 games
-Decent league position hides the fact that 4 of 6 games have
been against the current bottom 4 teams
-1 point out of 6 at home against bottom 2 teams

Early days yes, and maybe they'll raise their game against the top 2,
but this time next week we should know a lot more about this team's potential .

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Northernr added 22:58 - Sep 11
By a similar token, we haven't yet been able to field what most, and JFH, would consider our strongest 11 in a single match, and yet we've still picked up three wins.
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extratimeR added 23:55 - Sep 11
Thanks Clive.

Right about Shodipo, very good tackle,and our most effective player, and about Henry, a home game against the bottom side?
Surely we can risk something more adventurous, I don't have a problem with Henry, just use him in the right games, away from home, closing up a home game last 15 etc.

Agree,El Kyati should have been hooked off 15 minutes earlier, Jake Bidwell is getting very pissed off having to shout at him to make him run into the correct space.

Onwards and upwards!

Thanks Clive!
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snanker added 06:33 - Sep 12
Very fair Clive, ultra early days of course and most versions of spin could apply as a result but like last season we've given up points from winning positions already. Blackburn might feel a bit stiff not getting all 3 pts. and we certainly rode our luck more than a few times with balls in the box so to speak. The Magpies will be a tough proposition and we'll need to be much, much better at the back Tuesday night. Hopeful as ever but not too confident after this latest showing. This side has a long way to gooooooooooooooooooo
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francisbowles added 09:12 - Sep 12
Shodipo's booking whether for the tackle or his very muted reaction was ludicrous.

The referee was very quick to give free kicks for the slightest contact but in the area in spite of giving warnings allowed shirt pulling and holding to carry on.

Yes he was petty but not very brave.
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Lblock added 09:17 - Sep 12
Its boring and I cant see attendances improving

No pace, no energy, no pressing, no goal threat

I know I wont be missed but I'm considering staying in the Queen Adelaide whenever Karl "fackin" Henry is announced in the starting line up
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Marshy added 10:59 - Sep 12
When is JFH going to realise that until we start playing 2 upfront, we are not going to make much of an impact. What is the point of humping the long ball up to a lone striker however good or bad they might be, when they are sounded by at least 4 defenders. What is wrong with at least trying to pair Polter and Washington. With Sylla now onboard there are also other combinations for a double strike force. Unless JFH becomes more bold tactically, we are in for a very dull season.

On a brighter note, Shodipo continues to show the potential of becoming a great player. As for Chery's free kick / goal, only one word - magnificent!
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Myke added 11:29 - Sep 12
According to Ferdinand, Borysuik is a younger more energetic version of Henry, so why not play him against Blackburn. I have no problem with Henry and am pleased he is here for this season, but JFH allowed Hill and in particular Faurlin leave because he wanted to inject more energy and speed into the team. Having now (presumably) acquired the players to do this and considering high energy high tempo pressing is his preferred style, he seems very cagey and reluctant to go for it against pretty mediocre opposition. We seem better set up for away games and the results reflect that. I think most fans would be happy to grind out away results , but are entitled to a bit more than that at Loftus Road
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Burnleyhoop added 13:13 - Sep 12
Makes a mockery of JFH's high pressing philosophy bolloks. Henry couldn't press his smalls, let alone drive our lacklustre lot forward.

Need the new boys up to speed and playing, now, or September could be painful.
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tsbains64 added 13:35 - Sep 12

Flat game,flat atmosphere and flat performanceFantastic goal-both both team but enough said Balance report too
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Spiritof67 added 18:43 - Sep 12
The high energy football we witnessed against Leeds has been replaced, in the last two home league game, by a drab pedestrian mode of football. The first twenty minutes of the first half we played the ball to feet, sideways, backwards, which is great if you are playing the last 10 minutes holding out for 3 points away from home, but playing this way at home! becomes a yawn fest for the fans and the opposition are quite content to witness this type of play.

I expect we will be up for the game on Tuesday night and play with more drive, passion and commitment as we will be playing one of the main contenders in this division, but we need to be on the front foot for the remaining home games as the opposition will be quite happy to witness more of these lack lustre home performances.

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romfordranger added 21:54 - Sep 12
I didn't renew my season ticket and quite relieved given the quality of the football. I admit injuries haven't helped, but even if the full squad was fit, I don't think it would change tactics. JFH is quite a negative safety first keep it tight at the back and let's squeeze out a win type of manager. I haven't enjoyed the 3 homes games I've attended, some of the football has been dire. I will give the home games a miss and try and take a few away games in, at least our tactics appear more suited to playing away. Why just the one up front, and the ponderous play, very hard to watch. The fixtures get harder now, and our false league position will soon be evident. I like the look of Shipodo, very promising. Bidwell is quite solid, nothing spectacular but reliable. I have heard great things about Cousins but he hasn't got going yet! We just lack goals, pace and purpose. It is painful to watch at times and unless JFH changes tactics and livens it up, it is going to be a long and tedious season.
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