QPR lose narrow contest at Hillsborough - Report
Monday, 24th Oct 2016 12:32 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s recent improvements weren’t enough to get them a point from high flying Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday as the R’s slipped to a narrow, slightly unfortunate, 1-0 defeat.
Don’t let the somewhat bizarre decision to hold a two-minute tribute to the King of Thailand prior to kick off fool you, this latest meeting between Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers at Hillsborough was as typical an English tier football match as you’ll ever see.
Two teams with glory days behind them bashing away at each other in equal measure with varying degrees of competence for 90 minutes – a contest eventually settled by one fortuitous goal scored in the first half. Could easily have been an away win, probably should have been a draw, ended up as a home win, could have been a more emphatic home win. Neither team particularly good or bad, game 14 of 46 ticked off and forgotten almost immediately by everybody who was there.
QPR, unbeaten in five prior to kick off, will feel they could and should have taken something from it. Rangers had the ball in the net before half time through Conor Washington but he’d been penalised as the cross came over for a push before he headed into the net. Referee Chris Kavanagh was hot (or, put another way, pedantic) on upper body contact throughout the the game, which proved to be bad news for Seb Polter when he came on in the second half and was penalised every time he got within 20 yards of the ball.
They should have had a legitimate goal early in the second half when a corner fell to Nedum Onuoha, up from the back, on the edge of the six-yard box but young home goalkeeper Cameron Dawson, in for only a second senior start for the club, made a fine save to deny him.
Dawson will have had his heart in his mouth in the first few minutes when a loose clearance gave Tjaronn Chery a chance to strike at goal from distance, but the rookie keeper got down well and saved in the bottom corner. Shortly after he dived down in the opposite direction to stop Chery finding the net on the opposite side from similar range. Chery shot wide when a long throw was flicked on twice into his path on the hour mark.
With the clock ticking past 80 and Wednesday sinking deeper into their own territory, he was indebted to the impressive Sam Hutchinson who brilliantly slid in on Washington just as the striker appeared to be through on goal, then regained his feet and executed an even better block on substitute Pawel Wzsolek as he looked certain to net the rebound.
Dawson finished the game as he’d started it, erring in the final minute of injury time by coming for high ball on the edge of the box, missing it altogether under pressure from Washington, then appearing to pull Tjaronn Chery back by his collar as the Dutchman scooted round him and shot for goal. No penalty, and no goal either as Wednesday bodies massed on the line to clear. When it’s not your day…
That said, the West London side could have lost more comfortably. Against a side whose Chinese takeaway squad numbers should serve as a lesson to anybody who ever wants to let a group of 20-something British lads decide anything for themselves ever again, Rangers rode their luck at times which meant they couldn’t very well bemoan the bad fortune that befell them five minutes before half time when a wild shot from David Jones that was going hopelessly wide deflected perfectly for Gary Hooper, wearing the club’s coveted number 14, to rather bundle home the only goal of the game from 15 yards out. It is tempting to think we may have used all our away game luck for the season up at Craven Cottage a fortnight ago.
Earlier Hooper had run through on goal but been flagged offside, then hit a shot straight at Alex Smithies in the Rangers goal with better options either side of him available for a pass. Forestieri also tested Smithies from range before creative corner routine on 21 minutes, with the Wednesday players massed together at the back post then bursting to all corners of the penalty area as the ball is delivered, proved too much for the tiny Rangers minds to cope with. Daniel Pudil, stretching the seams of his 36 shirt, walloped the ball flush against the cross bar from close range when he should have scored.
Rangers cleared another corner off the line in first half injury time and on three occasions the Owls sent devilish crosses right through the six-yard box with nobody on hand to provide a final killer touch. Later Steven Fletcher, on for Hooper as a sub, beat Smithies with a cross-shot that rolled an inch wide of the far post. Adam Reach, wearing nine but playing as a winger, had a shot blocked on the hour. Barry Bannan, key figure playing excellently here in number 41, drilled through the goalmouth and wide.
You couldn’t say QPR were negative. They started in the new shape that had served them well against Bristol City on Tuesday, with Idrissa Sylla up front and Conor Washington coming in from wide areas to add support. The temptation to use Karl Henry as the first ‘one’ in the 4-1-4-1 set up was resisted, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was rewarded by a decent showing from Ariel Borysiuk who plays in a much more positive manner, picking out intelligent, forward passes having picked up the ball on the turn a la Ale Faurlin, rather than always taking extra touches before looking sideways or backwards.
The forced selection of young Nico Hamalainen at left back bore no ill-results as the American Fin turned in a steady, solid, unpanicked performance. Certainly you’d never have picked him out as a player without a senior start to his name at this level. He was booked late on for pulling back his man close to the byline though – earlier Onuoha, Gladwin and Borysiuk had both been rightly carded for bad tackles, and Pudil saw yellow for yelling at the linesman and booting the ball away in disgust at one decision.
By the end, chasing an equaliser, Rangers had gone to two up top and three in behind, introducing Seb Polter to the attack, and Pawel Wzsolek and Mide Shodipo to the wings. Shodipo, once again, really looked the part, taking on his man and delivering dangerous crosses at every opportunity. He’s coming on a bomb at the moment, which inevitably leads to howls of criticism when he doesn’t start games. This rather ignores the possibility that he is progressing quickly because he’s being managed well - not too much too soon, not too much pressure on his young shoulders. He is getting better every time I see him at the moment.
But he, and his team mates, weren’t quite good enough to win Rangers a point. Despite Sheffield Wednesday sitting back for the majority of the second half, and not looking anywhere near as good as they did when we played them last season – Fernando Forestieri in particular, an absolute pest last term, pretty anonymous here.
Three matches this week, one win, one draw, one defeat, three fairly similar performances by all accounts, three results that all could have gone one of the two other ways available. This is the Championship in a nutshell, and is a fair reflection of where QPR are in that division – a midtable side bedding in a lot of new players, some from the youth team, the rest mostly from abroad or lower divisions.
But we live in the age of “five things we learned” where every match and every result must bring conclusions, and lessons, and if necessary immediate change. Two minutes having a piss after the game gave me this week’s in no uncertain terms – “Polter is fucking shit you can’t bring him on to change a game. And do you know who else is shit? Gladwin’s fucking shit. And do you know who else is shit? Washington’s fucking shit. Conor Washington is the worst player in this league.”
And off we go again. A narrow defeat away to a team in the play-off places which could easily have been a draw or even a win, but you’d never know it given how some react.
With Henry successfully benched, the boo-boys are now after Ben Gladwin. Now he doesn’t look that good at the moment to me either, but he’s started six games for QPR and only made 12 appearances at Championship level in his entire career. I struggle to recall what he’s done in those half dozen starts to justify the ire that’s coming his way – “fucking run for it you lazy cunt” screamed one bloke behind us in the second half as the ball bounced out for a throw-in. Trust me, I promise you, he wouldn’t have been able to reach it on a high performance superbike never mind on foot.
Mind you, LFW are the “student union activists” who’ve “only been following Rangers since the days of Bircham” so what would we know about anything?
As our occasional contributor Jordan Foster put it to us on Saturday evening…
Rangers will need to step up and be better to beat Brentford at home in the derby this Friday, or face the inevitable overreaction a defeat in that match will bring. But this was by no means a poor performance. QPR will play worse than this and win this season. In fact, they already have done – at Fulham and Wigan.
Sheff Wed: Dawson 6; Hunt 6 (Palmer 70, 6), Lees 6, Hutchinson 7, Pudil 6; Bannan 7, Jones 6, Lee 7 (Wallace 87, -), Reach 6; Forestieri 5, Hooper 6 (Fletcher 74, 6)
Subs not used: Kean, Loovens, Nuhui, Buckley
Goals: Hooper 40 (assisted Jones)
Bookings: Pudil 77 (dissent)
QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 6, Onuoha 6, Caulker 6, Hamalainen 6; Borysiuk 7 (Shodipo 80, 7); Gladwin 5 (Wszolek 74, 6), Luongo 6, Chery 6, Washington 6; Sylla 6 (Polter 64, 5)
Subs not used: Ingram, El Khayati, Kakay, Henry
Bookings: Borysiuk 13 (foul), Gladwin 17 (foul), Onuoha 85 (foul), Hamalainen 90+1 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Ariel Borysiuk 7 Bought as an answer to last season’s central midfield problems, and after early injury problems is starting to look exactly that. Plays higher up the field, and with more purpose than Henry and others, and can also pick out a nice through ball Faurlin-style to set us on our way attacking wise. Played well here, particularly with a yellow card hanging over him from as early as the thirteenth minute.
Referee – Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) 6 Rather pedantic, particularly with any sort of upper body contact – shoulders, leaning, flailing arms, all immediately punished for pushing when really it was nothing of the sort. Five bookings all spot on and no major decisions wrong though.
Attendance – 25,903 (804 QPR) Away end stayed to applaud the players at the end which was pleasing to see – they didn’t lose for want of trying and were a bit unlucky in some respects so I it was nice that they didn’t get dog’s abuse and booed at the end. Some of the stuff you hear and read immediately after games at the moment though…
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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