Ince’s smash and grab has QPR and Derby heading opposite ways – Report
Thursday, 15th Dec 2016 11:19 by Clive Whittingham
Derby County recorded a seventh straight victory, inflicting a fourth consecutive defeat on QPR in the process, with a 1-0 win in Shepherd’s Bush on Wednesday night.
More of the possession, more of the shots off target, more of the shots on target, many more of the corners… but still little goal threat from Ian Holloway’s beleaguered Queens Park Rangers against Derby County at Loftus Road.
That didn’t have to matter. A point against Derby, flying up the table on a six-match winning run, would have represented a decent result, especially given the improvements in the performance from Saturday’s debacle at rock bottom Rotherham. But, as so often happens to teams on the sort of runs QPR and Derby are currently on, there was a late sucker punch to settle the game.
One of those moves where you sense your team are short-handed and in trouble throughout finished with Derby substitute Camara crossing for Tom Ince to fire in a crisp volley at the back post four minutes from time. I’d call it a ground emptier, but the ground was empty anyway.
When it’s going for you, it’s going for you, and it’s certainly going for Ince and Derby at the moment – now seven straight wins and six clean sheets in those games. Ince has six goals in as many appearances. When it’s not going for you, shit like that tends to happen – it was Derby’s first meaningful shot on target in the whole game and it leaves Rangers in an alarming slump of four straight defeats with just one goal scored in 360 minutes of football.
Rangers could take plenty of heart from their display in a match few expected them to win. James Perch owed his team mates a good show after his brain fart against Wolves and his performance was a reasonable fist at redemption as part of an overall improved defensive showing.
The back four looked altogether more comfortable here, albeit faced with only the half-arsed efforts of the ever expanding Darren Bent, and benefitted massively from having a central midfielder ahead of them who could actually run about and offer some form of protection. Jordan Cousins, finally being used in the correct position, turned in his best performance for the club since arriving from Charlton in the summer and made a big difference from the Sandro horror show of the last couple of games. One interception and lung busting run down the middle of the field in the second half looked for on moment like it would end in a goal of the season attempt, but his lack of self belief betrayed him and he picked a poor pass to Washington instead.
Mide Shodipo was finally trusted with a run from the bench and he immediately torched Olsson for pace down the flank in his first move, and then tricked his way into the area before being crowded out in his second. Holloway, though, will no doubt point to the way Derby were able to overload Perch down Shodipo’s side for their goal.
There were other near misses besides. Carson saved well from Chery after six minutes, and then more routinely from Ngbakoto five minutes before half time. The one-time England goalkeeper has settled down a bit in recent times but still has it in him to produce the odd moment of complete calamity and he was lucky to get away with spilling Chery’s shot back into the danger area on the hour. Massimo Luongo must have thought he’d finally broken his QPR scoring duck when his cute shot deflected round Carson with time ticking down, but the ball flashed wide of the post with the Loft ready to celebrate.
But for all this, did QPR ever really look like they were going to score? Not for me. A better performance certainly, but still carrying all the attacking threat of the Green Party with about as much chance of winning.
They probably get more people at their conference as well – the idea that there was even 12,371 inside Loftus Road for this one seemed fanciful. With the team in free fall and the fixture list decimated by television, the congregation is shrinking at a rate not seen since the great plague.
Luongo and Chery had poor games together at the same time which, as our two most influential ball players, was always likely to hamper the team. Chery’s dead ball delivery, in particular, was unusually wayward. QPR forced ten corners to Derby’s two and posed zero threat from any of them. The less said about Ben Gladwin' attempts to replace Chery as a sub in the second half the better I suspect.
A long range free kick attempt by Ngbakoto in the first half was amateur standard and overall the Frenchman looked lost playing to the right of a front three – rarely giving the impression he knew where he was, where he should be or what day of the week it was. Washington, bless him, toiled in vain as a lone striker, as he always does when handed that role. I’d love to hear the story with Polter and Sylla at the moment because even Holloway admits Washington is ill-suited to the role he’s currently asking him to play.
Derby didn’t offer a great deal themselves. Will Hughes looked a class apart in midfield, but Bradley Johnson looked heavy and ineffective. Tom Ince is in imperious form at the moment and looked absolutely full of himself wide on the right – one first half goal disallowed for offside, another mesmeric run twisting Perch’s blood before he scuffed the shot at Smithies, a second half sprint onto a long ball from Carson resulting in a penalty appeal, and the late winner of course. But, as said, Darren Bent’s kit won’t need much attention in the laundry after an hour of ambling around and the QPR defence seemed reasonably comfortable.
As did the Rams with their point. Carson seemed in no hurry with the goal kicks, Richard Keogh took the Zamora-related baiting in good spirits and performed excellently. It was a run of the mill game with 0-0 written all over it, drifting steadily towards that conclusion.
Ultimately Rangers didn’t even escape with that much. Now just three points off the drop zone after four straight defeats, not scoring at all and facing a daunting pair of fixtures against Villa and Brighton either side of Christmas.
The women and children might want to start paying passing attention to the lifeboats.
QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 7, Onuoha 6, Lynch 6, Bidwell 6; Luongo 5, Hall 6, Cousins 7 (Shodipo 77, 6); Ngbakoto 5, Washington 5 (Polter 69, 5), Chery 5 (Gladwin 64, 5)
Subs not used: Borysiuk, Ingram, Sandro, Wzsolek
Derby: Carson 6; Baird 6, Keogh 7, Pearce 6, Olsson 6; Hughes 7 (Bryson 79, 6), Johnson 5, Butterfield 6; Ince 7, Bent 5 (Vydra 63, 6), Weimann 5 (Camara 79, 7)
Subs not used: Shackell, Russell, Mitchell, Hanson
Goals: Ince 86 (assisted Camara)
Bookings: Butterfield 17 (foul), Baird 26 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Jordan Cousins 7 His best performance for the club so far, no coincidence it came when being used in the correct position which has rarely been the case this season. Sadly, also no real surprise that it ended with him getting injured again. Just can’t catch a break.
Referee – David Coote (West Yorkshire) 8 I felt Butterfield’s booking for a foul in the first half which led to another wasted QPR set piece was harsh, and there was an obvious foul on Washington in the second half that he missed and then -infuriatingly – penalised Luongo the other way immediately after. But overall I hardly noticed him, which is usually a good sign.
Alleged Attendance 12,371 (800 Derby approx) I wouldn’t want the person who reckons there were 12,371 inside Loftus Road last night to measure me up for a carpet.
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Pictures – Action Images
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