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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.

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

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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stevec added 11:55 - Dec 15
On the plus side, that's 149 more paying customers than the Wolves game and another three and a half grand in the petty cash box.

Who the fck needs Sky?
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extratimeR added 12:04 - Dec 15
Thanks Clive!

Bang on about Cousins, huge difference, ditto Shodipo, Sylla must have done something very bad, poor old Washington ad no chance what so ever in his role, you had to wonder why Derby stayed with four at the back with only two to mark,(or one sometimes!).

Yes,back four looked a lot better and if Ngbokata is gong to play up front its got to be as orthodox winger , god knows where he was he was supposed to be playing in first half ot certainly was not out wide!

I don't remember Holloway having a problem with wingers, (Cook, Ainsworth etc, he appears a tadge uncertain at the moment.

Cheers Clive

(their might have been 12,500 odd in Westfield, their sure weren't in Loftus Road!).
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wrinklyhoop added 12:53 - Dec 15
What an improvement over Saturday, but something odd going on with Sylla, reportedly leaving the ground just before the game in high dudgeon! Ollie now seems to have transferred his 'love' obsession from Sandra to Gladwin. This guy is so poor he shouldn't be anywhere near the squad, let alone playing. Polter for Washington was the wrong move too, as Seb with Conor would have made far more sense. Finally, Shodipo for Cousins was crazy at that stage of the game. For all the good things to the kid brings, it left central midfield badly exposed, and probably contributed to losing the goal. WTF Ollie when you had Ariel on the bench!!!!
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PinnerPaul added 13:19 - Dec 15
Not sure what Villa have done to be put on a par with Derby and Brighton. They have only scored 2 goals more than us, have won the same number of games and were apparently poor on Tuesday night when they lost.

Think/hope that might be our win to get us going again!
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CroydonCaptJack added 13:23 - Dec 15
Cousins best game and then he gets injured.
That is kind of the way it is going at the moment.
Much better performance than I expected however.
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DesertBoot added 13:31 - Dec 15
Derby almost seemed content to be second best throughout much of the game knowing we were never going to score. Lots of possession, lots of passes, a few shots on goal - albeit comfortable saves for Carson, I never once thought I'd be out of my seat celebrating.
Someone who sits me said "here it comes" just a minute before they scored. And so it did.
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stneotsbloke added 13:55 - Dec 15
Unquestionably an improvement on recent weeks but another crushing disappointment. Having seen around a thousand home games since 1967 I've seen good bad and indifferent players and managers but have never booed or berated a player as long as they are putting in the effort and I don't intend to start now.
But .........................
I really do have a big doubt about "puppy dog paper chasing" Conor, I saw him play for St Ives Town and was pleased to see him join us but even if he plays alongside a big center forward I really can't see him making it, his goalscoring record is dreadful. Gladwin just looks lost whenever he on the pitch, another one who really isn't up to Championship standard.
Cousins was excellent but it looks like he'll be off the scene for a while.
Credit to Perch who really looked up for it and put in a really good performance.
Like everyone, I'm finding the losing sequence very hard to take but will I be there on Sunday to see the latest episode in Ollie's turd polishing exercise - of course I will !!.
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Spiritof67 added 15:20 - Dec 15
A much better performance last night and some players showing a bit more belief. Unfortunately I cannot see where are going to get a goal from.

Despite Chery,s corner kicks being poor, I rhought that before he was subbed we were starting to put more pressure on Derby and the supporters were starting to make themselves heard; and then we witnessed the start of the substitutions - Chery for Gladwin, really, I hate to criticise any of our players but Gladwin has been so anonymous in the majority of the games he has played that it was very apparent that the supporters became deflated. Can Holloway explain, why not sub Chery for Polter, while the team were on the front foot, after all our last win against Norwich, they both scored.

ince surrounded by three defenders and still getting his shot on target needs to be reviewed by the managagement team as well. A long season lies ahead.
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windsorloop added 16:41 - Dec 15
Hi Clive, I always eagerly look forward to your reports & enjoy them tremendously.
They are extremely accurate & reflect the performances of both teams.
There is very little I disagree with, but on this occasion the grading of the players of "5"
was awarded to Luongo, Ngbakoto, Washinton, Polter & Chery. You also gave Gladwin 5
I wonder whether this was an error & you pressed the wrong number
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baz_qpr added 19:22 - Dec 15
The one thing I liked about Ngbakoto was that he was always looking for the first time pass and had a pretty decent touch and a lot of our good attacking came from these quick first touch passes, unfortunately on numerous occasions the rest of the team failed to move forward or someone took 3 touches and passed it backwards or sidewise
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Patrick added 22:51 - Dec 15
A very decent team effort but I thought we could have played all night and not scored. Earlier this season there was a lot of talk about how we only ever scored from dead balls - if only! 10 corners wasted - how difficult is it to get one in the spot? And Ollie needs some of Neil's eye for available - not always world beating - forwards available on loan. Our forward line needs reinforcements in January, or else.
Question: do they count all season tickets towards attendance, because its a sale? Must have been at least 20 paid-for seats empty around me.
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TacticalR added 22:59 - Dec 15
Thanks for your report.

I have only seen the highlights, and it sounds like we did play better than we have been recently - you can tell that because Smithies wasn't man of the match. However, the key point is that despite our improved play you thought that we were never likely to score. I have had the same feeling during recent games. I know it sounds obvious, but we are not bringing the ball close enough to the goal and end up taking shots from too far away. On top of that Chery's shots tend to be quite high even when on target, which makes it easier for the opposition keeper to get his hands to them.
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HastingsRanger added 23:12 - Dec 15
Thanks Clive.
A much improved performance here. As a number of others have said, the team is trying hard and playing quite well. Are we seeing a lack of confidence or just not being good enough?
Earlier in the season it was the open play goals lacking and now they have dried up altogether! Cannot fault Washington's effort but you need strikers who can make something out of nothing. He is the nearly man. That said - the alternatives lack spark at the moment.
Is there a January transfer window this season?
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Marshy added 11:38 - Dec 16
Looking at the team selection it was difficult to see where any goal was going to come from. I felt that for most of the match we didn't actually play with any strikers, as Washington was too often pulled out to the wings as that was the only place he could get any possession. He was just not being fed or getting any service at all. Thinking about it, I can't actually recall a match where has had any decent service. We were effectively using Grant Hall as a midfielder, a position I think he is ill suited to, and Perch & Bidwell as wing backs who whilst didn't play badly, were really not that effective. Assuming everyone was fit and with the resources we have, I believe our best strategy is a fairly basic 4-4-2, playing with at least one dedicated winger. The thing that is sadly missing from our play is getting decent crosses into the box, or getting any ball into the box. If you get enough balls in that area, then someone is going to get on the end of it.
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tsbains64 added 13:09 - Dec 16
an improved performance with little bite up front Derby were poor and there for the taking but we could not test him Evening got worse with a parking fine down Godolphin road-new parking restrictions -Where do I park for free now?
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