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QPR strike late again to make two on the spin - Report
Wednesday, 4th Jan 2017 19:16 by Clive Whittingham

QPR made it two wins from two games in three days after losing their previous six by snatching another late Pawel Wszolek winner against Ipswich at Loftus Road on Monday.

From six defeats in a row to two wins in a weekend, that old saying about the darkest hour coming just before the dawn rarely rang truer than at Loftus Road on Bank Holiday Monday.

That nightmare run of results through December began with a 3-0 loss at Ipswich Town. An odd match, where Rangers were much the better of two poor sides for the first hour but nevertheless lost by three and could have gone down by five, sparked an alarming spell which has moved new manager Ian Holloway away from his "rubbing off on them a bit" brief of working with what he has to the current situation where half the first team is heading to the exit door.

Ironically, in true Championship style, Rangers won this quickfire return fixture between the sides against the run of play, having not played nearly as well as they did in the first 60 minutes at Portman Road. When Pawel Wszolek showed a deftness of touch mostly lacking from this run-of-the-mill second tier match, and a cool head to round visiting keeper Bialkowski and slide in the winner seven minutes from time his team had actually been rather holding on for a point.

Things had started well. Fresh from a surprise, desperately needed, victory at Wolves on Saturday Rangers came into this game 48 hours later in better mood than most had anticipated.

Jamie Mackie set the tempo early on and, although Alex Smithies had to save awkwardly at his near post from David McGoldrick, Rangers were just about the better of the two sides early on without really creating too much.

I'd rather earn a living wiping Jeremy Clarkson's arse for him than watch one more short corner again as long as I live but QPR suddenly seem to love turning down a free chance to deliver a ball to the heart of the opposition penalty area to a group of their best headers and wasted three wide set pieces with ridiculous routines which stemmed momentum somewhat.

But they took the lead out of the blue after half an hour from, of all things, a throw in. As usual, Perch planted his chuck straight onto the head of an opposition player, but this time Luke Chambers kindly headed it back into his own six yard box where Idrissa Sylla fairly lashed a first time volley into the roof of the net from close range. Six goals in seven starts and ten sub appearances for the Guinea international – thank God they didn't qualify for this month's African Cup of Comedy Goalkeeping.

But things unravelled somewhat after that. Sylla was forced from the field injured seven minutes after scoring with a neck injury – with a neck that long the geezer probably gets whiplash just by going out in a strong wind – and with Seb Polter still absent Holloway was forced into sending Conor Washington and Jamie Mackie into game but fruitless battle up front together. Tireless midgets in the land of the giants, but midgets all the same, QPR quicky found it difficult to make the ball stick up field.

Holloway's team selection at Molineux seemed to be made with one eye on this game, although the news that Tjaron Chery, Seb Polter, Karl Henry and Sandro are all to be shipped out this month put a slightly different complexion on things. Nevertheless, going in against a Town side that had an extra day of rest after their win against Bristol City, with just about the same team again seemed like quite the roll of the dice. Jamie Mackie has had nine months on the sidelines and was being asked to play two games in three days while Jordan Cousins and Joel Lynch have struggled to manage one game a week since joining the club in the summer. With the Sylla substitution already spent, a difficult second half stretched out ahead.

In the end the R's lasted just three minutes. Tom Lawrence, who'd spent most of the first meeting in Suffolk falling over and kicking the ball out of play before being treated to a goal, scored another in altogether more impressive circumstances – drawing a right boot back from 25 yards and unloading an absolute howitzer into the top corner off the inside of Smithies' post. Keeper wouldn't have got near it with a butterfly net.

Sensing a moment for a rare highlight in a dire season, Mick McCarthy's side set sail in search of more. Within two minutes of equalising they were in again, Brett Pitman (rocking the look of a man who sleeps at the railway station) seemed to have all he time the liked to pick his spot after being played clean through on goal before the excellent Grant Hall swept in from stage right and executed the perfect goal-saving sliding tackle just as he was about to shoot. Later the scruff pot headed wide at the back post after McGoldrick had turned Borysiuk too easily from a throw in and crossed dangerously – Pitman, I think, had been flagged offside, which is just as well for him as this was an absolute sitter. Later Town's leggy left back Myles Kenlock nutmegged James Perch and drew another save from Smithies that the keeper didn't seem to know a lot about.

But Rangers, and Hall, and Ian Holloway, weren't done yet. Borysiuk, tiring more than he should as one of the non-starters at Wolves, was withdrawn for Nedum Onuoha, and Grant Hall was pushed into midfield. Onuoha, the latest scapegoat in W12, started strongly, with a powerful header beating McGoldrick to the ball. Hall, meanwhile, won back control of the midfield and stemmed a rising tide. Suddenly Rangers could play further up the pitch again. Mackie came back into the game, and Ipswich started to fade. Their own attempt to drag back control, sending on Jonathan Douglas, had the opposite effect. Given that Andre Dozzell had apparently played so well last time out, and Ipswich were on top in the game, it seemed unduly negative to send on Douglas and leave the youngster as an unused sub.

A great ball from QPR's own protege Ryan Manning, who looked naïve at times but athletic, confident and with an eye for a good pass before being withdrawn for Nasser El Khayati, gave Washington a sight of goal from a narrow angle but Bialkowski was equal to the shot. Cousins sent a nice cross right through the danger zone without a touch being applied.

There were still chances at the other end – Lawrence dancing past Perch and cutting the ball back to McGoldrick who shot over chief among them – but the game seemed to be petering out to a 1-1 draw both sides would probably have been reasonably pleased with.

But, as at Wolves, there was a little bit left in Wszolek's tank for the final few minutes. The Molineux winner had been scored through sheer determination and pig-headedness, this one had an extra bit of class about it as he brought down Onuoha's long ball forward and finished calmly to bring the house down. The Pole isn't particularly aggressive or assertive in games, but he's got a notable extra little bit of class about him which appears in flashes – an immaculate first touch here, and lethal cross with no back lift there. Twice in three days he's turned one point into three.

Lynch in the heart of the defence, and Mackie just about everywhere else, were key to remaining strong in what was left of the arm wrestle. QPR go into what always has been and always will be a needlessly chaotic January transfer window with the breathing space afforded by a couple of fortunate wins against limited opposition. From tiny acorns and all that.

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QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 6, Hall 8, Lynch 7, Bidwell 6; Manning 6 (El Khayati 68, 6), Cousins 6, Borysiuk 6 (Onuoha 58, 7); Mackie 7, Wzsolek 7, Sylla 7 (Washington 38, 5)

Subs not used: Ingram, Ngbakoto, Sandro, Shodipo

Goals: Sylla 30 (assisted Perch), Wszolek 83 (assisted Onuoha)

Ipswich: Bialkowski 6; Webster 6, Chambers 6, Berra 6, Kenlock 6 (Knudsen 77, 6); Emmanuel 5 (Ward 46, 6), Bru 6 (Douglas 69, 5), Skuse 6, Lawrence 7; Pitman 6, McGoldrick 7

Subs not used: Gerken, Varney, Sears, Dozzell

Goals: Lawrence 48 (unassisted)

QPR Star Man – Grant Hall 8 A real return to form for the former Spurs youngster. Commanding hour at centre half and then switched seamlessly into a midfield that had become overrun, wrestling back control, moving his team further up the field, stemming a rising tide and laying the platform for victory.

Referee – Tony Harrington (Cleveland) 8 Right fussy plonker when we had him earlier this season for Ipswich but this was a well controlled game, allowed to flow, with no cards, and no big decisions wrong.

Attendance 15,136 (2,800 Ipswich approx) Atmosphere ebbed and flowed with the QPR performance, buoyant during the first half, audibly worried when Sylla had to go off, completely silent at the start of the second half as Ipswich took over, and then erupted at the end. Impressive following from Suffolk given their fairly dreary season so far.

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james_potter added 19:46 - Jan 4
Took six youngsters to this one and we thought Mackir just drove the team forward. Usual nightmare last five minutes as is loftus road, but great atmospheres at the end and nice to see all the team get clapped off.

Philothesuperhoop added 19:59 - Jan 4
Agree James.

Thanks for the match report Clive - cracking as usual. I really look forward to them.

I also Mackie was superb, not just because he ran around like a madman, but because he was talking to his team mates all the time and telling them what to do, like a captain! I also loved Lynch running the length of the pitch to scream and celebrate! He showed some real passion for the cause.

I had hoped that you might shed some more light on what is happening behind the scenes there is something clearly a foot. Is there a power struggle with some of the old pros like Henry?

Also what was the story with that note taken onto the pitch?

Myke added 20:00 - Jan 4
Thanks Clive. A very welcome double to ease the pressure a little, just as your statement earlier in the season that you feared we could be dragged into a relegation battle was starting to look prophetic.
It looks like another massively unsettling window which is disappointing as I feel we have enough good players if they could be sorted out. Not too many will lament the departure of Henry and Sandro, but I'll be very sorry to see Polter and Chery leave although something strange has been going on with both of them lately. I felt with significant protection Chery could have been as effective as Tarrabt was but that never happened except in flashes. Similarly I feel Polter is a rough diamond that could be a very effective striker at this level, but it seems we'll never find out.
If we are shipping out, as well as the four mentioned, I'd like to see Gladwin, Perch, Washinton and El Khayati moved along. I don't expect Perch to leave as he has no re-sale value but hopefully Furlong will establish himself as our regular right back. I also hope that we can hold onto Smithies or else get a huge price for him and give Ingham a run

AgedR added 22:26 - Jan 4
Cheers Clive. I thought Hall was immense, a belting performance.

You're right that the crowd were nervous with Sylla went off, partly because of frustration that he seemed to offer our only realistic attacking outlet.

Washington worked really hard, but, clearly lacks confidence. Mackie was magnificent, he used his experience to win more than his fair share of possession and create space and I think Washington could really learn from him. I like Borysiuk and Cousins, despite the fact that I don't think they've really played to their potential yet. Manning looks a prospect and can certainly pick a pass (please let's be gentle with).

We "found a way" and didn't need Joey 'fuxkin' Barton to show us.

Get Sylla fit and we will be fine.

Marshy added 22:36 - Jan 4
The most pleasing aspect of the game for me apart from the 3 points, was the sheer effort and determination that all the players showed. This has clearly been missing in a lot of matches this season. 2 ugly wins on the trot has made me very happy, and has hopefully instilled a renewed confidence in the players. If you could bottle the Jamie Mackie infectious enthusiasm and work rate effect, I'd have it compulsorily prescribed to each and every player.

Let's continue this surprising upturn with a decent performance, and hopefully a win against Blackburn on Saturday. Come on Rangers it's about time we had a decent FA Cup run. Please.

tsbains64 added 16:17 - Jan 5
Cracking game that showed great commitment from the Hoops Great to see Nedum deliver the pass that ended up in the back of the net Still disillusioned with Holloway-has reverted back to blaming non committed players This time there are none!

TacticalR added 18:10 - Jan 5
Thanks for your report.

These two wins really are a godsend after that awful run of defeats, especially as we look to be hitting another period of turbulence with players leaving in January. My main concern this year has been that we have not played well against the bad teams, but the last two games have shown that we can actually get something from this sort of game.

As in the Wolves game Sylla took his chance in the box, and Wszołek showed real class to bring the ball down and take it round the keeper (admittedly aided by the Ipswich defender who misjudged the flight of the ball). I am not too sure how much credit we can give to Onuoha as he spends most of the game whacking the ball forward in the general direction of the forwards.

Like others I was impressed with Mackie. His desire to go forward seemed to infect the rest of the team.

Excellent strike from Lawrence for the Ipswich goal.

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