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Same old problems leave QPR with just a point at Bolton - Report
Sunday, 22nd Oct 2017 15:01 by Simon Ashby

Simon Ashby braved Storm Brian to get up to Bolton on Saturday and tells LFW that the same problems with delivery and finishing in the final third cost QPR once more.

You’d think I’d be a happy Hoop heading to Bolton on Saturday morning. After all, it’s about as local as it gets for me this season. A 20 minute bus ride into Manchester, a quick stroll to Salford Central station, then just 25 minutes to Horwich Parkway; but alas, I am not.

The Macron Stadium has always felt like an utterly soulless ground to me, set in an equally soulless retail park. It’s perfectly ok if you like spending your Saturday mornings mooching round Halfords, Argos and DFS et al, before popping into the Harvester. Not however, the cathedral to the beautiful game Bolton fans may have hoped for.

If you ever manage to get that elusive planning permission Tony, then the Macron is a lesson in how not to do it. Move away from your roots, build a 28,000 capacity stadium with an average home gate of 17,000, and surround it with generic shops, a Hollywood Bowl and the ubiquitous Greggs. The place also reminds me of Dean bloody Holdsworth, who falls into the category of players I have a wholly irrational hatred for.

So, what about the football? Bolton, buoyed by the return of Sammy Ameobi , Josh Vela and claiming their first three points of the season last week against Sheffield Wednesday, were looking to make it back to back wins at this level for the first time in nearly three years (Rangers historically love to end an opponents unwanted record).

The R’s on the other hand still have a lengthy injury list. Nedum Onuoha and James Perch remain weeks away, Grant Hall has suffered yet another set-back, whilst Jack Robinson’s broken hand kept him side-lined. Couple with that our inability to find the back of the net with any regularity, and being winless in six, I have to confess to being a tad apprehensive.

Ian Holloway opted to go with the same starting eleven that faced Sunderland last weekend, in ever worsening conditions at the Macron. His loyalty wasn’t rewarded, as Rangers were slow out of the blocks in a first half that won’t live long in the memory. It was four minutes before we successfully completed a pass and 15 before we mustered our first meaningful attack, which resulted in Josh Scowen firing straight at Ben Alnwick in the Bolton goal. Perhaps it was storm Brain (why is there always a hurricane when we play here?), or the team nutritionist had failed to pack the Weetabix, but Rangers were really lacklustre and deservedly went behind on 26 minutes. Gary Madine rose highest to nod a deep Vela corner back into the danger area, Bidwell gave Pratley the freedom of the six-yard box, and he duly headed home from two yards out.

You hoped that would have been the wake-up call Rangers needed, but if anything we got worse. Disjointed passing, little movement and a lack of ideas seemed the order of the day. Even the ever reliable Smithies managed to kick directly into touch when under no pressure from a back pass, much to the delight of the home support. To Holloway’s credit he acted quickly, making a substitution before half time, but the introduction of Conor Washington for Ryan Manning did little to improve matters; whatever we were suffering from it was catching.

Thankfully Bolton are not bottom of the league without reason, for a better side would surely have put the game to bed before referee James Linington mercifully blew the half time whistle.

With the rain bucketing down and the pitch deteriorating fast, Rangers started the second half the better and though the quality was still lacking, at least the effort we’ve become used to from Holloway’s wards this season was back in evidence.

Pawel Wszolek, who’d saved a second goal in the first half with a fine covering tackle, finally found some space down the right to attack and delivered a decent cross which Jamie Mackie could only nod tamely into Alnwick’s hands. At the other end, Vela fluffed his lines when well placed but Rangers, at last with a foothold in the game were now in the ascendancy.

Matt Smith replaced Mackie shortly after the hour mark as the R’s went in search of an equaliser, but it was Sylla who finally forced Alnwick into a meaningful save. I’m not sure how much he knew about it but the faintest of touches from Freeman’s delivery had the Bolton keeper scrambling to keep the goal bound effort out. Bolton, with the finish line in sight were now sitting deeper and Rangers at last had the game by the scruff of the neck. But for all our neat build up play Rangers’ Achilles heel was plain for all to see; we weren’t creating chances. Time and again a flowing passing move ended with poor decision making or a wasteful delivery in the final third.

The equaliser we craved should have come from the spot after Massimo Luongo was brought down in the box. It looked a penalty all day from the upper tier, but Rangers justified protests were waved away.

The breakthrough finally arrived two minutes later. Sylla once again getting on the end of a Freeman delivery, with his somewhat improvised flick-come-backheel finding the bottom corner.

Bolton were now on the ropes, but try as they might, Rangers couldn’t summon a winner. Bidwell ballooned over with his weaker foot when well placed as the home side clung on. As we went into the final ten minutes the rain finally got the better of the playing surface and standing water started to appear. I have no doubt that if we’d had half an hour still to play the game would have been abandoned. It did little to aid Rangers passing which had now found some rhythm. If I’m honest the closing minutes were something of a lottery as conditions worsened.

Both here and at Sunderland Rangers were the better side but against Bolton they failed to create enough clear cut chances, whilst at Sunderland they missed the openings they did craft. We all know what the answer is, and we can’t afford it.

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

Bolton: Alnwick 6; Little 6, Wheater 7, Beevers 7, Taylor 6; Pratley 6, Henry 6; Vela 6 (Le Fondre 83, -), Ameobi 5 (Morais 62, 6), Armstrong 5 (Noone 66, 5); Madine 4

Subs not used: Robinson, Cullen, Burke, Howard

Goals: Pratley 22 (assisted Madine/Vela)

QPR: Smithies 6; Baptiste 6, Lynch 5, Bidwell 6; Wszolek 6, Manning 6 (Washington 38, 5); Freeman 7, Luongo 6, Scowen 6; Sylla 7 (Wheeler 85., -), Mackie 5 (Smith 61, 5)

Subs Not Used: Furlong, Cousins, Ngbakoto, Lumley

Goals: Sylla 78 (assisted Freeman)

QPR Star Man - Luke Freeman 7 Never stopped, and got his reward with a fine assist for the Sylla goal.

Referee James Linington (Isle of Wight) 7 Couple of questionable ones, including the Luongo penalty appeal in the second half, but overall a very calm and sensible refereeing display, taking the difficult conditions into account and giving the game and players every chance. All our games this season bar one (which had a Premier League referee) have been officiated like this this season. It can’t possibly continue.

Attendance — 14,243 (883 QPR)

Pictures — Action Images

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stneotsbloke added 16:19 - Oct 22
I suppose a point away from home is better than 'nowt but we just don't have enough in the tank to bother even the most modest of opposition these days. With some high end opposition in the coming weeks things could be very messy by Christmas.
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the defence can't keep a clean sheet and the forwards don't score enough. As much as I admire their effort and commitment Mackie, Washington and Smith just don't frighten a defence. We've created plenty of chances this season but the "goals for" is becoming embarrassing, Hopelessly wishful thinking but how many would Charlie have scored for us so far this year.
Having said all that, I'm still fully behind Olly but the January window will be vitally important - if the board can release some cash of course.

PinnerPaul added 16:56 - Oct 22
10 teams have scored same or fewer goals than us - hardly 'embarrassing'

MrSheen added 17:54 - Oct 22
Luongo dived. Who was it shot just wide as everyone else was protesting?

I don't agree that Washington added little. As soon as he came on, he was picking up the ball in our half and crossing the half way line with it, making a change from deep-lying midfielders hitting long hopeful balls after we'd passed it around on the edge of our area for a while. You'd hope that an attacking substitute would do a lot more in the box than he did, but the fact that we had decent possession in their half, which allowed Pawel to come forward and threaten coming around the back, was largely down to the link work that Washington introduced.

How we laughed at the rain. Until it was time to go outside at the end. It's also fair to say that second half was very entertaining, despite being short of quality.

TacticalR added 20:35 - Oct 22
Thanks for your report.

It was Sunderland the Sequel. Against quite poor opposition us looking short of the quality necessary to get the job done.

Sylla can score if presented with a reasonable chance, but we are missing a player with a bit of guile who can create problems in the opposition box. On top of there were also a lot of overhit/underhit crosses (so not much for Sylla to get on the end of), plus Wszołek carrying the ball into the box but not quite getting the final ball right.

Also a bit of shocker the way that Bidwell completely lost his man for the goal.

At least Karl Henry didn't score.

Myke added 23:27 - Oct 22
Thanks Simon, the predictability of it makes it all a bit depressing. Read Clive's superb preview and all of it makes sense. Trouble is (Fulham excepted) we've just come out of a sequence of very winnable games without actually err... winning any of them. Now we haven't lost any of them (Fulham excepted) either, but the reality is that Sunderland, Bolton and Barnsley presented us with an excellent chance of not just breaking our away duck but actually putting a decent run of away wins together. JFH ( not that I want him back or anything) actually had a decent away record by this time last year, with Cardiff, Wigan and Fulham all been put to the sword. Not only that, but it took late goals in 2 out of 3 of those games to even secure a point. If you add in the Burton debacle (Failing to score against Burton can only be described as a debacle when you see their 'goals against' column) then we have tossed away at least six, possibly eight points. Those 6/8 points would have us hanging around the peripheral of the play-offs, but much more significantly, would provide us with a very handy cushion against some very lose-able games coming up.
We all know the problem; can't keep a clean sheet/don't score enough goals, which against the weaker teams is almost as nailed on a 1-1 result as you can get. And so it has proved. However, add in teams with a bit more quality; Fulham, Cardiff ( and Wolves, Derby etc on the horizon ) then the goals conceded becomes 2 or possibly 3, while the goals scored remains stubbornly at 1. As the yanks would say,'you do the math'.

As Clive has patiently explained we can't do anything about our lack of goals ( although I would like to see Wheeler get more game time) due to our financial constraints and FFP and we have been so unfortunate with defensive injuries that our goals conceded column is actually pretty respectable, but clean sheets are a rarity. If we lose a couple on the bounce then it could get interesting, after all it's nearly November...

extratimeR added 23:37 - Oct 22
Cheers Simon

Excellent report, the problem up-front is not going away, its a real shame , we have a decent mid-field, but no idea how to turn creativity into goals.

Our next two home games will not allow us the luxury of missing any chances that come our way.

DesertBoot added 14:46 - Oct 23
Thankyou very much for the report. Why are we persisting with Conor who clearly isn't up to the job and is looking like a very expensive flop. This was "his season" I thought but since the Reading double (where he also missed an absolute sitter), he is bringing little to the table.
Wheeler has scored loads of goals, why don't we start with him and Sylla on Saturday?

izlingtonhoop added 18:18 - Oct 25
In December 1999 [Dean Holdsworth] was sentenced to 18 months probation for punching his wife Samantha Holdsworth.

There, your hatred no longer needs to be irrational...

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