|Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
A prolific scorer of accidental goals – Preview
Friday, 3rd Nov 2017 17:33 by Clive Whittingham
Can QPR’s sort of in-form, and thoroughly unorthodox, striker Idrissa Sylla plunder the goal that snaps Rangers’ 33-match winless run at Nottingham Forest tomorrow?
Nottingham Forest (7-0-8, LWLWWL, 13th) v QPR (5-6-4, DLDDWW, 12th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday November 4, 2017 >>> Kick off 15.00 >>> Weather – Overcast, some rain >>> City Ground, Nottingham
He’s an odd one, Idrissa Sylla, isn’t he? I still smile to myself when I’m alone on the train home about his first ever touch for the club, a 15-yard club-footed first touch back towards his own penalty area immediately after being introduced as a late substitute that introduced a much-needed bit of blind panic into a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn Rovers. ‘What’s that weirdo smiling about’ the other commuters think, which ironically is exactly what crosses my mind half a dozen times during any afternoon I spend watching Idrissa Sylla play football, lolloping around with that silly grin on his face.
I thought we’d reached peak Sylla in the first half at Sunderland where he scored from two yards, then missed from one, had a crack with a full volley on the turn from the thick end of 35 and ended one counter attack by tearing off towards his favourite grazing ground in the six-yard box as Pawel Wszolek broke forward with the ball across the halfway line – he was never fewer than 10 yards offside through the whole move, leaving the Polish winger with nowhere to go with his cross. Mentalist.
But no, peak Sylla came on Tuesday night against Sheffield United when visiting goalkeeper Jemal Blackman not only crashed into his own defender and spilled a simple catch, but spilled it in such a manner that it skewed several feet behind him leaving Sylla, grinning stupidly again, the task of rolling into an unguarded net from very close range. A task he’s very enthusiastic about. If pushed, I suspect ‘goals from minimal distance’ might be his specialist subject on Mastermind – an episode we’d all dearly love to tune in for, possibly the only one in the history of the show that results in a death. Later, buoyed by this, he nearly lobbed the replacement goalkeeper Simon Moore from three quarters of a mile away. That, and his Sunderland speculator, bold attempts from a man who’s 14 goals for QPR so far have been scored from a cumulative distance of about 20 feet.
Is he still out there now?
But the key number there is 14. They may all have been scored, in all seriousness, from 11 yards or fewer, but 14 goals in 19 starts and 24 substitute appearances since arriving in the UK a year and a bit ago is a very decent record indeed. A very effective Giraffe in the Box. Comparisons don’t really work, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player of similar style to Sylla in my life before, and Preston’s Jordan Hugill has an excellent all-round target man game in the mould of our own Heidar Helguson, but let’s take Hugill for a start here. In the league since the start of last season he has also scored 19 times, but has started 49 and made ten sub appearances. Preston rejected a transfer request from him in the summer after turning down three separate bids of £8m from other Championship clubs. Eight million.
The other one, which I talk about all the time, because I can’t believe it happened, is Ashley Fletcher at Middlesbrough - £6.5m this summer after scoring nine senior goals in his entire career, eight of those for Barnsley when they were in League One.
Sylla may be a bit, ahem, unorthodox. He may score goals almost exclusively inside the six yard box, all but one of which have been first time efforts. But his record speaks for itself. Prolific scorer of accidental goals he may be, but prolific is the key word. To buy a Championship striker with the same goals per game record in the current market would cost us an absolute fortune.
Here are his stats from last season, from our End of Term Report…
“A few goals-per-appearances stats from some of the more expensive and/or sought after Championship strikers this season for you: Jordan Rhodes, 3 in 20; Fernando Forestieri, 12 in 37, Steven Fletcher, 11 in 41; Jordan Ayew, 3 in 22; Ross McCormack, 4 in 29; Ayoze Perez 12 in 42; Aleksander Mitrovic, 6 in 29; Sam Baldock, 12 in 34; Sone Aluko, 9 in 50; Chris Martin, 11 in 33; Matej Vydra, 5 in 36.
“And then there’s Idrissa Sylla, speaking no English, playing in this country for the first time, playing in a poor team which we’ve already said repeatedly provides lousy service to its strikers, adapting to the Championship, moving cities etc etc bagging 10 goals from 15 starts and 18 sub appearances. Opta’s Jack Supple kindly looked into this for us late last night and of the regular Championship starters (which rules out Newcastle’s Daryl Murphy) and scorers (five or more) Sylla sits sixth in the whole division for goals per minute – Dwight Gayle scored a goal every 93 minutes, Oliviera at Norwich one every 127, Britt Assombalonga notched every 130 minutes on the field, Chris Wood one every 134 minutes and Jota at Brentford one every 142 – then it’s Sylla scoring a goal every 148 minutes.”
Given Ian Holloway’s penchant for changing the team around, regardless of its previous results, in addition to LFW’s ability to inadvertently predict a disaster, he probably won’t play at all at Forest tomorrow – Holloway has already hinted at a number of knocks requiring changes in his pre-match interview for this one. But you sense he’s warming to a player he seemed to have little time for when he first arrived, and when you see him chasing and harrying defenders in possession the way he was against Sheffield United you can see why. That laziness, selfishness, unwillingness to work for the team, was Holloway’s main bugbear when he arrived, but there was no sign of it at Loftus Road on Tuesday night.
A nice winning goal tomorrow, snapping a 33-match winless run on this ground, would only improve the relationship between manager and potential QPR cult hero still further.
Highlights from last season’s appallingly refereed 1-1 draw between these two at The City Ground where Idrissa Sylla equalised late for QPR after Karl Henry had been sent off in the first half. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was sacked as manager immediately afterwards.
Team News: Joel Lynch returns from his one match spell on the naughty step for accumulating five bookings and is in line for a recall against his former club despite Rangers keeping their first clean sheet since the opening day in his absence against Sheff Utd on Tuesday night. Nedum Onuoha (hamstring explosion), James Perch (missing knee) and Grant Hall (tartinitus) are all long term absentees. Steven Caulker might travel and play, but then again it’s the annual Bonfire ‘n Booze at The Lamb and Flag Saturday night with discounted spirits before 19.00 so he won’t want to risk missing that.
Striker Daryl Murphy missed the defeat at Reading because it was a bit far to go on a Tuesday but is available again for Saturday. As apparently, miraculously, is Armand Traore who’s escaped his inner chimp/bone idleness for the weekend. Defender Danny Fox has been ruled out with an “unspecified issue” which we’re going to speculate is a particularly disastrous haircut.
Elsewhere: Not sure what Tarquin and Rupert will make of the Wolverhampton inner ring road on a Friday night, mind where you park the Jag round there chaps. Hard to imagine how it could get much worse for Sunderland after the midweek home draw with Bolton and subsequent Simon Grayson sacking, but links to Peter ‘Reidy’ Reid as a replacement might just do it. There have been children born who weren’t conceived the last time they won at home, and a trip to local rivals Middlesbrough on Sunday probably isn’t ideally timed. As we suspected before the season started, it’s going to take a lot for them not to be relegated again.
Those games bookend the weekend, with Bristol City’s date on the Eighth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour kicking Saturday off at midday. Unbelievably, City will be without centre back Bailey Wright who was shoved to the ground by Aboubakar Kamara at Fulham in the week but has been banned for two matches for simulation while the original red for Kamara has been rescinded. Proof, as if it were needed, for fans of technology creep into football that the cameras, videos and computers are only as good as the fucking gibbons they have operating them.
At 15.00, Big Racist John and the Boys against the Sheffield Owls is probably the pick of the games. You’d think Borussia Norwich might further their promotion hopes with a win at Relegated Bolton, likewise the Derby Sheep against Reading and the Sheffield Red Stripes against Allam Tigers. That fine start from the Ipswich Blue Sox has rather given way to another stand off between supporters bored with Mick McCarthy football nd Mick McCarthy – Preston Knob End look a hand coupon addition to me at Portman Road.
Barnsley v Birmingham is this week’s match between two teams beginning with B and the Millwall Scholars at home to Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion rounds off the afternoon fixtures. Then in the evening your Sky subscription/Leeds United season ticket affords you the dubious pleasure of Brentford v The Champions Of Europe. Still, at least they’re in the midst of their annual collapse again, which is more fun than most Saturday night TV.
We will, of course, be too busy fraternising a very classy establishment in Nottingham, where they’re getting to know us a little too well.
Referee: Probably not a day for Matt Smith this one, given referee Tim Robinson’s obsession with awarding free kicks to the defending team under every corner. His four Forest appointments last season produced an absolute avalanche of cards. More details on that, and his recent QPR appointments, here.
Forest: It’s been one thing or the other for Forest this season with seven wins, eight defeats and no draws to date. They’ve split those fairly equally as well with four wins and three defeats at home, three wins and five defeats away. This week’s 3-1 win at Hull followed by a 3-1 loss at Reading a neat microcosm. At home so far they’ve beaten Millwall (1-0), Middlesbrough (2-1), Sheff Utd (2-1) and Burton (2-0) but lost to Leeds (0-2), Wolves (1-2) and Fulham (1-3). Ian Holloway is unbeaten on his last six visits to the City Ground as a manager – won four, drawn two.
QPR: Two straight wins against the top two in the league has given a completely different complexion to QPR’s autumn. From seven games without a win, they’ve now only lost one of the last seven and moved into the top half of the table, just two points shy of the play-off places. That despite a dreadful away record which has seen them draw four and lose three of their seven road trips so far this season – they are though unbeaten in their last three away games which all finished 1-1 at Barnsley, Sunderland and Bolton. Rangers’ winless record away from home stretches back to February when they won 4-1 at Birmingham – they’ve lost nine and drawn five since then. Rangers have only lost four times overall this season, which is fewer than Sheff Utd, Leeds, Norwich and Ipswich who are all above them in the table. You may also have heard a time or two this week that QPR haven’t won at 33 attempts at the City Ground, the longest such record still in existence – Ipswich snapped theirs at Liverpool at the 33rd attempt and Preston at Sunderland after 32 goes. For league games only the record is 28, held jointly by us at Forest and Grimsby at Blackburn.
Prediction: Elliot42 tops the Prediction League at the end of October by three points, so goodies from The Art of Football will be heading his way – click here to view their QPR Collection. Reigning Prediction League champion Southend Rsss tells us…
“How good was that against Sheffield United then? The team followed up from the win against Wolves perfectly and looking towards this Forest game, I really feel this will be it. It’s got to be now that we finally get this win!! I’ll be there and hopefully after the win against Sheffield United, most people would have fancied the journey now too. Forest had a poor result against Reading and let’s hope we can inflict more misery. We have nothing to lose going up there and getting stuck in from the off and going for it. Especially after our last two results. The away end should hopefully be in good spirits anyway.”
Craig’s Prediction: Forest 1 -2 QPR. Scorer – Idrissa Sylla
LFW’s Prediction: Forest 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Idrissa Sylla
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