|Queens Park Rangers 4 v 2 Sheffield Wednesday|
Tuesday, 10th April 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Lightning QPR start floors Sheff Wed - Report
Wednesday, 11th Apr 2018 14:25 by Jordan James Foster
On a night that QPR paid a touching tribute to former player and manager Ray Wilkins, his former team mate Ian Holloway saw his side completely outplay and outgun an expensively assembled Sheffield Wednesday. Jordan Foster was there for LFW.
I saw a tweet earlier that said the last time QPR raced into a 3-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes of a game was against Kevin Keegan's Newcastle back in 1995. A poignant statistic when you consider Ian Holloway was in the team that day and was managed by Wilkins on a night Rangers did their old captain proud.
Club ambassador Andy Sinton took to the field at half time and gave an emotional speech on his friend's life and career before laying wreaths in the centre circle with Wilkin's sister Sandra and brothers Stephen and Dean.
Sinton was a flying left midfielder in his prime and it was Rangers' wide men that gave them the impetus from kick off.
No Nedum Onouha, Massimo Luongo, Matt Smith or Pawel Wszolek left many bewildered at the line up which saw Jordan Cousins come in for Luongo with 'Little' Paul Smyth and Bright Osayi-Samuel play either side of the recalled Idrissa Sylla.
The big screen played a fantastic montage of clips from yesteryear whilst on the pitch the lineup provided an insight into Holloway's plans for next season.
Osayi-Samuel has had a turbulent first season at Loftus Road. He's been deployed as a lone striker, a '10', left wing-back and even in a forward two. Here he played on the left of the forward three, very much like he did at Blackpool and a position that earned him rumoured interest from Spurs and Everton. The 20-year-old gave the Wednesday right-back Liam Palmer a torrid time within the opening quarter, playing with confidence and swagger.
On the opposite side Paul Smyth reaffirmed the notion that he is one of the most exciting talents in the Championship with a performance that defied his years...yet again.
The opener came after the first of many direct and powerful runs from Osayi-Samuel saw Rangers win a throw-in deep into the visitors’ half. Nice interplay between Cousins and Jake Bidwell resulted in the left-back having the space to whip in a textbook 'Bidwell cross' which keeper Joe Wildsmith made look far harder than it was. The resulting unneeded 'flap' fell to an unmarked Smyth, who whilst running controlled with his left foot before volleying emphatically into the bottom corner with the outside of his right boot.
Rangers continued to wreak havoc down the left hand-side and when Wildsmith fumbled Jake Bidwell's orginal shot, Sylla was able to work the ball back to the defender for him to rifle in his second goal of the season.
Wednesday looked like they were still on the bus and it was only a fine save from Luke Freeman's shot which stopped the hosts from being 3-0 inside the opening ten minutes.
Freeman had a frustrating evening to say the least, his constant need to slow the play down and take more touches than necessary caused his team mates obvious frustration. On two separate occasions he chose to shoot rather than play routine through balls to Smyth and Sylla. His form hasn't been too bad of late, he has looked predictably less effective after the recent formation change but he still has the ball enough and is brave enough to take the ball in certain situations, but his decision making is becoming increasingly poor.
Cousins set the tone from the first whistle, tenacious and combative he really offers something slightly different to any of our other midfielders. Who would have thought his return to central midfield would have seen an upturn in the quality of his performances from those he put in as a right-back?
The youngster has been a revelation since his return to the side in early March and yet again he stood up to the notable challenge in front of him whilst also offering a clear threat down the right-side.
It's remarkable the amount of times after a foul or breakdown in play he will make sure he is set and ready. Steve Gallen when still at QPR and manager of the Elite Development Squad would often say Furlong would ask coaches to come back out on the training pitches after games and training to work on his crossing or different aspects of his game. He was constantly seeking feedback and what to improve on. There were a few youngsters coming through at the time, but Steve would often comment on Furlong's professionalism.
I also spoke to a scout that had pointed out Furlong had this huge leap but would often never land back on his feet after jumping leaving his side vulnerable. It looks like this is something he has ironed out of his game and now Rangers should be proud of the player Furlong has developed into. It wasn't too long ago Rangers' bright starlets were being sent back from League 2 clubs after not making any impact or not having the right attitude. This could never be said about Furlong. A real one of our own youngster, credit to all for his development.
Fernando Forestieri looked like the only opposition player who had the guile and class to make a mark on the game and he did well to find Nuhui late in the first half as the visitors made a rare forward voyage. The cumbersome, awkward yet effective Nuhui forced Smithies into a save but on second viewing he should have arguably found the net.
The second half started as predicted with Wednesday doing all they could to get back into the game whilst Rangers looked happy to play on the counter. Osayi-Samuel used his body well before turning inside the visitors' area only for Tom Lees to inflict one of the most blatant assaults in a penalty box you are likely to see. No complaints from any of the travelling party and despite Scowen's half arsed attempted at getting the ball following the amateur set up at the Madjeski, Sylla wasn't having any of it.
Cue one of the most bizarre run ups you're likely to see, Sylla slotted away his penalty before celebrating in a choreographed dance likely to put Diversity to shame. He then celebrated with Holloway and the coaching staff before breaking out in a solo effort in front of the C Club, all whilst the referee tried to restart the game.
Whatever may be said about Sylla, he obviously has ability.
It's now 16 league goals in 25 starts since signing – you'd have to go some to beat that on a shoestring budget.
Wednesday with nothing to lose threw caution to the wind and with the class present on the pitch it wasn't long before they made the breakthrough. Despite the scoreline, Rangers were still conceding chances and the talented Forestieri showed his ability after being found by Joao to fire first time into the bottom corner just after the hour mark.
Ten minutes later, Nuhiu powered home Liam Palmer’s cross to set up a nervous final 20 minutes for QPR. With Scowen, Osayi-Samuel and Sylla all substituted, Rangers became one paced and fell deeper and deeper without Wednesday ever really causing any more problems despite having the lion's share of possession.
A final score which probably flattered to deceive a little, but whereas at Reading we could still be playing and wouldn't have scored, here everything we hit went in.
Match Gallery: 19 photos
More importantly however, it also shows some promising signs for Rangers. With two exciting young wingers, Cousins who is beginning to show consistent form and must be close to giving Holloway a dilemma in midfield, the return to fitness of a half-prolific striker at this level and still the return to action of David Wheeler – who is very highly rated by those at the club. Things are certainly looking up.
Of course there is still stuff to work on, the impending contract situation with captain Onouha and Jack Robinson could leave gaping holes in defence, but there is certainly something to be excited about with this side.
A final word for Ashley Baker and Cameron Dawson of Sheffield Wednesday, who whilst beginning to complete their routine kick around together at half time decided to stop and watch Andy Sinton's moving speech together before turning round and watching the tribute on the big screen. They then joined in with the applause before walking off the pitch. Not much and hardly anything major, but it was a nice touch.
QPR: Smithies 7; Furlong 7, Baptise 7, Robinson 6, Bidwell 8; Cousins 7, Scowen 6 (Manning 67, 7), Freeman 6; Osayi-Samuel 7 (Wszolek 77, 6), Sylla 7 (Smith 68, 6), Smyth 7
Subs not used: Ingram, Kakay, Eze, Washington
Goals: Smyth 8 (assisted Bidwell), Bidwell 10 (assisted Sylla), Sylla 15 (assisted Furlong), 53 (penalty won Osayi-Samuel)
Bookings: Scowen (foul play)
Sheff Wed: Wildsmith; Palmer, Lees, Pudil, Thorniley; Pelupessy, Jones, Reach, Forestieri (Boyd 80); Joao (Matias 64), Nuhui (Rhodes 83)
Subs not used: Dawson, Baker, Butterfield, Nielsen.
Goals: Forestieri 61 (assisted Joao), Nuhui 69 (assisted Palmer)
Bookings: Pudil (foul play)
QPR Star Man – Jake Bidwell 8 Might seem a bit of a left-field choice when you have Sylla back scoring and Smyth starting like he did but it was another solid performance from Bidwell. A very good full back when he's given the chance rather than expected to be some type of scouse Roberto Carlos. Made two fantastic last ditch tackles and one that bailed Jack Robinson out after a mistake. Was instrumental with his work rate and desire in the first 15 minutes too.
Referee - Oliver Langford 6 Did okay but booked Scowen and cautioned Baptiste for two strong challenges in the first half at the request of Nuhui.
Attendance – 12,521 (1,529 Wednesday): Low attendance but probably to be expected, I'd imagine a few turned up for Super Ray but many were stuck due to Central Line delays. Shame as far more Rangers have endured far worse sides than this one.
The Twitter @JordanJFoster
Pictures – Action Images
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