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Kids shine as Onuoha and Mackie bid farewell - Report
Sunday, 29th Apr 2018 19:55 by Clive Whittingham

QPR won at home for the twelfth and final time this season on Saturday, comfortably seeing off relegation-haunted Birmingham with an exciting display from a youthful side.

End of term at the school of science, seniors bidding tearful farewells, a class of 2018/19 starting to take shape. On such occasions performances and results can often be hard to come by, particularly when the opposition still have skin in the game, but QPR comfortably polished off a woeful, relegation-haunted Birmingham City side on Saturday with something to spare despite having nothing riding on the fixture.

A team selection that looked like the latest fantastical farce from the darkest recesses of Ian Holloway’s mind actually proved shrewd. Giving boy wonder goalkeeper Joe Lumley a long-awaited first senior appearance for the R’s since Blackburn away in January 2016 behind a back four that included novice right back Osman Kakay, two full backs pressed into centre half service (Darnell Furlong and Jake Bidwell), and central midfielder Ryan Manning at left back looked unfair prior to kick off. But by only selecting players who will definitely be at Rangers next season, including several youngsters who’ve been keenly waiting for a first team opportunity, Holloway safeguarded against any sort of ‘going through the motions’ and was rewarded with an exciting performance and good win.

They had to come from behind to do it. Brum’s only outfield player of any note Jacques Maghoma faced up young Osman Kakay after Josh Scowen had conceded possession, made the most of the youngster’s naivety to take him to the byline and deliver a low cross, and Che Adams slammed in his eighth of the campaign — although only four of those have been in the league.

But Rangers had been much the better side in the opening half hour. Freeman struck a firm shot straight into lone striker Idrissa Sylla’s gut, Ryan Manning marauded forward from left back into space in the penalty box but his shot was too weak to test keeper David Stockdale, a complicated free kick routine that seemed to have gone awry finished with Ebere Eze shooting through the wall but, again, straight at the keeper, then Freeman really should have scored from close range having bundled his way through a crowd scene and toe-poked towards goal. Freeman, who’s been frustrating of late, gave the ball away allowing Jutkiewicz to curl wide from long range, but was much more like his old self overall and that had been Birmingham’s only serious attack prior to taking the lead.

And as they had done against Norwich here a couple of weeks prior, Rangers equalised immediately after going behind. With the away end in full voice sensing survival was just around the corner, Freeman stood a lovely cross up to the far post, little Ilias Chair making a rare start arrived late and tucked the ball back, Bright Osayi-Samuel smacked in his first goal for the club from six yards out. He would have had a second before half time too, but for a remarkable save from Stockdale to tip a deflected volley away from the top corner.

QPR were playing well, albeit against meagre opposition. The Bidwell and Furlong centre half pairing was a surprise success, again with the caveat that Jutciewicz was about as mobile as a bag of cement and carried the same threat as the Andrex puppy — other toilet roll is available, most of it playing in red shirts on Saturday. The touch, confidence and skill of Eze and Chair in particular, supplemented by a return to form from Freeman and Josh Scowen who was superb in front of the defence even allowing for the mistake for the first goal, laid the foundation of a really attractive performance that only improved further after half time.

Only Darnell Furlong will know how he failed to tap home from Idrissa Sylla range when Jake Bidwell’s header from a corner was brilliantly saved by Stockdale — how wonderful that we now take posing a thread from corners for granted after four years of watching St Joseph spaff every set piece up the wall — but it mattered little as a second goal wasn’t far away. Freeman had already drawn another save from Stockdale — a more comfortable two-handed bat away from a 25 yard sighter this time — when he brilliantly tricked his way to the byline and came up with the perfect final ball again. Chair, as he’d done for the first goal, peeled off to the back post and this time struck a volley of his own into the net via a small deflection. QPR have now had five under 20s score for them this season, more than any other team in the division.

At the other end Lumley was fortunate to escape when he spilled a routine shot from Jota into the path of Birmingham sub Sam Gallagher and then appeared to trip the Southampton loanee while desperately trying to retrieve the situation — otherwise excellent referee Steve Martin waved the appeals away. Pretty obvious penalty for my money. Later the young keeper made a smarter save from the Spanish winger as he tried to seek out the bottom corner from the edge of the area. Despite the mistake, Lumley carries himself with a confidence and presence that, perhaps harshly, I just don’t see from Matt Ingram on his rare outings.

Birmingham had started to threaten after the hour mark, with Kakay starting to drown rather and Maghomma seeing good ball. The decision to send Nedum Onuoha on for his final Loftus Road appearance after six and a half years at the club was probably ten minutes later than it really needed to be but Rangers survived without conceding a second and never looked in trouble once he’d come on and Furlong had gone to the right side. Jamie Mackie and Matt Smith also sprang from the bench and almost combined to give the former his own perfect farewell — enemy of football Stockdale made another splendid save to keep him out from close range. He was, however, helpless to stop Matt Smith firing a third in off the post in stoppage time after the giant striker had forced the issue in the penalty area. Rangers have won four of their last five home games, scoring a dozen goals in the process.

News filtering through from elsewhere only made a bad day worse for the visitors. Wins for Barnsley and Burton have put them right back in it and really, on this evidence, it’s not hard to see why. City are one of only three teams Rangers have beaten away from home this season, and this was a first double of the campaign for Ian Holloway’s men. They have won just three, drawn four and lost 16 on the road, one of only two teams with a worse away record than ourselves, and if they are to survive it will be with a points total far short of the usual 52-point safety mark and thanks to the incompetence of an unusually dire collection of teams at the bottom of this division.

Three managers in a season, five in little more than a year, they stand as a monument to the perils of idiot foreign ownership, and the danger of placing trust and money in Harry Redknapp. More than a dozen players were signed last summer at such extortionate expense there was nothing left in the cupboard for any strengthening in January despite a dire league position, and rumours of Financial Fair Play issues abound. Three players who tore QPR apart for Brentford a year ago to the day moved to St Andrews’ on triple-your-money deals, two of them were a shadow of their former selves here and the other was suspended for being a meathead in their last away game. Sam Gallagher tormented Rangers three times for Blackburn last year, scoring in all three appearances against us, but having moved to Birmingham in a loan deal that will cost them around £4m once everything is taken into account he looked completely disinterested here. David Stockdale, who tuned down Premier League football with Brighton to come here in part, he said, because of his daughter’s exams (Stockdale is 32 years old), played well here but looks heavy and has had a poor year. Marc Roberts, awarded an extortionate four-year contract after arriving from lowly Barnsley last summer, was complete pony. This is a collection of individuals here purely for monetary reasons — it’s not a team, and they don’t even appear to get on with each other. Despite the expenditure and the sheer number of additions it is a squad with a defence that can’t stop conceding (three more here to take them to a league high 44 shipped in 23 away games), a midfield that can’t pass the ball and got completely overrun by a bunch of kids in this game, and a strike force that can’t score (just 17 on the road, only Bolton have managed fewer, Gallagher is the top league scorer with six). Redknapp insisted this squad would stage a late run to the play-offs. A better case study of his fuckwittery you’d struggle to design on purpose. An absolute shower of under-committed, over-paid, half-arsed wasters. Garry Monk has an enormous job on his hands.

For QPR, greenshoots of recovery from their own tortured spell of overspend and folly continue to sprout. The away form is diabolical, but they’ve been mostly good to watch at home and were so again here with an average age of just over 23 at kick off. Osayi-Samuel, Eze and Freeman stood out, with Scowen ratting well, and Matt Smith continuing to look fitter and more threatening by the week. Chair probably shaded man of the match, growing as the game went on, always demanding the ball, clearly buoyed by his first senior goal, and showing surprising core strength for a boy of his size. A midget he may be but there’s a big arse on him and he’s not easily bullied or knocked around.

The demon hope springs once more, but that was tempered at full time by the sight of captain Nedum Onuoha bidding farewell to the crowd after announcing on Friday that he will not renew his contract and is looking to return north. Not a startlingly brilliant player, but a very important once for us nonetheless and clearly a very thoughtful and influential captain whatever bile people come out with about not being a “pwopah leadah”. QPR have won 13, drawn six and lost ten with Onuoha in the team this season which means they’ve won just two, drawn five and lost nine without him. As previously said when Clint Hill and Ale Faurlin were allowed to depart, you lose characters and people like that from your dressing room after only very careful consideration and potentially at your peril. It will free considerable wage budget up for new additions, but it leaves us short of experience and his influence off the field will take some replacing. Throw in Jamie Mackie, in floods of tears at full time, another good clubman who adds plenty off the field even though injuries have curtailed his second spell at the club, and it’s a tricky situation to oversee.

The debate about whether Ian Holloway will or should be the one to oversee that will continue to rage on, and this is the time to be having those discussions rather than two months into next campaign. His remit was to slash the wage bill, blood the youngsters, and not get relegated doing it and he’s achieved that with bells on. He appeared briefly afterwards to talk about the game but looked and sounded completely emotionally spent to the point where I wondered if he was considering taking a step back of his own volition.

A soul destroying few weeks for him, losing his old mentor Ray Wilkins and then his mother in a very short period of time, seemed to be catching up with him and you have to be the most cold hearted of his critics not to sympathise with him for that. Whether you rate him as a manager, want him here, think he’s doing a good job or not he’s an emotional, heart on sleeve human being, QPR through and through and enduring a pretty horrible time of it at the moment. Whether we move forward with or without him, and Tony Fernandes’ post-match Tweets (unhelpful as always) about “tough decisions to be made” cast further doubt on that, he deserves and needs a peaceful and relaxing summer.

He can, in the home games at least, be proud of the young team he’s put together. I enjoyed watching them on Saturday.

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

QPR: Lumley 6; Kakay 5 (Onuoha 67, 7), Furlong 7, Bidwell 7, Manning 7; Scowen 7; Eze 7, Chair 8, Freeman 8, Osayi-Samuel 7 (Mackie 69, 7); Sylla 5 (Smith 77, 7)

Subs not used: Smithies, Cousins, Smyth, Tilt

Goals: Osayi-Samuel 29 (assisted Chair), Chair 70 (assisted Freeman), Smith 90+2 (Unassisted)

Bookings: Manning 57 (foul), Chair 88 (foul)

Birmingham: Stockdale 7; Harding 5, Morrison 5, Roberts 5, Colin 5; Davis 5, Ndoye 5 (Gardner 73, 5); Jota 6, Adams 6 (Gallagher 57, 5), Maghoma 7; Jutkiewicz 4

Subs not used: Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Dacres-Cogley, Kuszczak, Lubala

Goals: Adams 27 (assisted Maghoma)

Bookings: Davis 63 (foul)

QPR Star Man — Ilias Chair 8 Nearly went for Scowen, who I thought was great but gave the ball away for the goal. So instead, with a first senior goal and assist for the first, it’s little Ilias Chair. Like Eze, Smyth and a few others that have stepped out of our Under 23s this season there’s confidence, self belief, and a desire to be on the ball as often as possible that belies his lack of first team experience. Lovely movement for the first and second goal, great touch, surprising strength, and finally a first win at the sixth time of asking.

Referee — Steve Martin (Staffordshire) 8 Would have been a nine, or perhaps even a ten, but for the Birmingham penalty incident when Lumley spilt the ball and then pretty obviously caught the striker as he rushed in for the rebound. That was probably a spot kick, but other than that he was near perfect. I like his unfussy style and how he doesn’t just lazily blow a free kick for every tiny bit of contact, the players soon wise up to it and stop diving about and the game flows a lot better as a result. Probably the best of the regulars this term for me.

Attendance — 15,805 (1,600 Birmingham approx) Bigger than usual stewarding operation, plus a rope (innovative, why didn’t we think of this at all) just about managed to prevent the pitch invasion, although there were still some helmets trying to charge through in a couple of pockets on the Ellerslie Road side. That meant Onouha and Mackie got to say farewell, and hopefully has avoided a fine and capacity reduction for next season. Well done everybody, not that hard after all.

The Twitter @loftforwords

Pictures — Action Images

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Clay_Burton added 22:44 - Apr 29
That was a really enjoyable read, thanks Clive.

DonO added 22:52 - Apr 29
Sad to see Nedum go. All in all I think it’s been a great season. For me (and I’m biased) all the work around Grenfell was the best thing in English football this season, bar none. We have a raft of promising youngsters coming through, with player outlay right down. There a lot of people involved with running the club now that clearly care about it. On top of this, the atmosphere has improved beyond recognition compared to not so long ago. I liked Ollie’s comments praising the crowd for creating an environment where young players are encouraged and can flourish. Saturday was further proof of this - the warmth and support was evident throughout - as it should be and long may it continue. Roll on 18/19.

davman added 23:08 - Apr 29
...and Chair and Manning's bookings showed that they are prepared to take one for the team - excellent, cynical play from the pair of them. We've not seen that recently...

extratimeR added 00:36 - Apr 30
Yes, liked Lumley, he def looked the part, and his distribution is very good.

Really enjoyed the game, kids were great, can't think who Chair reminds me off, Alan Ball? Archie Gemmill? Very good performance worked hard and he covered every inch of Loftus Road.

Thanks Clive!

Myke added 00:50 - Apr 30
Thanks Clive for final home report Nice to end on a positive. And while not in anyway wanting to put the boot into Holloway at this sensitive time for him, nice to put the 'always lose with Chair in the team' to bed before it gets legs. Losing Nedum is a blow, not so much for his football ability, but for his experience and leadership. If financially possible we should try and hold onto Robinson. From a striker being our priority this summer, we are now definitely in need of one if not two centre-halves. If only we had held onto Caulker!!!!!

QPRtampa added 01:29 - Apr 30
This is my first posting on this site — like so many on here proud of how we played this weekend, hopeful about the future. Ollie may have returned to the Ollie of old where he bleeds for the hoops AND for the fans. Assuming we lose Robinson, Smithies, and possibly either Freeman or Luongo, here are 5 keys moving forward; (1) Hire Clint Hill to coach the defense; too often out of position this season; (2) Furlong — growing into a real force; if Grant Hill returns to full health, and with one addition, we start with a very promising back line; Lumley a comer, going to be very good; (3) Eze — develop him into a more full time playmaker; he’s awesomely skilled; (4) The “Twin Peaks” Smith and Syllables — Retain both; believe Smith has vastly improved, and Syllla is on the verge of a breakout season; (5) Ollie — think we retain him for last contractual season on condition we hire Clint Hill for defense and team Ollie with a tactical brain versus Bircham; keep Ramsey developing the kids where he does so well.

timcocking added 02:00 - Apr 30
QPR have now had five under 20s score for them this season, more than any other team in the division


timcocking added 02:02 - Apr 30
Come on Burton!!!

QPRski added 05:54 - Apr 30
Thanks for a great read with lots of video clips.

When I saw the team selection, I very quickly downgraded my prediction to a draw. But what a great performance from the youngsters and the team. As a result, I would have titled the report “The coming of Age”.

It just shows, what do I know about football ... as well as journalism!

Well done to Olive and the Team. It bodes well for next season.

rkk76 added 06:58 - Apr 30
Have to stick with Holloway for another season. We aren't going to be able to give any new manager serious money to work with and he has achieved his remit. A couple of draws turned into wins and we wouldn't be that far off pushing for a playoff place. Yes the away form has been awful, and yes that has to improve but his recruitment and blooding of the youngsters has been good! A lack of centre backs for the best part of half a season doesn't help your away form.

If he could be a bit less Ollie at times we'd improve! Even though the formation and squad selection here worked well, often it is erratic. A more stable squad selection and a core formation and he'd do as well as anyone else could here!

E15Hoop added 07:20 - Apr 30
Well said, rkk76!

Clive - I think you're making too much out of Ollie's supposed state of mind. I chatted to him for a few minutes after the game, and he was as excited as ever about the performance, and also about what he expects Gary Penrice to deliver over the coming weeks.

We HAVE to stick with Ollie! The class of '93 are a big chunk of this club now behind the scenes, and let's not forget that they were all part of the second most successful QPR team of all time behind the class of '76. They've experienced consistent (relative) success at LR and so provide a stable framework and level of expectation that it's vital that the youngsters buy into consistently if we're going to move forwards. In addition, I think the senior management team understand that, and I also think there's a lot of harmony now at the club which we could have only dreamt of four or five years ago.

Spoke to Sir Les as well, and the key recruitment targets are a centre half and another striker. Birch thinks that the U23 centre halves aren't quite ready yet to make the step up.

snanker added 08:34 - Apr 30
Dare I say and jinx it but it looks like a plan is coming together ? Patience not a QPR virtue is gradually being rewarded and as rkk76 typed we missed at least a couple of center backs regularly through out the campaign compromising away form. Turn that around in 18/19 and we may well challenge higher up the table. The Chief will be missed and what a generally decent stint he put in throughout his LR career. Cheers NO. Holloway must be allowed to continue what he has started and begun to put in place. These youngsters are relishing their opportunity and granted while not all may make it we seem to be blessed with an abundance of upcoming talent. The future looks promising roll on next season

sexton added 08:52 - Apr 30
Great stuff as always, although no mention that the first goal started in our own half after a great run and sublime pass from Eze. It's there in the video though.

jonno added 09:08 - Apr 30
Excellent report as ever Clive, many thanks for them all throughout the season. I also thought the referee was excellent, there was a point during the first half when Birmingham were starting to instigate a refereeing committee but he immediately put a stop to that. Pity we can't have him every week! We played extremely well when we had possession and were a joy to watch, it's starting to look positive for next season despite the loss of some experienced players, mainly Ned. Hopefully we can find suitable replacements.

Northernr added 09:22 - Apr 30
E15 - Good to hear, cheers for that.

BlackCrowe added 10:15 - Apr 30
I'm all over the place really. Just a couple of days ago i was saying that IH was not the man to take us forward. And now I'm beginning to doubt myself and think we should give him another season - particularly like madamgoodman60 (great first post btw) Clint Hill idea.

Marshy added 10:41 - Apr 30
One of the more entertaining matches we’ve seen at Loftus Road this season, and a great atmosphere too. I also had Chair as my man of the match as he was solid throughout, and also thought that Bright showed some sublime skills at times. Sad to see Chief and Mackie go, they may not have been our best ever players, but what they sometimes lacked in the footballing department, they made up for in terms of their commitment, passion and love for the club - particularly Mackie.

Going forward there will inivitably be some departures during the close season which we will find disapointing, but i really hope we will be encouraged by some additions. The main priority surely has to be at least one decent striker. Not easy by any means on our limited budget. But looking ahead if Ollie can blend some experience with the fantastic kids we have, then i think we could do rather well next season.

xian added 13:03 - Apr 30
Thanks for all your reports Clive - and to the occasional stand-ins. I always look forward to reading them whether I have been at the match or not. Your writing is entertaining, well-informed and you tell it like it is. Many national newspapers could do with a talent like yours and I say that as a journalist of 40 years standing.
Oh and I thought Chair was the stand out best player and also noted the size of his rear end, which actually gives him a low centre of gravity, v useful for a winger (if that is what he is).
Unlike last year, can't wait for the new season. Full of promise but Fernandes is right to say there are lots of hard decisions ahead, not least handing out some longer term contracts to the kids.

joolsyp added 16:24 - Apr 30
"QPR have now had five under 20s score for them this season, more than any other team in the division."

Fills my heart with hope for the future!

Clive - can I echo others in thanking you for all the hard work you do on this website, in particular your match reports which are always comprehensive and entertaining in equal measure. We are lucky to have you.

colsson added 16:44 - Apr 30
Many thanks to Clive, and various stand-in's, for all the hard work in getting out previews and post match reports for 46+ games throughout the season. Always entertaining, well balanced and occasionally thought provoking.

Like many I did wonder how it would turn out on Sat with no recognised centre halves and 7 youngsters starting, and that didm;t include Smyth, but it was one of the most enjoyable games all season and a great testimony to the work done in recruiting, training and finally giving opportunities to some talented youngsters.

Agree with Chair as MOM but they all played their part, were not afraid to pick up the ball and run with it, including one mazy run from Kakay from right back position to the edge of the opposition penalty box, and to track back and defend when needed. Lumley also performed well bar the odd fumble and his distribution was better than we have seen for a while.

Given the progress we have made this season I think Holloway should be given the chance to carry on and build on this group of players as bringing in a new manager now, particularly given the shorter window this year, will only disrupt things. Clearly we need a decent striker and one or two central defenders, depending on whether Hall will ever be fit to play and whether we can persuade Robinson to stay or not. Washington is clearly out of the running and needs to be let go for whatever we can get for him. Similarly Cousins in my view. Olly has given him sufficient game time in recent weeks but I have not seen anything to make it worth retaining him, no goals, no assists and very little contribution going forward but a ability to pick up a yellow card.

All in all a satisfying season that met my, low, expectations. Let's hope we don't set them too high for next season and fall short. A top half finish will do.

Paddyhoops added 19:46 - Apr 30
Superb report as ever Clive.
Have to say when the team came through on my mobile, my mates and I nearly choked on our pre match pints!
We honestly thought olly had lost the plot. By 5 o clock we we're proved well and truly wrong.
Every one of our young players were outstanding. As previously said, lumley despite his error looked far more convincing than Ingram. Furlong ,manning, Eze and especially Chair looked the part.
Our future despite being hamstrung by finances looks bright. A new centre half and retaining the likes of Freeman and Luango will certainly help.
Finally a big shout out to our fans who in the main have stuck with the team and created a brilliant atmosphere on saturday.
Onwards and upwards!

Wren67 added 19:55 - Apr 30
Great reports all season Clive. I am not able to attend many matches so your reports are a godsend. Thanks and keep them coming. Pleased I could see the final home match and enjoyed it. The team looked confident on the ball. The defense confident play belied their age and experience. Loved Chair demanding the ball always making himself available for a pass. Eze's cross field pass to Freeman ( I think ) was sublime. I am unlikely to see the first 4 home games next season so will depend on you and Antii's excellent submissions.

Thanks and have a good summer.

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 23:00 - Apr 30
Thanks Clive, a great season’s work, again.

TacticalR added 23:42 - Apr 30
Thanks for your report (and all your other reports this season).

I don't think we can read too much into that game as Birmingham were really weak, and I don't think other teams are going to let us play through them like that.

In the first half, despite outplaying Birmingham, it looked like things might not come together for us as we were making too many hopeful long passes.

Special mention to Eze for that superb pass from midfield that got Luke Freeman away for the cross for our first goal (in the first video above).

In the second half Chair got more and more into the game and our superior skill and touch began to shine.

Then a farewell party atmosphere when Onuoha and Mackie came on.

CroydonCaptJack added 23:12 - May 3
Great report on a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

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