|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 1 Derby County|
Saturday, 6th October 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Cameron makes QPR's point against Frank Lampard's Derby County - Report
Sunday, 7th Oct 2018 15:48 by Clive Whittingham
Queens Park Rangers closed out the latest batch of fixtures before another riveting and crucially important international break with a creditable draw against the recently renamed play-off contenders Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
QPR have essentially sat sixteenth in the Championship, or within striking distance of, for two and a half years now and during that time you’ve been able to split the division into thirds and say with some degree of certainty what Rangers will do against teams from each section. They’ll pretty consistently take four to six points from the bottom eight, win one and lose one against the middle batch and rarely get anything at all bar the odd shock at home to Wolves or away to Villa from the leading pack.
With the away form improving – two wins from six after just three from 23 last season – and the number of clean sheets steadily climbing – four already this year compared to seven in the whole of last – a match with Frank Lampard’s Derby County would serve as an interesting bellwether on Steve McClaren’s QPR. Improving or stagnating? More than 14,000 trudged through the teeming rain to the School of Hard Knocks to find out.
Initially, it looked very much like the latter. The first half progressed in a similar vein to last week’s game here against Norwich, with precious little to commend it to the neutral viewer. Rangers started reasonably brightly, Jake Bidwell heading wide at the back post at the end of a good move in the third minute, then Nahki Wells headed straight at Scott Carson off a good cross from Jordan Cousins, again being utilised to the right of an attacking three with Eze at ten, Freeman on the left and Wells alone through the middle. When Carson was caught trying to play out from the back Luongo shot wide, Eze later did likewise and Wells clipped the top of the bar with a curling effort, but the threats to the Derby goal subsided pretty quickly and Rangers were grateful to Joe Lumley for a fine save to deny former Peterborough man Jack Marriott as he threatened to burst through on goal.
Frank Lampard’s Derby County took the lead midway through the first half during a five minute period of panic in the QPR defence. They’d already been lucky to survive Tom Lawrence skipping through three challenges before being deliberately felled by Toni Leistner on the edge of the box – Lumley got two strong hands to Lawrence’s resulting free kick and forced it over the bar. But there was to be no reprieve on 23 minutes when a simple long punt down the middle was inexplicably allowed to bounce in behind by the otherwise commanding German centre half and Marriott swooped in with a clinical finish. Somebody, somewhere, between Bidwell, Joel Lynch, Lumley or perhaps Marriott himself knows the truth about who put out an erroneous/cheeky call for Leistner to leave the ball, but in future it would be nice if he just planted a clearance firmly into the first row of the Paddocks and ask questions about who’s ignoring who afterwards.
The game then quickly started to descend into the sort of gamesmanship and clockrunning which is being allowed to take root and fester in the Championship this season. For any passing fans of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, I stress this isn’t the bitter rantings of somebody whose team had fallen behind in a game. We’ve had it done to us by Preston, Sheff Utd and Norwich this season while we’ve done it to Birmingham, Bolton and Millwall. It just seems that it is now acceptable practice that once you’re 1-0 up, particularly as an away team, the singular goal for the team is to keep the ball out of play for as long as possible. And so, with an hour still to play and only one goal in it, began, once again, the excruciating palaver of a goal kick only being taken after the keeper has walked out to the edge of his box to speak with his defenders, walked all the way back to retrieve the ball from behind the goal, found a towel in the net to clean the ball (presumably in case it’s too wet and dirty to kick), picked a side to take the goal kick from (the opposite one to where he’s cleaning the ball naturally), walked over there, placed the ball, taken a few steps back, taken a few steps forward, picked the ball up again, replaced the ball, taken a few steps back, pretended he hasn’t understood what the referee is shouting, acknowledge the second time what the referee is shouting, take a few more steps back, and then finally kick the ball down the field. Every. Single. Time.
We also had players repeatedly throwing themselves up in the air and screaming as if they’d been the victim of some sort of David Buust-style leg annihilation under the bare minimum of contact, followed by a prolonged period of rolling around on the floor, treatment from two physios (we have to have two physios now for some reason), a long, drawn out, laboured, pained, agonising stroll to the touchline, and then a swift 180 and sprint back into the action once play had resumed and the opponent had been punished. Lawrence, a bit of an underrated shithead for me, ended up being booked by struggling referee David Webb along with Angel Rangel for a ridiculously overblown clash between the pair under a quick throw out from Carson. Bradley Johnson and new England call up Mason Mount were both guilty of literally screaming after innocuous challenges on them that were barely fouls, and yet both were miraculously able to jump up and sprint about again moments later. One day somebody will snap one of them properly, but referees will be so accustomed to them letting out these weird banshee impressions that they risk being left to lay seriously injured on the turf while play goes on around them – you could hear their cries of wolf from White City tube station. In actual fact the only serious injury suffered all day was Jake Bidwell’s suspected broken collarbone, from a bad challenge that apparently didn’t even warrant a yellow card.
Referees can clamp down on this, as we saw during the World Cup. Book early and often for time wasting and it stops. Allow the play to go on and invite the player to go to the sideline for treatment if it’s really necessary and they’re soon up and about again. But we are seeing time and time again this season, from QPR in games they’re winning and against QPR in games they’re losing, this ball acheing twattery just allowed to go on and on and on unchecked. Webb barely had a control of the game all afternoon - ignoring serious stuff, penalising stuff that could have been allowed to go, a grasp of the advantage rule as thin as tracing paper - and as per usual completely ignored everything that had gone on in the respective halves and added the regulation two minutes to the first and four to the second regardless. Championship football is a bracing watch at the best of times, and this sort of Portuguese league-style game killing is suffocating it even more.
QPR have struggled when behind this season, quickly losing self belief. They’re unbeaten in 27 games when leading at half time (21 wins and six draws), which tells you something about what a confidence team we are. They struggle to overcome the deliberate attempts to slow the game down, and are too shy of introducing pace and width to their own attack to change things back in their favour. In actual fact, the Bidwell injury did us a bit of a favour here (though not for the three months we’ll be without him with no natural senior cover in that position) by getting Pawel Wszolek into the game nice and early. It took McClaren and his cast of thousands down on the bench an absolute age to make the change, Rangers played a portion of the first half with ten men while they deliberated and eventually elected to spurn the obvious Lynch to left back, Cameron to centre back, Scowen to centre mid switch in favour of bringing on Wszolek, switching Rangel to the left and moving Cousins back to full back. The Pole was great, and any fears that the second half would continue in the dire, staid, dull and boring manner the first had ended in were quickly put to bed.
Rangers were level almost immediately. Tomori was adjudged by Webb to have fouled Eze on the edge of the area when he’d done nothing of the sort giving Luke Freeman a presentable free kick opportunity. Scott Carson has enjoyed a career revival at Frank Lampard’s Derby County, and is rated by many of their fans as the best keeper in the league, but he has a history of mistakes at Loftus Road and is always a keeper I feel gives you a chance. Caught between a catch and a camera save from Freeman’s shot he did neither, parrying the ball straight to Nahki Wells who pulled it back blind from the byline for Geoff Cameron to slam in a first goal for the club.
He's a weird one Cameron. Bought as a centre back to play instead of Lynch, he finds himself in midfield where frankly I don’t think he has the legs to play. I was amazed he’d got as far forward as he did for the goal and came away from the game thinking he’d played pretty poorly before finding that everybody back at the Crown had him as a man of the match contender. I suspect/hope he’ll have to drop into the back four with Lynch at left back if the Bidwell injury is as serious as feared and to be honest I don’t think that will be a bad thing. We already have two centre backs lacking pace, frantically feeling for the byline behind them all the time, without a static central midfielder sitting right on top of them as well. We’re too deep, too often.
The second half was watchable, which was a vast improvement on what had gone on before half time. Scores now level, the arseholery ceased and both teams started to play to win the game again. It blossomed into something of a cliffhanger through the last half an hour, absorbing and interesting. Frank Lampard’s Derby County sent on Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson and he was quickly robbing Rangel and unloading a long ranger that took three or four changes of direction en route to goal and was watched and saved well by Lumley who is growing in confidence and presence with every game. Amazing what happens when you give a kid a run of games to establish himself in a team.
Johnson shot over after running away from Wells, then Wszolek dribbled a shot wide after a purposeful run through the heart of Frank Lampard’s Derby County defence and past the people’s champion Richard Keogh. Cameron’s superb ball to an onside Wells in the sixty sixth minute seemed certain to bring an overdue first goal for the club for the Burnley loanee, but he killed it stone dead and couldn’t get it out of his feet before the defence re-massed around him.
It was a happy sort of shambles by the end. Bryson was booked for deliberately fouling Freeman, Leistner likewise for a similarly cynical effort on Marriott. Rangers sent on Tomer Hemed to search for a win, with Wszolek now moved to full back where he quickly covered in behind his centre backs to execute a goal-saving tackle on Marriott as he searched for a brace. Frank Lampard’s Derby County brought on Tom Huddlestone who immediately seized control of the midfield area, and Martyn Waghorn who looks like he’s seized control of Pizza Hut’s unlimited lunch buffet. The team’s matched each other in shape and performance level. Derby looked half decent, particularly the three attackers behind the lone striker, but I don’t think you get promoted with that defence and deep lying midfield pair. They have Curtis Davies to come back from injury.
A draw was a fair result at the end of an entertaining, end to end, enjoyable second half and that’s how it finished.
The gap between QPR’s best performances and worst is vast, and they often come within a few days of each other. This was absolutely unrecognisable from the nonsense at Swansea last Saturday, which in turn was the complete opposite of the clinical demolition of Millwall the week before. It’s a season that’s up and down like a bride’s nightie, lurching from moments of great hope and optimism, to ones of deep concern and despair. This was only Rangers’ second drawn game so far.
Stabilising and finding a consistently good level of performance will surely be job one on McClaren’s list when we return to action at Ipswich Town in a fortnight.
QPR: Lumley 7, Rangel 6, Leistner 6, Lynch 7, Bidwell 6 (Wszolek 30, 7); Luongo 6, Cameron 6; Cousins 6 (Hemed 69, 6), Eze 6 (Smith 90+3, -), Freeman 7; Wells 6
Subs not used: Ingram, Scowen, Baptiste, Osayi-Samuel
Goals: Cameron 48 (assisted Wells)
Bookings: Rangel 9 (shithousery), Luongo 37 (foul), Leistner 86 (foul)
Derby: Carson 5; Bogle 6, Keogh 6, Tomori 6, Forsyth 6; Bryson 6, Johnson 5 (Huddlestone 75, 7); Jozefzoon 6 (Wilson 56, 7), Mount 7, Lawrence 6 (Waghorn 78, 6); Marriott 6
Subs not used: Roos, Nugent, Davies, Malone
Goals: Marriott 24 (assisted Johnson)
Bookings: Lawrence 9 (shithousery), Bryson 83 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Pawel Wszolek 7 On for the injured Bidwell in the first half he first of all added a much needed attacking threat in a wide area, then after being switched to full back came up with a goal saving tackle covering in behind his centre backs late in the second half. Thrown into a game earlier than expected, asked to play several positions over the course of the hour, got on with the job and impressed in all roles. Should be used more.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 5 A difficult game to referee, with several players (Bradley Johnson) trying every trick in the book to con him, screaming blue murder as if they’d had their leg snapped after every challenge. But, overall, not the best. Derby were, rightly, stewing over the free kick which led to the goal which was never a foul in a month of Sundays, although it’s a bit much to accuse the referee of costing you the game with one mistake across 90 minutes and it rather ignores Scot Carson’s part in it. It was one of several very soft/blatantly wrong free kicks given against both sides, often when there was an obvious advantage to wave on, while other much more serious stuff was ignored – the challenge that broke Jake Bidwell’s collar bone, for instance, not even a yellow card. Prior to the equaliser he’d been another example of a referee enabling and encouraging time wasting by failing to do anything about some pretty flagrant clock running.
Souls on board 14,727 (2,686 Derby approx) Nice to see, and hear, the place a bit fuller after some pretty lonely afternoons and evenings in W12 so far this season. And Ipswich won, so we’re safe to make that trip next week after all.
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