|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Brentford|
Saturday, 10th November 2018 Kick-off 15:00
QPR bury Brentford in second half onslaught - Report
Sunday, 11th Nov 2018 22:32 by Clive Whittingham
QPR recovered from a dire game and narrow defeat at Blackburn to beat local rivals Brentford 3-2 in a five-star, silver bullet special at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Three goals in ten minutes is really something to be a part of.
The moment it happens cannot be adequately described to a non-believer. The second the ball crosses the line for the third time. The way the net bulges and scatters what little rainwater has managed to hang from it in the brief time since you last troubled it. The realisation it’s happening, and it’s happening to you and your club and your friends. The astonishment that it’s your team clutching the blisteringly hot blade and doing the knifing and twisting. The complete and utter abandon.
One goal? An equaliser? Brilliant, love it, treasure it, celebrate it, clutch it like a rare butterfly because it could be weeks before another comes along… but immediately recommence worrying. Is it a flash in the pan? Will it only serve to anger the opponent? Will we build on it and push on, or look back in anger through the hangover fog of Sunday morning at a brief, meaningless, respite through the pain and suffering of our pointless, unfulfilling existences? Will we be copied into their match reports crowing about how excited we got over our equaliser before they re-asserted their authority? In life, as one hand giveth, the other often attaches a tube for your Jalfrezi enema.
Two goals? Scenes. Shit just got real. As the late, great, Ray Wilkins would have said… My word. Shoo that WADA inspector away. Triple check that linesman hasn’t put his flag up. Get that Pigbag turned up. And then immediately recommence worrying. Have we gone too big and early? Have we allowed a period of optimism to permeate so much that we must now be punished by karma for our flagrant over-confidence with a late flurry of goals against? What horrors await in a half-hour backs-to-the-wall effort against a team with Sergi Canos, Alan Judge and Said Benrahma leading their attack against a defence made up of the slowest group of lifeforms assembled since the Cretaceous Period? Silly old soaks, getting our hopes up again.
Three goals though. Three goals? That’s really something. That’s grabbing hold of strangers time. That’s an outright rampage. That’s a ruptured oesophagus. That’s a gentle call to the boss to renegotiate the idea of you coming in on Monday morning. That’s what it looks like when a team cuts loose. And, frankly, at that precise point in time, who cares what happens in the last half an hour, or whether the players enacting the demolition job are from the youth team or here on loan, or whether we’ve changed our plans or bust our budget or placed our entire club behind the eight ball once-a-bloody-gain? That stuff’s valid, but it’s for later. You think you can find that feeling anywhere else in this sordid little grief hole then good luck to you. Hook it to my veins.
Three goals in ten minutes. Straight after half time. QPR, 1-0 down, teetering Italian Job-style on the cliff edge of another London derby humbling or an extension of their 2018/19 salvage job. They’ve not been good when behind this season, bar a recovery to 1-1 after falling behind to Frank Lampard’s Derby County here a month ago. At Preston, 1-0 early turned into 1-0 finally. Against Sheff Utd at home, 2-1 on the hour progressed into 2-1 after 90. At West Brom, 1-0 early escalated into the footballing equivalent of watching your dad get beaten up outside your school by one of the other dads. Swansea was, well, Swansea. And at home to Bristol City, 1-0 morphed into that dream where you’re nude in a room full of people that hate you.
Adversity’s not our thing, and in front of Loftus Road’s biggest crowd in three years there was plenty of that to deal with in a period of time Big Racist Ron used to refer to as “early doors”. Despite matching 4-2-3-1 formations, it was always to be a contrast of styles. Brentford like the ball, and QPR do not. Brentford like to complete 25 passes in their own penalty area and talk about how sophisticated they are, and QPR like to stay deep, tight and narrow around their own box and mutter among themselves about whatever ‘da fuck they doing down there? The key to the game lay in the channels. Brentford have tormented QPR full backs, particularly their former charge Jake Bidwell, in recent times with Sergi Canos, Jota and others isolating them in deep water and drowning them. If the emperor could shed his new clothes and break away from his aesthetically pleasing, utterly pointless, halfway line possession game long enough to spring QPR’s painfully slow back line in wide areas then Rangers would be bang in trouble. If he was content to pass around in front of a defensive unit made up once more of Angel Rangel, Toni Leistner, Joel Lynch, Jake Bidwell and Geoff Cameron and wait for somebody to step out and leave space then he'd be passing around and waiting for a very, very long time. This was to be fireworks night at the OK Corral, or vegan cookery class at The Female Bishop and Atheist Polar Bear in Dulwich, and nothing in between.
In conditions that would have had Noah sucking his teeth and reneging on his original quote, it proved very much the former. Brentford went on the front foot straight away, exposing the full backs as they’ve done so often in recent meetings, taking advantage of Luke Freeman hanging onto the ball too long in the second minute to rob him and free Canos behind the stranded Bidwell – Joe Lumley saved safely but nervously off a greasy top. Four minutes later Brentford wasted an attacking free kick and Rangers countered, worrying a hurried clearance from keeper Dan Bentley that Ebere Eze may have been tempted to return goalwards first time from range but instead fed to Nahki Wells, in ahead of injured Tomer Hemed, who shot across the face of goal. The visitors’ best player, Benrahma, cut one back for their worst, Odubajo, to strike from outside the box but Rainier Wolfcastle stuck his face in the way and diverted a powerful drive over. My eyes, the goggles do nothing. A deep cross at the other end provoked a scramble which ended with Geoff Cameron drilling a volley wide from 20 yards. That was all in the first quarter of an hour.
There was a hint of trouble soon after when Luke Freeman, for reasons known only to himself, made an attempt on Canos’ life tight to the touchline under the camera gantry. A mindless tackle, on a player in a neutral area with his back to goal, and stupid early yellow card. Even Mark Dennis would have thought it a bit much. Excellent referee James Linington had no choice, and was right to wave away a subsequent penalty appeal for a much better timed tackle on Mass Luongo as he burst into the Brentford box. In between, the visitors opened the scoring – Benrahma again doing the damage with a cut inside and shot that Lumley will reflect should have been parried wider of his goal but instead landed plum on the head of Neal Maupay for a twelfth of the season.
Now what? Well a spill by Bentley on a free kick QPR had seemingly wasted gave Wells a chance with a follow up that was saved, but things were starting to drift as half time approached and Maupay parked himself in the centre circle with nobody around him demanding treatment. Suspicions of a Preston-style time wasting tactic were quickly dispelled as oxygen was rushed onto the pitch. No, you were playing an imaginary violin. We wish him well.
Second half. Sink or swim, fight or flight, piss or get off the pot. Norwich at home? Or Jamie Mackie against Liverpool? Stop waving it around, and start fucking.
Straight away, turning the tables on the dealer, QPR got Luke Freeman in on Henrik Dalsgaard wide left, and Pawel Wszolek in on Moses Odubajo wide right. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like it one bit. When Rangel switched the play gloriously and Wszolek fed Freeman in behind he had one cut back intercepted by Mepham and a second saved with his feet by Bentley but Dalsgaard had tracked him across and was hopelessly out of position so when the ball hit him and rebounded back towards goal it presented Mass Luongo with a simple tap in for his second of the season.
Brentford responded. They’d brought on Alan Judge for Maupay and slung Canos up through the middle at half time but Benrahma was still tormenter in chief, backing Rangel into a place he didn’t want to be and then skinning him before drawing a save from Lumley. Bidwell’s tackle on Canos moments later was goal-saving, and when he ventured forwards in the next possession the harassed Dalsgaard conceded a free kick in the sort of area Luke Freeman likes to eat. To be honest, they looked offside. All of them: Leistner, who won the first header; Lynch, who scored the goal; Wells, who was next in the queue at the meat counter had Lynch been too busy checking his Tinder alerts. But the flag stayed down. And Lynch banged it in. And now it was 2-1. And Brentford were shellshocked. And QPR were rampant. And from the kick off Pawel Wszolek seized on self-doubt in Odubajo and piled on down the right flank hungry for more. A low cross was touched through the legs Konsa by Nahki Wells and thumped into the bottom corner for 3-1. Pure, unadulterated, pandemonium. The noise was incredible. Primeval.
Back came Brentford, Leistner’s clearance rebounding back to them off Luongo so Canos could feed Benrahma once again and Lumley made his best save of the game to stop him making it 3-2. Freeman shot into the side netting at the Loft End during a QPR period of pressure. We, I, slag this league off a lot. It’s rubbish. Turgid, pedestrian, irrelevant, stodge. But it produces games like this in stadiums like this in conditions like these sometimes and when it does there’s nowhere else to be. End to end, on the floor, talented players, tremendous atmosphere… gripping. Gripping. If Brentford had made it 3-3 I’d have been gutted, but exhilarated. This was exhilarating. I defy our sport's harshest critic to sit through this without a hint of an erection. If Eze’s free kick on 71 minutes from the edge of the area after Wszolek had cut a ball back to him and he’d been tripped had gone in the top corner I’d still be there now, losing my shit. He beat the wall, and the keeper, and the net. Should have gone low. Difficult to get a bullet up and down from there Clive.
QPR kept possession to kill it off as best they could, and Eze's intelligence in retaining the ball or winning free kicks just when his team needs it belies his tender years. But Brentford’s biggest enemy wasn’t the R’s, or the clock, it was their own rigidity and smugness. Much like QPR in August, the Bees persisted with the trendy, modern, holier-than-thou, pass out from the back system right through to the final whistle. Problem was, QPR were wise to it and feasting on the mistakes it provided from the moment the second half began. Slowly but surely, Dan Bentley, Chris Mepham and Ezri Konsa were ground down into rushed passes, mistakes and panics. Bentley has gone from the division’s outstanding goalkeeper to one of its most accident prone. They’ve Ingramed him right up. Trying to produce a budget Barcelona routine with players ill-equipped to do it is admirable but naïve. Trying to persist with it when it’s been found out, and you’re 3-1 down, and there’s five minutes left, is moronic. Doing that and then looking down your nose at anybody who tries to combat it, or plays a slightly different way, or puts the odd tackle in, as if football is only to be played one way and anybody who dissents from that is some sort of philistine, or enemy of the sport, or Tony Pulis tribute act, is arrogant.
There’s a whole lot of grey area between Pep Guardiola and Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett and daring to stray into that for ten minutes here or there to regain a foothold in a game, or see out a draw away from home, or not turn a 1-0 advantage into a 3-1 deficit in the time it takes to make a cup of tea isn’t compromising any values, or beneath anybody, or even that bad to watch. You can’t knock how Brentford are run, how they scout, how they sign players, how they set up, how they play, how they look, how they are, what they do. This is our first win against them in six attempts and we’ll no doubt get done at Griffin Park in the New Year, as we always do, so we can hardly talk. And I’d no more pay to watch a Sam Allardyce-style team than spend tomorrow licking my wheelie bin clean. But Brentford lost more points from winning positions than anybody in the league last season, and these were the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth points to slip away from them having led already this term after just 17 games. Da Silva looked good, but he was introduced too late to stem the bleeding. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has a more solid underbelly than this lot and rather than correct it they just seem to frown upon anybody who dares to exploit it, like it’s somehow not fair. A year ago they were chucking more attackers on at 2-0 up in the final ten minutes and ended up conceding two in injury time while sending out Tweets thanking the “Brentford family” for a “wonderful evening”. Now this. Even QPR have more street smarts than this lot, and we give our sort code and account number out to people who distract us with shiny pieces of paper.
They did make it 3-2, with a worrying amount of time left on the clock. Dalsgaard, grateful to be away from the persistent nagging of Freeman for a moment, slipped one under Lumley that he’ll be disappointed with. QPR could and probably should have made more substitutions sooner – McClaren’s trait to make the right changes ten minutes later than they should have happened persists, with Cousins making a difference post 86-minutes but Cameron, Eze and others baggage long before that and Samuel, Scowen and others sitting in the stand unused. But another bad injury, this time to Benrahma, stalled any momentum that might have built and a slim four minutes of stoppage time was seen out as comfortably as any such periods of time pass in such circumstances. Freeman chased the ball around like a Tasmanian devil, suffocating any final push from the visitors - you'll have to go a long way and pay a lot of money to see a bum that big move that far and that fast. Feat of nature. In the end they were reduced to sending the goalkeeper up for a corner - Bentley probably just grateful to get away from the self-inflicted terror in his own area for a bit. Wolfcastle bastarded the ball away.
Three goals in ten minutes though. The kids set this sort of shit to the Titanic music. It’s their version of irony. You’re here, there’s nothing I fear. Who said they were bored? Not me, never believed it. We’ll stay, forever this way. And we went back to work on Monday. And nobody understood. And we gave not a single toss. Because if you don’t know the buzz of seeing your team splice three goals through the spleen of your sanctimonious local rivals in ten second half minutes then you haven’t lived. Not as we’ve lived.
Match Gallery: 21 photos
How can you not get romantic about baseball?
QPR: Lumley 6; Rangel 7, Leistner 7, Lynch 7, Bidwell 7; Cameron 6, Luongo 6; Wszolek 8, Eze 6, Freeman 7; Wells 7 (Cousins 86, -)
Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Hall, Scowen, Smith, Osayi-Samuel
Goals: Luongo 50 (assisted Freeman), Lynch 58 (assisted Freeman/Leistner), Wells 60 (assisted Wszolek)
Bookings: Freeman 18 (foul), Wells 65 (yellow)
Brentford: Bentley 5; Dalsgaard 6, Mepham 6, Konsa 6, Odubajo 5; McEachran 6 (Da Silva 76, 7), Yennaris 6; Canos 6, Sawyers 6, Benrahama 8 (Clarke 84, -); Maupay 7 (Judge 45+6, 7)
Subs not used: Marcondes, Daniels, Barbet, Oksanen
Goals: Maupay 22 (assisted Benrahma), Dalsgaard 81 (assisted Sawyers)
Bookings: Sawyers 59 (dissent)
QPR Star Man – Pawel Wszolek 8 Led a noticeable, meaningful up in tempo and high press at the start of the second half, destroying Odubajo and setting up a roof-raising third for Nahki Wells. If only he could do it away from home.
Referee – James Linington (Isle of Wight) 8 Difficult to fault. Fraught, competitive game between two teams both playing to win, flying at each other from end to end at high pace, and he kept up with the whole thing, rarely more than ten yards away from his decisions which were made quickly, decisively, fairly and almost always correctly. It’s how you want a game like this refereed, in the background but not to the point where it’s allowed to run into an absolute free for all. His stoppage time allocation, in both halves, given what had gone on injury and goal wise, was a complete nonsense – I thought there’d be five or six minimum at the end of the game - but that was about all you could say by way of criticism. Some of the Championship fusspots hoping to reach the Premier League by steadfastly ticking every box on the sheet and suffocating the games they’re in charge of in the process – Peter Bankes – would do well to watch this calm, authoritative, sensible approach to a difficult task and emulate it. The game would be much better for more refereeing like this. Contributed to a fine spectacle.
Souls on board – 17,609 (2,900 Brentford approx.) And didn’t she look and sound magnificent? Biggest crowd for more than three years. The club need to pull out all the stops for Hull now. It would be a terrible shame, and an enormous missed opportunity, to quietly slip back to a sub-12,000 church picnic atmosphere in that game given the momentum that’s building. People are interested again, get ‘um snared, get ‘um hooked, get ‘um spending. The annual silence and playing of the Last Post was observed absolutely immaculately after a poignant recount of all the players from both clubs who perished during the World Wars. You can keep your minute of applause, that’s how respect should be shown.
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