|Queens Park Rangers 2 v 3 Hull City|
Saturday, 1st December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Vintage QPR performance lands them in Hull hell - Report
Sunday, 2nd Dec 2018 12:48 by Clive Whittingham
QPR slipped to a 3-2 home defeat against relegation-haunted Hull City at Loftus Road on Saturday - a tale of woe we've seen play out a thousand times before
Frustrating, irritating, galling, annoying… it was all of these things and more of course, but as anybody who’s been coming to this part of the world for their football for any length of time will tell you, what it was most of all was pure Queens Park Rangers.
Play brilliantly against Aston Villa and win in front of the TV cameras, open up a large can of pain and torment on Brentford and sweep them aside, match the number of away wins from last season in the first three months of this, climb into play-off contention, scrap two very creditable points from difficult away games at big-spending Stoke and an awkward Rotherham side and then in the game when we’re meant to fill our boots and dip us bread we fall flat on our arse. Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. In the end the thing I was most cross about is that we didn’t see it coming a million miles off, this was easier to read than a Joel Lynch pass out from the back. QPR 2-0? What an absolute cretin.
Complacency was the single biggest issue against Hull City on Saturday. QPR were ninth at the start of play, with one defeat in nine, just three points shy of the play-off places. Rangers were starting to look pretty good - settled in their shape, comfortable in their skin, knowing what they’re doing – and the demon hope was creeping back in. Hull City - suffocated by a malicious board whose latest spiteful act of revenge on a city and its football club that wouldn’t turn its publicly owned stadium over to them for a nominal fee so they could develop the land behind it seems to be to turn them into a League One club run on a budget of about 30 quid - have been mostly rubbish all season and were twenty second in the league prior to kick off. The assumption, from the players and the supporters inside Loftus Road, was that this would be an easy home banker. You could smell it coming off the place from the first whistle. We reeked of it.
Hull took full advantage. They scored after just five minutes, with the outstanding Jarrod Bowen allowed to cut inside from the Hull right completely unchecked and unload a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
A quarter of an hour later, they made it 2-0, and if you thought the first was embarrassingly easy then my good God you hadn’t seen anything yet. Markus Henriksen headed in from Bowen’s corner as if it was a training session. The marking was non-existent, and you’ve also got to be wondering why a ball landing that close to the goal at that height isn’t tempting your six-foot four-inch goalkeeper off the line for a catch.
The silence inside Loftus Road when it went in was like nothing I’d ever really experienced before. Stunned.
There was at least something resembling a response from QPR this time. They scored their first of the afternoon immediately, Pawel Wszolek finishing neatly at the end of a crisp and incisive move. Within a minute a great move ended with Nahki Wells having his shot tipped away out of the top corner by Hull goalkeeper David Marshall. On the half hour Marshall denied Wells again with a great save after Wszolek had cut a ball back from the byline and within seconds an outlandish shot from Angel Rangel had cannoned back into play off the angle of post and bar from the thick end of 30 yards. Three bad Luke Freeman corner deliveries eventually led to a good one at the fourth attempt – Marshall saved from Lynch.
But actually, the goal only seemed to perpetuate the myth that this would all be fine, that QPR would win somehow, that Hull were there for the taking, that it would all be alright in the end, that the two City goals were just a blip. In actual fact, things were the farthest thing from fine. QPR weren’t even doing the basics right. Lynch’s foul on Bowen as he was running away from goal into neutral territory, setting up a dangerous free kick that Grosicki hit over, was braindead even by his meathead standards. Only an amazing block from Rangel in his own six-yard-box stopped Fraizer Campbell making it 3-1 from more wonderful Bowen approach work. It was quite the first half from a neutral point of view, happy Championship chaos, like a couple of monkeys sitting in the bottom of a cage throwing their own shit at each other, but that was only because QPR were so lethargic, so arrogant, so complacent, so completely wide open, so completely shapeless, that Hull were able to cut through and create chances at will and all Rangers could do to counter was throw a few men forward the other way and try and do likewise.
Hull had to make two changes to their back four at half time. Reece Burke and Eric Lichaj were both injury doubts before kick off, and neither could manage more than 45 minutes which meant De Wijs and McKenzie were summoned by Nigel Adkins for the second half. Trailing by a goal, attacking the Loft End, against a relegation-threatened side with half its defence switched at half time, we awaited a 21-gun barrage of Marshall’s goal as Rangers searched for an equaliser. It never materialised. Tomer Hemed came on for Geoff Cameron on the hour and made no difference. Matt Smith followed ten minutes later for Angel Rangel and things stayed much the same. It was only when Bright Osayi-Samuel arrived four minutes from time that any real urgency and panic seemed to set in at all and between then and full time Freeman had scored what turned out to be a consolation goal off the underside of the bar amidst a goal mouth scramble, then curled a 25 yard free kick just past the post, and Samuel stood up a delightful cross that took Marshall out of the game and looked for all the world like Smith or Hemed might force it home before Hull cleared. Prior to that Rangers had simply allowed vast swathes of the second half to just drift by when really this game needed grabbing by the throat.
But there was more to this defeat than simply bad attitude. That can be cured, this game can serve as a wake up call, Steve McClaren can kick a few arses down at Harlington this week, and we can come back sharper and more focused next week. Of more concern is the tactical flaws teams are starting to pick out in our 4-2-3-1 system.
We’ve enjoyed consistently good performances for a couple of months now by picking a settled team in a settled shape, but the problem with the opposition knowing exactly how you’re going to line up and play each week is it gives them mountains of match footage to pick through and find things they like. Nigel Adkins, who has now won four times at Loftus Road with four different clubs, did that expertly on Saturday, not only nullifying Ebere Eze with a man marking detail, but also exploiting a weakness in the defensive shape that Stoke and Rotherham had discovered during the week.
McClaren and his players have made a big point in recent weeks of defending their own penalty box with their lives. There’s been some great backs-to-the-wall defensive efforts against Villa and others of late, with bodies chucked in the way and tackles made and saves pulled off to repel all enemies right at the border. Toni Leistner and Joel Lynch are one and two in the league for headed clearances this year. But this very deep, very tight, very narrow defence with its two-man protection detail in front of it, is leaving acres of space out wide. At Stoke, Gary Rowett found that if they played the ball down their right wing and then hung a ball up to the far side of the field, huge overloads could easily be worked up on Angel Rangel, and likewise if they went down the left and switched to the right Jake Bidwell was often alone, too far in field, with two or three players piling in round the back of him. Although the first goal came from a bad pass out by Lynch, both Stoke goals and both the goals they had disallowed were scored by crossing from one side to the other, and overloading the back post.
On Tuesday at Rotherham, it took Paul Warne’s side five minutes to play down their right and then switch the play with a high, hanging ball right on top of Rangel for Jon Taylor to charge onto and set up Vaulks for the first goal. The second was from a straight free kick, but was again scored with embarrassing ease by a player steaming in at the back post over the top of isolated full backs.
Here, Hull kept picking away at that all afternoon, playing down the left side and then switching play to Bowen who tormented Bidwell all afternoon, or coming down the right initially and then looking across field for Grosicki who wasn’t far behind Bowen in the man of the match stakes. An overload on Rangel after 28 minutes which ended with Grosicki crossing and the stylish Jackson Irvine heading over was an absolute prime example. I know we’re all bumming Rangel to death at the moment, and he has been very good for us, but he was poor here and we miss Darnell Furlong’s prodigious aerial ability when teams are doing that to us. We also need far more protection from Wszolek and Freeman when it’s happening. At the start of the second half, when we thought it would be QPR laying siege to the Hull goal, in actual fact Irvine was able to craft a one two around Bidwell with Freeman completely failing to track his runner and the Australian crossed for Henrisken to shoot over.
There were bits and pieces – Bidwell crossed first time but Freeman couldn’t apply a finishing touch, then Hemed missed the ball completely when the former Brentford left back centred again from the left. But you couldn’t begrudge Hull their third goal which arrived when Bowen sprung an offside trap that’s been creaking all week and eventually finished under Joe Lumley at the second attempt after the keeper had initially saved one on one. Grosicki looked well off in the build up, but two minutes later that familiar problem of an overload wide, a cross from the Pole, and Irvine arriving late in the box would have brought a fourth for Hull but for a brilliant Lumley save and that time Rangel had played them all on.
And then there was referee Jeremy Simpson. Few agree but I happen to think the standard of Championship refereeing is actually pretty good. We give sixes, sevens and eights to the officials most weeks and the vast majority of the decisions are correct, including almost all of the big ones, on the days when Andy Woolmer’s not involved. That said, this bloke really boils my piss.
He’s one of those officials that I not only wonder how he’s been able to move up the ladder this far, but why he’s even really in the job at all. Like somebody that was bullied at school by the boys who were good at football and has now made it his life’s work to ruin the sport for them in adulthood, he has absolutely no feel for the games he’s in charge of which frequently spiral into the sort of farcical nonsense we saw in the second half here. There was the bizarre incident straight after half time where Leistner went through the back of Frazier Campbell ten yards away from Simpson who initially played on only to then bring play back and award a free kick, and then belatedly book Leistner, after consultation with the fourth official, who was 40 yards further away and looking through the bloody referee to see the incident. What’s he fucking seen from over there that you haven’t from ten bloody yards away? Two minutes later when he did see Elphick cut through the back of Eze in a much more dangerous position on the field, he awarded a free kick but no yellow card.
He awarded fouls that weren’t fouls, including the one in stoppage time on Luongo for the Freeman free kick wide. Then he didn’t blow for much more obvious offences, such as when Wells was obviously chopped down from behind in the same position five minutes earlier, and when Matt Smith shoved a defender in the area to create a late chance. At one point he stopped the game for a “serious injury” to Campbell that was, pretty balatantly to anybody with half a brain in their head, cramp, and having done that he then attempted to restart it by asking QPR (who were in possession at the time) to return the ball to Hull via a drop ball. Leistner, rightly, told him exactly where he could stick that idea and just played on.
And then there was the time wasting. My god, the time wasting. All of the time wasting. Over every throw in, every goal kick, every free kick, and a laughable moment when Grosicki was replaced by Mazuch midway through the second half and was allowed to pigeon step Paul Pogba penalty style all the way from the centre spot to the dugout in a voyage that seemed to take him 80 years to complete. Simpson’s reaction to this was to issue warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning, after warning. Everybody got a bloody warning in the end, and nobody got a card. On more than one occasion he stopped Marshall in the process of taking a goal kick, or Batty in the process of taking a throw in, to warn them to get on with it. Well that’s just wasting more time still isn’t it you fucking penis?
The second half had four substitutions, including the Grosicki farce; two goals, including the Bowen one where the celebrations lasted longer than the 100 years war; and three Hull injuries, all of which involved ridiculously overblown medical attention followed by a long, slow, drawn out walk to the furthest touchline away after which they were immediately waved back on and came sprinting back into the action. Having spent the whole second half allowing the Hull players to take the absolute piss out of him if he honestly believes that four minutes of stoppage time was adequate at the end of all that then he’s even more of a festering knobcheese than even I’d initially given him credit for.
Batty was eventually booked for kicking the ball away, which was fairly blatant, but nowhere near as obvious as Bowen lobbing the onrushing Lumley long, long, long after he’d been flagged and whistled offside – no card for that. Honest to God the bloke couldn’t find his own arse with both hands. He’s in desperate need of something else to do with his Saturday’s because this sport certainly isn’t for him.
But he wasn’t the reason we lost. Both teams got exactly what they deserved – three points to Hull for an excellent performance, full of attacking intent and clever tactical ideas and set ups; no points to QPR, who were peculiarly lethargic, tactically found out, and horribly complacent.
You watch us win at Leeds next week now.
QPR: Lumley 5; Rangel 5 (Smith 73, 5), Leistner 5, Lynch 4, Bidwell 5; Cameron 5 (Hemed 63, 5), Luongo 5; Wszolek 5 (Osayi-Samuel 86, -), Eze 5, Freeman 5; Wells 5
Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Cousins, Scowen
Goals: Wszolek 24 (assisted Rangel), Freeman 90+1 (assisted Smith)
Bookings: Bidwell 78 (foul), Lynch 87 (nearly Christmas)
Hull: Marshall 7; Kane 6, Elphick 7, Burke 6 (de Wijs 46, 6), Lichaj 6 (McKenzie 46, 6); Henriksen 7, Batty 6; Bowen 9, Irvine 8, Grosicki 8 (Mazuch 74, 6); Campbell 7
Subs not used: Stewart, Long, Keane, Martin
Goals: Bowen 5 (unassisted), 69 (assisted Grosicki), Henriksen 20 (assisted Bowen)
Bookings: Batty 73 (time wasting)
QPR Star Man – Bright Osayi-Samuel - Showed more purpose and attacking intent in his brief cameo than any of his team mates had managed in the previous 86 minutes. The only one who really looked like he grasped the urgency of the situation.
Referee – Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire) 2 Uncle knobhead.
Souls on board – 13,824 (600 Hull approx.) Atmosphere in keeping with the performance, complacency eventually replaced by stunned confusion. We should have known better. As ever on such days the highlight was the half time introduction of a former player - Mike Ferguson gave a fantastic interview and seemed genuinely touched to have been asked back. A wonderful initiative.
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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