|Bristol City 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 12th February 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Not exactly the game you'd choose - Preview
Tuesday, 12th Feb 2019 12:23 by Clive Whittingham
Need a gentle pick-me-up from the devastation of Saturday? How about a midweek away trip to a Bristol City team boasting eight consecutive wins?
Bristol City (14-8-8, WWWWWW, 6th) v QPR (11-6-13, LLDLWL, 15th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Tuesday February 12, 2019 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – overcast, should stay dry >>> Ashton Gate, Bristol
Three days on and it still hurts. I can’t go more than five minutes without thinking about it, without seeing the stuttered run up, without Lee Camp diving right. It’s my brain’s new way of trolling me - a change from dropping hideously inappropriate people into my consciousness at delicate sexual moments or graphic imagery of fat old people on the toilet when I’m trying to eat I’ll give it that, but not a welcome change at all. Haunted by the Nahki Wells penalty.
It’s difficult to pull a conclusion from the circus at Loftus Road on Saturday, like trying to find a knitting pattern for fog, and perhaps we shouldn’t even try. Perhaps it was just one of those freaky one off riotous loads of nonsense that sport throws up sometimes. A baffling afternoon made all the more confusing by the first meeting between the sides earlier this season which didn’t produce a shot in anger from either team and was one of the worst games of football I’ve ever seen. Trying to come up with ‘five things we learned’ from QPR 3-4 Birmingham is like trying to chart the flight path of an epileptic gnat. Just a load of squiggly lines and nonsense that made no sense at the time and have no bearing on what’s coming next.
Steve McClaren seemed quite upbeat at full time. Lots more talk of the spirit and the fight in the team, the new QPR, the attitude, winning the second half yadda yadda yadda. But the fact remains we took a midtable team in almost as poor form as ourselves and, for 40 minutes, made them look like the 1986 World Cup winning Argentina side. Che Adams waved through by Joel Lynch to play the Maradona role. Set alongside the four goals conceded at home to Preston in the previous league game at Loftus Road and it doesn’t bode well for a hectic month in which we still have to play four of the top six and a Premier League team in little over a fortnight. That starts tonight at Bristol City, who have won eight on the bounce and have the division’s second best defensive record.
In many ways that 90 minutes, and the lack of conclusions drawn from it, is a perfect microcosm of the season as a whole. Rangers, as they did against Birmingham, started appallingly, conceding goals for fun and losing the first four matches. A 3-0 loss to Bristol City at Loftus Road was the fourth match in that sequence and as I lay wide awake on the sleeper train up to Edinburgh that night I feared for the future of our Rangers. “Still a very poorly football club” I wrote in the wake of the West Brom humiliation (they’re in town next week by the way, lovely stuff).
A very fortunate, scrambled 1-0 win at home to Wigan stopped the rot in the same way Matt Smith’s bundled goal before half time did on Saturday and QPR, both in the game against Birmingham and the season as a whole, then set off on a very entertaining, at times thrilling, momentum-driven run of form that had the Loftus Road faithful purring. There was the superb televised win against Aston Villa with Ickle Jack Gwealish squeaming and squeaming until he was sick about all the nasty QPR players kicking him in the shins (maybe some pads would be a good idea?) and refusing to buy him an ice cream. There was the three goals in ten second half minutes against Brentford. The first win since dinosaurs roamed the earth at Nottingham Forest. The FA Cup progress. It’s been good, the football has been good, the team has looked settled and like it knows what it’s doing, it feels like we’ve moved forward from where we were under Ian Holloway to a better place under Steve McClaren.
And yet… And yet we’re actually only one place higher in the league than we finished last season, and we’re only three points better off than we were this time last year. We’ve lost four in a row and with a trip to red hot Bristol City tonight and then West Brom in town next Tuesday it’s starting to look very likely we’re going to post another of those six-match losing streaks which came to define Holloway’s second spell in charge. McClaren changed the team to good effect against Portsmouth, but was then caught out by superior opposition at the weekend leaving him to ponder whether you stick with 4-4-2 or go back to the five man midfield that affords our suspect defence extra protection, and if you do that do you drop Wells or Smith? It’s still up in the air how this season, and this manager, will be judged come May.
The exhilarating comeback against Birmingham came up just, agonisingly short. It would be horrible to think that the 2018/19 season as a whole is going to do the same thing.
Geoff Cameron facts #27 – Geoff ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Team News: After months and months of a very settled team, it really is difficult to know what Steve McClaren is going to do following the weekend shambles against Birmingham. Pawel Wszolek, Toni Leistner and Jordan Cousins all impressed off the bench in the second half but have been in patchy form before that. The switch to a 4-4-2 worked well against Portsmouth but left the defence badly exposed against Birmingham. Angel Rangel and Geoff Cameron remain out injured long term. Tomer Hemed has been fit enough to return to the bench in the last two games. Grant Hall hasn’t made three consecutive starts since March/April 2017, getting on for two years ago.
Although defender Eros Pisano scored a winner for Bristol City at Blackburn at the weekend having come on as a substitute, he’s likely to have to make do with a bench spot again as City name an unchanged team for the third game running chasing a ninth consecutive win.
Elsewhere: Five games tonight, including our own, and an exciting match between two teams beginning with B as Birmingham face the Bolton Basket Case. Tough ask for relegation haunted Rotherham away to the Allam Tigers, but Millwall Scholars will probably fancy their chances of adding to their own fight against the drop with points at home to the Sheffield Owls. West Brom v Nottingham Trees knocks off 15 minutes later at 20.00.
Spartak Hounslow had a glorious moral victory at The City Ground over the weekend to lift themselves to eighteenth on the real table and third on the Justice League. They’ll easily be the best side Big Racist John and the Boys have faced all season when they meet at Griffin Park tomorrow. One would think Frank Lampard’s Derby County away to Ipswich Down, the Champions of Europe at home to Swanselona and Borussia Norwich away to Preston Knob End will all fancy their chances of posting three points to their respective promotion bids. Bad news for one of Sheffield Red Stripes and Pulisball who can’t both win their meeting at Bramall Lane – arguably the game of the night that one.
Wigan Warriors v Stoke and Reading v the Mad Chicken Farmers are available if you’re wife’s finally tired of your shit, kicked you out of the house and taken the kids.
Referee: The last time Tony Harrington refereed Bristol City they won 4-0. The last time he refereed QPR, we lost 7(seven)-1. Bodes well.
Bristol City: The Robins lost four consecutive games at the end of October, failing to score in three of them. It was part of a run of seven defeats and only two wins in 11 games. They stopped that rot with a 3-2 win at bottom side Ipswich in which they trailed twice nd have since gone on an unbeaten run of 14 matches which includes eight consecutive wins going into tonight’s game. They are into the fifth round of the FA Cup, and currently occupy the final play off position as the division’s form team. It’s been built on the defence, only Middlesbrough (23) have conceded fewer than City’s 29 this season and they’ve kept three clean sheets in the last four and six in the last eight. At Ashton Gate Preston, Stoke, Middlesbrough and Sheff Wed have all won this season but that was all well before Christmas and they’re currently on an unbeaten run of eight on their own patch, winning the last five in a row conceding only two goals. Andi Weimann has scored five and set up another three in his eight career appearances against QPR.
QPR: Rangers have gone in the opposite direction. Having lifted themselves into play off contention with three wins and two draws over Christmas, they’ve since plummeted back down to fifteenth with five straight league defeats mixed up among FA Cup progress against Leeds and Portsmouth. As happened previously this season, a run of three consecutive clean sheets (Forest A, Ipswich H, Reading H) has been followed by a period of defensive collapse – QPR have conceded eight goals in their last two home league games, haven’t kept a clean sheet in six Championship matches and have conceded 13 goals across those fixtures. Away from home, since the win at Forest made it four for the season (one more than the whole of 2017/18) they’ve drawn at Villa 2-2 and lost at Sheff Utd (1-0) and Wigan (2-1).
Prediction: If you’d have correctly predicted Saturday I’d have given you the money myself. The winner of our Prediction League this year gets goodies from our generous sponsor Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Reigning champion Elliott tells us…
“I still can’t bring myself to watch Saturday’s game back. It still hurts now. What better way to find a reaction than playing a team who’ve won eight straight games. I’ll keep it short and sweet, we’ll help them make it nine here.”
Elliott’s Prediction: Bristol City 2-1 QPR. Scorer – Nahki bloody Wells
LFW’s Prediction: Bristol City 3-0 QPR. No scorer.
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