|Queens Park Rangers 0 v 1 Nottingham Forest|
Saturday, 27th April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Forest flop leaves QPR nursing unwanted record - Report
Sunday, 28th Apr 2019 19:08 by Clive Whittingham
A club record eleventh home defeat of the league season was confirmed in the final match of the 2018/19 campaign at Loftus Road against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
With the grim inevitability of the ten defeats that went before it, Queens Park Rangers lost at home for the eleventh time this season on Saturday – a club record.
The players responsible were left to complete the traditional end of season lap of the pitch in front of an almost entirely empty stadium, finally abandoned by one of the most patient QPR crowds I can ever recall who feel the team abandoned them weeks ago. Harsh on one or two of them, but everything one or two others deserve. There’s been barely a whisper of dissent at games directed towards the team, the management, the executives or the owners despite everything that’s gone on, but being asked to stay and applaud this group for this output, trotting round the pitch with wife and kids, was an imposition too far. Ghosts of QPR present, left to drift around a silent stadium alone. I hope they were embarrassed, because they've embarrassed us.
This was, to be fair, one of the defeats that could at least be filed under ‘fair effort’, which should be the absolute bare minimum for any professional sports side but is a pleasant surprise at Loftus Road these days after the shameful showings against Preston, Rotherham, Bolton, Norwich and others since the turn of the year. Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was the visitors’ best player, saving comfortably from Ebere Eze after half an hour, twice in quick succession in more impressive style to deny Tomer Hemed either side of the hour, and then with ten minutes to go when Eze connected well with a clever corner routine and thought he’d scored. Mass Luongo had one 25 yarder blatantly blocked with his hands by former QPR defender Jack Robinson – referee Scott Duncan, whose grasp of the laws around kicks from the penalty mark is weak, said no. Moments after that Luongo tried again but wasn’t bar wide with a low shot. It was, to a certain extent, just one of those days.
But QPR lose in 2019 whether they try hard or not, because they’re simply not good enough. You only need look down the team sheets at the start of play to see the clear and obvious problem they were always going to have in this game – Forest have got much better players. Sam Byram, such a lovely looking player to have gliding up and down the right side from wing back at this level. All three centre backs better than anybody that’s played that position for QPR this season. Matty Cash, a boy two thirds thigh muscle, all action and box to box in midfield. Joe Lolley, all the pace and threat of Bright Osayi-Samuel with added goal threat. Carvalho silky at ten behind Ansarifard who led the line well. How many of our players would get in their team?
The goal they scored was pure sex. Ten minutes after half time, four swift first time passes on the edge of the box cutting through the dead wood of the QPR defence with ease, Ansarifard with the cool finish. They’d have scored earlier but for Joe Lumley, who recovered from his injury time aberration at Derby on Easter Monday to save smartly to his right from Ansarifand after ten minutes, and then brilliantly with his legs onto the bar from the same man eight before half time. Chances continued to come after taking the lead and bringing Lewis Grabban on from the bench as well, Lumley saving well with his legs at the near post to deny the substitute on 68. Lolley steamed through on goal in injury time but shot over when he should have made it two nil. They were good value for the win.
But they’re not a particularly good team. Eleventh at the start of play, without consecutive wins since September, without an away win in 14 attempts going back to the start of November, recently beaten in four games straight prior to a blow out Easter win against out of form Middlesbrough. Theirs has been a typical Forest season of massive hype and over expectation driven by a ludicrous summer of extravagant scattergun transfer activity, the usual acrimonious midseason change of manager, a rush to replace him with a new man few others in the division would have chosen coupled with the usual guff and fluff about Brian Clough, and a dramatic tail away through the spring with supporters getting aggy, board members getting twitchy and everything in place for exactly the same to happen to them all over again in 2019/20. Lather, rinse, repeat. That’s Nottingham Forest. And they’re far better than we are.
John Eustace has spoken a lot of politician-style bollocks since being thrown the hospital pass of taking this beleaguered mess through to the end of the season on a caretaker basis. But he was straight to the point and bang on the money in the wake of this latest defeat. There is a losing mentality at QPR at the moment – it’s expected and accepted – and the recruitment this close season is going to have to be absolutely on point or this will be a team heading into League One in 12 months’ time.
That trading of players and appointment of manager was absolutely botched last summer and means we’re in a far worse position now than we were after the final home game a year ago – a fantastic three one home win against Birmingham with goals from Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair. If we needed it summing up in a single incident, that came with two minutes left for play.
Nahki Wells had come on for the final 15 minutes with Matt Smith to chase an equaliser in place of Tomer Hemed, going through the motions again, and young Lewis Walker making a full senior debut against the club his dad played for with such distinction and looking green in the extreme. That ‘chase’ consisted of two shots ballooned over the bar and off towards Television Centre in quick succession – one that should never have been attempted in the first place on his left foot immediately after coming on, the next not even two minutes later after Smith had knocked the ball down well. No composure, no confidence, leaning back, lamentable technique. Appalling really. Unprofessional. Given that, and his recent form, and his miss from the spot in injury time against Birmingham, and the fact that he’s not going to be here next season, why in the name of all that’s fucking good and pure in the world he was allowed within three quarters of a mile of the ball when Duncan did, surprisingly, award a penalty for handball against Robinson two minutes from time I do not know. Ryan Manning not only has three successful penalties to his name this season while on loan at Rotherham, but was a clear man of the match here from left back, is confident, is playing well, is our player and will be here next season.
But that’s QPR in 2018/19 isn’t it? Absolutely in thrall to four loan signings we abandoned our entire strategy to bring in last summer at the panicked behest of a proven failed manager. An entire season hung on two players deep into their thirties who haven’t been fit since December, one veteran striker who hasn’t been arsed since he got here, and Nahki Wells, who went to the goalkeeper’s left with this penalty and saw it saved again. His fifth miss from the spot in a row. I’d have saved the fucking thing myself.
And you can say it doesn't matter, that it's a meaningless end of season game if you like, because technically it was – Rotherham finally confirmed as relegated, although going with their heads held a good deal higher than ours should be. And you can say we were unlucky – twice QPR players were blatantly fouled right on the line of the penalty box which could easily have been pens themselves, Osayi-Samuel in the first half from which Manning curled the free kick wide and Mide Shodipo looking quite handy in a second half cameo even after the Wells miss. That wait for a goal from a direct free kick fast approaching two and a half years.
But we’re not unlucky. And it does fucking matter.
QPR: Lumley 7; Furlong 5, Leistner 6, Cameron 6, Manning 7; Osayi-Samuel 7, Luongo 6, Scowen 6, Eze 6 (Wells 75, 3); Walker 5 (Shodipo 59, 6), Hemed 5 (Smith 75, 6)
Subs not used: Ingram, Freeman, Wszolek, Carlyle
Bookings: Manning 90+2 (foul)
Forest: Pantilimon 8; Wague 6, Milosevic 6, Robinson 7; Byram 7, Osborn 6; Yates 6, Cash 7 (Yacob 82, -), Lolley 7; Carvalho 7 (Guédioura 82, -); Ansarifard 7 (Grabban 64, 6)
Subs not used: Watson, Murphy, Steele, Appiah
Goals: Ansarifard 55 (assisted Carvalho)
Bookings: Yates 38 (repetitive fouling), Robinson 90 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Ryan Manning 7 Has had a good end to the season filling in at left back and should have had far more action with us earlier in the season. Should also have been taking the penalty at the end, given that he’d played well and looked confident all game and scored spot kicks for Rotherham earlier in the season.
Referee – Scott Duncan (Durham) 5 I thought at first glance Robinson had handled the ball for the penalty, though it was debatable. Earlier in the half he’d missed an absolute stone waller when Robinson made a flying save to his left. With the Wigan away incident still fresh in mind, and his recent botched job at Villa v Bristol City, it seems he really does struggle with exactly what is and isn’t handball in the penalty box. Having made the debatable award, he then allowed Robinson to scream in his face for 45 seconds without a yellow card, which meant that when he subsequently tripped Shodipo right on the edge of the box he wasn’t sent off when he should have been. Overall, just not a very good referee.
Souls on board 15,212 (2,000 Forest approx.)
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