More clues on offer in rekindled Cardiff rivalry - Preview
Wednesday, 2nd Oct 2019 11:20 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, well beaten by West Brom at the weekend, face another stern test of their apparent credentials this season with a trip to newly relegated Cardiff City tonight.
Cardiff City (3-4-2, DLDDWD, 13th) v QPR (5-1-3, WLWWWL, 10th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Wednesday October 2, 2019 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Dry, miraculously >>> Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Be honest, at some point between Millwall away and West Brom at home, you’d allowed your mind to wander a little hadn’t you? Stuck in traffic, or on the tube, or in a meeting, or while the mrs was gabbering on about some frightfully interesting piece of office gossip involving three people you’ve never met you found yourself drifting into the world of ‘what if’.
What if this is QPR’s year after all? What if that front four is just too hot for the division to handle? What if we keep winning like this – five, six, seven games in a row? What if it’s us dancing on the pitch at The Hawthorns on the last day of the season, the ground we were previously humbled 7-1 on?
And perhaps you also allowed the world of ‘what if’ to drift into that of ‘why not?’ Because, I mean, Norwich did it last year didn’t they? Came from nowhere, completely unfancied, and trounced the whole division. And nobody expected QPR to storm the Championship the last time they did it, back in 2010/11 under Neil Warnock. And it is, as previously discussed, a pathetically weak league this year, absolutely ripe for somebody, anybody, with a bit about them to fly through and out the top end. Why not us? Why not indeed.
Which makes Saturday quite a useful grounding experience. A harsh reality check in just how far short of West Brom QPR still are, and how far we’ve still got to go. Exactly what we needed, because for a moment there we were almost having fun, and if there’s one thing the Championship isn’t meant to be, one thing following your team in the Championship isn’t meant to be, it’s fun.
On the rare occasions in recent times when QPR have been brilliant and competing at the top end of divisions, it’s often been Cardiff City there alongside us. Ian Holloway’s Rangers looked to have got the better of Lennie Lawrence’s Bluebirds back in 2002/03 when Richard Langley scored a stoppage time winner at Ninian Park in a late-season, white-hot play-off battle. Those first tentative steps out of the away end when they finally opened the gates and told us we could leave (nah, you’re alright, going to stay in here a bit if that’s ok with you) typical of the times when meetings between these sides would have kick offs moved and a police presence nearly as big as the attendance itself. Of course, Cardiff were to have the last laugh that season, with an extra-time winner in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.
The boot was on the other foot in 2010/11 when Neil Warnock’s QPR team won this league in fine style, leaving Norwich, Swansea and particularly Cardiff trailing in their wake. Dave Jones, face liked a smacked arse as usual, mithered about Rangers all year. He could scarcely hide his delight as studio guest at our first televised match that season when Adel Taarabt underperformed and we were lucky to escape with a point from Bristol City, and when the Moroccan subsequently got a 2-2 out of the Easter away game in South Wales with two brilliantly taken goals he mumbled something post match about how QPR would be nowhere near the promotion places without him. As if that somehow counted as a moral victory for Cardiff, who at the time were paying double Taarabt’s salary to have Craig Bellamy up front in the hope that he would have a similarly talismanic effect. He didn’t, QPR went up, Cardiff stayed down.
Warnock is now in the opposite dugout, and the rivalry has cooled considerably as we prepare for a first meeting in Wales for more than two years. All that’s at stake tonight is three points, and a further indication of how good or bad QPR’s new look team is this season, having now lost to the three teams they should have lost to and beaten five of the six teams they should have beaten. Cardiff, you would think, are firmly in the first category.
Links >>> Cardiff starting to motor – Interview >>> Ray Jones’ late winner – History >>> Donohue in charge – Referee >>> Official Website >>> Three Little Birds – Blog >>> CCMB – Message Board >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> Mauve and Yellow – Blog
Geoff Cameron Facts No.67 in the series - Geoff was the original choice to play the character of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption but turned the part down at the last minute to take up a professional contract with the Seattle Salamanders and was replaced by Tim Robbins.
Team News: Trouble at the back for Mark Warburton’s men, who still await a first clean sheet of the season and now face tonight’s tough away game with Yoann Barbet suspended. Grant Hall should have recovered from the injury that kept him out of Millwall and West Brom which would enable a straight swap but Lee Wallace is fit again and on the bench so could also be an option for a debut on the left side of the back three if Warburton chooses to persist with that system. Several rumours doing the rounds that Joe Lumley’s latest aberration at the weekend for the Baggies’ first goal may see him dropped for Liam Kelly to make a league debut. Nahki Wells left the field with a knock at the weekend and is a doubt. The manager promised post Millwall that there would be changes to the team to cope with the quick turnaround between this game and Saturday – Bright Osayi-Samuel, Marc Pugh, Angel Rangel and Jan Mlakar would be among the front runners for selection should rotation be required tonight.
Cardiff are also talking up squad rotation ahead of this game, but their only definite absentees are Sol Bamba (evil staring eyes) and Isaac Vassell (eyes that seem to look right through you).
Elsewhere: My big fear having been so distinctly second best to West Brom at the weekend was that they’d subsequently get their arse handed to them by the Champions of Europe last night setting the whole thing into rather worrying perspective. But actually, although Leeds did win, and although Patrick ‘Bam Bam’ Bamford regaled the crowd with another full repertoire of unlikely misses when it seemed easier to score, the Baggies looked great again. Or, at least, they did once they’d desisted with the idea that Hal Robson Kanu should be starting up front for them. Everything but the goal, and you can see why we struggled with them.
Could be worse, you could be Reading, 3-0 down and down to ten men after just 20 minutes or torture at the hands of Tarquin and Rupert, they eventually lost 4-1 at home.
Could be worse still, you could be Poke City. Just one point on the board from nine games, they were given as near to a free hit as this division offers last night with a home game against the Huddersfield Imps whose decision to bite the bullet early and bring in the Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki has not been rewarded with any uptick in performance or result. Still managed to lose 1-0 like, and surely now manager Nathan Jones will be shown the door. A third coming of Pulis? Hideous image.
Goals followed by swift equalisers were a bit of a theme last night. Nottingham Florist and their cast of a thousand footballers were behind for barely a minute at the Mad Chicken Farmers before a long ranger from Joe Lolley got them a 1-1 draw, and it was a similar story at Middlesbrough who trailed Preston Knob End briefly before restoring parity and settling for a point each. All three points for Wigan Warriors at home to Birmingham, and Allam Tigers at home to Sheffield Owls – both won 1-0.
Five games tonight then including our own. PSV Derby are away to Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare – close eye on whoever the designated driver is for that trip please – while Charlton will look to follow up their weekend win against Leeds with another shock against high flying Swanselona. Sky Sports Leeds, in their wisdom, have made Lutown v Millwall Scholars the featured game, just in case all this harsh racism and rabid right wing v left wing politics does indeed mean we’re in 1985 again and they decide to raze the place to the ground again. Not that you’d notice any difference in Kenilworth Road if they did.
Bristol City have started the season in decent style despite the loss of Bennick Afobe to a long term injury. Currently ninth, they could technically be as high as second by the end of the night but they’ll have all on to achieve that away to Spartak Hounslow who will undoubtedly be the best team they’ve played all season.
Referee: Matt Donohue, new on the Championship list this season, sparked some controversy in his first ever QPR appointment, against Wigan back in August, when he ruled that Ilias Chair had been fouled right on the edge of the box rather than inside it at the start of the second half. That set Rangers up with a direct free kick rather than a penalty, and as we all know QPR hadn’t scored direct from a free kick since the late Cretaceous Period, so it seemed like the chance had gone. Not so, thanks to Ebere Eze. Though we’d probably prefer the penalty next time please. Details and stats.
Cardiff: It’s been a stuttering start to life back in the Championship for Cardiff, heavily weighed down by the status as LFW’s pre-season pick for the title. They were given a couple of rude awakenings in their first two away matches with a 3-2 loss at Wigan on day one and a televised 3-0 humping at Reading soon after. But they come into this one unbeaten in six league games, and yet to lose at home. That’s only been good enough to lift them two twelfth, largely because of the number of draws – four from nine games, the joint highest in the league. The latest of those was a 2-2 at Hull City at the weekend, sealed with an injury time leveller from one-time QPR transfer target Danny Ward. That was the third time already this season that Cardiff have scored a crucial late goal, with Isaac Vassell’s stoppage time effort turning a 1-1 into a 2-1 win against Luton and Junior Hoilett doing the same to Huddersfield in the 88th minute. At home so far they’ve won those two games and beaten Middlesbrough 1-0 with a 1-1 against Fulham thrown in there for good measure.
QPR: Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to West Brom ended a run of four straight victories in the league for QPR, their best run since 2013. It did, however, continue a theme of lacklustre home form. Rangers have beaten Wigan and Luton at Loftus Road this season but lost to West Brom and Portsmouth and drawn with Huddersfield and Bristol City if you include the cup games. That continues on from 2018/19 when they lost a club record 11 home matches in the league season. Since returning to this league four and a bit seasons ago it’s been the away form that has plagued the R’s – three wins in 2017/18 and five last term – but they’ve already got three on the board this year with 2-1 successes at Stoke, Sheff Wed and most recently Millwall. Rangers have a great recent record in this part of the world though, either at the new stadium or across the road at the old Ninian Park ground. Since drawing each other in the League Cup over two legs in 1999/00 QPR have won five, drawn five and lost just three of 13 games here – though of course, in addition to that, there was also a 1-0 play-off final loss at the Millennium Stadium in 2003.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last year’s champion WokingR was right with his Millwall call and this week says…
“Saturday was a poor showing against West Brom so I’m hoping for a reaction to that, albeit in a tough game. Cardiff have won three and drawn the other of their four home games so far. They have drawn a lot of games already this season though so I’m going for a 1-1 to steady the ship and Hugill to get back among the goals in a physical game.”
WokingR’s Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
LFW’s Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
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Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
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