|Queens Park Rangers 2 v 2 Reading|
Tuesday, 22nd October 2019 Kick-off 19:45
QPR made to scrap for a point by rejuvenated Reading - Report
Wednesday, 23rd Oct 2019 15:31 by Clive Whittingham
Lowly Reading suddenly turned on some style at Loftus Road on Tuesday night, forcing high flying QPR to battle hard for a single point in a game that looked like a banker home win on paper.
Another helter-skelter evening of second tier fun and frolics for the regulars at the Kiyan Prince School of Science to enjoy and endure. Queens Park Rangers, at times slipping into an adventurous 2-4-4 formation, sneering at the idea of moderately competent defending like a teenager hearing about something their parents think is a good idea. Reading, already one managerial change deep into the season but surely, on this evidence at least, in a false league position, taking it to their hosts with the two outstanding players on the pitch. Jeremy Simpson, who doesn’t seem to enjoy refereeing, and isn’t a very good referee, was the referee.
Off we go again then, at a fair lick, right from the off. Kevin Keegan: The Methadone Years. It’s almost becoming routine this season: QPR running around with a flamethrower laughing manically; opponents wondering if they’ve lost their damn minds. Second top Championship scorers, second worst defence. The result, until now, has either been one thing or the other. Seven teams have been beaten, and although the scorelines have been narrow Rangers have been by far the better team in those games – a 3-2 at Hull at the weekend played out more like a 4-1. Four teams have won against Mark Warburton’s frantic side and although Rangers had moments against Swansea and the Cardiff game was a bit of a fluke it has definitely been the case that whenever the R’s have faced one of the more talented sides in this league they’ve lost and lost comfortably. There have been no draws at all since the opening home match of the season against Huddersfield.
Until, that is, Tuesday night against Reading. In theory, the banker result of a three game week, a chance to add three more points to the three won on Humberside and tee up a monumental televised West London derby against Warburton’s former club Brentford on Monday night. Win that as well, and QPR would in all likelihood see October out top of the Championship table in front of a live television audience. Anybody predicting that outcome back in August would have been invited to spend some quiet time in the padded room.
Reading had won only three games coming into this one and lost seven – only second bottom Stoke had been beaten more often. Only Barnsley and Wigan had scored fewer than Reading’s 13 so far and a scrappy 1-0 win at home to Preston Knob End at the weekend was barely enough wallpaper to cover the cracks of a seven match winless streak in all competitions. Their response to this was to sack popular manager Jose Gomes and set director of football Mark Bowen away on a search for his replacement – a search that lasted a week or so, and led to Bowen himself getting the job. The Welshman is best known in Shepherd’s Bush for his part in the Mark Hughes/Kia Joorabchian/Tony Fernandes/Philip Beard era from which our club is still in the process of recovery – Bowen trotting out beige slop about “the business of winning Premier League football matches” right to his dying day in W12. Ignoring his own thundering mediocrity and taking the Reading job on for himself is exactly the kind of misplaced brash arrogance we came to expect from the Taffia during their brief but ruinous stint at our club, and with an eclectic summer of unaffordable buys and weird and wonderful foreign loans, with rumours of Joorabchian’s ‘special advice’ in the background, there were knowing looks and wry smiles among the Rangers faithful as the Royals rolled into town.
Pools panel verdict – home win.
And, to be fair, it could well have been. Nahki Wells, sharp as a tack, allowed a lovely Ebere Eze pass to roll across him after passing between an opponent’s legs and then used the angle that had created to dispatch the ball crisply into the bottom corner from the edge of the area for the first goal. Later an error at the back post by Flappy McGrew in the Reading goal gave Toni Leistner a chance to shoot and when that was blocked Jordan Hugill smashed over the bar.
At the start of the second half a brilliant turn by Ryan Manning got him into enough space to feed Hugill who moved it onto Wells but a defender just got involved in time. Just before the hour a rare long ball from Liam Kelly was flicked on by Hugill to Wells and then back to the loaned West Ham striker who, despite having his shirt torn from his back by Matt Miazga (a theme for the night), was able to smack the return into the top corner via a hefty deflection. Both strikers now on seven for the season.
Rangers also endured some terrible refereeing decisions from Jeremy Simpson that would, on another night, have got them over the line for a win.
Because I’m a geek about things like this I’m always reminded of the tale of Eastern Airlines flight 401 when I see this bloke referee. I don’t expect you normal people to know this but in 1972 a very large passenger jet heading for Miami crashed into the Everglades killing 101 and leaving 78 more at the mercy of the alligators and jet fuel. It was the first ever crash of a wide-bodied jet, and for a while the most deadly airline disaster in US aviation history. The cause of this, it would turn out, was that the entire flight crew had become preoccupied with the landing gear display which hadn’t fully illuminated. Was the gear faulty, or was it simply a burnt out bulb? While all three of them transfixed themselves on finding out which it was, none of them paid attention to the direction the plane was heading which, as it turned out, was steadily down into the mud. Which brings me neatly and tastelessly back to Mr Simpson – obsessively picky and pedantic about tiny little things that DO. NOT. FUCKING. MATTER. while painfully oblivious to the really big important stuff that does.
You can perhaps forgive him, though not his linesman, for missing Miazga, whose conduct all night hinted at problems at home, belting Angel Rangel in the mush after a Reading corner was cleared just before the half hour. But not what happened moments later at the other end when first Ebere Eze looked to be fouled at the near post as Ilias Chair cut a ball back into the area, and then Andy Yiadom dived full length to his left and brilliantly saved a goalbound Jordan Hugill shot with his left arm. Simpson, looking right at it from ten yards away, saw it and went to put his whistle to his mouth before then apparently changing his mind, frantically waving his arm around like he was having some sort of seizure. I’d love to hear his explanation for that one, or his ongoing lenience with the gratuitously violent Miazga, or any number of decisions given against Jordan Hugill in the second half, at least three of which were given against him when it appeared he was the one who’d been fouled. This all culminated in the frustrated striker picking up a fifth yellow of the season which rules him out of the Brentford game.
By the way, anybody throwing a VAR argument at me for that handball can get in the fucking sea. Judging by what we saw of that ongoing farce at the weekend, we’d have spent four minutes looking at it only to decide that the referee was right all along, even though he knew himself he wasn’t.
But for all of that, even the most hardened QPR fan knows it’s stretching it to say the R’s deserved to win this game.
Reading were excellent all things considered. Miles and miles away from the team their league position would suggest. Like QPR they went with two up front, and like Rangers both those forwards – George Puskas and Sam Baldock – scored goals. But unlike the hosts, the system really seemed to suit the Royals. While QPR struggled to dominate midfield in the way they had in a 4-2-3-1 at Hull at the weekend, and Ebere Eze suffered from a combination of being stuck too far wide and subjected to multiple cynical attempts to kick him out of the game (Simpson still fiddling around with that chuffing bulb while all that was going on), Reading impressed through the middle with Jonathan Swift and Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria easily the best two players on the pitch in a fluid midfield three with last season’s player of the year Andy Rinomhota.
Liam Kelly had already saved brilliantly one on one with Baldock in the seventh minute after Puskas and Ejaria combined slickly to get him through on goal. The Scottish goalkeeper made another excellent save diving the other way when Ejaria tried his luck from further out after engineering space for himself on the edge of the box. That was before Ejaria freed Puskas beyond a leaden footed Toni Leistner to finish expertly into the far corner off the base of the post for an equaliser a minute after QPR had taken the lead.
Warburton tried to wrestle back control of the ball by adding the more attacking Todd Kane for Angel Rangel at half time, then Luke Amos for Nahki Wells midway through the half, and finally Marc Pugh for Ilias Chair with his third change. But unlike previous games this season, the substitutes didn’t work at all for Rangers, and they steadily regressed from a pretty low starting point. Kane bombed forward well, but persistently gave the ball away exposing the defenders behind him – as Leistner had done too often in the first half. Amos couldn’t get into the game in midfield at all, with Swift and Ejaria running riot. A second half switch to a back three, with Cameron dropping out of midfield, solidified the defence and freed the wing backs, but it left Scowen with a heavy workload trying to contain the game’s outstanding players alone. Amos’ introduction, sadly, did little to help.
The second goal was coming long before it arrived, but was still highly preventable. Leistner and Kane too static, Scowen paranoid about Ejaria and not wanting to leave him, gave Swift way too much time to pick out a cross to a far post area Rangers have struggled in all season. Yiadom stormed forward from full back to make the most of the defence getting sucked into its own six yard box and his downward header bounced and bobbled all the way along the goal line before being rammed in from half a yard out by Baldock. All QPR could do was appeal for an offside that never came.
Booking Ebere Eze for his first foul of the night in stoppage time after allowing Reading to pretty much do as they pleased to him over the previous 94 minutes rather summed up Simpson’s performance, and the game as a whole from a QPR point of view. But unlike the previous occasions this season when you’ve come away thinking we were distinctly second best, this time we didn’t lose.
Match Gallery: 13 photos
It was, whatever the league table may have suggested at kick off, a very good point for QPR in the context of the game. It lifts a team many pundits tipped for a relegation struggle to fourth in the fledgling Championship league table. If the negatives from last night are front of your mind this morning, give your head a wobble.
QPR: Kelly 6; Rangel 6 (Kane 46, 5), Leistner 5, Barbet 6, Manning 6; Chair 6 (Pugh 77, 5), Scowen 7, Cameron 6, Eze 6; Wells 7 (Amos 67, 5), Hugill 6
Subs not used: Lumley, Ball, Mlakar, Osayi-Samuel
Goals: Wells 29 (assisted Eze), Hugill 58 (assisted Wells)
Bookings: Hugill 90+1 (retaliation), Eze 90+5 (foul, laughable)
Reading: Barbosa 6; Miazga 6, Morrison 7, Moore 6; Yiadom 7, Swift 8, Ejaria 8 (Gomes 90+2, -), Rinomhota 7 (McCleary 67, 6), Richards 6; Puskas 7, Baldock 7
Subs not used: Walker, Loader, McIntyre, Blackett
Goals: Puscas 31 (assisted Ejaria), Baldock 74 (assisted Yiadom)
Bookings: Rinomhota 56 (foul), Miazga 90+1 (persistent cuntishness)
QPR Star Man – Nahki Wells 7 Quite a difficult choice in a below part performance. Kelly made two good saves in the first half but positioning an decision making for both goals wasn’t great. Scowen had a decent game in midfield, but was one of three players who could have gone to engage Swift before he crossed for the second. In the end I land on Wells, who scored one, assisted the other, and was, in my opinion, removed too early in one of three substitutions that didn’t really work for us at all.
Referee – Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire) 3 You know, I want to like him. I know better than most what walking around with hair like that can do to a man’s sense of self worth, so it would be good if I could turn around a couple of times a season and say “you know what, never mind that it looks like somebody’s stuck their pubes to your head with PVA glue, you’re really brilliant at refereeing football games mate”. And he reminds me a lot of Nick’s dad from Big Mouth, and who doesn’t like Nick’s dad from Big Mouth? (Treat yourselves). But the simple fact is, this is not a man cut out to referee Championship football games. Apparently the Sky commentators said of the handball “the officials can only give what they see” – or, in this case, not give what they’ve seen, and initially decided was a penalty, and gone to put the whistle in his mouth, only to inexplicably change his mind. This is far from a one off with this guy. I still remember Ayoze Perez chasing him across the pitch at the City Ground the other year when he’d denied Newcastle a similarly blatant penalty against Nottingham Forest. He consistently, persistently, either misses the big stuff entirely, or sees it and gets it wrong in any case. And even if you could forgive a referee not spotting defenders making incredible one-handed saves ten yards away, or big angry American defenders forearm smashing opponents off the ball, he combines this tin ear for the blatantly fucking obvious with a pedantry and fussiness over everything else that strangles the living shit out of games. You’ll rarely see one of his matches not go the way this one did in the last 20 minutes, with two sets of frustrated players starting to get involved in pushing and shoving matches, trying it on, starting skirmishes and so on – he not only cannot keep control of games, he actively engages in doing the exact opposite. Top notch pain in the arse.
Attendance 12,330 (1,200 Reading approx.)
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