Everybody's favourite - Referee
Friday, 13th Dec 2019 21:22 by Clive Whittingham
Fresh from a double red card outing at Preston v Fulham during the week, our old friend Keith Stroud is in charge of QPR’s Saturday trip to Barnsley.
Referee >>> Keith Stroud (Hampshire), three highly controversial QPR outings in 2016/17 were followed with him being dropped from the list altogether after a botched penalty decision at Newcastle v Burton.
Assistants >>> Nick Greenhalgh (Lancashire) and Adrian Waters (Herts)
Fourth Official >>> Andrew Kitchen (Durham)
Speaking of which, Keith Stroud was our referee.
Look, there have been moments, I’ll grant you that, when I haven’t been the best person I could have been. Moments I’ve regretted, things I’ve said, people I’ve upset, no-context dick pics. But I’m a good person. I’ve volunteered, I’ve given to charity, I’ve been a good son, I’ve bought fucking dinner for Shaun the homeless guy at Old Street tube station. And I don’t deserve Keith Stroud. I really don’t. I just don’t. It’s not right that he is still inflicted on me, or you, or us. There are people like Levi Bellfield still alive you know. And Ian Huntley. Send Stroud there with a book trolley and let him do his little patronising face scrunch and calm down gesture to them. We’ve done our time, we’ve served it well, we’ve enjoyed it. But we’ve had enough now. Please. Please. Mercy now. Mercy.
And do you know what, that was fine. Nil nil, great result, four points from a difficult week, rot stopped. I was happy being bored. I watch episodes of Frasier I’ve seen a million times before, I am certainly not adverse to prolonged, numbing experiences which I get nothing from and never remember once they’re over in order to just mark off time waiting for death. This was certainly that and I was absolutely loving it in the way I imagine I’d enjoy a medically induced coma rather than another 65-hour working week. Oooooh, lovely, lovely numbness. I’m thinking of taking up spice, I’ve heard good things.
Anyway, Keith Stroud was bored too, and that’s more problematic. Out he strode for the second half, like some testicular cancer charity had dressed up a bloke as a chode to waddle around the field and remind you to check your bollocks in the shower - as if we don’t do enough of that already thank you very much indeed. Brentford, the swines, had clocked after 45 minutes that our two centre backs are as quick as the queue at the Post Office and started knocking balls in behind them for their three forwards to chase. The first of these had Ollie Watkins, who you may remember for his recent Jack Laugher effort at Barnet in the FA Cup, the wrong side of Grant Hall and tumbling to earth in a coming together. Never a penalty in a thousand fucking years. Maupay went to the keeper’s left with the kick, which was an odd choice given that Joe Lumley has meekly flopped down to his left for every penalty he’s faced so far, and the keeper really should have saved it but didn’t. It was the fifth penalty Stroud has awarded against QPR in his last ten games with us.
Brentford: Bentley 6; Barbet 7, Konsa 7, Jeanvier 7; Dalsgaard 8, Mokotojo 8, Sawyers 8, Odubajo 7; Watkins 7 (Marcondes 81, -), Maupay 8, Benrahma 8 (Canos 82, -)
Subs not used: McEachran, Gunnarsson, Da Silva, Ogbene
Goals: Maupay 50 (penalty, won Watkins), Benrahma 71 (assisted Maupay), Canos 90+5 (assisted Mokotjo)
Bookings: Dalsgaard 67 (foul), Sawyers 77 (kicking ball away)
QPR: Lumley 7; Furlong 5, Hall 5, Leistner 5, Bidwell 5; Luongo 6, Cousins 5; Freeman 5, Eze 5 (Osayi-Samuel 63, 5), Wszolek 6 (Smith 77, 5); Wells 5 (Hemed 73, 4)
Subs not used: Ingram, Scowen, Manning, Lynch
Bookings: Hall 49 (foul), Osayi-Samuel 64 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 3 A referee 15 years on the job and at least five years past his sell-by date. When he was removed from the list two seasons ago for thinking encroachment at a penalty was a free kick to the defending team rather than a retake at Newcastle v Burton that should have been it. Thanks for the long service Keith, carriage clock, now fuck off. But still he’s here, still refereeing Championship games, still overruling correct decisions from linesmen and replacing them with incorrect ones, still penalising tiny little indiscretions while waving play on through players being elbowed in the back of the head, still awarding nonsense penalties, still treating each of his escalating disasters with that same patronising grimace and ‘calm down’ hand gesture to anybody who complains about them. The personification of short man syndrome – a tiny man with a tiny penis and a chip on both shoulders. An absolute liability. Little short of a scandal that he’s still officiating at this level despite mounting evidence that he’s simply not up to it. Refereeing’s Chris Grayling.
In the ‘not very good’ pile, Town somehow contrived to concoct a catastrophic loss of possession in their own penalty box after 50 seconds of play which allowed Ebere Eze to get the first shot of the game away at goalkeeper Dean Gerken. In the ‘not very lucky’ category, Paul Lambert’s side packed the six-yard-box for their first corner of the game after 19 minutes and won a dangerous flicked header at the near post through defender Matthew Pennington only to find that they’d put too many of their own men on the goalline and the ball bounced back into relative safety off one of them. And as for ‘just plain weird’, an excellent ball from Eze to the onrushing Furlong after four minutes saw the young defender inexplicably taken out at the face by Luke Chambers. Face mask, defence, automatic first down, first yellow card of the game from referee Keith Stroud. Luke Freeman tried to catch out Gerken with a direct free kick instead of a cross but it was saved.
There was what looked a very reasonable shout for a penalty from Ellis Harrison in the far corner of the School End penalty box in three minutes of stoppage time. As we know though, Keith Stroud doesn’t exist to get big decisions right, he exists to make sure that every single one of the little decisions is taken from exactly the blade of grass the infringement occurred on or the ball left the field across. No, there. Not there, there. Over there. No, there. There. There. No, not there, not there either, take it back, take it back, take it back over there, no there. There. There. Right, stop, take it again. Take it over there. On that blade there. There. There. There.
I swear that pedantic little arsehole is only still refereeing at all because his wife can’t stand him being around the house, straightening the pictures and moving the fucking ornaments half an inch to the left all the live long day.
QPR: Lumley 7; Furlong 7, Leistner 7, Lynch 7, Bidwell 7; Luongo 8, Scowen 7; Wszolek 8, Eze 6 (Chair 70, 7), Freeman 7 (Osayi-Samuel 88. -); Wells 8 (Oteh 84, -)
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Smith
Goals: Wszolek 30 (assisted Wells), Lynch 32 (assisted Freeman), Wells 74 (assisted Chair)
Bookings: Wszolek 43 (foul)
Ipswich: Gerken 3; Spence 5, Chambers 4, Pennington 5, Knudsen 5; Nolan 4 (Roberts 70, 5), Chalobah 6, Downes 5; Ward 5 (Lankester 62, 5), Harrison 5, Sears 5
Subs not used: Edwards, Jackson, Dozzell, Kenlock, Bialkowksi
Bookings: Chambers 4 (foul). Spence 49 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 Nothing major wrong, but ends up taking long pauses followed by a complete guess at a decision far, far too often for somebody trusted to referee at this level and his pedantry over the placement of every single free kick and throw in and exactly the right place could drain the life from a hyper-active eight-year-old.
The sending off really colours this one against Holloway, his team and the approach they took. It was a red card as well – Nathan Baker airborne, two feet, scissor motion, hours late on Josh Scowen as the two chased a loose ball in midfield. Daft tackle in the modern game and current climate, daft tackle in the 1970s come to that. A proper Mark Dennis vintage. There’s a replay of it from behind where the facial expression of Baker’s team mate Joe Bryan tells you everything you need to know.
There may be some complaints about Keith Stroud’s award of a free kick for an alleged foul by Darnell Furlong on Jamie Paterson who rather seem to just kick the ball away from the QPR man and then run into him – one of those the ex pros ask “is he supposed to just disappear?” but the referees always award. But what about Alex Baptiste’s piss weak attempt at winning the header in the first place? What about his appalling marking from the resulting corner which Diedhiou beat him to at the near post and flicked home? Where’s the intensity, the concentration, the determination, the aggression, with a minute to go to half time to make sure we don’t concede? Absolutely pathetic. Needless to say this was the injury-plagued striker’s first goal since September.
There was an initial flurry of chances, and had one gone in as it easily could have done, then who knows where the final score would have ended up and what I’d be saying here. Oteh dragged a shot through the goal mouth from a tight angle after good approach work by Luongo initially. Then when Stroud awarded a free kick on the edge of the area for a foul on Smith when it actually looked like the big striker had simply taken a fresh air shot at the ball a complicated set piece routine ended with Jack Robinson smashing a shot into the wall. As the ball was lofted back in stand-in keeper Jason Steele flapped at the ball, Luongo tried to convert with a diving header and Wright blocked on the line with his chest. Later Onuoha wasn’t a million miles with a near post flick at a Freeman corner but City broke four v two from that despite their numerical disadvantage and Smithies did well to deny Corey Smith. From there QPR died away once more, and Lee Johnson’s side grew in stature.
City: Steele 6; Wright 7, Flint 6, Baker 5; Bryan 8, Kent 6 (Magnusson 64, 6); Pack 7, Smith 7, Paterson 7 (Brownhill 64, 7); Reid 7, Diedhiou 7 (Diony 74, 6)
Subs not used: Walsh, Woodrow, Eliasson, Wollacott
Goals: Diedhiou 45+1 (assisted Paterson), Bryan 66 (assisted Diedhiou)
Red Cards: Baker 32 (serious foul play)
Yellow Cards: Reid 84 (foul)
QPR: Smithies 6; Baptiste 3 (Smith 46, 5), Onuoha 5, Robinson 6; Furlong 5 (Osayi-Samuel 74, 5), Bidwell 5; Scowen 5, Luongo 5, Freeman 5; Oteh 5 (Eze 74, 5), Washington 5
Subs not used: Lynch, Ingram, Manning, Perch
Yellow Cards: Luongo 80 (foul), Smith 83 (repetitive fouling), Onuoha 83 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 7 Sending off absolutely correct despite lack of appeals (why are we the only team that doesn't surround referees?) and although the free kick for the first goal was harsh they always get given.
Millwall: Archer 6; Romeo 7, Hutchinson 7, Cooper 7, Meredith 7; Wallace 8, Tunnicliffe 6, Saville 7, O’Brien 6 (Williams 69, 6); Morison 7, Gregory 7 (Onyedinma 81, -)
Subs not used: Craig, Thompson, Martin, Twardek, Mbulu
Goals: Morison 55 (assisted Wallace)
Bookings: Cooper 90 (foul)
QPR: Smithies 6; Baptiste 6, Onuoha 6, Hall 6; Wszolek 5 (Smith 56, 5), Bidwell 6; Luongo 5, Cousins 5, Freeman 6; Osayi-Samuel 6 (Oteh 69, 6), Sylla 5 (Wheeler 81, -)
Subs not used: Furlong, Washington, Manning, Lumley
Bookings: Wszolek 51 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 8 Really, very good. A terrifying appointment when it was announced, given his recent record with QPR and his now out dated and always frustrating method of trying to manage games with lots of early cards, but he controlled this well, only produced two wholly justified bookings and overall was very decent. Points off for allowing Jordan Archer to blatantly run the clock in the second half without so much as a warning – not that he needed to – and for an incident in the first half where he saw Steve Morison hold back Grant Hall in the area preventing him getting out to block a cross and pointed at the Millwall man telling him not to do it again but didn’t award Rangers a free kick even though the home team had the ball and were threatening a goal. Kept a lid on a tough game.
United kept visiting that left side, where Jordan Cousins was having a difficult evening as a makeshift right wing back. He saw yellow, perhaps harshly, from referee Keith Stroud, then in extended first half stoppage time got skinned again by Brooks only for Alex Smithies to rescue him by diving headlong through the ensuing six-yard-box scramble to claim the ball and kill the chance.
QPR: Smithies 7; Baptiste 8, Robinson 8, Bidwell 7; Cousins 5 (Furlong 57, 7), Wheeler 6 (Manning 87, -); Scowen 7, Luongo 7, Freeman 7; Sylla 6 (Mackie 67, 6), Washington 6
Subs not used: Smith, Wszolek, Ngbakoto, Lumley
Goals: Sylla 4 (assisted Baptiste)
Yellows: Cousins 28 (foul), Scowen 90+1 (foul)
Sheff Utd: Blackman – (Moore 10, 5); Basham 6, Carter-Vickers 5, O’Connell 6; Baldock 6 (Duffy 60, 6), Stevens 6; Lundstram 6, Coutts 6, Brooks 7; Clarke 4, Donaldson 5 (Sharp 56, 6)
Subs not used: Hanson, Stearman, Lafferty, Carruthers
Yellows: Clarke 29 (foul), Brooks 90+1 (unsporting)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 After a couple of seasons of hammering QPR (four penalties awarded against us and three of our players sent off in seven matches) we actually got the rub of a bit of green from him on Tuesday – particularly two obvious fouls on their wingers on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground in dangerous positions right at the end of the first half which drew justified ire from the large travelling support. Cousins booking harsh, Clarke booking justified but didn’t feel like it was coming until the crowd went a bit mental, called the Brooks thing right at the end of the game – not a red card. Fine, relatively. I suspect a Sheff Utd fan would give him a four.
With the home crowd sensing Fulham could be here for the taking, referee Keith Stroud then happened, as he so often does. Sone Aluko dribbled into the area and hit the deck under the faintest of tickles from Bidwell.
Despite having a good view of the incident, Stroud looked for assistance from his linesman Mark Pottage, who seized his moment in the spotlight on Sky Sports to wave his flag enthusiastically. The only thing missing was a wink to the camera.
Later in the game when the two benches engaged some touchline fracas – which was triggered by Fulham boss Slaviša Jokanović pushing the medic attending to a facial wound sustained by Grant Hall – the linesman, despite being a full 70 yards away from the action decided to sprint across the pitch to get involved in the debate. Rumours are he had “Hi Mum” painted on his back, but unfortunately they can’t be confirmed.
Back to the action, and Stroud pointed to the spot and gave a thumbs up to his assistant. Zippy and Bungle would have done a better job.
Thankfully, when a penalty is awarded against QPR the opposition team have as much chance as scoring as they do from a corner. You may as well just roll it back to him, lads. Save yourself the embarrassment.
Smithies knew he was going to save it. Martin knew he was going to save it. And guess what? Smithies saved it.
Martin struck the spot-kick with power and good direction but the QPR stopper flung himself to his right and tipped the ball to safety. Smithies has now saved six of his last 10 penalties faced and a seventh struck the post. It’s simply an outrageous record.
There was another flashpoint minutes later when Cairney, sick of being stalked by Manning, reacted by shoving the QPR youngster. Stroud’s decided to book Cairney, Joel Lynch and Martin for their part in the handbags. It was a breath-taking end to a richly entertaining game involving two progressive teams.
QPR: Smithies 8; Furlong 7, Onuoha 7, Lynch 7, Bidwell 7; Manning 8, Hall 7 (Perch 90, -) Luongo 8; Mackie 7 (Lua-Lua 83, 6), Wszolek 7, Sylla 7 (Washington 68, 5)
Subs not used: Ingram, Doughty, Shodipo, Ngbakoto
Goals: Manning 25 (unassisted)
Bookings: Furlong (foul), Luongo (foul), Manning (foul), Sylla (handball), Lynch (fighting)
Fulham: Button 6; Ream 6, Kalas 7, McDonald 5; Fredericks 5 (Odoi 45, 6), Malone 6; Johansen 6, Cairney 6, Piazon 7 (Sessegnon 77, 6); Aluko 6 (Smith 88,-), Martin 6
Subs not used: Sigurdsson, Parker, Bettinelli, Madl
Goals: Martin 75 (assisted Cairney)
Bookings: Fredericks (dissent), Cairney (pushing), Martin (fighting)
Referee – Keith Stroud (West Mids) 3 Three QPR appointments this season, 19 yellows, two reds and two opposition penalties. Overall this season he’s booked 144 players and sent 11 off in just 29 games. Puts himself under pressure early in games – here by awarding the ludicrous Fulham penalty for an obvious dive, and showing a very harsh yellow card to Darnell Furlong. That sets the standards of what is a foul and what is a yellow card ridiculously low, and means you end up with another eight booked and a final ten minutes littered with scuffles, fights and touchline rows between frustrated players and managers. He’s been in the game a long time, and it’s probably about time the kit bag went in the cupboard under the stairs for good – a referee in alarming form.
In fact it took until the fifty second minute to put the seal on it. Seven minutes of constant pressure from Hughton’s side after half time drew a rash tackle from Massimo Luongo on Dale Stephens in the area – Murray, unperturbed by Alex Smithies’ five penalty saves during 2016, coolly and crisply smacking the ball into the bottom corner from the penalty spot.
QPR had good reason to feel aggrieved with a sending off just before the hour. A ball through the wide open spaces between QPR centre halves Nedum Onuoha and Grant Hall gave Baldock a sniff but Onuoha recovered his initial lousy positioning and simply had more strength than the Brighton man who crashed to earth as the pair came together shoulder to shoulder. Barely a foul at all, and yet somehow deemed worthy of a red card by Keith Stroud, an absolute cum rag of a referee who wouldn’t be able to keep control of a meeting of the Cleethorpes and District Knitting Circle without yellow carding at least six of the members and gently patronising three of the others.
So far so predictable, from Brighton, from Stroud, and from our beleaguered Queens Park Rangers. Every defeat is treated like the outbreak of Ebola in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in this age of social media and the babies were getting nervous in their bathwater long before the full time whistle.
Brighton: Stockdale 6; Bruno 7, Dunk 6, Duffy 6, Bong 6; Knockaert 7, Stephens 7, Norwood 8, March 8 (Murphy 68, 6); Murray 8 (Hamed 71, 6), Baldock 7 (Skalak 77, 6)
Subs not used: Mäenpää, Sidwell, Goldson, Hunt
Goals: Baldock 11 (assisted Stephens), Murray 53 (penalty won Stephens), Knockaert 69 (assisted Murray)
QPR: Smithies 5; Perch 2, Onuoha 3, Hall 5, Bidwell 5; Borysiuk 5 (Mackie 59, 5) Cousins 5 (Sandro 80, -), Luongo 4; Ngbakoto 4 (Kakay 81, -), Wzsolek 5, Sylla 5
Subs not used: Washington, Ingram, Shodipo, El Khayati
Red Cards: Onuoha 56 (professional foul)
Bookings: Sylla 80 (dissent)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 5 Penalty decision obviously correct, and thankfully no repeat of the card frenzy from his last QPR appointment, or his last Brighton one for that matter, but the Onuoha red card is an absolute crock of shit. Bad defending certainly, but barely a foul at all let alone a sending off. Whoever is in charge of the newly professionalised Championship referees need to be asking why one of them feels the need to book and dismiss so many more players than any of his colleagues – now 117 yellows and nine reds from this official in just 25 matches this season.
To make matters worse, Rangers had also been reduced to ten men just before the goal. Now Keith Stroud has been on the refereeing circuit a long time, and at one point was something of a lucky official for QPR who avoided defeat in their first ten outings with him over several years. But he’s been a growing pain in the arse of late, starting a few years ago on this ground when a second Forest goal to seal the game was allowed despite the linesman flagging it offside. Last year at MK Dons he awarded two penalties to the hosts, and denied QPR a cast iron one of their own. He’s always had a touch of the short-man syndrome about him, but he’s started to referee games these days like somebody who doesn’t actually enjoy refereeing any more, or football at all in fact, and only keeps doing it because his wife can’t stand him fussing around the house all Saturday afternoon. If that is the case, somebody get this lunatic an allotment or something quick.
This was a game with one proper tackle in it. Midway through the second half James Perch channelled the evil side of Mark Dennis into a flying, airborne lunge over by the dugouts which took the ball clean as a whistle but, a quarter of a second earlier or later, would have clocked up a reasonable death toll. There wasn’t even a free kick awarded for that and yet through the rest of a fairly tame game physically Stroud contrived to show two red cards and ten yellows.
He’d lost control of the thing with time still in single figures. Karl Henry penalised for handball on halfway when a) it looked like the Forest guy had handled it and b) Henry had fairly obviously been pushed under the ball in the first place. Henry was then shown a yellow card for his dissent to the decision and QPR captain Nedum Onuoha was forced into three prolonged chats with the official in as many minutes as one curious decision after another went Forest’s way.
Henry is an experienced player though, and his behaviour over the following 20 minutes was utterly brain dead. Every stoppage, every break in play, every injury, Henry was back to the referee, in his face, arguing the toss, telling him how wrong he’d been. It was like Joey Barton all over again, burning with some sense of injustice and unable to concentrate on his game or think about anything else. At different points Seb Polter, Onuoha and even Alex Smithies took Henry by the arm and forcibly led him away from the official. It was a red card waiting to happen and that particularly time bomb went off just before the half hour when he tripped Lansbury as he accelerated into a dangerous area.
Should he have been booked in the first place? No. Could the referee have let him off with a final warning for the second one? Yes. But honestly, after Henry moaned and bitched his way through 20 minutes of football I suspect Stroud was just glad of the chance to get rid of him. Totally unprofessional, and no kind of reward to a manager whose faith in Henry has been unshakable through a catalogue of poor performances and supporter criticism. Again, it felt apt that Henry would let Hasselbaink and his team mates down to this extent on the Dutchman’s last day in the job. The idea that Henry should have been cut loose when his contract expired in the summer, as several better players were, carries more weight than Lisa Riley.
Two abysmal teams and a dreadful referee, pure Championship stuff, but it had been an uplifting final half hour from Rangers winning them a point they more than deserved. It felt like a corner had been turned, that Hasselbaink had finally seen the value of committing more men to the attack, of supporting the main striker, of using genuine wingers and giving them the ball in wide areas, of getting crosses into the box, of using Shodipo more. But we’ve been here before. The same thing happened at the end of the Fulham game, where Sylla scored a similar goal, and in the final quarter of an hour at Huddersfield, where Sylla scored an identical goal. It happens all the time but you just knew, deep down, that in a fortnight’s time against Norwich when Rangers take the field again it would have been back to one isolated man up top, fielding long hopeful punts down the field with no support, with no width, and no crosses, until it all went to shit and the wingers were finally sent on from the bench.
Forest: Stojkovic 4; Pereira 5, Mills 5, Perquis 6, Lichaj 6; Worrall 6, Kasami 6, Cohen 5 (Lam 82, -), Lansbury 6, Osborn 5; Asombalonga 7 (Vellios 90+3, -)
Subs not used: Dumitru, Fox, Lica, Henderson, Grant
Goals: Assombalonga 38 (assisted Kasami)
Red Cards: Pereira 71 (two bookings, see below)
Bookings: Deep breath… Worrall 50 (foul), Stojkovic 61 (time wasting), Pereira 66 (time wasting), Cohen 68 (foul), Pereira 71 (foul), Lichaj 90+3 (foul)
QPR: Smithies 7; Perch 6, Onouha 5, Hall 6, Robinson 6 (El Khayati 84, -); Henry 3, Cousins 6; Wzsolek 5 (Shodipo 55, 7), Chery 5, Washington 6 (Sylla 77, 7); Polter 6
Subs not used: Lynch, Gladwin, Ingram, Hamalainen
Goals: Sylla 85 (assisted El Khayati)
Red Cards: Henry 34 (two bookings, see below)
Bookings: Henry 11 (dissent), Henry 34 (foul), Robinson 67 (foul), Sylla 86 (over celebrating)
Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 2 Just such utter, utter bullshit from the very first whistle to the last. Ten yellow cards and two reds in a game without a serious foul in it. Seven minutes of stoppage time. Long, drawn out conversations with players over every incident. Yellow cards flashed to players where, even with the benefit of watching it back on the video afterwards, you couldn’t possibly fathom why. Lost control of this with the time still in single figures and never regained it. A nonsense display, completely inept, maddening, farcical. Two poor teams and a shite referee, that’ll be £25 a ticket please – Championship.
Around the hour mark Blackburn completely took over the game, starting with a free kick from a mindless foul by Perch on Marshall for which was rightly yellow carded by referee Keith Stroud. That led to the first of several goal mouth scrambles which Alex Smithies was able to defuse by falling on a loose ball a yard out. Within two minutes Smithies was diving left to parry a long distance volley from Marshall and when the resulting corner was delivered from that, the ball again spent an age bouncing and bobbling around perilously close to the QPR goal with nobody able to apply a killer touch.
No footballer in the world likes playing against pace, no football team in the world likes it when their opponents are popping the ball around and attacking with speed and purpose. And yet QPR, and the game, ambled along at an arthritic pace.
Referee Keith Stroud didn’t help this – allowing Charlie Mulgrew to piss around on the field for a good minute in the first half while play was stopped so Rovers could prepare a substitute to go on instead of him. Start the game and let them play with ten until he’s ready for goodness sake. He managed to find five yellow cards in a match of only one bad tackle (by James Perch) – Mo Shodipo booked for the tackle of the game in the second half.
QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 6, Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Bidwell 6; Henry 5, Cousins 6; Shodipo 7, Chery 6, El Khayati 5 (Sylla 80, -); Polter 5 (Washington 46, 6)
Subs not used: Borysiuk, Kakay, Ingram, Paul, Caulker
Goals: Chery 65 (free kick, won Washington)
Bookings: Shodipo 50 (foul), Perch 61 (foul)
Blackburn: Steele 7; Lowe 6, Hoban 6, Greer 6, Wiliams 6; Mulgrew 5 (Evans 34, 6); Conway 7, Akpan 6, Marshall 6, Gallagher 6 (Emnes 77, 5); Graham 5 (Samuelsen 83, -)
Subs not used: Feeney, Byrne, Guthrie, Raya
Goals: Gallagher (assisted Evans)
Bookings: Williams 42 (foul), Akpan 47 (kicking ball away), Lowe 65 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 Just annoying really. Nothing that wrong, although the booking for Shodipo looked a bit of a joke to me. Just a bit picky, further hampering the pace of an already sluggish game.
Jake Forster-Caskey was booked for diving in the penalty area by referee Keith Stroud after just four minutes but it took until 35 for the hosts to register their first shot on goal – Darren Potter’s effort so ridiculously high and wide that it might still be travelling now.
Konchesky, at left back, meanwhile, turned in a performance that could bring a grown man to tears. Even QPR, who’ve picked the loaned left back remorselessly this season, seemed to have finally accepted he’s finished in recent weeks. Having been pressed back into action here, and performed like this, it’s probably time he did the same. His rash tackle on Josh Murphy, when the MK player was going nowhere and posing little threat, was an obvious penalty award for Keith Stroud to make and he was lucky that Alex Smithies, as he had done at Hillsborough last week, saved Murphy’s shot low to his left.
Decent play from Luongo set Chery up for a first time volley that he skied over the bar threatened some sort of rally and Rangers really should have been given a chance to equalise 12 minutes before the end when Lewington lost his footing trying to get across to deny Perch a shot at the far post and deliberately thrust an arm up above his head to claw the ball away for a corner. An obvious handball, a definite penalty, but referee Stroud was poorly positioned to see it and when he needed help from his linesman Ashvin Degnarain the official inexplicably signalled for a corner kick. Scary to think he’s probably allowed to be out there on the road with eyesight and cognitive functions as poor as this. One of the worst decisions you’ll see. Not even a difficult one to get right.
Stroud had rather made a rod for his own back in the first hour, whistling for absolutely every little bit of physical contact on any player. The MK Dons players realised a lot quicker than the QPR ones that if you brushed past an opponent and went down you’d likely be awarded a free kick. In all, QPR conceded 21 fouls across the 90 minutes here and it’s actually hard to recall them making a single sliding tackle in the entire game. Indeed the booking they did get was given to Karl Henry for the crime of retrieving the ball for a throw in and being started on by Murphy. Another perplexing piece of officiating.
In those circumstances you couldn’t really blame Samir Carruthers for trying his luck with a flop in the area – a second MK Dons yellow card of the game for simulation was his reward. Especially because, in stoppage time, Ryan Hall went down in similarly theatrical style as Henry turned away from him in the box and another penalty was awarded.
Substitute Ben Reeves took the spot kick this time and lashed it straight down the middle into the net. A vital win for MK Dons at the bottom of the league; back to the drawing board for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and his team.
MK Dons: Martin 6; Baldock 6, McFadzean 6, Kay 6, Lewington 6; Forster-Caskey 6 (Reeves 89, -), Potter 6, Murphy 5 (Hall 87, -), Bowditch 6; Williams 7; Revell 6
Subs not used: Powell, Cropper, Spence, Maynard
Goals: Lewington 49 (assisted Bowditch), Reeves (penalty 90+3 won Hall)
Bookings: Forster Caskey 4 (diving), Murphy 79 (unsporting conduct) Carruthers 89 (diving)
QPR: Smithies 6; Onuoha 5, Angella 5, Hall 6 (Konchesky 46, 2), Perch 5; Henry 5, Tozser 5 (Phillips 58, 5); Chery 5 (Polter 71, 6), Luongo 6, El Khayati 5; Washington 5
Subs not used: Faurlin, Ingram, Diakite, Petrasso
Bookings: Henry 79 (nothing very much at all)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 4 Perhaps somebody should check whether everything is alright at home. Five separate penalty incidents here, two yellow cards for diving which looked about right, one penalty awarded against Konchesky which was the correct decision, one awarded against Karl Henry which was soft and one blatant handball from Lewington that was missed entirely. Chuck in his insistence that every piece of physical contact in the game was a foul, and the yellow card for Karl Henry when he’d done little more than stand there and have a home player try to start a fight with him, and this was a bit of a farce all in all.
Little to choose between the sides then, and so it continued after half time. Rangers appealed in vain to referee Keith Stroud that a swift counter attack between Faurlin and Tjaronn Chery had been interrupted illegally by a Hull hand as they tried to free Matt Phillips. Hull, meanwhile, continued to get Clucas, and on this occasion Robertson, free at the far post as balls were delivered from the right flank. Onuoha got across to block Robertson’s volley on the hour.
The opening goal, when it came, reflected the extra quality in the Hull team, rather than the balance of play. QPR have Karl Henry in midfield, who certainly can’t ever be accused of hiding or not trying - despite now constant barracking from his own supporters which must have some effect on his performances – but also isn’t going to be troubling the notepads of too many scouts too soon. Hull, meanwhile, have Diame who was able to first catch Henry in possession, then shrug him aside, and then accelerate away from him into space in the QPR half without challenge far, far, far too easily. Given time to pick a cross he skilfully selected Abel Hernandez whose gentle finish from the edge of the area made the whole thing look very easy.
Referee Stroud might have done more to break up a prolonged, gratuitous, prayer meeting among the Hull players in the penalty area in the aftermath – and several flagrant examples of timewasting thereafter – but in the end he settled for merely adding five minutes to the end of the match and by the end of that we wished he hadn’t bothered at all.
QPR: Green 2; Onuoha 5, Hall 6, Angella 6, Konchesky 6; Faurlin 6, Henry 5 (Fer 71, 4); Phillips 6, Chery 6 (Luongo 85, -), Hoilett 6 (Mackie 78, 6); Polter 6
Subs not used: Smithies, Tozser, Diakite, Petrasso
Goals: Polter 86 (assisted Phillips)
Yellow Cards: Hoilett 73 (foul), Angella 90+1 (foul)
Hull City: McGregor 6; Odubajo 6, Davies 6, Maguire 6, Robertson 7; Elmohamady 5 (Snodgrass 65, 6), Livermore 6, Diame 6 (Diomande 86, -), Clucas 7; Hernandez 6 (Huddlestone 81, -), Meyler 6
Subs not used: Taylor, Maloney, Jukupovic, Aluko
Goals: Hernandez 61 (assisted Diame), Diomande 90 (assisted Green)
Yellow Cards: Maguire 34 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 7 Controlled the game reasonably well, all cards justified, but could have clamped down more on the time wasting at 1-0. Mind you, he did add five minutes, which we now rather wish he hadn’t.
They settled for one, crisply and accurately volleyed into the net by Andreas Weimann from 15 yards out after a touch off from Richard Keogh that had a hint of handball about it. Chris Ramsey was keen to point to that apparent mistake by referee Keith Stroud, but there didn’t look to be a lot in it at first glance despite Rob Green’s protests and really those complaints missed the point. Derby deserved to go ahead, QPR had done nowhere near enough to stop it happening since the second half began.
The reward could and should have come from the penalty spot. Scott Carson, who always has been prone to the odd brain fart, slid in on Hoilett as a loose ball dropped in the six yard box and although the Canadian clearly got to the ball first and toed it away from the keeper, the subsequent contact wasn’t deemed enough for a penalty by Keith Stroud. I make him wrong on that, it looked a stick-on to me.
But what else did the visitors offer? Answer, not much. The half bumbled and mumbled along for the final half hour. Bradley Johnson was booked for dissent for questioning why Stroud had awarded QPR a free kick as a Derby corner came in – unofficial reason was the corner had materialised in the first place from a Derby throw in that should have been a QPR ball and Stroud knew he’d made a mistake. Later the linesman on the opposite side left the field bored/injured to be replaced by the fourth official.
I’d say that rather summed Phillips and QPR up, but there was a better microcosm still to come. James Perch had already been booked for one reckless lunge on Stephen Warnock, and been penalised for a foul throw after repeatedly ignoring Stroud’s warnings about pinching yards whenever the ball went out, when he launched into an injury time tackle on Chris Martin. This was a challenge so utterly moronic it almost looked like he wanted the second yellow so he didn’t have to play on Saturday. Executed high, late, from behind, on a player with his back to goal going nowhere, it was one of the thickest pieces of play I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but having left his team to chase the game with ten men through six minutes of injury time, Perch then walked off the field rather than running, wasting even more of the precious few seconds that were left.
Derby: Carson 6; Christie 6, Shackell 6, Keogh 6, Forsyth 6 (Warnock 21, 6 (Baird 77, 6); Hendrick 6 (Hanson 83, -), Johnson 7, Butterfield 7; Russell 6, Martin 6, Weimann 7
Subs not used: Grant, Bryson, Bent Pearce
Goals: Weimann (assisted Keogh)
Bookings: Christie 41 (ungentlemanly), Johnson 57 (dissent), Weimann 85 (foul), Russell 90 (kicking ball away)
QPR: Green 6; Perch 4, Onuoha 6, Hall 7, Konchesky 5; Henry 6, Faurlin 6 (Blackwood 84, -), Tozser 6 (Fer 76, 5), Yun 7 (Hoilett 66, 5); Austin 6, Phillips 5
Subs not used: Doughty, Smithies, Angella, Polter
Red Cards: Perch 89 (two yellows)
Bookings: Yun 41 (ungentlemanly), Austin 48 (foul), Perch 72 (foul), Perch 89 (foul), Fer 90+2 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud 5 Chris Ramsey felt there was a handball in the lead up to the Derby goal but on first glance without a replay I didn’t think there was a lot in it, and that’s all the referee gets to see. The foul on Junior Hoilett by Scott Carson in the second half was a penalty, however, and looked exactly that at the time. By awarding a goal kick, he was admitting that the keeper didn’t get any of the ball. Perch red card absolutely correct.
If you were looking for microcosms of this QPR performance, how about Henry panicking under more pressure from Lansbury and falling on the ball hoping for a free kick? Referee Keith Stroud, who QPR had never lost with in 11 previous appointments, rightly penalised the former Wolves midfielder for handball. Or, moments later, Richard Dunne’s all-too casual square ball on the edge of his own area that Abdoun, stunned by the laziness of his opponent perhaps, handled as he attempted to spring through on goal.
A long ball from back to front towards Greg Halford ten minutes from time missed the makeshift striker altogether as he attempted to flick it on and ran through to Andy Reid in behind the QPR defence. The linesman raised his flag immediately but referee Stroud was happy to hesitate a moment – admittedly under heavy duress from Billy Davies on the touchline - and allow Reid to roll the ball past Green and into the net. QPR had stopped – Green barely made an attempt to deal with Reid and Assou-Ekotto and Dunne were actually walking the other way – but Halford had missed the ball altogether meaning that Reid, who was inside his own half when it was originally knocked long, was actually onside and Stroud was right to overrule his assistant, however he reached the decision.
The old adage about playing to the whistle sprang to mind. The lazy reaction of the QPR players to the incident, followed by a good two minutes of bitching and moaning at the officials, typified their overall attitude to the game and performance on the night. The goal summed Forest up as well: bright, alive, positive, enthusiastic and opportunistic. Just rewards for Reid and his team.
Forest: Darlow 6; Jara 6, Lascelles 6, Hobbs 7, Lichaj 6; Vaughan 6 (Chalobah 67, 6), Lansbury 8; Mackie 7 (Derbyshire 86, -), Reid 7, Abdoun 8 (Paterson 82, -); Halford 6
Subs not used: Harding, Majewski, de Vries, Osborn
Goals: Halford 29 (assisted Abdoun), Reid 80 (assisted Abdoun)
Bookings: Darlow 84 (time wasting)
QPR: Green 6; Simpson 6, Dunne 5, Hill 6, Assou-Ekotto 5; Carroll 6, Henry 3 (Hoilett 45, 5); Phillips 5 (Benayoun 76, 5), Jenas 4, Kranjcar 6; Zamora 2 (Johnson 45, 6)
Subs not used: Traore, Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Murphy
Bookings: Assou-Ekotto 48 (foul)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 8 Much was made of the second goal, and the wide angle replays suggest that Stroud wasn’t nearly as certain as he made out and seemed to play on initially under heavy protest from the Forest bench, but ultimately the decision – like almost every other one he made on the evening – was correct and QPR had only themselves to blame.
Doyle is best remembered by QPR fans for his shamelessly violent man marking job on Lee Cook on this ground back at the height of the left winger's career. Presumably both he and Montgomery had been sent out in this game with similar instructions because within the first five minutes Doyle had a wild hack at Taarabt as he skipped past him, the referee Keith Stroud let that one slide, then moments later after some neat skill by the Moroccan on the edge of the area Montgomery kicked him again. This time a free kick was awarded which Taarabt smacked straight into the wall. When Montgomery then hauled back Tommy Smith in brazen fashion he became the first name to go into the referee's notebook and he can have no complaints about it whatsoever. That free kick was flicked on at the near post but escaped Fitz Hall's attentions at the far but the first corner of the game posed rather less danger, and actually resulted in a Sheff Utd counter attack which ended when Henderson volleyed ambitiously from distance into the Loft.
Undeterred Rangers came again - Wayne Routledge produced a sumptuous piece of control to bring a Paddy Kenny kick out of the air and then set about building an eye catching move that ended with Taarabt teeing up Faurlin for a shot over the bar, but also included a half hearted penalty appeal when the newly crowned Championship Player of the Year hit the deck in the area.
Sheff Utd's best spell of the game came in the final five minutes of the first half. First Quinn threatened to burst in behind the QPR rearguard after Henderson had won the initial header and Bogdanovic had flicked the ball in behind Hall. Eventually the carrot topped midfielder fired into the side netting, and he protested angrily that Hall had leant on him illegally to prevent him scoring but referee Stroud, with two 3-0 QPR wins on his record already this season, showed no interest. The referee did however book Clint Hill on the stroke of the break as he cynically chopped down Evans wide on the right after being done for pace. The resulting free kick bobbled around in the area for a moment before being whacked away to safety, and the half time whistle followed a short time later.
QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 8, Hall 8, Gorkss 7, Hill 7, Faurlin 9, Derry 8 (Buzsaky 86, -), Smith 9 (Miller 81, -), Taarabt 7 (Agyemang 71, 6), Routledge 9, Helguson 8
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Ephraim, Chimbonda, Shittu
Booked: Hill (foul)
Goals: Routledge 29 (assisted Helguson), Faurlin 52 (assisted Taarabt), Routledge 66 (assisted Helguson)
Sheff Utd: Simonsen 8, Nosworthy 2 (Riise 59, 5), Collins 3, Lowton 4, Mattock 4, Montgomery 4, Doyle 4, Quinn 7, Bogdanovic 6 (Yeates 64, 5), Henderson 6, Evans 5 (Bent 79, 5)
Subs Not Used: Aksalu, Cresswell, Kozluk, McAllister
Booked: Montgomery (foul), Yeates (foul)
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 8 Three QPR games this season, three 3-0 wins for the Super Hoops. He can come again. To be fair there can be no accusations of bias here, Sheff Utd put up such meek resistance he had little to referee. Both teams had weak penalty appeals turned down in the second half, and right at the end of the game a shot deflected wide from Henderson and was given as a goal kick but other than that it was a sound night of refereeing with three cards awarded, all correctly.
The R’s forced a couple of corners around the ten minute mark – the first was cleared back to Taarabt at the near post, the return ball likewise and then Wayne Routledge tried his luck from the other side but again couldn’t find his way past the near post. As Middlesbrough brought the ball away Alejandro Faurlin upended Joe Bennett, appearing to slip as he made the tackle, but the accidental nature of the collision didn’t stop referee Keith Stroud from producing the first yellow card of the game. Bennett would go on to be the only Middlesbrough player to put in a reasonable performance for his team while Stroud continued to be inconsistent with his bookings.
Middlesbrough’s response to falling behind was a needlessly violent one. From the kick off QPR attacked again down the left through Taarabt but this time he was crudely chopped to the ground by Taylor with a tackle that got nowhere near the ball and cut the Moroccan down just below the knee. I’ve seen players sent off for less, Majewski for Forest a fortnight ago for example, but not only did Taylor escape without a card Rangers were only awarded a throw in by referee Keith Stroud. The official further infuriated Rangers once the ball was back in play with first Taarabt and then Routledge hitting the deck under what appeared to be fouls only to be told to get to their feet. And then to rub salt into gaping wounds Fitz Hall received the game’s second yellow card on the stroke of half time for upending Lita. A ludicrous five minutes of officiating, but a satisfying scoreline as the half time whistle sounded.
The refereeing didn’t improve a lot after half time with a blatant handball on the edge of the Boro penalty box missed by all three officials but it didn’t put QPR off their stride and a nice move between Taarabt, Routledge and Faurlin created space for Buzsaky to try his luck from the edge of the area but he couldn’t keep the shot down. I was quite critical of Buzsaky earlier in the season when he had to fill in for Faurlin in a deep lying midfield position that really didn’t play to his strengths – he was used as one of the more advanced attacking three in this game and it obviously suited him a lot better. Nobody at the top of the Championship has a player as good as Buzsaky to add to their team at this stage of the season and he looks trim and ready for the run in which is fantastic news.
Two became three five minutes later and although the overworked Middlesbrough defence could point to mental and physical fatigue, Merouane Zemmama had no such excuse for his recklessness as he chopped Taarabt down in the penalty area within seven minutes of coming off the bench to replace the ineffective Marvin Emnes.
The penalties this season have been shared between Taarabt and Helguson with some complex unwritten laws on who takes what and why yet to be figured out by those of us that just watch the team. It seemed likely, hunting a hat trick, that Helguson would be the man to take this and indeed he seemed to think so too – arguing with Taarabt over the ball as the Moroccan collected it and walked to the spot himself. Shaun Derry added his opinion that it might be nice for Helguson to take it but Taarabt was certain he fancied it, possibly aware that he hasn’t scored a goal away from home since October and has been in a bit of a trough of form just lately.
Taarabt calmly beat Steele from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way, and it was good to see that the first man on the scene to congratulate him was Heidar Helguson. Game over.
Robson’s first real involvement saw him fall foul of one of football’s most ridiculous rules. A foul by Helguson on McMahon presented Boro with a free kick just under 30 yards from goal. Keith Stroud set about moving the wall back but while he was doing so Robson attempted a quick shot that flew straight at Paddy Kenny – as the referee hadn’t blown a whistle to signal the start of play this then resulted in a yellow card for Robson. Why is this a booking? What an absolutely bloody stupid rule that is. If you think he’s doing it to waste time then book him for time wasting, otherwise just make him retake the free kick. It is, after all, meant to be an advantage to the attacking team as a reward for being fouled by their opponents, why book them for trying to maximise their own advantage? We’ve fallen foul of that rule before and it’s a completely ridiculous one.
FIFA are holding a board meeting at Celtic Manor on March 5 to discuss what they see as the most pressing issues surrounding the laws of the game – that two of the agenda items are “the potential dangers caused by the wearing of snoods” and a discussion on whether goal posts should be universally round or square tells you a lot about how such nonsenses are allowed to not only permeate our game, but remain for a long period of time. Next week, a similar rant on the yellow card for over celebrating rule.
QPR could easily have been four goals up 13 minutes from time as Faurlin laid a ball through for Taarabt but Steele rushed from his goal line and parried the ball at his opponent’s feet to deny him. Then from a free kick Fitz Hall went over in the area appealing for another penalty – appeals that were waved away by Stroud who then had to separate Taarabt and Bennett who had got involved in some sort of disagreement off the ball.
Middlesbrough: Steele 6, McMahon 6, Hines 5, Davies 5 (Haas 82, -), Bennett 7, Emnes 5 (Zemmama 59, 5), Arca 6 (Robson 59, 6), Bailey 5, Taylor 5, McDonald 5, Lita 5
Subs Not Used: Ripley, Boyd, Grounds, Smallwood
Booked: Robson (taking free kick too quickly)
QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 7 (Connolly 78, 6), Hall 7, Shittu 7, Hill 7, Derry 7, Faurlin 8, Routlede 8, Taarabt 8, Buzsaky 7 (Ephraim 69, 6), Helguson 8 (Hulse 84, -)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gorkss, Moen, Miller
Booked: Faurlin (foul) Hall (foul)
Goals: Helguson 41 (assisted Taarabt), 61 (assisted Routledge), Taarabt 68 (penalty won Taarabt)
Referee – Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 It’s now nine matches without defeat with this referee for QPR and for the second time this season he officiated a 3-0 away win for the Super Hoops that included a penalty, but there was certainly no hint of favouritism around this performance. The penalty QPR were awarded was blatant while Faurlin can count himself unlucky to be booked for a first half foul when he appeared to slip. Similarly Taylor can count himself fortunate to have stayed on the pitch for his wild hack at Taarabt after the first goal – a challenge that didn’t even bring Rangers a free kick. While it’s the rule that’s at fault rather than the referee the booking of Robson for taking his own free kick too quickly at 3-0 down was a total joke. That apart, he was reasonable.
Ipswich needed some assistance from referee Keith Stroud, an official who had never refereed a QPR defeat in seven attempts prior to this game, to mount their first attack. A move down the Town left seemed to have been snuffed out fairly by Kyle Walker but the official pulled the play back for a meagre challenge by Faurlin earlier in the play. Leadbitter took the free kick, that was swung wickedly in towards the QPR goal and headed straight up in the air by Connolly at the near post. A potentially dangerous situation was swiftly neutralised by Paddy Kenny emerging from his goal line and claiming confidently. No sign of the nerves that seemed to be affecting the Irish keeper in the first couple of games this season on this occasion.
Ipswich were then able to pepper the QPR box again as Buzsaky fouled Norris and Leadbitter pumped in a free kick to the back post. Wickham went up with Kenny, the ball came loose in the area, and Stroud whistled for a free kick. It was one of those that probably should have been waved on by the referee, but the goalkeepers always seem to get the benefit of the doubt.
Anyway Ipswich pressure survived, tremendous football and swift attacking resumed, QPR put the game to bed with just over 20 minutes remaining. Paddy Kenny knocked a long ball up towards the edge of the Ipswich penalty area where, once again, Heidar Helguson won his header. The ball fell to Jamie Mackie in the area with his back to goal and as he touched it back to Akos Buzsaky on the edge of the area Ipswich defender Tommy Smith rashly lunged out a leg to fell the QPR man. It was a blatant penalty, but had referee Stroud waited all of three seconds before awarding it he would have seen Buzsaky fire a goal of the season contender high into the top corner.
It was all a bit unfortunate for the referee really because normally you’d be safe to assume that a team would rather have a penalty than possession of the ball 25 yards away from the goal – but then most sides don’t have Akos Buzsaky. The angle he was looking at the incident from also meant he may well not have seen the Hungarian homing into view at all. It’s easy to make excuses and forgive the official on this occasion because, as he has done four times already this season, Heidar Helguson wandered up to the ball and casually toed the ball into the corner from the penalty spot although, again, I felt Fulop could and should have done better.
QPR have been awarded five penalties in six matches this season – reviewing them all it’s a combination of high work rate from the strikers hustling errors from their opponents, and a touch of gamesmanship as well. Helguson, Mackie and Taarabt are all very good at hitting the deck in a convincing manner – that’s slightly different to diving, because they are being touched and fouled, and as we saw at home to Derby last season when German was blatantly hauled back but stood up and got nothing you have to draw attention to these things or you’ll get nothing.
QPR: Kenny 7, Walker 8, Gorkss 8, Connolly 8, Hill 7, Derry 8, Faurlin 6 (Buzsaky 36, 7), Ephraim 7, Taarabt 7 (Leigertwood 60, 7), Mackie 9 (Smith 80, 6), Helguson 8
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Agyemang, German, Parker
Goals: Mackie 31 (assisted Helguson), 42 (assisted Taarabt), Helguson 68 (penalty, won by Mackie)
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 7 Couple of strange free kick awards, generously let Priskin off without a card when his foul was cynical and nasty, should have played on and allowed Buzsaky’s goal rather than giving the penalty. But in fairness those were the only real errors that stuck out across 90 minutes and he wasn’t nearly as fussy and card happy as he has been in the past. Controlled the game well for the most part.
With games off up and down the country, including Fulham’s match just down the road, there was some doubt about the status of this fixture prior to kick off but referee Keith Stroud passed the pitch fit to play on at 2pm after a brief inspection.
Routledge looked bright and pacy but often mis-controlled or overran his chances. In fact the out of position midfielder Gunnarsson actually dealt with Routledge a lot better than the recognised right back Wright. Whenever the former Sunderland man had to come across and cover against Routledge he looked really uncomfortable. Stroud let him off with his first cynical trip on the winger as he raced to the byline, but produced a yellow card for a less nasty foul five minutes later when he body checked him to the ground after being beaten again. As usual Clinton Morison had plenty to say to the referee about both decisions, and in fact every decision anybody made all day.
The game seemed to be petering out towards half time in truth until suddenly a flash point occurred in the middle of midfield. A loose ball bounced up into the air just inside the Coventry half of the field and Heidar Helguson appeared to use the upper part of his arm to knock it down into space and attempt to run in behind the Coventry defence. Before the City players could even appeal Wright came tearing out of the centre half position and launched a wild chest high lunge on the QPR man leaving him poleaxed on the turf. It was a pretty horrific lunge and Stroud wasted no time in issuing a deserved straight red card. Wright reacted angrily, jabbing his finger at Stroud’s face and storming off down the tunnel, needless to say Morrison had a good long say about it all as well but quite what the Coventry players could complain about I do not know. They are always very physical visitors to Loftus Road and in the 37 minutes he had been on the pitch Wright had done nothing but get caught out of position or outpaced and then foul his man. He had done Routledge twice and could have done some serious damage to Helguson with a reckless lunge.
Frustration grew on the pitch as well with Gunnarsson booked for kicking Routledge, then Routledge was carded harshly after an argument with the ever vocal Morrison who somehow escaped with just a ticking off from the match official. He cannot say anything of any significance to the referee because despite talking to him constantly throughout every match he never seems to be booked for it. I do have a sneaking admiration for the way he plays the game – thoroughly irritating but good value entertainment wise.
QPR: Cerny 5, Delaney 6 (Ledesma 73, 5) Connolly 6, Stewart 7, Gorkss 7, Ephraim 5 (Hall 89, -), Leigertwood 7 (Di Carmine 81, 6), Routledge 6, Rowlands 5, Blackstock 5, Helguson 4
Subs Not Used: Mahon, Alberti
Booked: Routledge (off the ball incident), Helguson (foul)
Goals: Blackstock 87 (assisted Di Carmine)
Coventry: Westwood 7, Wright 3, Turner 6, Fox 7, Gunnarsson 7, Beuzelin 6, Doyle 6, Tabb 8, Mifsud 7 (Eastwood 84, -), Morrison 7, Best 6 (McKenzie 66, 5)
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Thornton, Wynter
Sent Off: Wright (dangerous foul play)
Booked: Wright (foul), Fox (dissent), Gunnarsson (foul), Westwood (time wasting)
Goals: Fox 73 (free kick)
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 6 The Coventry fans seemed to be pretty irate with him and I suppose we would be in the same situation but it was hard to argue over any of the cards they received, including the sending off which even Chris Coleman says they will not be appealing against. I thought the booking of Routledge was harsh considering Morrison’s behaviour and only adding four minutes on at the end was a farce but other than that he was not too bad.
After a quarter of an hour Rangers took the lead with a terribly soft goal from a Charlton point of view. Nicky Weaver, a keeper in dire form at the moment, miskicked a clearance out to Gillespie wide on the Charlton right and he in turn miscontrolled the ball allowing Damiano Tommasi to swoop and steal possession. The Italian looked to have run the ball out of play on the Ellerslie Road side of the pitch and the visiting players seemed to stop expecting a flag but when the linesman signalled play on Tommasi beat Cranie for pace, no I’m not kidding, and sent in a dangerous low cross that was swept home by a totally unmarked Dexter Blackstock from twelve yards out.
The Charlton fans were furious that a throw in had not been given, but their team hardly covered themselves in glory here. Martin Cranie looks a shadow of the player we had here on loan last season – slow, cumbersome, lacking any sort of positional sense and carrying at le
Photo: Action Images
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