|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Sheffield Wednesday|
Friday, 24th January 2020 Kick-off 20:00
QPR happy to toss away FA Cup place to Sheff Wed - Report
Sunday, 26th Jan 2020 16:52 by Jordan James Foster
Faced with a winnable tie at home for a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup, QPR did their usual trick of fiddling with the team selection and then underperforming against Sheff Wed on Friday night. Jordan Foster was there for LFW.
QPR’s defensive woes were highlighted once again on Friday night as Sheffield Wednesday overcame their hosts to book their place in the fifth round.
Morgan Fox scored a deadlock-breaking goal just before half-time, before Sam Winnall doubled the lead with ten minutes left to play. Substitute Nahki Wells pulled one back for the hosts late on, in what could be his last game at Loftus Road as a Rangers player.
Both sides made wholesale changes to their normal sides. Rangers manager Mark Waarubrton recalled goalkeeper Joe Lumley to the starting line-up despite Liam Kelly’s impressive return to action against Leeds at the weekend. This decision would be a major source of criticism to come.
Todd Kane retained his spot in the back four alongside the returning Toni Leistner and youngster Conor Masterson with Lee Wallace being replaced by Ryan Manning. Dom Ball sat at the base of midfield with a quartet of Marc Pugh, Ilias Chair, Ebere Eze and new signing Jack Clarke operating behind Jordan Hugill in attack. Bright Osayi-Samuel only made the bench.
The visitors immediately looked more comfortable of the two sides with Rangers showing very little of the fluidity or flair that has been so prominent in the opening home games of 2020, particularly here against Swansea in the last round.
Jacob Murphy fired wide early on and then his back-post cross just evaded Sam Winnall as the winger started to find his groove against the out-of-sorts Ryan Manning. The Irishman showed real promise earlier in the season with his defensive frailties being accepted due to his superb form going forward. Now the attacking threat seems to have petered out and, while admittedly facing a very talented player in Murphy, he struggled to have any influence on the game.
Midway through the first-half Sam Hutchinson’s cross field pass was taken well by the loanee Murphy but he could only fire straight at Lumley. Five minutes later, despite struggling to find their usual rhythm, the home side fashioned their first real chance of note. Dom Ball’s driving run set Rangers on the counter and after smart play from Chair, Pugh could only fire wide.
Despite the inclusion of the usually exciting Chair and Eze, the affair was turning into anything but. Winger Jack Clarke looked every part of a player out of form, out of fitness and low of confidence with a number of runs down blind alleys resulting in Wednesday winning possession with ease. His annoyance with himself on a number of occasions was clear to all to see. Expect further questions about why exactly he’s here if his form doesn’t improve from this level.
Moments before half-time, the visitors opened the scoring. A long punt up field looked to be dealt with well by Ball, whom had looked impressive in the opening 45, but Hutchinson quick throw to Fox, who had peeled off Clarke and behind Kane, set the fullback away. Driving into the Rangers area, only a late effort by Ball would act as a deterrent but the defender kept his cool to beat Lumley at his near post. The defence had switched off at the throw, the winger hadn’t tracked his man, the full back had been sucked out with space in behind, and the shot should have been comfortably saved by the goalkeeper. Not QPR’s finest hour.
It was another blot on Lumley’s copybook, with his time in the Rangers first team surely done for a little while now. A shame as before the gaffe he looked back to his somewhat best with good communication, commanding play and some brilliant distribution.
Whilst Todd Kane was ridiculed on Twitter for losing his man as Fox ran behind him, it was actually Clarke who had switched off to lose the resulting goalscorer. Whilst the defender was guilty of ambling and not sensing danger, the new loanee had been caught out by the long ball, then was out of postion before being caught ball-watching. Much to the anger of Dom Ball who could be heard roaring at Jack Clarke to stick with Fox and then even more so when the ball had trickled under Lumley’s body.
After the break Rangers tried to muster some sort of reaction with Eze looking at having a number of driving runs but the absence of Nahki Wells’ energy set a murky tone of what could potentially be expected for the rest of the season.
With the hour mark approaching, Warburton replaced the unimpressive Clarke with the in-form Bright Osayi-Samuel. The youngster’s introduction raised the crowd immediately with his direct running striking fear into the Wednesday defence. After dancing round Fox, his whipped cross evaded everyone. Moments later he was found again in space but his cutback to Kane was fired over. Then Kane turned provider, his right footed pin point cross finding Hugill unmarked. Unlike in the previous round, he couldn’t find the composure of finish to fire past Cameron Dawson in the visitors’ goal.
More good work from Osayi-Samuel allowed the ball to break for Eze but even he couldn’t get a shot away as Rangers huffed and puffed with little reward. Garry Monk’s side had abandoned any real attacking intent but didn’t look unduly troubled in defence.
With 15 minutes left to play, Wells finally got his call replacing Chair as the R’s poured men forward looking for an equaliser. Another long ball nearly caught out Masterson and Lumley as the pair crashed into each other outside the area, almost allowing Wednesday substiture Nuhui in for a shambolic second. Masterson threw his long limbs in the way to save his team mate from another embarrassing situation.
Sam Winnall did however get the chance to put the tie was put to bed in injury time. On countless occasions this season there have been audible groans from home supporters when Rangers begin to play the ball out from the back. Firstly, that’s Warburtons philosophy and his way of playing, the players will not change. The calls to “GET RID OF IT!” As though hoofing it up the pitch brings better results than taking the time and drawing the opposition onto you, were made to look even sillier last night with Leistner rejecting the principles with time running out. Hugill, the best target man at the club, loses the header and with players caught up the pitch Sheffield Wednesday broke. Three passes later the ball was in the back of the net and the game over.
It was another disappointing night for Rangers with Warburton facing flak on social media for his team selection. Whilst you can only point to the fact that the powers above must feel promotion is within reach, the side selected should have been enough to get something out of the game. The first shot on target came on the hour mark as the home side lacked any of the guile or intensity that has seen them make the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium a bit of a fortress recently. If there’s a win at Blackburn all will be forgotten a loss on the other hand…
Match Gallery: 16 photos
QPR: Lumley 4; Kane 5, Leistner 6, Masterson 6, Manning 5; Ball 6; Clarke (Osayi-Samuel 66, 7) 4, Eze 6, Chair (Wells 74, 6) 6, Pugh 6; Hugill 5
Subs not used: Barnes, Hall, Shodipo, Cameron, Amos
Goals: Wells 90+3 (unassisted)
Bookings: Ball 60 (foul), Osayi-Samuel 86 (foul)
Sheff Wed: Dawson 6; Odubajo 6, Lees 6, Borner 6, Fox 7, Murphy 7 (Reach 72, 6), Hutchinson 6 (Hunt 54, 6), Pelupessy 6, Harris 6; Rhodes 6 (Nuhiu 76, 6), Winnall 7
Subs not used: Wildsmith, Iorfa, Borukov, Urhoghide
Goals: Fox 43 (Hutchinson), Winnall 90+1 (assisted Reach)
QPR Star Man – Dom Ball 6 Not a great night for anyone if the truth be told, and of the starters Dom Ball gets the nod for his effort and application. When so many of his more glamorous colleagues had seemingly downed tools from a usual Championship encounter, Ball kept his standards high and at least tried to do what was asked of him. It could have gone to BOS and probably should have but if you have a player winning MOTM and only being on the pitch 20 minutes then you have problems.
Referee - Keith Stroud 4: For someone who didn’t have much to do, he still managed to make a pig’s ear of it. Among the highlights were Dom Ball being booked for a pull back on a Wednesday player despite it being his first foul, then a Wednesday midfielder subsequently being let off with a warning with Stroud making a point of holding his finger in the air to indicate it was the player’s first offence. Later Ebere Eze was chopped down but the ball ran through to Chair who was in on the last defender – Stroud decided to ignore the advantage, bring play back, and then not book the player. Another bizarre performance from the worst referee in the league on a night to forget for all.
Attendance - 11,871 (3,000 Sheff Wed approx.) Not for me, Clive. Some great numbers and voice from Wednesday fans who made the journey down but for whatever reason QPR fans just don’t do cup ties.
The Twitter @JordanJFoster
Pictures – Action Images
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