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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.
The Bermudian looks set to return to parent club Burnley before being sold to either Forest or Bristol City as both clubs look to go for broke with promotion potentially in their sights. He has been in impressive form recently, already at double the amount of goals he had scored throughout the whole of last season. Wells had stressed he had unfinished business at QPR and wanted to be able to give a real account of himself prior to signing in August. He has certainly done that and in only Rangers fashion could feature against us on Saturday if he signs for Bristol City.

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.
Wells did manage to get a goal to sign off on, rounding Dawson and finishing into an empty net after the keeper had played the ball straight to him with no Wednesday defenders in the vicinity. It would merely act as a consolation goal for Rangers who would only muster one more attempt with seconds left to play. Another Eze corner found its way to Pugh but the veteran could only fire high and wide into the upper loft as referee Keith Stroud called a halt to proceedings.

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…

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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.

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Myke added 17:32 - Jan 26
Cheers for the report Jordan- a disappointing result and performance. I would take issue with a couple of points you have made. I think you are being unduly harsh on Clarke. He's a 19 year old kid who's only here a week yet you devoted two full paragraphs (8 & 11) criticising him What did you expect- Messi ? Whether we like it or not he's ours for the rest of the season so we need to encourage him as much as possible. If , as you seem certain, Wells is on his way and any one of BOS Chair or Eze could join him then Clarke could play a big role over the next few months.
Secondly apart from Clarke and Masterson, everyone selected has been playing regularly for the 1st team all season so hardly 'wholesale changes ' The fact is that regardless of personnel we have being blowing hot and cold all season - unfortunately this was a chilly one. If we won the game and BOS tore his hamstring what would the reaction be?

Stanisgod added 19:04 - Jan 26
So when did the rule come in that you must not play your best players in the cup in case they get injured. This is the problem these days, people are taking it as the norm to play perhaps not the best players form wise in the cup. Why?
Wells probably won't be at Blackburn anyway so why not play him. BOS is in great form, get in front, take him off for this apparent cup final Tuesday, get in the next round.
P@ssed off from Basildon.

Esox_Lucius added 19:37 - Jan 26
No-one moaned when he changed the side drastically for the Swansea game?

Spiritof67 added 19:55 - Jan 26
Disappointing result, especially if Sheffield Wednesday get a plum draw against a top Premiership team.
I find it strange that we are loaning out players to give them game time, yet we are signing players on loan to give them game time with us. I appreciate that Jack Clarke is only 19, but he is not our player, for this particular game why not give game time to a player we have under our contract, I.e. Shodipo who aged 22 could have played on the right wing caused their left back all sorts of problem and if things didn’t work out in the first half, then bring on Osayi-Samuel.

We may not have the squad to make it to Wembley, but a big opportunity lost for either a day out at a Premiership ground or a potential full house and great atmosphere at Loftus Road against a side like Man City.

smegma added 20:09 - Jan 26
Wells scored 9 goals last season. He hasn't doubled his goals tally this season . Not yet. I reckon he will get over 20 goals as he's going nowhere.

062259 added 21:13 - Jan 26
If ever there was a textbook definition of a team with no hope of reaching the playoffs and in no danger of relegation, it is QPR 2019/20.

So surely the FA Cup takes priority for once, not the league, and certainly not Blackburn away.

By rotating out-off-form Lumley back into the team simply for the sake of rotation, MW has shot himself in both feet. Poor keeping at the near post again, not helped by the defensive blunder at the throw-in. And goodbye FA Cup run. Was Kelly tired or something? Makes no sense. Either they are trying to improve the club’s finances or they aren’t. If they are, this was not the way to do it.

HastingsRanger added 22:45 - Jan 26
Disapppointing perfomance, with a lack of fluidity. Sheffield Wednesday did look well organised and certainly gave Eze little space when on the ball.

R's did not deserve a draw but the second Wednesday goal (which looked excellent) did appear to be well offside, when shown from the touchline view.

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 02:52 - Jan 27
What odds does Hugill tend to get on himself for screwing good chances?!

Bushman added 09:22 - Jan 27
Clarke was embarrassingly bad he should have been hooked 1/2 time latest.

Metaphor for persisting with Lumley terrible form but keep playing him again and again?


Ultimately players confidence gets shattered

Toast_R added 09:36 - Jan 27
Warburton has heaped unnecessary pressure on himself now giving up the FA Cup with a whimper for the benefit of facing Blackburn on a cold Tuesday night in the North. Lose that which we no doubt will, and all of a sudden his credit with the QPR support base much like his predecessors who have all fallen for the same idea, takes a hammering.

QPR owe it to the fans to have made that fifth round tie – a potential money spinner. They bleat on about FFP, cutting the wage bill and all the rest of it and then p*ss away the opportunity to make a fair few quid. Like many supporters, I would have loved another cup run this year, keeping the season somewhat alive for a few more weeks.

It was awful, for some reason the travel to LR on Friday night was a pig, train from Clapham to SB was late and extremely busy, rush to get in the ground for 8:00 and then the team selection and subsequent performance equally annoying. You get that nagging voice in your head “If QPR can’t be bothered, why should I?”

MW needs a result on Tuesday or things will start to turn sour.

BillericayR added 10:47 - Jan 27
See your attendance figure is more like I thought when papers saying less than 8000.
Good showing from Wednesday fans. Seemed liked many people from the city around me in SAR.

As for Clarke he really was bad. First goal stemmed from an attack where an easy pass to an overlapping Kane should have been made. Instead he turns inside, is swamped by several defenders and then Sheff Wed are on the attack. Kane now out of position, possible goal chance gone. He did the same in the second half. Can see why Leeds did not play him.
Not sure I would totally blame Lumley for first goal. Left totally exposed with Clarke sleeping.

Marshy added 13:16 - Jan 27
As soon as I saw the team selection before kick off, I just knew it wasn't going to be our night. I fall into the camp of thinking, play your best team. Realistically we're not going to get promoted, let alone make the top 6 this season. A good run / draw in the cup could have proved to be a money spinner, great motivation for the squad, and great excitement for us the fans. I think with Kelly, Cameron, Wells and BOS in from the start would have secured the win. I like many others understand the need to rest players, but Blackburn on Tuesday would have been that perfect opportunity, with a full strength team returning for Bristol on Saturday. Sorry Warbs, but you did get this one wrong!

I don't want to be too harsh on Lumley as he has already taken so much flack this season, but the first goal he really should have saved, and was too easily beaten for the second. Not sure what the answer is for Joe, but I think for now he needs to be taken out of the firing line. He's still relatively young, and is definitely not a lost cause.


kingfisher6404 added 13:41 - Jan 27
Thanks Jordan and agree with all your points and player rankings! One point I would stress is that Warburton set us up as 4-1-4-1, but that meant Ball was the focus for moving the ball forward or the shortest midfield in the league to gather high balls. Why not sacrifice an attacking midfielder for Cameron or Hall alongside Ball? I see above that some believe you were harsh on Clarke, but I was there and able to watch him (especially off the ball). He was lost in terms of positioning, tackling and tracking back. On this showing, Clarke is at the development level that Eze was for us at the start of last season - so much to learn! Returning to the mention of high balls by me - Sheff Wednesday players were much taller and far more effective in the mid-pitch 'head tennis', so second balls often went to them. We must keep the ball more often on the ground to pass!

oakskull added 17:16 - Jan 27
Warburton forfeited this game. We had more than a fair chance to go through to the fifth round. His team selection made sure that wouldn’t happen. Leaving BOS and Wells on the bench, defending with Manning, totally out of form, and Kane, still struggling with his positioning.
And, again, going with the goalkeeper that has the worst stats in the CC. Who, again, let us down.
So we lose the game. Hardly a surprise to anybody that has seen at least some of our games this season.
But this does not make any sense to me. The game was on the box not only in the UK, but in a number of other countries as well. Shouldn’t it be important to QPR to come across as a club with ambitions and at least some quality when given a rare occasion to access a wider audience?
Does Warburton, or anyone else at the club, for that matter, think that this performance contributed to a widening of QPR’s fan base here and abroad?
Even more pertinent, the team selection was disrespectful to the fans. We spend a lot, a lot!, of our time and money supporting this club. We’re talking serious commitment here. And the FA-cup is a big deal.
We have a right to expect our club to try it’s damndest to progress, given a chance like this. That didn’t happen. And that, to my mind, is a disgrace. This I will not forget.

Myke added 23:25 - Jan 27
Question to everyone who believed we 'threw away' a 'guaranteed' place in round 5 because of a 'weakened' team selection. Did we play a weakened team away to Brentford, Barnsley, Reading or at home to Reading, Nottingham Forest, Charlton? To name just six without even thinking about it. We did however play a weakened team at home Swansea in the last round. The reality is, as I said in above post, is that we have being blowing hot and cold all season which is why we are a mid-table team. This is completely normal for a largely inexperienced team, especially considering that we completely revamped the squad last summer. Last season we completely imploded in the second half of the season due largely to fixture congestion and the the fact that McClaren flogged the same 11 or 12 players to death until they completely lost form or got injured long term. And we moaned about that, and with some justification, as some of it at least, was down to mismanagement. So now we moan at Warburton for taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen. Are we ever happy? The team he selected was more than good enough to beat another Championship team if we were bang at it from the kick-off - or not if we weren't . We weren't. We have seen this happen all season. So even though it was a cup game, it was effectively another bog-standard Championship game in which - as has happened at least 50% of the time this season - the opposition played better than us and we gave them a leg up by giving away a soft goal and missing scorable chances To suggest Warburton 'forfeited' the game by leaving out BOS and Wells is ridiculous.

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