Quickfire double downs QPR at Huddersfield - Report
Sunday, 9th Feb 2020 18:50 by Clive Whittingham
QPR started abysmally, grew into the game impressively, then lost it regardless, with a lot of the same mistakes that have plagued them all season recurring at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Oh Queens Park Rangers, how do you frustrate me, let me count the ways.
One one thousand. Start an away match at Huddersfield Town pisballing about in your own penalty box. Needlessly. For no positive gain whatsoever.
Rangers had lost three in a row prior to this trip to West Yorkshire but remained above the Terriers in the table. That’s mainly thanks to Huddersfield’s abysmal start to the campaign which saw them draw two and lose eight of their first ten games in all comps. Since a change of manager, highly rated Lincoln City sisters Danni and Nikki Cowley have been leading a steady, unspectacular, grinding revival up the table. They’d reached twentieth with six wins and four draws from 16 games and a January transfer window screamed Championship pragmatism. Old heads, Richard Stearman and Andy King, and a player the Cowley’s have worked with before, Harry Toffolo, have been added along with pacy English players for the wide areas, Emile Smith Rowe and Chris Willock. A host of expensive, foreign signings made by the previous German manager have been shipped out. They would, inevitably, be seeing a home match against a side that has lost four in a row on its travels since a December victory at Birmingham as a chance to post three points.
What do QPR do about that? They ignore all conventional wisdom about getting a foothold in the game, quietening a large and boisterous home crowd, not making early mistakes, not inviting needless pressure, establishing themselves in the arm wrestle, not giving their opponent the sniff of anything and start fartarsing around with the ball literally from the kick off and literally within their six yard box. Two near misses on nightmare backpasses and Tony Roberts-style delayed clearances were followed by Liam Kelly springing from his line to smother a pair of one twos after QPR had ceded possession in their own final third.
Even if you understand the playing out from the back theory, even if you’re a disciple of the total football philosophy, even if you think Mark Warburton is an overall force for good, this was passing for passing’s sake. Nothing to gain and everything to lose. Suicidal football. Painfully disheartening for those who’d travelled all the way from London to see the game. Ideals prioritised over reality. Zero pragmatism. In short, utterly fucking stupid.
But Huddersfield didn’t score, despite the frequent invitations, and the more Huddersfield didn’t score the more QPR grew into the game. Ebere Eze started to yield significant influence, escaping from one tight spot in his own half with an outlandish flick back over his own head, and that of his marker, spin and collect on the other side. A double nutmeg through midfield carried him into the final third and a low shot was parried away by home goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, recently returning to this part of the world on loan after an unsuccessful summer switch to Everton. More superb Eze play down the left carried him powerfully through three challenges in quick succession and resulted in a shot from Luke Amos which Lossl diverted over with one hand. After a quiet, tired couple of performances this was gratifying to see from Rangers’ star man, gliding past men and driving at defences again. His deliberate pause over the taking of a corner to allow a minute of applause for recently killed Huddersfield youth team graduate Jordan Sinnott a really classy touch from a young player. I’d still like to see him going beyond the striker again, as he did before Christmas, but this was better and with Dom Ball starting to dominate in midfield that foothold was belatedly established. From a nightmare beginning, QPR had grown to be the better team in the game, bar a solid Kelly save from a late Steve Mounie header just before half time. Bright Osayi-Samuel dragged the final chance of the half wide of the far post.
Two one thousand, not scoring when we’re on top. Jordan Hugill had already scuffed one very presentable early chance when chipped in behind the defence by Eze when captain Grant Hall flicked a header from Eze’s corner over Lossl, off the inside of the post and back out into play. Unlucky on that occasion perhaps, but it was as close as Rangers came all afternoon. The clinical, ruthless finishing that defined the games at the start of January has dissolved completely as confidence has waned and Nahki Wells has been lost – now just two goals scored in four games, and none in two and a half matches since Hugill briefly equalised at Blackburn.
Three one thousand is the kit. This seasons strips divided opinion anyway, before the withdrawal from the UK market of our shirt sponsor Royal Panda apparently necessitated the plastering of its parent company’s logo over our colours in the form of temporary stickers. The light blue away kit was an improvement on last season’s explosion in the Pepto Bismol factory, but not by much and tended to make our players look like poolside attendants in some all inclusive resort in the Maldives. Already fined once by the league for failing to report for the Fulham away game in the pink third kit as requested by that night’s referee, here Rangers avoided a kit clash by mixing and matching first and second kits 1980s style. If only there were a simple red and black hooped alternative to this trip through the dressing up box. A downgrade where a downgrade never seemed possible, from pool boys to holiday reps, signing mouthy hormonal gobshites up to nights out sucking shots out of the navels of barely legal teens. We looked an absolute fucking state. It’s difficult enough following this rabble around without us turning up in our chuffing pyjamas.
We’re a proud club, full of traditions, with a litany of brilliant, bold away kits throughout our history. Enough with this fucking nonsense now, enough with the duck egg blue and the fluorescent pink, enough with the mucky brown with mustard pinstripes, enough with the Caterham trim. Enough, enough, enough. Give us a proper away kit, that serves the primary purpose of being a significant change from a blue and white home kit, immediately.
Four one thousand, making all the same mistakes at the start of the second half as we had at the start of the first. Having escaped first time around and then worked so hard and played so well to claw our way back into the game and get back on top, we then did all of the bad and none of the good.
Town went in front early, with new arrival from Lincoln Harry Toffolo riding one ridiculously over committed tackle from Hall in the area and then crossing to Elias Kachunga who was able to stroll in unmarked between static Connor Masterson and Lee Wallace to head home unchallenged. Undone and panicked, Rangers swiftly conceded an even more defensively shambolic second when Wallace miscontrolled the ball to begin with and then hung a lazy leg out in the second instance to fell Kachunga and allow Mounie to slam home from the spot. Dom Ball complained bitterly to referee David Webb, but it looked a pen at first glance and was the ninth Rangers have conceded this season – all but one of them scored. Rangers well on their way to conceding in excess of 70 goals for the fourth season in a row.
QPR have usually been good for a goal this season, only West Brom have scored more, and they’re usually the safest ‘both teams to score’ bet on the coupon, but they looked pretty bereft for the final half an hour here. A camera save from Kelly stopped Andy King scoring from range, and a further shot at close range from Kachunga was beaten away. In contrast, it was hard to recall Lossl having anything to do at the other end.
Warbs Warburton made two changes with some time to make impact. Jack Clarke came on for Luke Amos – ineffective again – but unfortunately this was Sheff Wed FA Cup Jack Clarke rather than last ten minutes of the Bristol City game Jack Clarke. Up against the experienced Danny Simpson he embarked on a lather, rinse, repeat routine of collecting the ball to a cacophony of boos for his Leeds connections, running with the ball down into the channel making the defender think he’s going to cross from the byline, chopping back to get it onto his right foot with all the shock and plot twist of a Christmas Eastenders episode, and losing the ball. Fanaticism is doubling down on your actions despite negative outcomes, and Clarke is fucking fanatical about that chop back and cross. Further frustration for the similarly afflicted behind the goal.
At least he was involved though. Honest to God the first time I realised Marc Pugh had come on at the same time, for Ilias Chair, was on the train home afterwards. Hands up, Dido, White Flag, accept my five out of ten rating with all my very sincerest intentions. I never even noticed he was there.
A token effort over the bar from long distance by Lee Wallace was enough to send a good portion of the away end scurrying on their way to an early stark on the long schlepp home.
Five one thousand, a good few of them will do it all again to Swansea on Tuesday.
Six one thousand, crashing back in after ten at night, I found my tickets to Nottingham Forest away in a fortnight had arrived, just to put the tin hat on the day. What was that I was saying about fanatics?
Huddersfield: Lossl 6; Simpson 7, Stearman 6, Schindler 6, Toffolo 7; Hogg 6, O’Brien 6; Kachunga 8 (Willock 90, -), Smith Rowe 7, Bacuna 6 (King 74, 6); Mounie 7 (Campbell 72, 6)
Subs not used: Chalobah, Coleman, Pyke, Stankovic
Goals: Kachunga 57 (assisted Toffolo), Mounie 61 (penalty, won Kachunga)
QPR: Kelly 6; Kane 6, Masterson 6, Hall 5, Wallace 5; Ball 7, Amos 5 (Clarke 67, 5); Osayi-Samuel 5 (Oteh 87, -), Eze 7, Chair 6 (Pugh 67, 5); Hugill 5
Subs not used: Lumley, Manning, Rangel, Barbet
Bookings: Hugill 27 (foul), Amos 41 (foul), Ball 82 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Dom Ball 7 Sadly effort, commitment, sticking a foot in, tackling, and showing a bit of backbone makes you QPR’s star man more often than not in the current run of results. Another run of six straight defeats beckons. Ebere Eze was superb first half, but faded into anonymity after half time. Bright Osayi-Samuel continues to struggle under extra measures taken by opponents since the massacre of Jaz Richards, God rest his soul.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 7 Not my favourite, often over-fussy, but perfectly fine here with all the big decisions correct.
Attendance – 21,083 (650 QPR approx.)
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Pictures – Action Images
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