|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 1 Middlesbrough|
Saturday, 26th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Bright off the mark, covering a familiar failing - Report
Sunday, 27th Sep 2020 22:55 by Clive Whittingham
QPR added a fourth point to their season tally with a 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough on Saturday, Bright Osayi-Samuel cancelling out the latest set piece disaster at the other end.
Apart from the rare seasons when we’re absolutely brilliant, and the almost equally rare (no, really) seasons where we get ourselves relegated, life with QPR tends to be quite similar and repetitive.
There’s always early optimism before a ball has been kicked, because what is there left for us in this world but to hope for the best? A couple of August wins against crap sides adds kindling to a raging flicker. Hull usually, or Reading. Scunthorpe or some shite like that. Conor Washington probably. I’m just watching.
There’s a moment in September or early October where we hit our straps and look like we know what we’re doing. We'll dip us bread now. Obviously that weird fortnight where Jim Magilton started breathing fire over the Championship wheatfields is the most extreme example, but we do tend to have quite a nice time of things in that bit of the year when you’re sitting out in the garden with a beer at eight but it’s pitch black half an hour later. There may even be an away win or two - you come away from a 2-0 at Ipswich, or a 2-1 at Millwall, and feel the autumnal sun on your face as you wait for the police to give you permission to enter the train station, and dare to dream that things might be slightly better than ok. Would you spend your weekends any other way?
God I miss you all.
After that, the grind. Injuries, harsh realities, losing runs, cold days, dark nights, a seemingly never-ending string of awaydays requiring a change at fucking Preston. Often a managerial switch. Usually a cough of life through December. Almost always a Christmas shit show. Yet another grab-a-shovel-and-start-helping January where half a dozen players go one way to be replaced by half a dozen more of equal ability in the other direction. As February turns to March, the sleet changes from right angle to upright, the horrors of going to work and coming home in the dark subsides, the newbs settle in and there’s often a promising fortnight. We beat Everton, and Forest, and teams like that in March. Watch out for us in March, we’re dangerous in March. Balls out of the bath. By the time May comes round you’re optimistic again, because if we can add one or two, and do more of the good and less of the bad, and be “a bit more consistent” (football’s favourite thing), then next year could be our bloody year you know.
(Spoiler – it’s not our year.)
I don’t know exactly what it is precisely that makes me feel, think and say what I’m about to feel think and say. It could be the late start point – we’re normally ten games deep by now. I’m already getting soaked in cold, cruel rain if I dare to nip to the Spar shop. It might be the clinical, emotionless experience of watching football in an empty stadium on a patchy internet stream. It might be the situation we already knew QPR were in, financially and contextually, which was pretty soul destroying anyway when you see Nottingham Forest and Norwich going out and signing 24 footballers in a single summer. Or the disgusting, contradictory, nonsensical situation that blew up this week where the government basically admitted we would not be allowed back into our open air football stadium this season no matter how much work and preparedness QPR come up with, because the people who run our sport didn’t have the foresight to funnel a load of money into the Tory election campaign like those nice cunts in the hunting lobby. I still think we should release a few grouse in the School End and see if the situation changes if we all turn up in Barbour jackets.
Whatever it is I feel like we’ve skipped the good bits, and we’re into the grind now. The Ebere Eze money is to be spent keeping a club that was already losing £1m a month afloat. The Trade to Victory strategy has morphed into food/striker rationing. Can we get to 50 points with one striker? We might be about to find out. Football existing for the sake of existing, playing for the sake of fulfilling broadcast contracts, watched on iPads in pubs outside the ground by groups of people forbidden from walking half a mile down the road and seeing it for real in the open air. As if trying to hammer home the grim reality of a long, cold, lonely winter ahead the Championship churned out a fixture list containing such gems as Barnsley v Coventry, Birmingham v Rotherham, and Preston v Stoke. I’ll have the thinned gruel to start please. Excellent choice, and for main? Could you just shit in my mouth? Certainly sir.
In the spirit of all of that, here comes QPR v Middlesbrough. At the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (waves at Sky Sports – the fuck you done today apart from sit at the back and throw bottles?).
In a desperate attempt to keep things interesting, Warbs Warburton added a fourth dimension to three dimensional QPR contract renewal chess. Struggling to understand why Bright Osayi-Samuel plays and Ryan Manning doesn’t? Well hold my beer, because here goes Joe Lumley out of the team altogether, to be replaced not by Liam Kelly who’d been on the bench for the first two games of the season, but Seny Dieng who’s never played a Championship match before but has been a very good boy and penned a four year deal this week. Lumley dropped not for poor form, which you might have considered fair after last Friday’s debacle at Coventry, but for stalling on a deal, which with no undue disrespect intended you would expect a goalkeeper who’s played as he has over the past 18 months to feast upon like a donkey on chips.
Not sure what Dom Ball’s done to offend, nor Geoff Cameron to warrant selection ahead of him, but one issue at a time folks.
Like I say, it feels like it’s going to be a long winter. Particularly if QPR are going to persist with their current tactic of defending opposition corners so abysmally they become akin to opposition penalties. After last week’s Kyle McFadzean fiasco it was Chuba Akpom’s turn to profit from QPR’s patently useless, infuriatingly inadequate, halfway house between zonal and man marking with nobody on either post. This isn’t working. Is it just me? I feel like I’m married to a smack addict. This. Is. Not. Working. This. Is. Not. Working. This. Is Not. Working. There must be another way. What do you want from me? Maybe I should start firing a gun into the air? I’d almost rather give penalties away than corners the way we’re going about this, if only our goalkeepers weren’t also so persistently incapable of getting even half a glove on penalties as well. Look, bite me, I know nothing about it, but you’re not going anywhere very far very fast in this sport if every opposition corner puts you in mortal peril. Middlesbrough had five corners, I wanted to go and hide in the disabled toilet at the Crown for every one of them. Lee Wallace, captain of Glasgow Rangers, I think at fault this time but fuck me I think it’s possible to assemble a better defence of set pieces from a collection of pot plants than this nonsense.
The game to that point had been played mostly in the Middlesbrough half by QPR. George Thomas had been handed a first league start which benefitted the side. I like him. He’s muscly and direct. He's got a strong boy's name. I feel like he might tell funny pub jokes. He and Ilias Chair were on the end of rugged Anfernee (yes, really) Dijksteel tackles in the opening quarter hour that both looked like that grey area between a yellow and red card to me and yet somehow drew neither from referee Dean Whitestone. Dijksteel, uncomfortable in a back three in the first half and switched in the second, was eventually booked for a far more meagre foul five minutes from time but he should have been walking long before that. Whitestone a referee who seems to veer between every tiny little thing being a foul, and knee-capping opponents being barely a talking to, from week to week and mood to mood.
At one point QPR had four corners of their own in a row without troubling the scorers (where’s Kyle McFadzean when you need him?) and the frustration of the whole sorry saga was thankfully tempered on the half hour when our best player Bright Osayi-Samuel bundled in from close range after good work in build up from Ilias Chair and Osman Kakay and the sort of piss weak goalkeeping from Marcus Bettinelli that we’ve come to expect from our own custodians since Alex Smithies defected. At the other end, in happier news, Seny Dieng kept displaying what I believe is known in the trade as ‘command of his penalty area’. Like young love, ambition, hope, and nights out with more than five friends, I remember it well, and I’d welcome its permanent return. Dieng’s thirty-first minute save at the near post worthy of note.
Bright, now confident and flying (go on Bright), quickly stretched Boro’s fancy back three to the byline and cut the perfect ball back from there into space in the penalty area. Luke Amos sidefooted a gilt-edged chance at Boro’s best player Paddy McNair. Luke, sweetheart, put some minge round it. Somebody buy me a steak, I’ll cook it for him. We’ll keep him in a cage and run a stick up and down the bars for a few days then feed it to him still bleeding. There must be some misjustice in his life we can tap into to make him hit these chances with feeling. Get mad you son of a bitch, get mad. Coffee’s for closers only.
When he did connect properly with an identical chance five before half time George Saville apparently handled the shot above his head with two arms, followed by a Days of Our Lives audition Steven Taylor would have been proud of, but the replays suggested that referee Whitestone had got it right and the ball had indeed struck him in the face. Credit the referee, it looked a penalty every day and night of the week.
Less credit though in first half injury time when first of all he interrupted what looked like developing into as much as a five v two Boro counter attack to award them a meaningless free kick on halfway, and then from that turned a blind eye to a pretty blatant pull on the returning Grant Hall from Lyndon Dykes which should have been a penalty. Not the first time this season we’ve got away with that – Dickie did something similar at Coventry last week – nor the first time Dykes has been a bit flat footed and sleepy on defensive duties. We’re not in the SPL now Toto.
One one half time and QPR were perhaps lucky to have that.
The second half was a big, thick slice of Championship. Eighty percent loaf to twenty percent meat. Bright cut in on 47 but his shot was weak. Boro responded in kind and Dieng saved a deflected shot with ease. I liked him confidently coming through crowds to collect crosses, I didn’t like his overplaying out from goal kicks. On 57 Grant Hall limped out of the action and disappeared down the tunnel. Boro fans watch out for his autumn Instagram “stories” from Mykonos – stop me if you’ve heard this joke before.
Dykes handled the ball but Whitestone was so perplexed by the blatantness of it all that he awarded QPR the free kick by mistake, and then we sportingly pissed it straight up the wall. On 68 minutes Rangers defended a corner adequately – see Mark, I’ll give credit where it’s due. A minute later, £15m Britt Assombalonga was so free at the back post that he over-thought things and panicked into a stumbled misfire at a diving header attempt. I’d have scored it myself. Proof, if Gary Madine for £8m wasn’t enough, that you don’t get what you pay for in Championship strikers.
Dawn, I’m fed up.
The big moment of the half came on 70. Tom Carroll, who I thought was unlucky to be left out after three good performances so far, had emerged from the bench and he drove purposefully into the Boro penalty box and widened the angle intelligently for a powerful shot which, I think, Bettinelli, managed to tip onto the inside of the post. Nine times out of ten it goes in anyway but this time it bobbled and bounced right along the line with fairly heroic efforts from Dijksteel and sub Dael Fry to prevent Bright and Chair converting from close range.
Boro’s version of that came seven minutes from time when Akpom did find the net after Morsy’s shot had been blocked, seemingly by Dickie with his hand, but the linesman raised an offside flag as he received the ball. All glory to God.
But even he can’t help you now.
Forty-three games to go.
QPR: Dieng 6; Kakay 7, Dickie 6, Barbet 5, Wallace 5; Cameron 5, Amos 6; Osayi-Samuel 7, Thomas 6 (Carroll 60, 6), Chair 6 (Smyth 73, 6); Dykes 6
Subs not used: Kane, Ball, Oteh, Masterson, Kelly
Goals: Osayi-Samuel 28 (assisted Amos)
Boro: Bettinelli 5; McNair 7, Hall 6 (Fry 55, 6), Dijksteel 5; Tavernier 5, Howson 6, Johnson 5, Saville 6, Spence 5 (Morsy 64, 6); Assombalonga 5, Akpom 6
Subs not used: Wing, Browne, Bola, Coulson, Pears
Goals: Akpom 19 (assisted McNair)
Bookings: Dijksteel 85 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Bright Osayi-Samuel 7 Still a long way shy of his blistering best but the best player on either team here by some distance in a mediocre Championship game.
Referee – Dean Whitestone (Northants) 5 Unusually and unduly lenient on some big early hits – particularly Dijksteel on Chair which was a yellow card all day long and would have resulted in further punishment later when he was eventually booked. Boro should certainly have had a penalty in first half injury time, though he did call the George Saville handball right when it looked nailed on at normal speed.
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Pictures – Action Images
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