|Derby County 0 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Wednesday, 4th November 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Buoyed by Ball, can QPR back up on the road? Preview
Wednesday, 4th Nov 2020 14:24 by Clive Whittingham
Rescued in injury time by a Dominic Ball wonder goal at the weekend, QPR now hope to get moving up the table with further points from two difficult, but by no means terrifying, away games in four days.
Derby (1-3-5, WLLDDD, 22nd) v QPR (2-4-3, DDLDLW, 18th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Wednesday November 4, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Clear but cold >>> Pride Park, Derby
For a team that has spent the last five years finishing, on average, sixteenth in the Championship (12th, 18th, 16th, 19th, 13th) Queens Park Rangers can’t half take you to some emotional extremes.
It was with a mixture of anger and despondency that I came out of the collapse at Barnsley this time a week ago. A long winter relegation battle mapped out ahead of us, and even that wouldn’t be much of a fight if QPR continued to defend like that. As I set off down the Regent’s Canal from Camden Town on Saturday morning, crossing the Scrubs in the driving rain, I could see only really Rotherham at home the other side of the international break offering up hope of our next win, and even then we know what Rangers usually do with things like that.
To see us play as well as we did, and score two very beautiful goals, in the first half against Cardiff was an incredible relief more than anything. Having barely been able to see how we’d ever score again, here we were looking pretty good against a team that had only conceded once on its travels. Ilias Chair at ten, where many of us have wanted to see him, looked creative and threatening. Albert Adomah is getting better with every extra fluid ounce of match fitness. Bright, back in the team and back to something approaching his best. Tom Carroll popping passes. Maybe. Maybe we’ll be ok. Just get through the first ten minutes of the second half here and we’ll be home and hosed, or so went the general consensus in the garden at the Crown and Sceptre.
Of course what came next was the standard Yoann Barbet penalty concession, almost immediately after the restart and at the merest first hint that Cardiff might actually not be that bad after all. There are few worse feelings in football than leading a game 2-1 with a whole chunk of time left to play. The clock stands still, your team relinquishes control of the ball entirely, they sink deeper and deeper with every passing minutes, and the minutes pass even less often than the players do. Nobody puts a foot on the ball, nobody is able to just settle things down by completing four or five passes without going anywhere, no attacking threat is posed, every opposition attack looks like a goal. It actually makes me feel sick. I know I’ve got QPR well out of proportion in my life but I sat there after about 65 minutes of that match on Saturday and felt like I could happily have thrown up.
Few worse feelings, sure, but then conceding an equaliser anyway when you’ve made it through 95% of that interminable period of time unscathed is certainly one of them. Be it picture quality, sound sync, screen resolution, Peroni intake, or a combination, there does seem to be a phenomenon in this streamed world we now inhabit where it takes a little split second to register what you’ve just seen. I saw Conor Masterson put his hand in the air, I heard Nick London says “and the referee has awarded a second penalty” but both the technology and the stupidity of the action made me disbelieve it. Chuckles Woolmer put an arm straight up in the air, which made me think he’d perhaps given offside, but no, he was just giving a little demonstration, bless him. After all the stick I’ve given our goalkeepers about their flopping out of the way of penalties, I almost wish Dieng had done so again. Saving it, only for the rebound to be scored, just added to the ‘well of course’ feeling of it all.
Masked up, hat pulled down, I retreated to the bathroom for a small period of staring at my sad eyes in the bathroom mirror. Can I really keep doing this? Match preview, match report, match preview, match report, match preview, match report, every three days, for a team that now literally never wins, a team that takes this 2-0 lead against Cardiff and does that to it? Thread after thread after thread after Tweet after Tweet after Tweet from QPR fans who’ve become so entrenched in the idea the club is a shambles that there’s no a sort of rabid joy to their outpouring after each on field disaster. SEE, TOLD YOU, TOLD YOU, SEE, TOLD YOU WE WERE SHIT, TOLD YOU, SEE, SEE, TOLD YOU, FUCKING FERDINAND, TOLD YOU, SEE, FUCKING WARBURTON, TOLD YOU, SEE. Junior Hoilett nearly won the bloody game for the Welsh side while I was up there. Zero pleasure, in any of this.
Back downstairs, a stony silence. Misery on all faces. Shivering in the cold, with nothing to show for it. Joe the Taxi looked ready to shoot somebody, possibly himself. “Ooh, gone a bit quiet hasn’t it,” a less than helpful observation from an adjacent table. He wants to count himself extremely fortunate we live in socially distanced times, Simmo was rummaging through the kit bag choosing a weapon. And then, as we know, Dom Ball, on his left foot, from 25 yards. The split second, there again, where none of us can quite believe it. Table one, iPad fractionally ahead, turn to look at the rest of us because they can’t believe it. For a moment, none of us can. Then Andy Sinton. Then the violence came. You should see the state of my leg. The noise was incredible. The landlady, bless her, was deeply displeased. We promised her solemnly, with great certainty, that it would never, ever happen again. And it won’t. From a low of lows, to an incredible high.
All the stuff about our deficiencies and problems ahead remains true, and as the dust settles on that vital victory we’ll start looking ahead again. QPR will not win many games conceding five penalties in four matches, doing the silly things they’re doing at the moment. This will continue to be a struggle while we’re winning so seldom – just two victories this season, and only four in the 19 games we’ve had since football resumed.
What we desperately need to start doing is putting occasional consecutive victories together in the league. It’s something we’ve struggled with for sometime. Last season we only managed it twice, beating Blackburn 4-2 and Hull 3-2 in a week, and Sheff Wed (2-1), Luton (3-2) and Millwall (2-1) in September. In 2018/19 under Steve McClaren it only happened three times: Middlesbrough 2-1, Forest 1-0, Ipswich 3-0 over Christmas; Ipswich 2-0, Sheff Wed 3-0, Villa 1-0 in October; Bolton 2-1 and Millwall 2-0 in September. Even these meagre little runs have been enough to keep us comfortably away from the relegation whirlpool behind us. Ian Holloway did likewise in 2017/18, beating Sunderland 1-0 and Villa 3-1 in between draws with Derby and Fulham, and somehow beating the top two Wolves 2-1 and Sheff Utd 1-0 back to back in October. It happened on only three occasions in 2016/17 as well: 2-1 wins against Cardiff and Barnsley; a 4-1 at Birmingham and 2-1 against Wigan; and 2-1 wins against Wolves and Ipswich over the New Year Bank Holiday.
But that’s only ten occasions across four seasons and nearly a quarter of this one – some 194 league games. Even doing it this occasionally can keep you safe, but if we ever want to move out of this interminable lower midtable position we need to be backing a win up with another win far more often than we do. Considering I couldn’t see where the next goal was coming from, never mind an actual full living and breathing victory, at this point on Saturday, starting to bang on about two wins in a row seems a bit mental, but I’ve watched Derby a few times this season and only at Nottingham Forest in their big local rivalry did they really look like anything to worry about. Even when they have played well under Phillip Cocu, it's been in quite a slow, pedestrian style, often relying on individual brilliance, frequently from free kicks, from the likes of Rooney and Waghorn. Likewise Blackburn, who’ve had some alarmingly good performances this year, enjoyed a very successful transfer window, and usually beat us at Ewood Park with their eyes closed , but now beset by an early season injury crisis and looking particularly poor against Middlesbrough last night.
It feels like we’ll lose both, because we’re away, in the north, in the cold, in a busy period of fixtures, and despite Saturday’s late drama we’re really not very good at all. It's what QPR do, and have done for too long. But there shouldn’t be anything to fear here, and we won’t be going very far very fast until we can start backing up more occasionally than we do at the moment. Well, we will, but it won’t be the direction we want.
Links >>> Bowles runs riot at Baseball Ground – History >>> Cocu feeling pinch – Interview >>> Ward takes Derby trip – Referee >>> Official Website >>> Derby Telegraph – Local Press >>> Derby County Blog – Contributor’s blog >>> DCFCFans – Forum
Geoff Cameron Facts No.113 In The Series – Geoff never done it, he only said he done it so Ireland could be free.
Team News: QPR have Rob Dickie back available after he served a one match ban against Cardiff for his Barnsley red card. Warbs Warburton was hopeful Lee Wallace would be able to train on Tuesday before potentially travelling, if not Niko Hämäläinen will continue at left back. George Thomas is #backonthegrass but won’t be considered for selection until after the international break. Luke Amos had the operation on his ACL explosion last Thursday and no rehabilitates for the rest of this season, joining Charlie Owens on the long term absentee list. Bright Osayi-Samuel went down and required treatment towards the end of his superb personal showing at the weekend, though that was probably just a touch of Preston cramp given the score and situation at the time.
Big money summer acquisition Kamil Jozwiak missed the weekend draw at Bournemouth with an allergy to sea air, but is back available tonight for the game in landlocked Derby. Having started with a 3-4-3 led by Martyn Waghorn, Wayne Rooney and Tom Lawrence at the weekend, Philip Cocu must decide if and how the Pole, who has impressed in his early Derby outings, comes back into the team.
Elsewhere: A very cagey night in the Mercantile Credit Trophy on Tuesday evening with early play-off challengers Borrussia Norwich and Millwall Scholars, Blackburn and The Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour serving up two nil nil draws. Seanselona remain second and could have gone further still had a last second goal by Andre Ayew at Spartak Hounslow not been disallowed for offside. Still, a 1-1 draw very creditable for the Welsh side against probably the best team they’ll play all season.
Bournemouth, in the top six at the start of play but certainly not playing well, lost 1-0 at Sheffield Owls lifting the Yorkshire club to within one point of the magic zero. Gary Monk had been under pressure prior to kick off after successive defeats to newly promoted sides Rotherham and Wycombe. While this win is a great boost, and has put the wind up QPR fans relying on the Owls to be one of the three teams worse than us on this year’s table, it’s worth pointing out that Wednesday now need 53 points from 36 games to get to the oft-quoted usual safety mark. From their last 36 games they’ve taken just 34 points and won nine times.
Cardiff recovered from their last minute heartbreak at Loftus Road with a comfortable 3-0 home win against Grimley Colliery Band. Nahki Wells’ shambolic chipped penalty effort (feel like there should have been something about that in the welcome pack) cemented a fifth game without a win for Bristol City against Norwich at the weekend but they climbed back into the top six last night with a 2-1 away win at Huddersfield.
Another six games tonight including our own. Wycombe got their first win at the weekend against Sheff Wed, even without manager Gareth Ainsworth who has slipped a disk in his back and will continue to be absent from the touchline as they head up to Birmingham this evening. There’s a clash between two teams tipped for struggle who have so far done alright for themselves with Rotherham hosting Lutown, while early pacesetters Reading are at home to a Preston Knob End team simultaneously boasting one of the division’s best away and worst home records. Watford and Stoke, too, to get the pulses racing.
And of course we wish Chris Hughton the very best of luck trying to decide which Nottingham Forest squad to use tonight for the visit of Coventry. Gaeten Bong, signed in January, dropped after one appearance against Charlton, not even given a squad number for this season, suddenly started for their latest failed attempt at a second win of the season at the weekend.
Referee: Continuing our tour of past refereeing nemesis, following a reunion with Chuckles Woolmer at the weekend, it’s Gavin Ward for us at Derby tonight. Details.
Derby: The Rams came roaring out of lockdown with three straight wins and a draw in their first four games behind closed doors – Louie Sibley’s hat trick in a 3-2 win at Millwall heralding the arrival of one of several promising teenage talents into the Derby first team. Although they subsequently lost four of the last five games there was some optimism of a play-off push this year in a weak Championship with a full season of Wayne Rooney. However, Rooney has only been fit enough to start half the games so far and is apparently spoiling for the manager’s job himself. The young guns have found the going tough and Derby come into this match with one win – a late 1-0 at Norwich – from 11 played in all comps. Reading, Preston, Blackburn and Watford have all already won at Pride Park, while Barrow and Cardiff left with draws. They lost five of their first six Championship games and failed to score in five of their first eight games in all comps. They do come into this in marginally better touch, with three consecutive 1-1 draws, and frankly only a highly questionable offside call stood between them and a 2-1 win their performance definitely deserved at Nottingham Forest. With home games against QPR and Barnsley over the next four days they’ll definitely see this as a chance to kick start the season, or could it be the final nail in Cocu’s coffin?
QPR: Saturday’s 3-2 home win against Cardiff was QPR’s first win in eight attempts, and ended a run of four games without scoring a goal. It was just their second win of the season, after the opening day home win against Nottingham Forest. Away from home QPR have lost at Plymouth, Coventry (both 3-2) and Barnsley (3-0) so far with draws at Bournemouth (0-0) and Sheff Wed (1-1). Since football moved behind closed doors QPR have only won five out of 19 games and only one of those (1-0 at Boro over the summer) was away from home. It means Rangers have won just one of the last ten, two of the last 18 and three of the last 22 games played away from Loftus Road. That includes a 1-1 draw with Derby, Ebere Eze with the goal, on what has at times been quite a happy hunting ground for the R’s. Rangers lost none of their first six visits to Pride Park, winning three and drawing three, although last season’s draw did break a sequence of five straight defeats on this ground without scoring a goal.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“After the late high of Saturday I think we will be bumped back into further misery tonight in a narrow defeat. Wazza Rooney to score the winning penalty.”
Mase’s Prediction: Derby 1-0 QPR. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: Derby 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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