|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Rotherham United|
Tuesday, 24th November 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Fool me once – Preview
Tuesday, 24th Nov 2020 13:12 by Clive Whittingham
QPR must avoid a couple of pitfalls they’ve fallen victim to in the recent past if they’re not to turn tonight’s home game with Rotherham into another ‘typical Rangers’ experience.
QPR (3-5-4, DLWWLD, 18th) v Rotherham (3-3-6, LWLLWL, 19th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday November 24, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.00 >>> Weather – Grey, breezy >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
If there was a bit of a familiar feel to your post-Watford emotions on Saturday evening then don’t worry, you certainly weren’t alone.
The Hornets would have gone top of the table with a win, and brought a squad that’s about as star-studded as Championship line-ups get, as well as being extremely physically imposing, to Loftus Road. Rangers, meanwhile, put out one of those starting elevens that has the Twitterati asking their mummies for permission to riot - Lee Wallace back, Rob Dickie injured, Cameron and Ball not Cameron or Ball, no Adomah, no Willock, no Dykes and so on. When Watford scored after three minutes – another basic error from a corner – it felt like a long old afternoon in store.
By the end of the game though, Warbs Warburton’s side had equalised in stylish fashion, and done more than enough to win the game. They should have been awarded at least two penalties, and missed three excellent chances either side of half time besides. Lyndon Dykes’ injury time header was served on a plate by the excellent Little Tom Carroll. And so comes the emotional dilemma – happy with a point we’d have devoured if offered before the game, secured against a team just out of the Premier League and a favourite to go back up? Or disappointed that a performance that grew as Watford’s wilted, didn’t yield all three thanks to our own poor finishing and a fairly scandalous refereeing performance?
It felt a lot like the Bournemouth away game earlier this season. One glance down the respective squad lists pre-match was enough to bring on the stress sweats but there’s a grubby, defeatist, Redknapp-like feel to giving up before we’ve even begun because we don’t like the look of the squads on paper and the respective resources and budgets of the clubs. I didn’t set through that saggy chopped chancer tossing off one Premier League away game after another because “it’s ‘ard, they’ve got good players” to start doing the supporter’s version of the same thing now, a division lower.
It is only the Championship, occasionally you’ll get Jena Tigana’s Fulham or Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle here by accident, but everybody else is gettable on any given day if your players are physically fit, mentally concentrated and maintain belief in a well-thought through and planned tactical approach. That was the case with Rangers against the Cherries and the Hornets, and on neither occasion did Warburton pick the team the general consensus would have gone for – using a presser at ‘ten’, rather than a creative player, isn’t a vote winner, but it worked well in both games. We’d all like to see Chris Willock start tonight, I think, but is he making the impact on games he’s making exactly because he’s coming on from the bench fresh against tired legs? Sometimes the manager deserves the benefit of the doubt, and he certainly earned that in those two matches.
However, of course, neither yielded a victory. Bournemouth ended up tilting much more towards the ‘missed opportunity’ side of the argument when, that Tuesday night, Rangers phoned in an insipid bucket of slop at home to Preston North End, losing 2-0 and commencing a run of three consecutive matches without scoring a goal. Oh for those two Macauley Bonne chances at Dean Court over again, we thought as Barnsley ran in a third less than a fortnight later. With the television lamps warming up for the annual roasting at Brentford on Friday night, tonight’s home match with Rotherham United has a similar feel. Win, as Rangers should, and Saturday leans towards being a good result – if I’d offered you four points on Saturday morning think of how throbbing your erection would have been. Lose, or draw again, and we’ll be cursing Michael Salisbury and Lyndon Dykes’ weirdly butchered injury time header all the way down the Westway for that treat on Friday night.
It’s also not the first time Rotherham have played this role in our lives. In 2018/19 QPR had been on a difficult run of results – one win in eight, two wins in 13 - but there had been mitigating circumstances. A rare FA Cup win had piled fixtures high. Failure to rotate the team enough before Christmas had caused fatigue and a mounting injury list. An unusually difficult fixture list had seen us play the top eight sides all at once, as well as Premier League Watford, right off the back of a busy Christmas period. There had been a succession of highly controversial refereeing decisions against us – a last minute handball in the penalty area missed away at Wigan, a shamefully inept penalty call for Bristol City in injury time at Ashton Gate, an incompetent failure to send off West Brom’s Jake Livermore allowing him to win the game at Loftus Road with the last kick. There’d also been some rank bad luck – a last minute penalty miss to end the comeback against Birmingham. Rangers had home games with Rotherham and Bolton, the bottom two, inside a week, and as long as they were both beaten, along with a surprise Luke Freeman-inspired 1-0 against Leeds the week before, you could make a case for things being ok. The pair of 2-1 defeats, the manner of the performances, the fact it was Rotherham’s only away win in two years and 46 games of Championship travels, pushed the whole season, and the reign of the manager, over the line into failure, and McClaren lost his job.
Warburton has done a far better job than his predecessor, and certainly isn’t under anywhere near the same kind of job pressure from fans as Schteve, but tonight is definitely a pitfall to avoid. This is a far more competent and competitive Rotherham team as well. It’s got a win, two draws, and two 1-0 defeats to its name on the road so far, in stark contrast to the one win in 11 and zero away wins all season run it was on last time it got here. They’ve recruited well on a budget, with Newcastle midfielder Dan Barlaser one to keep an eye on. Rangers could really do with a fast, purposeful, aggressive start here. Turn up with any kind of complacency after Saturday’s good showing, or any kind of attitude that this should be a bit of a gimme, and we’ll get burned as we did against PNE, and the last time the Millers were in town.
Links >>> Competitive Millers – Interview >>> Ainsworth marks Championship return – History >>> Langford in charge – Referee >>> Rotherham United official website >>> Sheffield Star – Local Press >>> Millers Banter – Forum
Geoff Cameron Facts No.116 In The Series - Geoff still believes that in this world we’ve got to find the time for The Life of Riley.
Team News: Rob Dickie pulled out of the Watford game late after rolling his ankle in training on Friday. He was due for assessment at Harlington on Monday with everything crossed for only a short lay-off there. Conor Masterson will continue to deputise if this game comes too soon for him. QPR grew into that weekend match more and more with each passing substitutions, and Niko Hämäläinen, Albert Adomah, Lyndon Dykes and particularly Chris Willock must be pushing their respective cases for a start, especially with this congested Christmas period starting with three matches inside six days. George Thomas still wasn’t fit enough for the bench at the weekend, with Warbs Warburton pitching some U23 action for him before a first team return. Lee Wallace did play, but only made it to halftime this time, apparently suffering with illness.
Rotherham have been fairly beset by injuries already this season. Striker Chiedozie Ogbene, midfielder Kieran Sadlier, midfielder Shaun MacDonald and defender Clark Robertson are all out medium to long term having begun the campaign in the starting 11. On top of that Freddie Ladapo (groin), Richard Wood (hamstring) and Joe Mattock (awaiting the coming of Goza) all missed out at the weekend when the Millers only named six of the permitted nine subs, but all three are in contention tonight. Our Rotherham man say: “Ladapo and Kyle Vassell could come in up front if Warney goes a bit braver, but chances are it’ll be Michael Smith on his own up front instead of George Hirst. Mickel Miller could come in for Florian Jozefzoon on the wing.”
Elsewhere: I do worry about scrabbling together enough material to write this column as often as the Championship demands – this is preview two of five in 13 days, for example. God bless Derby County, therefore, for continuing to help out with a steady stream of material. Joint managerial team of Liam Rosenior, Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney, Scunthorpe United legend Justin Walker, Shay Given, Mr Bun The Baker and Huracan the Mayan God of Wind, Storms and Fire combined their collective skillset to produce a 1-0 defeat at Bristol City at the weekend, a third defeat to nil in a row. What this needs, quite obviously, is some further input from another “football person”, and when Derby are looking for further input from another “football person” it’s all they can do to resist the charms of Steve ‘Schteve’ McClaren, returning today for a fourteenth spell at the club as a “technical director and advisor to the incoming new board”. I short of knew. The committee heads north for their date on the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour tonight.
It’s derby day in Lancashire as Preston Knob End host the Mad Chicken Farmers, with Darnell Fisher facing a three match ban for, fairly obviously, grabbing hold of Calum Patterson’s cock during the weekend game with Sheffield Owls. Like you do. Nothing derby at all about Huddersfield’s long trek down to Wycombe, nor Borussia Norwich away to Stoke. Lutown at home to Birmingham, and Spartak Hounslow heading up to Grimley Colliery Band make up the Tuesday night list – probably the best team they’ll have faced all season.
Tony Pulis started as he means to go on with an unwatchable 1-0 loss at Deepdale at the weekend – expect more thrills and spills in South Wales tonight as Swanselona work to see how many passes they can complete in their own half while Sheffield Owls try and set a record for height on a headed clearance. Surprise early league leaders Reading led 2-0 at Bournemouth at the weekend before collapsing to a 4-2 defeat – now four defeats in a row and 13 goals conceded prior to Wednesday’s game at Miwllwawlll. Facking ‘ell Wawwll. Watford are at Bristol City, and Coventry and Cardiff face off in a lesser-spotted exciting match between two teams beginning with C.
And big respect to whatever vehicle they’ve found capable of getting that Nottingham Florist squad all the way down to Bournemouth for tonight’s featured Sky game. Their third defeat to nil at Barnsley in as many months at the weekend means Chris Hughton’s impact amounts to two wins – at home to Coventry and Wycombe – in seven games.
Referee: Experienced Championship official Oliver Langford is in the middle for this one, his first QPR game since the 3-0 Sheff Wed debacle during the summer lockdown. Details.
QPR: The draw at home to Watford at the weekend was QPR’s fifth of the season already in just 12 league games – already half the total they amassed in the whole of 2019/20, equally split between home and away. Only Middlesbrough and Millwall have drawn more – six each. Mark Warburton’s side started the season scoring two goals against Forest at home and then again against Coventry away, but in the ten matches since then they’ve failed to score in four and managed only one in five of the others with the 3-2 home win against Cardiff the anomaly. Rangers have scored just five goals in the last eight games, three of them in that one meeting with Neil Harris’ side. Rangers have only won four of nine meetings with Rotherham at Loftus Road, though it tends to be a big one when it does happen – 6-0 1967/68, 4-0 1982/83, 4-2 2015/16, 5-1 2016/17.
Rotherham: The Millers infamously won 2-1 on their last visit to Loftus Road in March 2019, pushing Steve McClaren closer to the QPR exit door. It was their only away win in 23 attempts that Championship season, which ended in relegation, and as they’d won none of their games on the road the last time they were in this division (2016/17) it was their only Championship away victory in three years and 46 attempts. This time around they got one at the first attempt, winning 1-0 at Wycombe on the opening day, and have since drawn 1-1 at Birmingham and Forest, and lost 1-0 at Stoke and Swansea. Injury time goals have been a real theme so far – there have been five in Rotherham’s 12 league games so far, and a further five scored from the seventy ninth minute onwards. The stoppage time goal at Adams Park gained them two points, and an eighty-sixth minute winner against PNE at home did likewise, but post-90 strikes from Birmingham, Huddersfield and Norwich (two penalties and an own goal) have cost them five. The Millers have lost nine points from winning positions already in the Championship this season. They come into this game on a run of two wins in the last six – both at home to Sheff Wed (3-0) and PNE (2-1).
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…
“We really ought to be winning these types of games, but the last time Rotherham were in this division we lost a dire game at home and got a late draw away. Beating dross (no disrespect, and I know they are only one place below us in the table) is harder than it seems. I think it will be tighter than we would like it to be, but if we can’t win our fourth match of the season this evening then we could be in for a long slog up to Christmas. Draws when we play well, and defeats when we don’t, is no recipe for joy.”
Mase’s Prediction: QPR 1-0 Rotherham. Scorer – Bright Osayi-Samuel
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-0 Rotherham. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes
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Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
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