Different story, same outcome – Report
Saturday, 28th Nov 2020 16:08 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s 2020/21 trip to Brentford came with a better performance and different narrative than its predecessors, but ultimately the same result from a controversial game on Friday evening.
Let’s lay some cold light of day shit down to begin with, get it out of the way.
It’s another defeat – Queens Park Rangers have now won one of eight away games in league and cup this term, and just three of 21 on the road going back to December last year.
It’s another loss to Brentford in Brentford – the move from Pub World Middlesex to LegoLand Kew has done nothing to stem a tide of six consecutive beatings in this part of the world, with just four goals scored and now 14 conceded. This one came with what I think we’d all consider Rangers’ best current starting 11 out on the field.
And it’s another pair of ‘typical QPR’ goals conceded: the first a beautifully struck left-footed shot from Vitaly Janelt that was not only their first meaningful attack of the game, his first goal for the club, his first goal for anybody in 18 appearances, but also his first shot on target in ten appearances this season; the second a header from a needlessly given away and shambolically defended set piece, with no wall to speak of set up and the division’s hottest striker Ivan Toney marked by Niko Hämäläinen rather than either centre back as he headed home at the near post. Rangers, as they were last season, now leading the Championship in goals conceded from set pieces (six), from corners (four) and from headers (six). They’re second for goals conceded off crosses (six).
The Bees also had a third goal, slid in again by the excellent Toney, disallowed by an extremely marginal offside call. You get nothing for aesthetics, and losing games in the Championship should never by ok and acceptable for QPR just because they played nicely.
But the talk in the match preview was about looking for signs of progress, and I don’t think even Peter Gilham could deny that QPR were far, far better than they have been in this fixture in recent years, much the better of the teams in the first half at least, and particularly harshly done to by a maddening refereeing display. Mind you, that manchild can’t even bring himself to say our name, so perhaps not.
Rangers settled to the task much faster than their opponent at the start of the game. They passed the ball well, played at a good tempo, controlled the play in the Brentford half, and looked really good doing it. Warbs Warburton, back at his former club and perched on a cooler box full of Neil Banfield’s ice lollies, would have been delighted. As said, Brentford scored with their first shot, Janelt not closed down quickly enough before getting a shot off, my kingdom for an athletic central midfield presence, and they could have had a second when Seny Dieng had to make a good recovery save after accidentally passing the ball straight to Marcondes. But QPR were the better team, and when Bright Osayi-Samuel got in down the right with Rico Henry pushed high up the field he was able to power away and deliver a brilliant low cross behind a retreating defence for Lyndon Dykes to hammer into the roof of the net. No problem with the end product from the winger there, nor the finish – finally a goal from open play for Robert The Bruce.
Noooooooot that you’d really have known this from the coverage…
Those of us who live for our club, our Saturdays, our awaydays, our Tuesday nights in Derby, our early Euston starts, our singalongs on trains, our £6 return tickets to Southampton, that pub we know in Middlesbrough, our friends we love so dearly at Birmingham City, and all the rest of it would find being forced to watch games on television in our living rooms torturous regardless of who is commentating and what they’re saying. If I wanted to “support” a club by shouting at them from the sofa I’d choose Liverpool or Man Utd like all the other unoriginal, lobotomised lab chimps and be done with it, boasting to my mates on the WhatsApp about #ManLikeFernandes and #MentalFabinho. They’re on a hiding to nothing with this new-found lockdown audience, because we'll always find it a hateful experience regardless. Like a polar bear trapped in a tiny cage, up and down, up and down, for months now. But one could probably do without Andy Hinchcliffe running his bum nose across the bars to antagonise us while we’re suffering.
Shorn of our usual Nick London and Andy Sinton support network – and my God didn’t this all make you realise just what a positive difference it makes having those two to guide us through and suffer along with us – we were essentially treated to a two-hour broadcast rim job of our opposition from 96.7 Brentford FM. This began with a nice puff piece with Pontus Jansson - who got his agent to call Brentford and beg to join them don’t know if you've ever heard that story 28 times before - assuring us that “when” the Bees are in the position of requiring one win from three matches to gain promotion to the Premier League again this term they won’t muck it up quite as hilariously as they did last season. Quite the prediction from a captain who's overseen two of the Championship’s most hilarious play-off chokes in history over the last two campaigns. Pleased all that bombast that made them look so silly in September has subsided.
Jansson, as it turned out, only made the bench, so the Paul Warne-cam turned attention quickly to Ivan Toney and one can only look forward to England’s certain glory in next summer’s Euros, led from the front by this Golden Boot shoo-in, given he’s almost certainly the best striker in Europe at the moment it seems. Toney's initiation song was performed during the week, at the Hyatt Regency Barnsley, in front of family and friends, and was a Neil Diamond number, which he made a better job of than Diamond ever could, in an immaculate Paul Smith suit, unbuttoned, and a pair of suede shoes, better than the suit and shoes worn by any other Championship striker around, and was discussed at length, while QPR’s bright start went on in the background unnoticed. And did you know, as I’m sure you were desperate to, that Brentford have six left footers in their team this season, because probably the best analytics department in world football crunched the numbers and found a gap in the 19-24 left-footed footballer demographic, that other less forward-thinking, more pig-headed, old-school troglodyte clubs had missed altogether, allowing the Bees to swoop in and steal a march on the rest of the sport once more, signing them all for the cost of a bag of Maynard’s Wine Gums, as they do so bloody wonderfully so bloody often, packing their team with underrated left footers, who the statistics show generally have shoes that fit better and lead happier and more fulfilled lives, and who the mere likes of QPR would never have even thought of signing because they’re stupid and oh, hang on, wait a minute, Lyndon Dykes has scored.
I think I’m basically a Brentford fan myself now, after having that simpering queef belched into my ears for two hours. Get a fucking room.
Rangers came on really strongly at the end of the first half, and should not only have led at half time, but also been playing against ten men. The decision to leave Jansson out and go with Sorensen at centre back against Dykes instead was, even allowing for the Swede’s niggling hamstring issues, not one of Thomas Frank’s better ideas. It had threatened to come home to roost all half, with Dykes turning in his best performance for QPR so far, and sure enough eight minutes before half time the Scottish international got in behind his man, clean through on goal, with the ball under control and the goal opening up in front of him. With no other defenders around, and the ball not running through to the goalkeeper, it was the dictionary definition of a clear goalscoring opportunity and so when Sorensen admitted defeat and barged the QPR man in the back making no attempt to play at the ball as he broke into the penalty area a free kick and red card were the only decisions that could be reached. Referee Matt Donohue chose yellow.
Given that Dykes, shortly after, was played clean through again with the excellent Ilias Chair up in support for a square ball and snatched at a horribly skewed left footed shank into the stand you could joke about it not being an obvious goal scoring opportunity because it was him, and that it’s probably a good job he was fouled, but it was a dire piece of refereeing, and it wasn’t the only decision he butchered either. Rangers would end the game with ten men, and you couldn’t really argue with either of Todd Kane’s yellow cards, one for a deliberate pull on Mbeumo, the other for a late thigh high challenge on Marcus Forss. You could, however, wonder why Kane was sampling the early bath water for two fouls, while Master of all He Surveys Ivan Toney was allowed to kick and niggle his way through the whole game, including a first half incident where he felt aggrieved that a free kick wasn’t awarded for a good Niko Hämäläinen tackle so chased the Finnish full back down the field and deliberately booted him up in the air. Such red-mist retribution is usually mandatory card territory - here it warranted a friendly word on the side. Likewise, you might find it difficult to tell the difference between Brentford’s Dalsgaard banging his hands together in the linesman’s face and screaming “fuck’s sake” over the award of a throw in in the fortieth minute, and Dominic Ball's frustrated spiking of the ball into the turf over an identical incident on 74, other than one received a yellow card, and one didn’t.
Matt Donohue, like Michael Salisbury who had a torrid afternoon in our recent home game with Watford, is a very recent addition to the Championship list. With crowds in, neither fixture is one I’d expect to be given to somebody who’s only been refereeing at this level for a season or so. May I venture to suggest the people who decide such things are taking advantage of games being behind closed doors – although by the looks and sounds of things ‘behind closed doors’ means something rather different to Brentford than it does to the rest of us – to get some higher profile, more difficult Championship action into some younger, less experienced referees. Neither Salisbury nor Donohue looked at all comfortable in either game, and big decisions were bottled in both. Usually I’d follow a ref rant with a “but QPR didn’t lose this because of the officials…” paragraph, but not today. They were, to a large extent, refereed out of the contest, and Warbs Warburton’s righteous fury in the post match was fully justified.
QPR had been so irrelevant and inadequate in the first half that mighty, progressive, future-gazing Brentford had to change their entire set up at half time to cope with them. On came Jansson, immediately sharing some of Toney’s diplomatic immunity to knee Lyndon Dykes in the back off the ball in full view of the referee to no punishment, and the hosts switched to a back three. Rangers had scored one, missed a sitter, tested Raya with a long ranger from Chair, and been fouled when clean through on goal in the first half, but struggled to create chances thereafter – the exposure of Sorensen, in particular, brought to an immediate halt by the change.
Brentford started to outnumber QPR in midfield and carry the ball too freely and easily across halfway. That resulted first in the Toney disallowed goal, and then the free kick which led to the winner, conceded sloppily on the corner of the penalty box by Chrissy Willock – a foul for which Andy Hinchcliffe was adamant Niko Hämäläinen should have been sent off, even through replays of Willock doing it, and a prolonged close up of the guilty party. Cor they all look the same these black lads don’t they Andy? Only our coaching staff and players will be able to explain the set up, without a wall and with Toney piling over the top of Hämäläinen rather than Dickie or Barbet. For all the rightful indignation about our treatment in this match, you cannot continue to defend set pieces the way we do and expect to get very far.
Two one, and for the first time Rangers looked a little bereft. Starting with our strongest team left few options for impact from the bench, and the R’s started to tire – Little Tom Carroll, super in the first half, baggage by the end and worryingly clutching a hamstring in stoppage time. Rico Henry saw a shot deflected into the side netting after Brentford worked a big overload down his side. Speak to Bees fans and they’ll tell you Osayi-Samuel gave Henry a harder time than most last season at Griffin Park. I actually thought Henry had much the better of him that day, and bar the goal came out on top of a high quality and eminantly watchable battle here as well, typified by a strong bit of defending when isolated one on one with him on a counter attack down the middle of the field late in the game. Henry’s often the best Brentford player when I watch their games, and last night was no exception. Superb full back.
Bryan Mbeumo – somebody get that guy a lock for his fridge – was given a late rest/chance to get a Nandos order in before closing and Brentford added Marcus Forss and looked for a third. The Finland striker shooting over the bar, and then being denied a clear run on goal by a splendid recovery tackle by Rob Dickie after he’d initially appeared flat footed and caught on his heals. George Thomas, Albert Adomah and Macauley Bonne all struggled to make similar impact from the QPR bench and although the Bees did very kindly spend five minutes of added time clattering into needless fouls and giving Rangers attacking free kicks – needless to say Sergi Canos saw yellow for his, and Ivan Toney was let off with a warning for an identical offence –the set pieces were dealt with relatively comfortably and the victory seen through. Cat beating a very sensible retreat under the stairs as the whistle sounded.
Brentford, eminently gettable, victorious again regardless. Ultimately, we’re left with the same old excuse, that the Bees are more than a decade into a project and process that QPR only started five years ago. They’re further along than we are, now regularly selling players for £20m and more, able to reinvest in better and better investments to accelerate the cycle. Ebere Eze is our first one of those, and it’ll need to be the first of many if we’re to catch up. In the meantime, losing this fixture once again, but in a less comprehensive and more competitive manner than the previous season, is the meagre positive we can cling to. QPR deserved a lot more from this game, whereas last season they barely deserved to share the same field.
One star. Intensely fucking irritating.
Brentford: Raya 6; Dalsgaard 5 (Jansson 46, 7), Pinnock 6, Sorensen 5, Henry 8; Dasilva 5 (Jensen 46, 6), Janelt 6, Marcondes 6 (Forss 71, 7), Mbeumo 6 (Ghoddos 87, -), Fosu-Henry 6 (Canos 71, 6); Toney 8
Goals: Janelt 14 (assisted Henry), Toney 64 (assisted Marcondes)
Yellow Cards: Sorensen 39 (denying clear goalscoring opportunity), Canos 90+6 (foul)
QPR: Dieng 6; Kane 6, Dickie 7, Barbet 7, Hämäläinen 5 (Bonne 85, -); Ball 6 (Adomah 80, 5), Carroll 7; Osayi-Samuel 7, Chair 6, Willock 6 (Thomas 71, 5); Dykes 7
Subs not used: Wallace, Masterson, Kakay, Kelly, Bettache, Kelman
Goals: Dykes 26 (assisted Osayi-Samuel)
Red Cards: Kane 83 (two yellows)
Yellow Cards: Hämäläinen 29 (foul), Kane 65 (foul), Ball 74 (dissent), Kane 83 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Lyndon Dykes 7 Brilliantly taken goal and much more of the all-action style of play we’ve seen him produce for Scotland, albeit far less effective against Jansson in the second half as QPR regressed from first half highs.
Referee – Matt Donohue (Manchester) 3 Inconsistent, incoherent, incorrect decision making from an easily influenced referee way below the standard required to officiate at this level.
Attendance – Hmmmmmmm “Behind closed doors” games at Brentford easier to get into the Danielle Lloyd, by the sounds of things.
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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