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Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Millwall
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 17th March 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Insert Championship cliche here - Preview
Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 17:24 by Clive Whittingham

QPR, so good at Bristol City, so poor against Huddersfield, continue their relentless schedule against Millwall at Loftus Road on Wednesday night.

QPR (12-10-13 DLLWWL 13th) v Millwall (11-16-9 DDLWLW 10th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Wednesday March 17, 2021 >>> Kick off 19.00 >>> Weather – Dry, winds subsiding >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12

The trite ‘anybody can beat anybody in this league’ sporting cliché does seem especially true of the Mercantile Credit Trophy.

QPR’s second defeat of the season to Huddersfield Town equalled up our record against the bottom seven and the top seven – three wins, three draws, five defeats from 11 games played against the seven best, and the seven worst, teams in this league. For every impressive performance and result against Watford, Norwich or Brentford there have been an equally dispiriting off-days against Huddersfield, Birmingham or Derby.

Rangers are very solidly midtable now, rapidly accelerating towards the point where it’s impossible for them to go up or down. They’re behaving exactly as midtable teams do in any football competition, but particularly the Championship and especially the Championship when they’re trying to cram an already unworkable calendar into a period of time six weeks shorter than the status quo. You look down the fixture list and think Norwich A, Watford A, Brentford H looks tough and they take seven points, you look further down and think Wycombe A, Derby H and Birmingham A should be a chance to put points on the board and they take one. They play and win superbly at Bristol City, and then literally one week later don’t even look like the same team against Huddersfield. Maddening, of course, but exactly what teams like us in divisions like this do at this time of the year.

It’s frustrating when you look at the points dropped in games like Coventry A, and think where we’d be with them added, but that works both ways - take away the points we’ve won in matches where we ‘shouldn’t have’ we’d be bang in it at the other end of the table. And lest we forget that at the turn of the year if you’d offered us midtable, and almost certain safety, with 11 games left to play, we’d have snapped your arm off. I wasn’t sure when QPR were going to win again, never mind eight successes from 12 and annoyed not to make it nine from 13 at home to Huddersfield.

What would be dispiriting is if gratitude over things not being far worse is the best thing we take out of this season. It’s difficult to maintain levels when there is less at stake and you’re coming to the end of a more intense and physically demanding season than we’ve had before in modern times, but QPR have looked a good side since it was switched to a back three and had Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen added and it would be nice for a long suffering fan base to have more Bristol City-like performances to take away into the summer with them than Huddersfield debacles. For QPR to lose Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ryan Manning, Grant Hall, Marc Pugh, Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill from last year’s team, replace them on a budget, and get better, would be remarkable. At the moment we’re level pegging with our 35-game totals from 2019/20, in itself an achievement, but I’d love to see us really push on, get that top half finish, beat that points total, show genuine progress is being made under trying circumstances. It was gratifying to hear Warbs Warburton talking that up pre-match as well – by no means a race to 50 points and the beach, at least not for the manager anyway.

Millwall at home last year was a rip roaring 4-3 thriller, but it was one of only two wins QPR managed in the final nine games of the season after we’d come back from lockdown. Then, as now, there was a good deal of optimism after promising results and performances in the first couple of months of the year, and a lot of talk about how many so-called favourable fixtures Rangers still had to play, and it all drained away through dire defeats to Barnsley, Charlton, Wigan and particularly Sheff Wed. Loads of extenuating circumstances there – the three month hiatus, the lack of preparation before the restart, the Marc Pugh and Grant Hall situations, the Jordan Hugill injury, several of the star names perhaps having heads turned over summer contract and transfer situations, getting used to the all-round strangeness of it all, and more.

If it goes south in a similar way from here there will be loads of valid reasons for that as well – small squad, the talented players who have left, injuries to key midfielders, ridiculous schedule, pitches carving up, fatigue, intensity of the season catching up with them. But while some of that is unique to this Covid-19 situation, a couple of problems QPR have had this season will be there waiting for them again in August. Warbs likes to straight bat the question about losing to teams down the bottom with his “show me an easy game in the Championship” line, but we’re never going to get anywhere further than where we are now without being more ruthless in games like the recent losses to poor Birmingham and Huddersfield teams. The Terriers defeat also continued a trend of failing to back up from midweek games – W2 D2 L7 on Saturdays after Tuesday/Wednesday matches this year, compared to W3 D3 L0 when given a break of eight days or more. Last week we were backing up from Wycombe on Tuesday, while Huddersfield had an eight-day break, and you could tell. Next season there will be fewer midweekers as we go back to August-May but, again, you’re never going to get much further than we are now in this league if you can’t back up better than we have in this admittedly unique and trying season.

As I wrote in another recent preview, supporters may be feeling apprehensive about being part of crowds or on public transport again in August. They may also have got out of the habit of even streaming the QPR games on television and will no doubt have noticed how much extra cash they have in their pockets not dropping £150 going to bloody Preston North End on a Saturday. A few more showings like we gave at Ashton Gate might get the juices pumping a bit and see that season ticket renewed again; many more like we turned in on Saturday and they’d be forgiven for wondering what the point is. The footballers may be tempted to start eyeing Mykonos from this point on, but the CEOs won’t be.

Links >>> Wilson’s penalty – History >>> All the draws – Interview >>> The best a ref can get – Referee >>> Millwall official website >>> South London Press – Local Paper >>> News at Den – Blog >>> North Stand Banter – Forum >>> News Shopper – Local Paper

Geoff Cameron Facts No.137 In The Series - Geoff can’t believe things have got so bad in this city that there’s no way back.

Below the Fold

Team News: QPR’s nursing of Jordy De Wijs back to full fitness saw him switched out in favour of Osman Kakay at the weekend to face Huddersfield’s quicker, more mobile forward line. Expect to see that change reversed here as we go up against a traditionally more physical, direct threat from Millwall, although the news that Big Posh Matt Smith has been playing with a broken foot for four games and is now out for the season perhaps tempers the aerial threat from Wawll ever so slightly. Kenneth Zohore, another big acquisition for the forward line in every sense of the word, also hasn’t played since Valentine’s Day. Murray Wallace had only played once since December 19 prior to the weekend win at Derby – and he was sent off in that game against Coventry in January – but he got 67 minutes in at Pride Park as he also recovers from a broken foot. Luke Amos, Little Tom Carroll and Charlie Owens are the long terms in the QPR squad. Ryan Leonard (tennis elbow), Maikel Kieftenbeld (swimmer’s ear) and Connor Mahoney (wanker’s cramp) all continue to sit out for the Lions.

Elsewhere: Six tonight and six tomorrow in this latest midweek blob of stodge volleyed directly into your gob by the Mercantile Credit Trophy. The big news is that Rotherham are gracing us with their presence for a game at last – 14 games left to play and only 13 slots available for them, it remains to be seen what happens with their most recently postponed fixture against Coventry. They start this formidable task at home to second placed Watford this evening.

The team they’ll have their eye on most is Birmingham. They’re three points behind the Blues with four games in hand and a home fixture against them still to come. Brum’s 3-0 home defeat to Bristol City at the weekend finally called time on the charmless Aitor Karanka’s disastrous spell in charge but any hope of an immediate lift under incoming Charlton boss Lee Bowyer might be tempered by their fixtures. After Reading H tomorrow night they have Watford A, Swansea H, Brentford A and Stoke H leading into that bug six pointer in South Yorkshire. Coventry, six points ahead having played three games more, are next in the Millers’ sights ahead of an away match with Lutown this evening.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are seven points ahead having played four more, probably going to be ok but isn’t it remarkable how the media coverage of “Wazza’s” first big gig has died away from a 24-hour jizzfest to the point where you’d be forgiven for forgetting they’re even in the league. A run of five without a win and four without a goal doesn’t quite fit the desired narrative it seems, and that’s unlikely to improve much tonight with probably the toughest game they’ll face all season at home to Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow.

Swanselona await slips from either them or Watford, they’re at seventh-placed Bournemouth whose midseason managerial change doesn’t seem to be doing anything to cure the splutters in their promotion drive, now four points adrift of sixth-placed Barnsley who won at Dean Court at the weekend and face eminently beatable Wycombe on Wednesday. Cardiff finally lost under Mick McCarthy for the first time at the weekend, beaten by Watford in his eleventh game in charge, and they’re seven points shy of sixth in eighth – if you’re still following. Seasons that at one point or another showed varying degrees of promise for the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour and Preston Knob End appear to be draining off into midtable finishes as they prepare to meet on Teesside tonight.

Of those not mentioned on tomorrow’s list we have Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers hosting league leaders Borussia Norwich, Last Chance Saloon dwellers Sheffield Blue Stripe at home to Sporting Huddersfield, and Blackburn v Bristol City is this week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with B.

Referee: As for the game at The Den, and our Monday Night Football win at Watford, Australian Jarred Gillett gets the call this week. Probably the best referee we’ve had in our games this season, and a first outing for him at Loftus Road. Details.


QPR: Saturday’s home loss to Huddersfield Town was the fifth time this season Rangers have lost to one of the current bottom seven sides. Against Wycombe, Sheff Wed, Rotherham, Birmingham, Coventry, Derby and Huddersfield QPR have played 11 times so far, winning just three, drawing three and losing five – exactly the same record as they have against the top seven. A record of 12-10-13 and thirteenth place is exactly where Rangers were after 35 games last year and pretty much ends the season in both directions for the Super Hoops. To reach the 75-point benchmark required for the final play-off spot in 23 of the last 30 seasons they’d now need to win ten of their remaining 11 games – Barnsley currently in sixth and unbeaten in nine need half that. Looking the other way, we’re only six points shy of the 52-point mark that’s been enough to survive in all but one of the last 30 seasons, and although Rotherham have played three fewer games than us they still require five more wins than QPR to catch us, and seven from 14 to make the 52. What would be disappointing after such a bright start to 2021 is if the season were to tail off in the same way 2019/20 did. QPR drew game 36 and won 37 at home to Birmingham and away to Preston, but the 4-3 here against Millwall in July was one of only two wins posted in the final nine games with five defeats. Charlie Austin hasn’t scored for three games now, the worst run of his second stint with the club. The longest dry spell of his QPR career in total is five matches (Chelsea H, West Ham H, Liverpool A, Man City A, Newcastle H) in April and May 2015, (Huddersfield A, Ipswich H, Bolton A, Swindon H, Leeds A) in August and September 2013. A problem common to both QPR and Millwall this season has been scoring more than two goals in a game – they’ve done it just three times between them, and you have to go back 23 games to our 3-2 home win against Rotherham for the last time we managed it.

Millwall Draws have been the order of the day for Millwall this season – 16 in total in the league, way ahead of Stoke who have second most with 12. It means they’re tenth in the table despite only losing nine matches – only top four Norwich (five), Watford (seven), Swansea (six) and Brentford (seven) have lost fewer league games. Seven of the teams below them in the table, including QPR on 12, have won more than their 11 victories. Seven of those draws have been 0-0 – more than any other team in the league. Nine of them have been 1-1 and within those four of the games featured equalisers scored within 15 minutes of the league being taken, including games with Barnsley and Forest where it happened within a minute. The goals in QPR’s 1-1 at The Den were 17 minutes apart, and that extended QPR’s unbeaten run against the Lions to five going back to the 2017/18 Ian Holloway season (W3 D2). Away from home Millwall have won seven games this season – more than Watford, Bournemouth and Boro ahead of them on the table – and lost five which only Norwich, Swansea, Reading and Cardiff can better. They have 27 points on the road, the sixth best record in the league, and come into this game in decent touch with only one defeat (at Barnsley) from their last six away games and two from the last ten – a sequence that included wins at Bristol City (2-0), Huddersfield (1-0), Reading (2-1) and most recently 1-0 at Derby. Jed Wallace is top scorer with seven, but a collection of strikers that looked fairly handy on paper pre-season (Bodvarsson, Bradshaw, Smith, Parrott, Zohore) have just nine league goals between them from 44 collective starts and 61 sub appearances. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s equaliser against QPR before Christmas is his only goal in 14 starts and 19 substitute appearances this season. The Lions have scored more than two goals in a league game only once, a 4-1 home win against second bottom Sheff Wed, and have scored one goal or fewer in 28 of their 36 Championship games.

Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. 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…
“Millwall are having another good season but a couple of recent setbacks have probably put paid to any aspirations of the playoffs. This could well end up a tame dead rubber with two tired teams going through the motions without a crowd playing its part. Another point towards safety.”

Mase’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Millwall. Scorer – Charlie Austin

LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Millwall. Scorer – Charlie Austin

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TacticalR added 19:39 - Mar 16
Thanks for your preview.

Let us not be afraid of clichés. It is a bit weird that our record against the top teams is the same as against the bottom teams.

It looks like both us and Millwall are going to be mid-table, so there is only pride to play for. One huge bonus would be if either Dykes or Bonne could get a few goals in the remaining part of the season. That would give us some optimism for next season.

Tomo_5 added 20:15 - Mar 16
Clive, I listen to that podcast which you're on occasionally and when the attendees all say a win for the R's you know it will be a loss. Such is the nature of team and player inconsistency that really hampers Rangers. I was really not a fan of Kane and he made me eat my words recently with some really good work. I won't say really great work because he seems to do the hard things well and the easy things not so well. I look at results from Birmingham and Huddersfield and wonder why we play so badly against teams that are seemingly much worse than us. Even WW we were somewhat lucky to win. I still feel we need a natural leader in the middle of the park.

Charlie is a bit slow now and unless we can give him a constant supply then we are really a player down. I must say though I'm really impressed with Sam Field and Willock seems to show some real ability form time to time. Still feel we are short a few players who can push us into the top 6 and grind out the wins against the teams below us.

For me the season is summed up by the January signings, we were in deep trouble without them and would without doubt be heading down. I would really like to know if Warb's saw this too because his post match diatribes were somewhat out of kilter to what I saw.

Burnleyhoop added 21:09 - Mar 16
Mid table finish it is then. Decent enough all things considered. A bit apathetic about the rest of the season in truth.
Now more interested in how we turn next years squad into one that can challenge for the play off spots. We have a good nucleus of our own players across the pitch, but we need to secure Johansen if possible along with triggering the options on Wijs and Field.
The difficult conundrum for the summer is the strikers. IMO I would cut all 3 loose (Bonne,Dykes and Austin) and go all out for a genuine quality addition similar to Toney. Now is the time to push the boat out a little and have a real go. We have been making steady progress for 5 years now. Time to move up a gear.


062259 added 01:49 - Mar 17
Burnleyhoop, prepare to be disappointed. Neither Dykes nor Bonne have been given enough opportunities to be considered failures. Their relative youth (both are 25), non-trivial transfer fees, and leadership’s reluctance to admit to mistakes, will ensure they get another go next season. Austin, on the other hand, will only be back if he’s willing to swallow a significant hometown discount.

Paddyhoops added 10:10 - Mar 17
Take a clean sheet. If we do, we'll probably win!!

Burnleyhoop added 10:44 - Mar 17
Agree with you entirely and as such won’t be disappointed and fully expect things to pan out in the way you described.
I would love to see Dykes and Bonne progress, but from what I have seen so far, my doubts continue to deepen. Love Charlie as well, but being honest, he is on the decline and not what we need going forward.
Just expressing a fairly radical, if not pragmatic, view of how the club might gamble a little to genuinely move us to next level. I suppose we are still only 5/6 years into the 10 year plan, but my patience for further improvement is wearing thin.
What really grates is seeing many other clubs gamble in an extreme way and largely get away with it, yet we were vilified (quite rightly) and paid dearly for it.
Would be interesting to know where we are in regards to meeting the £39 million loss limit over a 3 year period scenario. No doubt Covid will have a huge impact.


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