Dykes gathers rich Rangers rewards from dominant Swansea show – Report
Wednesday, 21st Apr 2021 17:34 by Clive Whittingham
Lyndon Dykes struck again, in the last minute, to seal a deserved QPR victory from a dominant display at third-placed Swansea City on Tuesday evening.
This is in danger of becoming enjoyable.
Not the first ten minutes. Queens Park Rangers rather clung to the first ten minutes by the seat of their pants, dressed in whatever they’d been able to assemble from the lost property basket after forgetting their PE kit. The three centre back system becomes a problem when you start running out of centre backs to pick in it and injuries to Jordy De Wijs and Geoff Cameron, as well as the continued naughty stepping of Todd Kane, necessitated a reshuffle from the weekend win at Middlesbrough with Osman Kakay moving to right wing back, George Thomas dropping into the midfield role next to Stefan Johansen, and Dom Ball given a chance to continue his misadventures in Championshipland as the middle of three centre backs. Had me all nostalgic for those old Ian Holloway team sheets we used to stare at for half an hour pre-game trying to work out who might be the goalkeeper.
Dom went windmilling into the task in exactly the fashion you’d expect. Bullhound, screw loose, dropped off at the pound by Rotherham because he’s “a bit much”, rescued by Warbs and desperate to please, full of beans and loyalty. What do you want? Centre back? In a three? Play out from the back? Hold my beer. And play out from the back he did, picking up the ball deep in his own penalty area and attempting to reach the far end of the field by dribbling it around every outfield member of the Swansea players in turn. Sometimes Coach Warbs calls me Crazy Legs. NO DOM. He got as far as the third man, lost the ball, Wayne Routledge was played clear in on the goal behind him, the Barbinger of Doom swooped in on an all-or-nothing rescue mission that had penalty, red card and long night written all over it… and executed it perfectly. Soon Ball was clattering through the back of Jay Fulton for no reason at all – back to goal, going nowhere, tight to the touchline by the dugouts – and Jamal Lowe was trying his luck from the edge of the area which Rob Dickie blocked well.
To the right of this chaos, Osman Kakay had been drinking. Bless him, couldn’t stand up for falling down here for a quarter of an hour or so, almost putting Lowe in with some slack play on five minutes, then making a right hash of two clearances in ten seconds allowing Jake Bidwell to cross once, receive it back from a desperate clearance, try again, and draw Joe Lumley, in for the suspended Seny Dieng, from his line for a claim under pressure. Barbet’s second involvement, passing up the opportunity of a simple five-yard pass into Johansen’s feet to instead meet a bouncing ball full on the airborne volley trying to pick out somebody bobbing about in Swansea Bay. Nike, for goodness sake, just cast him in once of your bloody airport commercials and let’s be done with this needlessly flamboyant Barbetness.
Children, children, please. It’s a long night, we’ve a lot to get through, and Steve Cooper’s third-placed side hadn’t even so much as poked their nose round the door of their right flank yet where their excellent Welsh international wing back Conor Roberts going up against Niko Hämäläinen, in for injured Lee Wallace, on paper at least looked less individual battle more All The Fin You Can Eat night at The Sizzler.
Then Rangers started to play. They started to play, and they didn’t stop. They started to play about as well as they have all season, possibly bar Bristol City A and Coventry H, through and around a Swansea team still one in theory harbouring Premier League ambition for next season - though admittedly missing 15-goal leading scorer Andre Ayew. Chris Willock’s cross, flicked on by Lyndon Dykes, was bundled against the base of the post by Ilias Chair. Soon the miniature Moroccan was through on goal from a slide rule Willock pass at the end of slick passing move and goalkeeper Freddie Woodman did just about enough to divert his shot onto the same post with an outstretched shin. Hämäläinen, not only untroubled by Roberts but actually now going forwards and doing some bits of his own, got a ball to the back post exactly right for Willock to hit an improvised cross shot into danger and scrambled out for a corner. Dykes took a Kakay cross on his chest and volleyed wide of the top corner.
An eminently watchable game, far more so than most of the sludge you get at this level, and QPR now easily the best thing in it. Chris Willock the conductor of an 11-piece sex orchestra - pray silence please for the London Nymphonic. The combination between him, Chair and Thomas, absolutely delicious. Way too much for Swansea to cope with. Backed up expertly by Rolls Royce Stefan Johansen, in the ‘proud dad’ role just behind them, led from the front by a Scottish Australian with a weapon he improvised himself from bits he had lying around in the shed.
Game still, naturally, wide open. Just kids having fun. Lowe, the home team’s best player, produced a moment of quality to burst out of his own area from a QPR corner and spring the visitors entirely, sending Wayne Routledge screaming through on goal from exactly the sort of position he used to monster in our colours but, at 36, he’s not what he was, and the touch and pace wasn’t on point, allowing Lumley to save relatively comfortably at his feet. Rob Dickie scrambled back magnificently to block a better Routledge shot from a more presentable position onto the post. It needed a much better save from Lumley – instinctive brilliance down low to his left from no range at all, playing for a new deal just so he can turn it down, like a ledge – to keep out Korey Smith on the stroke of half time after Dom Ball had thrown all the cards in the air “for the banter” once again. But Kakay fired over in first half stoppage time and the home team were in desperation mode, chucking bodies in the way of multiple shots, as Willock and Chair continued to pull the strings on the whistle.
You could, unkindly, say it was QPR’s sort of game. None of the tips from the cheat sheet – let our back three have it but press aggressively when we move it into midfield, crowd the middle of the pitch, target and push the wing backs backwards – that we’d seen Forest, Derby and Huddersfield do to us, all far worse teams than Swansea in theory, were in evidence here. The space the home team afforded us to pass through midfield was extraordinary, only one horrible Fulton tackle on Dickie for which he received a thick yellow card suggested any real resistance at all. It’s also true that Rangers do lack any sort of real pace to isolate and expose teams, and rely on picking and tricking their way through instead – Dickie’s lack of acceleration, which will probably keep him from being the level of centre back every other one of his attributes says he could be, was exposed by Routledge out in the deep waters of the right wing and he too was booked for the corrective measures.
But, honestly, I could watch QPR play like this all night. Ilias Chair’s touch and collect around Grimes in midfield should be on his LinkedIn, and it was such a shame he subsequently slightly overplayed a ball to get Willock into the left channel when better execution would have had him in on goal for a shot. No matter, within seconds Thomas was carrying a man away with an intelligent off the ball run creating room for Willock to shoot straight at Woodman. That was Thomas’ last action of a very creditable show, his best for the club so far, with Charlie Austin back from a ban in his stead and straight away loitering around waiting for a rebound off Woodman as Willock tried again from 20 yards. Albert Adomah also replaced Osman Kakay - MORE LAZERS - and was soon piling in at the back post fractionally out of reach of Hämäläinen’s low retrieved ball after Dickie had crossed through the red zone. Johansen shot wide, Willock’s cross was cleared as Dykes arrived to head home, Austin chested one down and volleyed wide. No Dom, I will not pull your finger. Guys, nobody pull Dom’s finger.
Swansea were done. Absolutely spent. Reduced to over enthusiastic handball appeals when Hämäläinen lost his footing in the penalty area and the ball ran over his outstretched thigh. Play off success looks distant dream with performances like this. Johansen’s tackle to interrupt Lowe as he threatened to break away was superb, but that was a rare moment of concern for the now completely dominant visitors. Cooper brought on young Liam Cullen for the tiring Routledge, former Derby youth prospect Morgan Whittaker for the toiling Lowe, and male model Yan Dhanda just for us all to stare at. None of it made a blind bit of difference to a game heading one way and one way only.
Austin and Dykes hooked up beautifully, almost executing an outrageous ‘overs’ one-two on the edge of the box to burst through on goal. Austin then dribbled a low shot at Woodman, and another effort wide of the post. Time ticked, Warbs warmed his “get our rewards” speech for the post match, I struggled to recall a nil nil draw I’d enjoyed as much, and then none of it mattered any more anyway. For the first time in four visits to this stadium, QPR had a goal. For the first time in 11 visits to this city going back to 1981, Rangers had a win. The move, littered with one touch pass and move, summed up the whole night. It got Albert Adomah into a dangerous area and, as we know, he rarely picks the wrong option from there. A cute through ball found Dykes onside, widening the angle with a first touch, taking the net off the back of the posts with a second. Now five assists and a goal for the former since January 12 despite only starting once, now six goals in seven and 11 for the season from the latter. Had Charlie Austin chipped Woodman for a second off a Dykes assist straight from the kick off as he threatened to do I’d have been on the motorway to Wales myself.
Stoppage time passed by with the ball almost entirely out of play. Hämäläinen was booked for obstructing a quick free kick, and when Swansea pumped that out of play you knew Joe Lumley was going to burn most of the rest of the clock off with the goal kick, though even by his comically brazen time wasting standards panning back to the wide angle to find him halfway up the stand behind the goal “looking for the ball” was incredible. Come on Joseph, we’ve all had a drink. Yellow card, but yet to concede a goal in three recent outings after losing his place to Seny Dieng so I doubt he cares greatly.
QPR now eighth, half of the sixteenth they’ve called home for so long. Despite all the players that have left, despite all the trauma in the first half of the season, playing brilliantly. So ruthlessly outplayed and beaten at Loftus Road by Swansea on Boxing Day, here so composed and brilliant in a victory every bit as comprehensive the other way bar an extra notch on the scoreboard. Niggled by what might have been but for a better pre-Christmas, or a couple of silly results in this run at Birmingham and home to Huddersfield. Dreaming of what could be in store for next season with superb young prospects like Willock, Chair, Thomas, Dickie and others a year older and wiser in the Championship, with all the form, momentum and confidence finally finishing a season like this will bring. But most of all just trying to enjoy, because if you can’t enjoy Queens Park Rangers playing like this, then the whole thing isn’t for you.
Swansea: Woodman 6; Naughton 6, Bennett 6, Guehi 6; Roberts 5, Smith 6, Fulton 5 (Dhanda 75, 5), Grimes 5, Bidwell 5; Routledge 5 (Cullen 71, 6), Lowe 7 (Whittaker 86, -)
Subs Not Used: Manning, Hourihane, Hamer, Cooper, Cabango, Latibeaudiere (thank the God of match reporters he didn’t come on)
Bookings: Fulton 23 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 7; Dickie 7, Ball 6, Barbet 7; Kakay 5 (Adomah 74, 7), Thomas 7 (Austin 67, 6), Johansen 7, Chair 7 (Field 79, 6), Hämäläinen 7; Willock 8, Dykes 7
Subs not used: Kane, Bonne, Bettache, Walsh, Duke-McKenna
Goals: Dykes 89 (assisted Adomah)
Bookings: Dickie 55 (foul), Austin 85 (foul), Hämäläinen 90+2 (delaying the restart), Lumley 90+4 (taking the piss)
QPR Star Man – Chris Willock 8 Best player on the pitch by a street, Swansea on strings and completely unable to cope, the combination with Chair and Thomas absolutely delicious with Johansen classy as always just behind them.
Referee – Jarred Gillett (Queensland) 8 Couple of moments of fussiness we could have done without, and actually he was/is so on top of the play at this level that on more than one occasion he rather got in the way of a QPR move through midfield, but he’s clearly a Premier League referee ready to go this bloke and he’s been by far and away the best we’ve had this season. Correct with all cards and big calls.
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