|Hull City 0 v 3 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Hull suffer effects of Dickie at both ends - Report
Sunday, 15th Aug 2021 19:30 by Clive Whittingham
Rob Dickie's flying start to 2021/22 continued on Saturday with a spectacular goalline clearance and third goal in as many games as QPR registered their first win of the season at Hull on Saturday.
Queens Park Rangers’ Championship title winning campaign of 2010/11 started with a 3-0 win in the first away game, in the north, at Sheffield United, on what the trendies now insist we call ‘matchday two’. It was a feat that team repeated twice more that season, at Ipswich in September and Middlesbrough in February, but has managed only twice in the ten years since, at Wolves in September 2011 and Rotherham in January 2016.
QPR’s away form in that intervening period has been so notoriously terrible somebody commissioned a flag about it, but has been improving since Mark Warburton walked through the door with seven wins on the road in his first season, and then eight in 2020/21 which equalled our haul from 2013/14 play-off success. If this is to be the promotion-chasing season we all hope for, that total is going to have to get back up around the ten or 11 mark Neil Warnock had it at, and that brings us back to Warbs Warburton’s theme of the summer – ruthlessness.
The first 45 minutes of Saturday’s game at newly promoted Hull City looked like many, many others we’ve seen from this playing group. When QPR were good, they were very good indeed, and that was usually when Stefan Johansen was on the ball. The Norwegian, thankfully unscathed despite leaving the Millwall opener early, was strong and forceful in the third minute, winning possession high and feeding Ilias Chair for a shot straight at Matt Ingram in the home goal.
When they weren’t so good they were nominated for the prestigious Three Golden Ropes Award for Extreme Ropeyness, and that usually coincided with Hull winning second balls too easily and finding space in front of and behind wing backs Moses Odubajo and Lee Wallace – a drawback of the formation rather than the fault of either player. A broken offside trap and overload on Rob Dickie’s side of the back three gave George Moncur a first look at the whites of Seny Dieng’s eyes but although his shot was very clearly deflected over by Jordy De Wijs, referee Matt Donohue awarded a goal kick.
This tit for tat stuff continued for much of the first half. Both sides missed excellent headed chances to score: Lyndon Dykes directing his straight at Ingram from close range after excellent link up work by Odubajo and Johansen down the right; local child Keane Lewis-Potter, playing like a Championship forward but looking like somebody who should have been hanging around outside offering to mind cars for a quid, directing his over after brilliant approach play by impressive right back Lewie Coyle. Lewis-Potter was certainly Grant McCann’s chief attacking threat down the left, though the majority of his service found the head or boot of De Wijs, booed roundly on his first return to East Yorkshire and in the mood to settle a few scores. When Josh Magennis (he used to be a goalkeeper you know) did get a good head to a cross Seny Dieng made a fine one handed save under the crossbar just as the arc on the ball seemed to have beaten him.
QPR did lead at the break. A foul on Johansen, Chair returning from PLAGUE with a short free kick routine that caught a defence expecting a cross napping, Willock with space to turn into and get a shot away, Matt Ingram with the fairly calamitous save attempt that only succeeded in diverting the ball into the back of the net off the post. Bless him, on a human level, waiting all that time behind Alex Smithies for a chance at QPR only to get it just as Steve ‘Schteve’ McClaren’s disasterclass was in full swing was a tough watch, and it was heartwarming to see Ingram excel in a League One promotion winning campaign last term, but that has always rather been his level and it’s not a great surprise to see him doing things like this back in the Championship. That haunted expression, badger recently struck by a passing car, that you may remember from such movies as West Brom 7 QPR 1, was back again.
Getting a goal, taking the lead, isn’t often the problem. You have to go back 14 matches, to early March, and Huddersfield at home, to find the last time Rangers failed to trouble the scorers. They’ve notched in every league game in 2021 so far bar three. It’s the kill that often eludes these hooped heroes. They can go a little bit cat with a mouse at times, swatting it this way and that, teasing it, fannying about, and sometimes then going ahead and eating the little sod, but equally often then lamenting the bravado as it scoots away with a draw or worse. It drives their manager mad, and when Johansen pressed forwards in the final moments of four added minutes at the end of the first half, when the whole ground expected him to run the clockdown with a pass back to Dieng, it provided first Chair and then Willock with space and time – the latter thrashed at a very presentable chance, sending the ball flying well wide.
Two nil at half time, very different story. Only a terrific, brave header from Yoann Barbet had prevented Magennis nicking in for an equaliser and Greg Docherty had then sent an inswinging cross past everybody, including Dieng, but also the far post, in those added minutes. The start of the second half was much more this theme than QPR pressing home their advantage.
Few more torturous experiences in sport than standing helplessly and watching your team, away from home, with eons left on the watch, try to protect a single goal lead from an outright barrage. De Wijs and Wallace collide, low cross, Dieng saves low. Deep ball to the far stick, Lewis-Potter heads back from whence it came, and wide. De Wijs gets a partial clearing header on an awkward high ball, Magennis collects, pins him, tries to turn, shot deflected over the bar. Coyle onto his unfavoured left boot, gets too much on his delivery, looks like it’s going into the far corner anyway, Dieng back peddles and palms over. All of this took about 45 seconds off the watch. QPR could have settled the argument when Dom Ball, much improved on last week, slalomed his way out of midfield into a three v three chance brilliantly but when faced with playing Dykes through on goal or attempting to step over through the final two defenders himself he rather ambitiously chose the latter and it went all Gentle Ben at the craft services table again. No Dom. Tranquiliser dart.
Some huge moments in the context of this game around the hour mark. Hull seemed certain to equalise twice, first when a mad scramble at a corner fell at the feet of Lewis-Potter from no range at all, and then when Dieng’s rushed and badly executed clearance fell straight to former R’s loan flop Matt Smith and he charged back through on goal and beat the keeper with the low shot. The first was repelled by a remarkable leg save from Dieng, only he knows how. The second, even more outrageously, out from under the crossbar by Rob Dickie at full stretch, belying a supposed lack of pace to emerge from outside everybody’s field of vision to save the day at the last second. He celebrated like he’d scored, and it was as good as a goal for. Man of the match switching from keeper to centre back in one incident.
The second, killer, goal followed soon after. Lyndon Dykes, suffering with illness and not really up to the pace of the game in general, had already been denied a second by a brilliant leg save from Ingram after Ball got the through pass right at the second time of asking to release the Scotsralian. He made no mistake, albeit aided by a deflection, when Johansen and Willock combined in a pre-planned set piece and laid the ball back into a space Dykes spun around and arrived in right on schedule to finish. A corner of such grand design Kevin McCloud is coming to see it next week.
Mood shift. From the mental and physical torture of waiting for seemingly inevitable concession, the dread of seeing that little virgin at the front in the grey tracksuit giving it large when it happens, time standing still while Hull agonisingly click, click and click away again on the wrack, waiting for the satisfying snap of the spine, to a tranquil paradise where football is fun, and sex dolls are flying through the air, and songs are sung by an away following for whom only pre-booked train tickets stand in the way of their desire to stay here and watch this football game for the rest of the night and most of tomorrow. The game was up for Hull, they knew it, Moncur’s frustrations manifesting in a rather silly tackle on Ball that, once airborne, was always likely to elicit a red card from Matt Donohue.
Now the question was how many. Three, at least. Rob Dickie, because of course, starting a 13-pass, five-player passing sequence and then finishing it himself with a flicked finish from a yard out. First QPR defender to score in three consecutive games since Terry Fenwick. Why was he there? More importantly, who cares? Dickie said afterwards he preferred the goal line clearance anyway, because, quote, he’s “a bit weird”. You keep being weird here mate, let me just reach behind you a minute and close that window. Prick in grey tracksuit forcibly removed by Humberside Police.
A shot from Chris Willock after Ingram had thrust up a desperate arm to try and reach Johansen’s cross was blocked. A second effort was deflected wide. Lee Wallace, in down that left as QPR love to do, shot from a tight angle and drew a good save at the near post. This is Warbsball as Warbs intended it. Chances taken, game killed, still flooding forwards for more – half a dozen players in the oppo box waiting for Wallace’s cut back when Dickie scored, and that with the game already at 2-0.
There was that grittier side to us as well, perhaps lacking early in this manager’s reign, and now out there in spades – not only from the irrepressible Dickie and Dieng, but De Wijs winning every header, Barbet sticking his face in danger in first half stoppage time, a crowd scene around Moncur and the referee for the red card. Quiet, nice, timid, meek QPR no more, and just as well – 56 goals conceded and 14 clean sheets was a big improvement in 20/21 from 19/20, but that’ll need to get better again this time too to mount a challenge.
One week in, nobody in the Championship has won both games played. QPR could have won this 4-0, lost it 2-1, and most things in between. That’s the division, and results like this are how you get out of it.
Hull: Ingram 5; Coyle 7 (Emmanuel 75, 6), Jones 6, Greaves 6, Elder 6; Smallwood 6 (Williams 73, 6), Docherty 6; Longman 6 (Smith 35, 6), Moncur 5, Lewis-Potter 7; Magennis 6
Subs not used: Eaves, Baxter, Cannon, Bernard
Red Cards: Moncur 71 (serious foul play)
QPR: Dieng 8; Odubajo 7, Dickie 9, De Wijs 8, Barbet 7, Wallace 7; Johansen 8 (Thomas 86, -), Ball 7, Chair 7 (Dozzell 59, 6); Willock 7, Dykes 6 (Kelman 85, -)
Subs not used: Kakay, Archer, Dunne, Adomah
Goals: Willock 16 (assisted Chair), Dykes 68 (assisted Johansen), Dickie 74 (assisted Wallace)
QPR Star Man – Rob Dickie 9 Getting out of hand.
Referee – Matt Donohue (Manchester) 7 Not a referee we have happy memories of, but few complaints here. Two identical penalty appeals were waved away at opposite ends in quick succession, Dykes and Lewis-Potter both exaggerating a push at the back post, and he was right to do that. Moncur, we can debate, but as soon as you leave the ground and lunge in you’re giving the referee a decision to make and at the time, admittedly from the other end of the ground, it looked a bad one. Grant McCann was also stewing afterwards about an apparent handball penalty, but I have to say it wasn’t one obvious enough to really register for me and to be honest the line of questioning on it felt more like Radio Roverside trying to fill up to the news at half past rather than any belief the referee had not been any good. Overall, fine.
Attendance – 10,728 (1,000 QPR approx.) Away end bouncing.
Pictures – Action Images
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