Friend in charge of Everton cup tie - Referee
Monday, 20th Sep 2021 13:15 by Clive Whittingham
It’s a Premier League referee for Rangers on Tuesday night as Kevin Friend takes charge of the home League Cup tie with Everton
Referee >>> Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Assistants >>> Richard West (East Riding) and Scott Ledger (South Yorkshire)
Fourth Official >>> Andy Davies (Hampshire)
But it was Warbs' boy - Captain of Glasgow Rangers - Lee Wallace’s fault we conceded, not for the first time in his QPR career looking slow, cumbersome, clumsy, and off Championship pace with a clear and obvious trip on Scott Sinclair in the penalty box. Friend initially gave a free kick outside, offering Wallace an escape route, but the linesman, quite rightly, overruled and after one of the longest, most drawn out, eccentric preparations for a penalty you’re likely to see from Daniel Johnson, it was 1-0 thanks to a smooth, confident finish. Wallace protested long and loud, before, during and after the kick, to the point he was called together with captain Geoff Cameron and given a final warning. I’d have booked him. Not only for the foul, but for whinging on about it. It was a penalty man, clear as day, shut the fuck up. He, and his team mates, played like a bunch of sulky teenagers from there on in.
Just our luck that no sooner had superfluous and leaden footed Dom Ball been removed for Albert Adomah that Rob Dickie allowed a high, long, straight ball to bounce when he should have headed it back down the field, and that was all the invitation that Captain of Glasgow Rangers needed to shove out another bone idle leg and trip Jakobsen for PNE’s second penalty of the night. It’s going to be a long winter if we’re relying on this guy. He’s done. Sinclair converted this one, Seny Dieng emerging from the same training as Joe Lumley and Liam Kelly with the same penalty saving technique of diving good, early and obviously out of the way to make up the taker’s mind for him. QPR have given away 13 penalties since the start of last season and conceded 12 of them, 23 since the start of 2018/19 conceding 21, higher totals than any other team in the league.
QPR: Dieng 6; Kakay 5, Dickie 5, Barbet 4, Wallace 3; Cameron 4, Ball 4 (Adomah 57, 6); Osayi-Samuel 5, Chair 5 (Willock 71, 6), Carroll 5; Bonne 5
Subs not used: Kane, Masterson, Hamalainen, Bettache, Kelly
PNE: Rudd 6; Rafferty 6, Bauer 7, Storey 7, Hughes 7; Browne 7, Ledson 8; Sinclair 7 (Stockley 90+1, -), Johnson 8 (Barkhuizen 73, 6), Potts 7; Jakobsen 8 (Maguire 84, -)
Subs not used: Harrup, Gallagher, Huntington, Ripley
Goals: Johnson 24 (penalty, won Sinclair), Sinclair 60 (penalty, won Jakobsen)
Bookings: Ledson 15 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 I thought they were given some soft bits and pieces which we weren’t – we seemed to be asked to play-on through a lot of niggly little bits and pieces which they were awarded free kicks for. As usual, zero attempt made to crack down on some pretty blatant and obvious clock running, including a two minutes+ second half break because Danile Johnson had cramp, with Preston quite happily camped around their dug out having a new team talk, which absolutely should not have been allowed to be a thing. But the two penalties were clear, obvious and spot on, and quite what Lee Wallace’s histrionics were all about for the first one I don’t know. I’d have probably booked him for the foul anyway but certainly would have carded for him having the temerity to complain about something that fucking obvious.
The game then ebbed and flowed a little bit. Baker-Richardson missed an absolute sitter from three yards out within two minutes of scoring the first and for a while it looked like it might be another one of those QPR days, two of which have come against this opposition in the recent past with 5-0 and 4-1 defeats to the Swans in 2012/13. Luckily Rangers rallied somewhat, with Nahki Wells at least doing all he could to drag his side back in the game – first getting in behind the home defence with a blinding bit of skill but not getting a free kick out of referee Kevin Friend despite what looked a fairly obvious foul, then teeing up Luke Freeman for a low shot at Erwin Mulder which would turn out to be our only effort on target all afternoon.
Swansea: Mulder 6; Naughton 6, van der Hoorn 7, Rodon 6, Byers 7 (Olsson 84, -); Roberts 7, Carroll 6, Grimes 7, Celina 7 (Fulton 71, 6); Baker-Richardson 7 (Fer 71, 6), McBurnie 7
Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Carter-Vickers, McKay, James
Goals: Baker-Richardson 16 (assisted McBurnie), Roberts 76 (assisted Fulton), Fulton 83 (assisted McBurnie)
QPR: Lumley 5; Rangel 5, Baptiste 4, Lynch 4, Bidwell 4; Eze 4 (Smith 70, 3), Luongo 4, Cameron 3, Freeman 4 (Wszolek 87, -); Wells 5 (Hall 87, -), Hemed 4
Subs not used: Ingram, Osayi-Samuel, Kakay, Smyth
Bookings: Luongo 26 (foul), Bidwell 29 (foul), Wells 76 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 7 Few harsh calls, bit pedantic at times as often happens when Premier League referees drop down to this level, but fine overall in a match where there was very little to referee owing to the total lack of competition.
Twice Fulham got Tom Cairney free, one on one with Faurlin, at the back post for deep corners. Twice the Argentinean got involved in dangerous wrestling games with him. Twice referee Kevin Friend could have awarded penalties. Husband was roasting Perch, crossing low after 24 minutes forcing Angella to clear behind inside his six yard box. The Italian, supposed to be our ball playing centre half, distributed the ball here with all the accuracy and finesse of a drunk giraffe. McCormack’s third, crisply finished from Cairney’s pass on the half hour, was embarrassingly easy.
Fulham: Lonergan 6; Fredericks 7 (Voser 77, -), Stearman 7, Ream 6, Husband 8; Cairney 8, Tunnicliffe 6, O’Hara 7 (Christensen 65, -), Pringle 8; McCormack 8; Dembele 7 (Woodrow 76, -)
Subs not used: Lewis, Mattila, Kavanagh, Burn
Goals: Dembele 1 (assisted Husband), Pringle 18 (assisted Faurlin), McCormack 30 (assisted Cairney), 62 (assisted Angella)
QPR: Green 3; Perch 2, Angella 2, Onuoha 2, Konchesky 2; Faurlin 2, Henry 2; Phillips 3, Luongo 3, Chery 3 (Mackie 35, - (Fer 45, 5)); Austin 4 (Tozser 59, 5)
Subs Not Used: Hall, Smithies, Doughty, Gladwin
Bookings: Perch 79 (foul)
QPR Star Man – N/A
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 7 Guessed at bits and pieces, getting some right and some wrong. Little to referee in an uncompetitive game.
They were almost as bad as referee Kevin Friend, fresh from recent disasters at Bradford and Sunderland and looking like a man desperately praying no remotely borderline decisions come his way to judge. He booked Karl Henry for his first foul of the match after half an hour, a nothing tackle on Rosicky, and then did likewise to Héctor Bellerín for a trip on Junior Hoilett seconds later. Neither looked a booking to me. When Sandro then fouled Rosicky in first half injury time, and it looked a yellow card all ends up, no booking was handed out,
Giroud batting down a troublesome bouncer with the palm of his hand basketball style, then turning to run towards goal with the controlled ball at his feet, and Friend waving play on, was a particular highlight.
You couldn’t fault QPR too much. Karl Henry had been on a par with Sandro when the pair were together, and he battled manfully to do the work of two men when Kranjcar sauntered on – a night of hard graft that deserved greater reward. Yun, too, was excellent with and without the ball And Charlie Austin in attack was tireless – a permanent threat in front of the England manager. Eventually he succeeded where he’d failed in the first half, and Phillips had in the second from similar range, by catching Ospina out from 20 yards. A routine shot that dipped under the keeper and halved the deficit gave QPR hope, but to be honest Friend should have awarded a penalty kick when Ozil was pulled back trying to convert a chance from close range.
QPR: Green 7; Furlong 6, Caulker 5, Onuoha 6 (Hill 44, 5), Yun 7; Phillips 6, Henry 7, Sandro 7 (Kranjcar 56, 4), Hoilett 4 (Isla 73, 6); Austin 8, Zamora 6
Subs not used: Wright-Phillips, McCarthy, Vargas, Zarate
Goals: Austin 82 (assisted Phillips)
Bookings: Henry 31 (foul), Yun 79 (foul)
Arsenal: Ospina 5; Bellerin 8, Mertesacker 6, Paulista 5 (Koscielny 37, 7), Gibbs 6; Coquelin 7, Cazorla 6; Rosicky 8 (Ramsey 87, -), Ozil 5 (Welbeck 93, -) Sanchez 9, Giroud 6
Subs not used: Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Martinez, Chambers
Goals: Giroud 64 (assisted Sanchez), Sanchez 69 (assisted Gibbs)
Bookings: Bellerín 33 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Charlie Austin 8 At times in the second half he was dragging his team kicking and screaming through the game. Sandro played well but had to go off, Green played well but conceded a soft goal, Henry deserves credit for a big effort, but this was one of Austin’s best ever all round games, capped off with a fine goal. It’s clear that we’re not only fighting to maintain out top flight status, we’re also playing to keep Austin at Loftus Road. There will be a queue of takers this summer if we go down and he’s playing like this.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 5 A poor referee, refereeing poorly. Assisted by a linesman who didn’t give anything offside in the first half, and then in the second having presumably been reminded of the rules at half time, couldn’t put his flag down.
When Joey Barton was booked by referee Kevin Friend for fouling Wayne Routledge on the left corner of the QPR box ten minutes before half time, Robert Green needed to make a world class save down by his left post to keep out Sigurdsson’s free kick after the goalkeeper had lined his wall up too far right. The goal line technology said the ball was 95% in – but that 5% makes all the difference.
Swansea: Fabianski 6; Richards 7, Williams 6, Bartley 6, Taylor 6; Britton 7 (Shelvey 79, 6), Ki Sung-yueng 7; Montero 7 (Dyer 70, 8), Routledge 8, Sigurdsson 8 (Carroll 87, -); Bony 8
Subs not used: Gomis, Barrow, Amat, Tremmel
Goals: Sung-yeung 78 (assisted Dyer), Routledge 83 (assisted Dyer)
Bookings: Taylor 70 (foul), Britton 75 (foul)
QPR: Green 8; Onuoha 6, Dunne 6, Caulker 6, Suk-Young 5; Barton 5 (Hoilett 80, -), Henry 5, Fer 5, Kranjcar 5, Vargas 6; Austin 6
Subs not used: Ferdinand, Phillips, McCarthy, Isla, Mutch, Zamora
Bookings: Barton 35 (foul), Fer 56 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 8 Controlled the game well, few controversial incidents, all the yellow cards just about right.
The former Burnley man opened the scoring with a quarter of an hour left to play in circumstances eerily reminiscent of an FA Cup fifth round tie between these sides on this ground back in 1995. On that occasion the Lions’ Damien Webber inexplicably thrust up an arm to deflect an Andy Impey cross away from danger in the Loft End penalty box and Clive Wilson stepped up to slam home a winner from 12 yards in stoppage time. This time it was Jackson who put his hand in the air and palmed the ball away from Ravel Morrison and referee Kevin Friend pointed straight to the spot. Forde, whose erratic performance and wild kicking made it something of a surprise that he was only beaten once from 12 yards in the whole game, was booked for delaying Austin’s kick which was nevertheless dispatched into the bottom corner with a minimum of fuss.
That interrupted Millwall’s promising early start, and they had only a ridiculous 45 yard attempt from Maierhoffer and a shameless piece of play acting from Alan Dunne – dying on the floor one moment and then miraculously up and about again seconds later when it was clear his attempt to get Joey Barton sent off for treading on him accidentally had failed – to show for their first half efforts.
Millwall had threatened – Nedum Onuoha harshly penalised by Friend for a good tackle on the edge of the box and Shaun Williams chipped a delicate effort onto the bar from 20 yards with Green motionless then Carroll threw in a fine block as he continued his unusually tenacious defensive display. But there seemed little danger when, in the first of four added minutes at the end of the game, the ball fell loose on the edge of the penalty box.
Subs not used: Suk-Young, Hughes, Henry, Murphy
Goals: Austin 76 (penalty, Jackson handball)
Bookings: Onuoha 84 (foul)
Millwall: Forde 4; Edwards 6, Dunne 5, Beevers 6, Malone 6; Bailey 6, Williams 6; Martin 6 (Morison 16, 6), Garvan 6 (McDonald 65, 6), Woolford 6; Maierhoffer 6 (Jackson 53, 3)
Subs not used: Robinson, Easter, Abdou, Bywater
Goals: Malone 90+1 (unassisted)
Bookings: Beevers 59 (foul), Forde 76 (dissent)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 8 Ian Holloway complained about the penalty afterwards, saying nobody appealed for it and it wouldn’t have been given against sides other than Millwall, but he’s wrong and it was definitely a spot kick. Friend did well to spot it, and refereed the game reasonably well overall.
Sustained Reading pressure then brought two quick fire penalty appeals. First Traore upended Blackman and then Bosingwa hung a lazy arm and leg out to knock McAnuff to the ground. Both could easily have been given had referee Kevin Friend been so inclined but the Leicestershire official waved the claims away. Reading had good cause to feel aggrieved.
Ultimately Reading were left to rely on set pieces, and even those were reasonably predictable. Each corner and free kick was lofted high to the back post for giant centre half Sean Morrison to arrive late and attack. Although QPR have been poor at defending dead balls this season – and conceded twice from set pieces against Reading earlier in the season when former hooped favourite Kaspars Gorkss scored in league and cup – the intentions were so obvious even the beleaguered Rangers could read what was coming. Clint Hill won pretty much whatever came his way bar a late Morrison effort which Green palmed over the bar with one hand. Granero and Da Silva were both yellow carded by Friend for their part in conceding the free kicks in the first place.
Reading: McCarthy 6, Gunter 6, Mariappa 6, Morrison 6, Kelly 5 (Harte 76, 6), Karacan 5, Guthrie 6, McAnuff 7, McLeary 6 (Le Fondre 64, 6), Blackman 6 (Robson Kanu 55, 6), Pogrebnyak 5
Subs not used: Taylor, Pearce, Caricco, Hunt
QPR: Green 6, Bosingwa 4 (Da Silva 73, 5), Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Traore 6, Granero 6, Mbia 6 (Mackie 89, -), Jenas 6, Taarabt 5 (Hoilett 68, 5), Bothroyd 5, Remy 5
Subs not used: Cesar, Ben Haim, Derry , Park
Bookings: Granero 71 (foul), Da Silva 90 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 Very little to referee bar Reading penalty shouts in the first half – both of which could have been given, both of which he waved away. I thought Traore and Boswinga were both fortunate not to be penalised.
Rangers could have become anxious at opportunities missed but they looked in no mood to dwell on their misfortune. When Bosingwa gave the ball away in his own half Mbia swooped in and chopped own Anders Weimann. An early yellow card from Kevin Friend for the slightly barmy Cameroonian wasn’t ideal, but it showed the R’s were not afraid to mix it with their opposition and Villa were soon swapping Nathan Baker for Joe Bennett after the defender was left spark out on the sodden turf following heavy contact from Samba.
Twice QPR committed fouls worthy of cards only for Friend to play advantage and then fail to take retrospective action. Frustrated, Barry Bannan then hauled back Mbia and was yellow carded to the fury of those in claret and blue. Bosingwa’s piledriver against the post came after Samba had been felled on the corner of the box and Weimann was booked for his protests. Rangers were doing a number on their opponents and with boos ringing out from the Holte End and Paul Lambert’s inexperienced team visibly wilting under the strain of it all it’s likely that the lead being doubled would have killed the whole thing as a contest. Three, four, five nil? Anything seemed possible at this stage. The first strains of the Great Escape rolled down from the Doug Ellis Stand.
Five minutes of added time brought anguished cries from the Holte End and Rangers nearly rescued a point in the very final second with the last kick of the game when Clint Hill, of all people, strode confidently onto a square pass on the edge of the area and lashed a first time shot an inch too high and wide. It would have been a fairytale way to break his top flight goal scoring duck, and an extraordinary finish to a pulsating Premier League encounter but the feeling it wasn’t to be Rangers’ day had persisted since the Agbonlahor goal and so it proved. Friend blew his whistle for the final time as the shot clattered into the crowd behind the goal.
Villa: Guzan 8, Lowton 7, Clark 5, Baker 5 (Bennett 20, 5), Vlaar 6, Westwood 6, Sylla 6 (N’Zogbia 58, 6), Bannan 6, Agbonlahor 7, Weimann 8 (Bowery 84, -), Benteke 7
Subs not used: Given, Dawkins, Carruthers, Holman
Goals: Agbonlahor 45 (assisted Lowton), Weimann 58 (unassisted), Benteke 81 (assisted Weimann)
Booked: Sylla 30 (foul), Bannan 41 (foul), Weimann 45 (dissent)
QPR: Cesar 3, Bosingwa 5, Hill 5, Samba 7, Da Silva 5 (Taarabt 66, 7), Park 6 (Mackie 87, -), Jenas 6, Mbia 6, Townsend 7, Remy 7, Zamora 7 (Hoilett 45, 6)
Subs not used: Murphy, Onuoha, Wright-Phillips, Granero
Goals: Jenas 23 (assisted Zamora), Townsend 73 (assisted Remy)
Bookings: Mbia 12 (foul), Hoilett 88 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 7 Hounded off the field at half time by the home fans for perceived bias in favour of QPR. Their valid gripes were his failure to return and book QPR players after initially waving advantage through their fouls, while at the same time carding Bannan and Sylla for similar offences, and I certainly see their point there. But the booking for Weimann and the free kick Bosingwa hit the post with were correct decisions and overall he just about kept hold of a game played at a frightening pace.
Newcastle are in poor form themselves – just one win from 11 played before this. The sum total of their first half threat was two free kicks: the first harshly awarded by referee Kevin Friend against Stephane Mbia who’d appeared to win a header cleanly against Anita, the second against the same player for fouling Tiote this time, and both were whacked high over the bar by want-away striker Demba Ba to the audible displeasure of the home crowd.
Ferdinand wasn’t a very good footballer to begin with before he apparently started a six month (and counting) long sulk about not being made the captain which means he now seems to weigh twice as much as he did at this time last year and move about half as quickly. His brainpower was summed up nicely by a first half booking for throwing the ball into the stand to prevent a throw in neutral territory and Newcastle played merry hell down his flank all afternoon – particularly in the second half when he was comprehensively battered by Gabriel Obertan who’d previously been seen as one of the division’s biggest flops.
Even five minutes of time added at the end of the game couldn’t help the visitors as referee Kevin Friend, presumably as an act of revenge for being bored to tears over the previous 90 minutes, decided that stoppage time was an appropriate moment to start giving everything as a foul and then insisting the ball was placed on the exact blade of grass the alleged offence took place on. This slowed an already pedestrian-paced game down to a complete standstill for the remaining time. When, for the third time in as many minutes, he picked up a ball that had been placed ready for a restart and moved it half a foot to the left of its original position, I’d happily have gulped down a cyanide pill and been done with it. I don’t want to sound like Alan Green here but this was boring, turgid, awfulness by this point. One of the worst games of football it’s ever been my misfortune to sit through.
Newcastle: Krul 6, Simpson 6, Coluccini 6, Williamson 6, Santon 6, Gutierrez 6 (Obertan 60, 7), Perch 5, Tiote 6 (Marveaux 77, 7), Anita 7, Ba 5, Cisse 5 (Sh Ameobi 61, 6)
Subs not used: Harper, Ferguson, Bigirmana, Sa Ameobi
Goals: Ameobi 81 (assisted Anita)
Bookings: Tiote 62 (foul), Perch 87 (foul), Ameobi 90 (foul)
QPR: Green 7, Ferdinand 4, Nelsen 7, Hill 6, Fabio 5, Mackie 5, Mbia 6, Faurlin 5 (Derry 78, 5), Granero 5 (Wright-Phillips 56, 5), Taarabt 5, Cisse 5 (Hoilett 64, 5)
Subs not used: Murphy, Traore, Onuoha, Diakite
Bookings: Ferdinand 41 (kicking ball away), Hill 85 (foul)
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 Got so pedantic and pernickety about things in the closing stages of the game I wanted to go down and beat him to death, a shame really because in the first half he’d shown a willingness to let the game flow and not reward players for throwing themselves to the floor by constantly awarding free kicks. No big decisions wrong but a mediocre and at time infuriating display that further hampered a dreadful match.
A scrappy passage of play where possession of the ball changed hands on multiple occasions in the Everton half came to a head when Buzsaky won the ball back, fed Barton and he in turn found Wright-Phillips on the edge of the area. Centre back Sylvain Distin clearly fouled Wright-Phillips as he passed the ball to his left but by the time referee Kevin Friend had blown his whistle Bobby Zamora had worked the ball left again and Adel Taarabt was into the area, with only Tim Howard to beat and no Everton defenders in the picture. It was the very definition of an advantage waiting to be played but Friend brought play back regardless and the fact that Buzsaky then forced a smart save from Howard with a direct shot at the goal was scant consolation.
To their credit the home team simply resumed where they’d left off. They equalised within four minutes and could easily have scored before that as well – Taarabt’s long range free kick deflecting past Howard and agonisingly wide of a gaping side of his goal. When the goal did come Taarabt was at the heart of it, tricking his way past Hibbert and then crashing to earth under heavy contact from Drenthe which rightly brought the first yellow card of the game from referee Friend.
Everton then attempted to do what Rangers had done to them and respond in kind with a goal of their own. Mr Friend’s increasingly maddening performance continued with a ludicrous decision against Clint Hill on the edge of the QPR penalty area but Drenthe drilled the free kick into the wall. When Everton were then penalised themselves Steven Pienaar was booked for telling Friend what everybody was thinking.
The game then descended into a frustrating 20 minute pattern of hopeful long range shots and poor refereeing. Buzsaky shot straight at Howard after a good counter attack involving Taarabt and Onuoha, then hit a free kick into the upper tier of the stand from the thick end of 40 yards out when just about anything else would have been a better option given the circumstances. Buzsaky later smacked a free kick from closer in into the Everton wall after another foul by Fellaini, I made it his sixth of the game without receiving a yellow card.
QPR: Kenny 6, Onuoha 7, Ferdinand 6, Hill 8, Traore 7, Derry 7, Barton 7, Wright-Phillips 6, Buzsaky 7, Taarabt 7 (Mackie 80, -), Zamora 7.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Young, Smith, Taiwo
Booked: Derry (foul)
Goals: Zamora 36 (assisted Buzsaky)
Everton: Howard 7, Hibbert 6, Heitinga 7, Distin 7, Baines 7, Drenthe 7 (Osman 63, 6), Fellaini 8, Neville 6, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7 (Jelavic 63, 6), Stracqualursi 6 (Coleman 88, -)
Subs Not Used: Mucha, Jagielka, Gueye, Barkley
Booked: Drenthe (foul), Pienaar (dissent)
Goals: Drenthe 31 (assisted Pienaar)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 5 I’ve accused Kevin friend of being a home orientated referee on many previous occasions – he wasn’t that here, he was just very mediocre for both sides. No major decisions wrong, but some strange ones all the way through and a poor overall performance in my opinion.
Then three minutes later, on defensive duty this time, Connolly muscled Rodwell away from a mishit Jermaine Beckford scissor kick at the back post after Phil Neville had crossed low into the area. Rodwell hit the ground like a sack of potatoes but even referee Kevin Friend, known as a bit of a homer among the QPR faithful, wasn’t buying that one despite strong appeals from the home fans massed behind the goal.
We hadn’t seen a lot of Everton’s perennial chief goal threat Tim Cahill to this point but he suddenly thrust himself into the action as the time ticked into double figures. First a fine cross from the left by Leighton Baines flashed right through the penalty area, agonisingly out of the Australian’s reach as he dived full length to try and make contact with his head. Then Shaun Derryfound himself on the end of a brutal Cahill challenge that really warranted a yellow card but was allowed to slide with nothing more than a stern telling off from referee Friend.
A mixed start from Cahill then, and Taarabt was going from the sublime to the ridiculous at times as well. After 18 minutes the reigning Championship Player of the Year nutmegged Phil Neville and was then fouled right on the corner of the penalty box but despite the inviting position of the free kick the Moroccan delivered it straight out of play for a goal kick. Then, after another fine piece of skill on the halfway line skinned Neville again, he hit the deck in embarrassing fashion looking for another free kick and was rightly ignored by the referee. That possession concession could have proved costly as Everton broke with the ball at the feet of Ross Barkley who was the victim of one of the latest, but far from the dirtiest, tackles you’ll ever see on the edge of the box from Matt Connolly.
Back to the action, and only Everton will know how they failed to score with their best attack of the match in the thirty eighth minute. QPR’s problems began when Fitz Hall chopped down Tim Cahill in full flight down the left side – the replays subsequently showed that Hall may well have got a big bit of the ball but to be fair to Kevin Friend it looked like a foul and a yellow card all day long at first glance and that’s exactly the action he took. From the Baines free kick Cahill was beaten in the air at the near post by Gabbidon who eased the Australian under the ball before clearing with a fine header. Cahill felt he had a strong case for a penalty there and was still busy complaining when Beckford sent in a low cross to the back post that he headed wide of the target from no more than three yards out with Kenny nowhere to be seen and the goal gaping. It was an absolute sitter and most on the QPR side of the ground believed it had gone in.
Warnock clearly felt very aggrieved with the referee in the first half after the Fitz Hall booking and while I think the official probably got that one right he was certainly in the wrong when he allowed Tim Cahill off with yet another warning after a brutal tackle from behind on Adel Taarabt. This is where Kevin Friend consistently lets himself down with his home team bias – Hall, rightly, booked for one bad tackle but Cahill escapes with a ticking off having committed two equally as bad, if not worse, ones. There can be no other reason for this than Cahill plays for the home team and Hall the away – last season against Cardiff at Loftus Road we were the beneficiaries of Friend’s homing tendencies when we escaped a blatant penalty appeal near the end of the game but we were on the wrong end of it here. It’s as plain to see as the nose on his face.
Everton: Howard 6, Neville 6, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, Baines 7, Barkley 7, Heitinga 6 (Saha 74, 6), Rodwell 5 (Arteta 54, 5), Osman 6, Cahill 6, Beckford 4 (Fellaini 63, 5)
Subs Not Used: Mucha, Hibbert, Vellios, Anichebe
Booked: Osman (foul)
QPR: Kenny 8, Orr 7, Hall 7, Gabbidon 7, Connolly 7, Derry 8, Faurlin 7, Smith 7 (Ephraim 66, 7), Buzsaky 7, Taarabt 6, Agyemang 5 (Bothroyd 55, 8)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Gorkss, Perone, Moen, Andrade
Booked: Hall (foul)
Goals: Smith 31 (assisted Buzsaky)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 7 Overall, not too bad. Certainly no key decisions wrong and both the first half penalty appeals from Everton were weak and rightly waved away. However he loses marks for the obvious home v away bias that he has shown so often in the past – how can Hall be booked for one bad challenge but Cahill is let off with two that were equally as bad if not worse?
Then just before the hour Cardiff made a very strange substitution. They took off Drinkwater and put on Jason Koumas. Now on the face of it that was a pretty obvious move to make as Koumas has been a sparkling talent in this league before and Drinkwater had hardly caught the eye in an hour of action. However in doing that Dave Jones removed the man who was keeping Kyle Walker under wraps down the right flank of the QPR team. In an evenly matched game Walker could easily have been a key figure for QPR but Drinkwater had, to this point, prevented him from making much impact in attack. Within 55 seconds Koumas had been yellow carded for an ugly challenge on Walker tight to the far touchline and for the last half an hour of the game QPR looked so much more dangerous down the right than they had done before while Koumas offered almost nothing going forward for City. If Drinkwater was injured then fair enough, if not then Jones may wish to examine his own decision making before questioning that of the referee especially as they spent much of the second half knocking long balls up to Bothroyd thereby reducing Craig Bellamy’s effectiveness markedly.
Cardiff sent on Michael Chopra for Chris Burke ten minutes from time and immediately threatened after Taarabt conceded possession in a poor area – Clint Hill didn’t seem too disappointed to receive a yellow card having cynically stopped the counter attack in its tracks with a foul on Kevin McNaughton. Taarabt was again lucky to get away with some selfishness when a foul on Rub Hulse presented Rangers with an interesting attacking free kick that he drilled straight into the wall when a cross was the obvious option – Cardiff countered and the R’s were lucky to survive. Taarabt was otherwise excellent though – unusually diligent in his tracking back and typically effective in possession. In many ways he was the difference between the two sides.
Seven minutes from time Cardiff should have been awarded a penalty. That familiar story of pacey striker running at terrified centre halves that had dominated the day at both ends of the pitch was played out again as Bothroyd sprinted right at the heart of the QPR defence with the ball at his feet. After turning back inside he then hit the deck after a blatant trip by Matt Connolly who had committed himself too early the other way. It was a clear and obvious penalty without even needing to see the replay, those in F Block were unanimously agreed, but referee Kevin Friend, never shy of favouring a home team unmercifully, ignored the lengthy appeals from the visitors.
On went the game and within a minute Cardiff were tearing into the QPR penalty area again. This time it was Bellamy and again he fell to the floor as he entered the area. Hill was the nearest man to him but it was an obvious dive. Presumably Bellamy was looking to exploit any doubt in the referee’s mind over the previous decision and get him to even up the poor call against Cardiff with an equally bad one in their favour. The calls were ignored, and Bellamy was booked, although as the subsequent corner was still allowed to be taken I presume the booking was for dissent rather than the dive itself, otherwise Rangers would have restarted play with a free kick.
Then, in the last minute of four added at the end of the game when Agyemang, another late sub for the tireless Mackie, crawled all over Lee Naylor Clarke was able to collect possession down the QPR right and power into the penalty area. I don’t think it would be too unfair to say that hopes of a positive outcome at this point were low but Clarke, to his credit, did some sort of Bambi on Ice routine and bumbled past Blake who then clearly and obviously wrestled him to the ground for a stone wall penalty. Three sides of Loftus Road erupted as one, and then stood astonished and captivated as Friend ignored the appeals, Clarke rose from the ground and poked the ball back into play on the edge of the box. Penalty or not the goal was still there for the taking but for reasons known only to him, and possibly the Gods of comedy who created the situation for their own general amusement, Fitz Hall entered the stage from the right with the ball rolling towards him, the goal gaping, and not a Cardiff man in sight. Hall struck it hard and low but Cardiff threw a get out of jail free card in his way and blocked the ball away on the goal line. QPR were at this point a team that was supposed to be hanging on at 2-1 but still they came – Agyemang had finished mauling Naylor’s carcass and made his way into the area to collect the rebound for a second time. He chipped it up to the back post and with the stimulation of it all threatening to pop my eye balls in their sockets Leon Clarke reappeared for act two, but fluffed his lines and nodded the ball onto the roof of the net.
Whether Friend was just evening up the poor Bothroyd penalty decision by not awarding Clarke his, couldn’t be doing with the hassle when he knew he was going to blow the final whistle after the goal kick, or is just completely incompetent it was hard to tell. Dave Jones bleated and moaned to anybody that would listen to him after the game about the Bothroyd decision, but strangely didn’t mention the foul on Clarke which was every bit as blatant. I wonder why?
QPR: Kenny 8, Walker 7, Gorkss 6, Connolly 6, Hill 6, Derry 7, Faurlin 7, Mackie 7 (Agyemang 90, -), Taarabt 8 (Clarke 87, -), Smith 7 (Hall 90, -), Hulse 8
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Orr, Helguson, Ephraim
Booked: Hill (foul), Clarke (foul)
Goals: Gorkss 18 (assisted Smith), Taarabt 68 (assisted Derry/Smith)
Cardiff: Heaton 7, McNaughton 7, Hudson 5, Blake 6, Naylor 6, Drinkwater 7 (Koumas 57, 5), Whittingham 6, Olofinjana 7, Burke 7 (Chopra 80, -), Bellamy 8, Bothroyd 8
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Gyepes, McPhail, Keogh, Matthews
Booked: Koumas (foul), Whittingham (foul), Bellamy (dissent)
Goals: Bellamy 13 (assisted Bothroyd)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 5 Overall I thought he controlled the game well and wasn’t over fussy with either the whistle or the cards. However a referee who gets the key decisions in the game wrong cannot be marked too highly. Both Bothroyd and Clarke were denied absolutely blatant penalties for no reason at all, and Bellamy’s first goal was a yard offside at least.
Ultimately that proved to be good news for QPR who broke away at lightening pace with the ball at the feet of Kyle Walker. The Tottenham loanee, who seems to be getting better with every game, set off on a mazy run across the field from right to left, and then round the side of Clyne who was comprehensively done for pace by Walker as he accelerated away into the Palace half. Clyne clearly fouled Walker and although Kevin Friend nitially did the right thing by waving advantage he then gave a free kick against the QPR man when Alex Marrow put himelf between Walker and the ball and was wrestled to the ground. Neil Warnock was rightly furious that play had not been brought back for the first offence, Walker got no reward for a lovely piece of play and Rangers were quickly on the back foot again. The free kick was pumped forward, Kaspars Gorkss was crudely dumped to the ground by substitute Calvin Andrew and lay injured on the edge of the box – play was waved on despite this being a clear foul and a nasty injury – and Rangers were left to scramble the ball away with their centre back stricken on the turf. This was not Kevin Friend’s finest few minutes of refereeing, and the injury to Gorkss quickly cost QPR a goal as the Latvian struggled to cope with the pace of the home side’s attack having been reduced to playing on one leg.
This quick counter attack was a feature off both sides’ play on Saturday and made for a thoroughly entertaining game. Neil Warnock promised during the pre-season that QPR would go to win every game and he has certainly been true to his word so far. Palace’s keenness to get on with things cost Clint Hill a thoroughly deserved yellow card midway through the second half when he cynically poked the ball away as they were about to take a quick free kick. Good refereeing on that occasion.
Two minutes into stoppage time, the final glorious act. Mikele Leigertwood stuck the ball forward and Helguson, as ever, won his header and flicked the ball in behind the Palace defence. Jamie Mackie, as ever, chased it down and could have delivered a decent low cross into the box from the position he was in but, realising there was nobody who’d been able to keep up with him, he checked back and fed the ball back to Leigertwood who switched the attack to Tommy Smith wide on the left. Smith sent in a cross to the back post where Speroni looked favourite to gather until Helguson charged in and powerfully headed the ball down into the bottom corner.
The Palace players immediately besieged the referee and my first reaction was that Helguson had diverted the ball into the net with his arm. Referee Kevin Friend stood still, signalling neither a goal nor a free kick, his linesman also remained fixed to the ground and stared straight back at him. Helguson was ridiculously penalised for non-existent fouls on Leicester goalkeeper Carl Ikeme three times in the last away game and had a nervous look over his shoulder as he wheeled away to celebrate but on this occasion, no free kick was forthcoming. QPR celebrated, Palace surrounded the match officials and Speroni was booked for dissent - another three points had been secured in the most dramatic circumstance.
Crystal Palace: Speroni 7, Clyne 7, Marrow 6, McCarthy 6, Bennett 7, Davids 5 (Gardner 56, 6), Garvan 7, Dorman 6 (Andrew 79, 7), Djilali 7, Zahar 8, Counago 5 (Cadogan 46, 7)
Subs Not Used: Price, Holness, N'Diaye, O'Keefe
Booked: Dorman (foul), Speroni (dissent)
Goals: Cadogan 89 (assisted Zahar)
QPR: Kenny 7, Walker 8, Connolly 7, Gorkss 8, Hill 7, Buzsaky 6 (Leigertwood 83, -), Derry 7, Mackie 8, Taarabt 7 (Smith 72, 7), Ephraim 8, Helguson 8
Subs Not Used: Rowlands, Agyemang, Cerny, Borrowdale, German
Booked: Ephraim (foul), Hill (kicking ball away)
Goals: Taarabt 49 (assisted Mackie), Helguson 90 (assisted Smith)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 A real mixed bag of decisions here. Mr Friend is never knowingly troubled either by fairness or the rules of the game when it comes to giving away sides absolutely nothing and there were times in the second half when I was just waiting for the inevitable Palace penalty decision, especially in the made ten minutes just before their goal when every single decision seemed to go their way. However all four yellow cards were the correct decisions and the big moment of the game, in stoppage time, he called absolutely right. It would be over critical of me to suggest he and the linesman were both frantically looking for a reason to disallow it, such was the reaction of the Palace players, but there you go I’ve said it anyway.
Plymouth had further cause to feel aggrieved with the linesman in front of the away end when a cross by Mackie struck Gorkss on the hand and flew out for a corner. The linesman gave nothing, referee Kevin Friend decided he had handled the ball but gave a free kick outside the area rather than a penalty kick – at the time I thought that the handball looked accidental but having given it Friend really had to award the spot kick as Gorkss was clearly in the area.
Both teams had great chances to score in the final minute of the half. First QPR found the net for the second time in the game, Martin Rowlands curling the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. Bizarrely though the celebrations were cut short by a linesman’s flag which disallowed the goal, presumably for offside against Heidar Helguson even though the striker never touched the ball as it went through and in. Under the new offside laws this decision looked a very poor one, and just like the Barnsley v Burnley game a fortnight ago I felt the referee and the linesman should have had a discussion about who had been flagged offside and whether or not he was interfering. In my opinion the goal should have stood.
Rowlands and Helguson were both furious and while arguments with both officials continued Plymouth got on with the game and could have rubbed salt into the wounds with an eqauliser at the other end. Gorkss was caught the wrong side of Mackie as he raced onto a through ball, the winger opened his body up and prepared to bend the ball around Cerny and into the top corner but the Czech keeper read his intentions and saved splendidly at close range – a class save that ensured the R’s led at half time although Ainsworth, Sousa, Rowlands and Helguson all had a say with the officials on the way off the pitch adamant that the score should have been two nil.
Heidar Helguson went into the book for a crude tackle on Chris Clark as he pushed forward from full back, although seconds earlier Chris Barker had upended Dexter Blackstock in similar circumstances without receiving a card. With the very last kick of the game a cross from the Plymouth right struck Mikele Leigertwood square in the chest in the penalty area – an incident that brought Plymouth fans on all sides of the ground to their feet screaming for handball but it never looked like it and Kevin Friend ignored the appeals before blowing the final whistle almost immediately.
Plymouth: Larrieu 6, Clark 6, Timar 7, Seip 7, Barker 6, Mackie 6 (Marin 78, 6), Summerfield 6, Walton 6, Paterson 6 (Noone 69, 6), Gallagher 5 (MacLean 77, 7), Fallon 7
Subs Not Used: Folly, Cathcart
Booked: Walton (foul)
Goals: MacLean 83 (assisted Fallon)
QPR: Cerny 8, Ramage 6 (Hall 81, 5), Stewart 6, Gorkss 7, Delaney 6, Mahon 6, Rowlands 7, Cook 6 (Ephraim 68, 5), Leigertwood 6, Agyemang 5 (Blackstock 77, 5), Helguson 6
Subs Not Used: Cole, Tommasi
Booked: Ramage (foul), Helguson (foul)
Goals: Helguson 16 (assisted Rowlands)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 Not too bad overall. Both QPR bookings followed identical fouls by Plymouth players that did not get yellow cards but other than that he was unfussy and even handed which is not usually the case with him. Plymouth will say they should have had two penalties but he needed help from his linesman with the Gorkss decision and the one at the end didn’t look like a handball in a million years. Not for the first time a decent refereeing performance was let down by the ineptness of the two linesmen.
Unfortunately for the in form keeper Southampton’s task got a lot more difficult just before the half hour mark when they were reduced to ten men. QPR had enjoyed terrific possession down the left flank a number of times in the first half and after another marauding run by Damien Delaney young Ollie Lancashire trotted across to execute one of those strong tackles he’s heard all about – a let them know you’re there sort of thing. Sadly the youngster was far too enthusiastic and his two footed, scissor like hack was wild, late and dangerous, leaving Delaney in an agonised heap and referee Kevin Friend with little option but to offer the debutant first use of the bath water. Unfortunately for the boy he can have few complaints.
The second half started with a goalmouth scramble at the Loft End that Blackstock and Leigertwood both looked set to finish with a second goal only to be denied by some desperate last ditch defending in the six yard box. Then came a poor challenge by Wotton on Parejo in the middle of the park. On another day this could have been a red card as well but Mr Friend waved play on and didn’t return to the incident once play had come to a close. Parejo was angered by this and lost the plot for a good five minutes, first having to be stopped by Damion Stewart from seeking retribution on the player, and then attending a referee and captain conference as the guilty party in a dissent case. He can certainly spray a pass around the park, but he is a mardy git at times and did little of any real note in this match.
Once the referee had made it clear, with loud, slowly spoken English and hand actions, that Parejo should be quiet for a bit McGoldrick struck a free kick into the wall from the edge of the area when well positioned to test the keeper – Surman looked a better bet for that one to me. Still the away side didn’t have to wait long for a deserved leveller. Davis started the move with a quick throw and with the QPR midfield scattered far and wide the impressive Adam Lallana was allowed to race down the middle of the park and finish from just inside the penalty area after a one two with Gillett. A classy goal from back to front and nothing more than Southampton deserved.
Rowlands wasted little time, four minutes infact, before making an impact. A harsh decision to penalise Wotton for a foul on Blackstock set up a free kick 40 yards out left of centre. Rowlands stepped up and whipped a devilish delivery into the far post area where Damion Stewart ghosted in behind and slammed home his first league goal of the season – replays showed him to be at least three yards offside when the ball was played, a poor decision from the linesman but just the breakthrough Rangers needed.
Referee Friend burst back into life after the Stewart goal with Southampton probably still feeling rightly aggrieved to be behind again. Schneiderlin, Leigertwood and Delaney were all booked in a two minute flurry of discipline for fouls on Rowlands, Lallana and James respectively. Southampton then sent on loaned Tottenham striker Tomas Pekhart as part of their quest for another equaliser but that only served to open the game up more and QPR had more space to play in and put the game to bed.
QPR: Cerny 6, Ramage 5, Stewart 7, Connolly 7, Delaney 7, Mahon 5, Leigertwood 7, Ephraim 6 (Rowlands 8), Parejo 6 (Agyemang 8), Cook 6, Blackstock 8
Subs Not Used: Camp, Gorkss, Balanta
Booked: Leigertwood (foul), Delaney (foul)
Goals: Blackstock 1 (assisted Mahon), Stewart 63 (assisted Rowlands), Blackstock 77 (assisted Agyemang), Agyemang 90 (assisted Cook)
Southampton: Davis 9, Wotton 6, Lancashire 4, Cork 5, Gillett 6, James 6, Surman 6, Holmes 6 (Dyer 23, 7), Schneiderlin 6 (Pekhart 69, 6), Lallana 7, McGoldrick 6
Subs Not Used: Bialkowski, Perry, John
Sent Off: Lancashire (30) (two footed tackle)
Booked: Schneiderlin (foul), Dyer (foul)
Goals: Lallana 53 (unassisted)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 6 Little choice with the sending off in my opinion but got a bit card happy in the second half and Southampton can count themselves very unfortunate not to have the Stewart goal disallowed. Pretty home orientated as always I thought.
QPR: Camp, Connolly (Mancienne, 89 ) , Stewart, Rehman, Delaney, Buzsaky, Rowlands (Leigertwood, 39 ) , Mahon, Ephraim (Blackstock, 68 ) , Vine, Agyemang
Subs not used: Pickens, Lee
Goals: Mahon 11, Agyemang 30
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Varga, Harley, Elliott, Gudjonsson, O'Connor ( Spicer, 89 ) , Lafferty, Blake ( Akinbiyi, 46 ) , Cole ( Randall, 89 )
Subs not used: Kiraly, Jordan
Goals: Cole 41, 56, 86, Akinbiyi 77
Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 8 Didn’t really complain about him all night so he must have been doing alright.
Referee Kevin Friend took centre stage for a while, as he does so often when refereeing QPR away games. He penalised Jimmy Smith for allowing Jaidi to climb all over his back, and then pulled up Damion Stewart for crawling all over Campbell's back in the same way. He then blew for a foul by Milanese and booked him for kicking the ball away. Still he did let Stewart away with what looked like a pretty brutal body check on McSheffrey so he wasn't as totally home biased as usual.
Minutes after his booking Milanese crunched into McSheffrey and was spoken to by the referee. Friend had words with him again after half time at which point Gregory replaced him with Rowlands, presumably to save the side from going down to ten men - a shame because Milanese had a steady game apart from these indiscretions.
At ten to four Friend saw fit to add on an extra minute during which Bendtner somehow failed to convert Sadler's low cross but Rangers looked comfortable after the equaliser. Smith wasn't having a particularly good game in midfield, but Bircham alongside him was in fine form and QPR were finally achieving their aim of frustrating Birmingham as half time approached.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor 7, Kelly 7, Jaidi 8, Upson 8 (Larsson 89, -), Sadler 7, Johnson 7, Nafti 6, Clemence 6, McSheffrey 8, Bendtner 8, Campbell 6 (Jerome 59, 7, (Muamba 90, -))
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Danns.
Goals: Upson 22, Jerome 62.
QPR: Royce 8, Bignot 6, Mancienne 6, Rehman 5, Stewart 7, Milanese 7 (Rowlands 75, 6), Bircham 8 (Bailey 59, 4), Smith 5, Cook 6, Furlong 6, Blackstock 5 (Ray Jones 81, 5)
Subs Not Used: Cole, Ward
Goals: Cook 31
Ref: K Friend (Leicestershire) 5 - Usual series of bizarre decisions but certainly this wasn't the worst game I've ever seen him have. I'd like to know his justification for penalising Blackstock, Smith and others for backing into Jaidi when he crawled all over them while at the other end Birmingham again got the decision when Stewart crawled all over their forwards. Deserves a pat on the back for telling Jerome where to get off in injury time though.
Rangers needed something. They hadn't been in the Leeds half for almost half an hour, they had no answer to Lewis, Horsfield or Healy, they should have been at least two goals down. It was a shambles. That something they needed came five minutes before half time, Damion Stewart took charge of the situation and executed a magnificent sliding tackle on Bakke on the edge of the area. The big Jamaican dispossessed his opponent and, better still, sent the ball thirty yards down field straight to Czerkas.
The Loft cheered, his team mates applauded - finally a decent, strong piece of defending. And yet referee Kevin Friend, after a delay of almost ten seconds, decided that in fact this magnificent piece of defending was a foul. Not only that but a foul worthy of a booking. He'd spent most of the half giving lots of questionable decisions to the home team, as is his usual way, but suddenly he strapped on a pair and decided to give one the away side's way. Lewis struck the resulting free kick round the wall and towards the bottom corner but Jones was alert and got down quickly to make a smart save.
In the eighty first minute Rangers got their reward for changing the system when Gareth Ainsworth crumbled under minimal contact from Crainey and a penalty was awarded. Ainsworth certainly played for the spot kick and having watched the replay this morning I can say with some confidence that this was a vintage Kevin Friend home town decision - I told you we needed to have him at Loftus Road one day.
Martin Rowlands stepped up to take the kick with Rangers' two first choice penalty takers off the pitch and Ainsworth still waking up in a cold sweat thinking about his effort against Stoke. Warner tried everything he could to put him off, wandering off towards the corner flag for a drink and a chat with the linesman - behaviour that earned him a deserved yellow card. Paul Butler was lucky not to be booked as well as he wandered round the penalty area talking to his keeper and moaning about the placing of the ball to the officials. Finally after a lengthy delay the whistle was blown and Rowlands stepped up. Warner guessed the right way but Rowlands' kick carried too much venom and zipped into the bottom corner.
QPR: P Jones 9, Bignot 4 (Baidoo 76, 8), Rose 4, Stewart 4, Milanese 5, Ainsworth 7, Lomas 7, Rowlands 7 (Bircham 89, -), Cook 7, Ward 7, Czerkas 5 (Jones 54, 7).
Subs not used: Cole, Kanyuka.
Goals: Rowlands 80 (pen), Baidoo 90
Bookings: Stewart 39
Leeds United: Warner 7, Kelly 7, Crainey 5, Butler 7, Healy 7 (Carole 76, 6), Horsfield 8 (Moore 84, -), Lewis 7, Stone 8, Bakke 7 (Westlake 50, 6), Derry 6, Kilgallon 6.
Subs not used: Gregan, Blake.
Goals: Lewis 65, Horsfield 82
Bookings: Crainey 6, Derry 45, Warner 79, Kilgallon 90
Referee: Mr K A Friend 5 - Well we were right, he is a home town decision maker. Apart from the scandalous decision against Stewart in the first half just about everything went Rangers way, including a highly debatable penalty. God forbid we have him for an away game again this season, I had just about all I could take at Bramall Lane last time.
When United did take the lead it came in controversial circumstances. Armstrong swung a corner right under the crossbar and with Akinbiyi holding Paul Jones shirt with one hand and shoving Bircham in the back with the other the ball rebounded into the net off the Rangers man. QPR players surrounded the referee but he showed no interest in their complaints and United were in front. In fairness Kevin Friend has a pathological fear of giving the away team anything other than meaningless free kicks deep in their own half so he was never going to disallow a goal for the home side. It's called being a coward.
Things seemed destined to fall apart straight after half time though, with Mr Friend again taking centre stage. First he booked Richard Langley for a foul on Tonge. This was Langley's first offence of any note in the match while Montgomery had been through the back of Furlong once and Lomas twice without punishment, and Tonge himself had committed five fouls in the first half alone.
From the free kick Armstrong swung the ball to the back post, Jones collided with Lomas in trying to catch the cross and the ball fell loose on the edge of the six yard box. Morgan and Evatt tussled for possession and the QPR man got a boot to the ball to clear it but Mr Friend had spotted an infringement and pointed to the spot. At the time I thought it looked a harsh decision, having seen it on the video it's a bloody scandalous one. It's called being a crook.
Danny Shittu was booked for dissent.
For the second consecutive game here QPR had been screwed by an incompetent referee desperate to avoid the wrath of Warnock. Luckily United handed the ball to Paul Ifill and he sent a tame effort too close to Jones who saved, and then caught the chipped rebound from Armstrong. 3-1 would have been game over but suddenly Rangers had hope, and the home fans returned to their favoured pass time of abusing Ifill.
In the fifty sixth minute Lee Cook worked a terrific short corner routine with Furlong and sent a devilish cross into the near post. Nygaard beat Collins to the ball and flicked it into the six yard box where Chris Morgan hilariously hacked into the roof of his own net under pressure from Shittu. Morgan appealed half heartedly for a foul but Mr Friend strapped on a pair and allowed the goal to stand - god I bet that hurt!
He made up for it soon though, booking Steve Lomas for dissent. Montgomery had just hacked Lomas down for the third time in the game without receiving a card and Lomas lost his rag for a moment so he entered the book.
Warnock threw Shipperley on, just for the comedy value I think, but Rangers were comfortable right up until stoppage time. In a desperate attempt to get the home side back into the game Mr Friend penalised Evatt for a foul on Tonge right on the edge of the box. Luckily United turned the responsibility to Unsworth (honestly you couldn't make it up) and he fired into the wall.
Sheff Utd Kenny 8, Morgan 2, Kozluk 3, Collins 3 , Armstrong 4, Ifill 6,Jagielka 5, Tonge 6, Montgomery 5 (Unsworth 63, 1),Akinbiyi 7 (Shipperley 78, 5), Horsfield 5 (Webber 66, 5).
Subs Not Used: Flitcroft, Kabba.
Goals: Akinbiyi 21, Bircham 29 og.
QPR Jones 8, Bignot 6, Evatt 6, Shittu 7, Rose 5, Bircham 7, Cook 8,Lomas 9 (Santos 90, -), Langley 7, Furlong 7, Nygaard 8 (Youssouf 72, 7).
Subs Not Used: Bailey, Baidoo, Thomas.
Booked: Nygaard, Langley, Shittu, Lomas.
Goals: Nygaard 6, Morgan 56 og, Furlong 74.
Ref: K Friend (Leicestershire) 3 - Ahh Kevin, you certainly are not a friend of mine, or any away team for that matter. I find myself writing exactly the same thing about him as I did after the last time he refereed QPR, at Derby last season. Loves an easy ride, loves a home side. Gave many, many questionable decisions against Rangers, booked four when really only Langley deserved it and even that was his first offence. Allowed Montgomery to hack his way through the Rangers team without booking him, failed to spot Ade Akinbiyi's blatant foul for the Bircham own goal and awarded a terribly, disgustingly harsh penalty against Evatt after half time. Can we please have this guy at Loftus Road one day? I want to be on the other side of his cowardice.
Prior to all of that he was in charge of three QPR draws – a 3-3 against Notts County in the Second Division where he awarded the home team a penalty, a 1-1 draw with Stockport at Loftus Road and a 0-0 draw with Derby at Pride Park.
Just the one game for Kevin Friend so far this season – the 0-0 bore draw between West Brom and Derby last week with two yellows shown. Last season he showed just 74 yellows and three reds in 31 games, almost exclusively in the Premier League but with three in the Championship including our home loss to Preston. He had both of Everton’s league games with Palace – a 2-1 away win and 1-1 draw at home. He was also in charge for defeats away at Southampton and at home to West Ham – Lucas Digne sent off in the first.
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