|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 0 Blackburn Rovers|
Tuesday, 19th October 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Chair magic frees QPR from Championship purgatory - Report
Wednesday, 20th Oct 2021 23:17 by Clive Whittingham
Ilias Chair's fourth goal in as many games got QPR a deserved late victory against the latest opponent to turn up at Loftus Road looking for a single point.
Eyes down, look in, quiet at the back of class please, as we revise The Championship, module 1.1. This week’s case study is Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers.
Now, you may think that a team which started the season well enough to sneak into the play-off spots for a quick 20-minute period in September might be adjusting its sights slightly upward from summer fears of relegation struggle and strife. You might notice the red hot form of Chilean football’s latest sensation Ben Brereton-Diaz, 12 goals in the last two months as many as he’d managed in the previous four years combined, and think it provides his team with an opportunity to win football matches. You may well look at Queens Park Rangers’ defensive record, with only lowly Peterborough conceding more than their 20 goals in 12 games so far, and 15 goals shipped from the last 30 shots on target faced, and think, at the very least, they might be gettable… that it might be worth at least having a bit of a stab at winning the game against them. You may, in that sort of naively optimistic American way, start to wonder what exactly the aim of any of this is if you’re not making a vague attempt to win the game? Are you just here to exist, make up the numbers, stay in this retched 24-team bog league for the rest of time? What, you may ask yourself, is the point?
In the Championship, away from home, a draw is always a good result. Better, in many ways, than a win, because sure you could come to Loftus Road and your goalkeeper can go full Danny Coyne and your substitute can score against the run of play in injury time and you win 2-1, but where’s the skill in that? Where’s the honour? Where’s the tactical acumen? Under 8s stuff, compared to the ability to set up two banks of four and get a nil nil draw from 90 minutes of turgid slop. That’s real skill. Sit back over a red wine and shoot the breeze with your fellow dinosaurs about the tactical triumph of stopping just shy of fielding two goalkeepers.
In the Championship, away from home, that draw, that nil nil, is to be protected primarily through the means of keeping the ball out of play. If a free kick is awarded, you must immediately go to the ball and knock it away from where the set piece is to be taken. If you have a throw in, you must form a knitting circle to decide on the taker, and then have him deliberately wander miles off the mark so the referee is forced to halt proceedings and march him back a bit. A goal kick must always be taken from the opposite side to which the ball went out, and can take anything up to three quarters of an hour to get away – feel free to ignore the referee waving his arms around dramatically at you, he’ll do fuck all else about it, as you both well know. Committing men to an occasional attack only removes bodies from the massed ranks of your defence, so that’s to be avoided. As is possession, for it makes it far less likely that the throw in or goal kick will go your way if you’re the one with the ball at the time, and how are you going to run that clock down like that? What you’re basically aiming for is everybody to be bored rigid and completely exasperated, apart from Aitor Karanka who’s heard what’s afoot, tuned in especially to see it, and needs an extra large bottle of Liquid Silk to quell the chafing from his furious double-hander.
Join us now as we step inside the mind of the Championship manager as he prepares to face a team that concedes a goal for every other shot on target that it faces. “We came really to frustrate and hope we could grab the points and in the end it wasn’t to be. We can grind results out away from home and I thought we could do that tonight. There was no need to come here and be too expansive and for it to be like a basketball game against a team that scores a lot of goals. We set up not to be expansive and to frustrate. That’s OK – you can get results doing that. We play totally differently at home.”
You may think the obvious response to “we play totally differently at home” is… why? But, again, to reiterate, you (like me) are a dipshit moron, who couldn’t ever possibly hope to reach and comprehend the level of sophistication such “football people” gleaned from 20 years of heading the ball clear for mostly crap Middlesbrough teams.
The question for whichever poor bastard you’re trying to bore to death then becomes, what you going to do about it? The answer is always pace, width and tempo but even with Albert Adomah getting a much-sought-after start at right wing back, and plenty of practice cutting through similar drudge against Birmingham and Preston in the last two matches here, QPR apparently needed to revisit the syllabus. Too slow, too passive, too much backwards and inside and not enough forwards and outside. Too many sloppy passes, too much possession given away, too little service to recalled Lyndon Dykes up front. There was almost a disaster after 19 seconds when Sam McCallum laid a passback up short and Seny Dieng had to come screaming out to the edge of the box with a Hail Mary sliding tackle to avert danger.
Every note I’ve made in the first half an hour – full debutant Dan Butterworth’s drive forward and shot over after 13 minutes, Yoann Barbet’s excellent recovery tackle on 21, Rob Dickie’s thick yellow card for a late lunch on 27 – starts with Rangers giving the ball away. The central midfield, shorn of suspended Stefan Johansen, was not a conspicuous success, with Andre Dozzell and Dom Ball both below par. It took 34 minutes, and an injury to Lewis Travis necessitating the introduction of wildly-out-of-shape and slower than rust Bradley Johnson, for QPR to do anything of note at all but their first significant move of the game should surely have resulted in a penalty – Adomah’s stood up cross from the byline clearly and obviously batted back towards him by Johnson’s upstretched arms above his head. Referee David Webb, seven QPR games and zero QPR wins, looked right at it with his assistant and gave nothing.
The half then petered out through a series of weird and wonderful refereeing decisions, great big long chats with players before corners are taken (just let the bloody thing come in and then penalise whoever you think is sinning, some of us want to be back in the Crown for last orders), and a yellow for Liverpool loanee Leighton Clarkson for seeking retribution on Dickie. The reaction to the half time whistle was funereal.
The second half started like the first, with a near defensive disaster. Dozzell could and should be snapping straight through his man on halfway but having allowed him to pass by Rangers were then split asunder and Barbet’s all-or-nothing rescue mission diverted a dangerous low cross back into play off his own post. Mangetout, Rodney. What little ambition Rovers had prior to this disspitated completely thereafter, bar one comfortable Dieng save from a Rothwell long ranger, but luckily this time QPR had consulted the manual. The introduction of first the impressive Luke Amos for Dozzell, and then Charlie Austin for Ball, pepped things up a treat. Rangers started to tick the pace, width and tempo boxes and Adomah began to really motor down the right hand side. One piece of skill to get ourt of a tight spot on the touchline was outrageous, another left Brereton-Diaz facing a £25 re-admission charge. He was setting the standard and mood, demanding others followed him, bringing the crowd into proceedings. As the rain teemed down, Rangers began turning the thumbscrews.
One Adomah cross brought another, far less convincing, handball claim, and McCallum came in at the back post to volley over. Another better delivery from the veteran wideman flashed right through the box. A ridiculous throw from keeper Kamisnki landed plum on Adomah’s head, was worked straight back into the tireless Lyndon Dykes, and his fierce shot was brilliantly saved. Sub Gallagher’s foul on McCallum gave Chair a chance to whip in a delicious free kick which was nodded back by a crowd scene at the far post and should surely have been scored from close range by Jimmy Dunne, who spaffed over the bar. Another unbelievable magic trick from Adomah won a corner from which Yoann Barbet planted a firm header wide of the top corner.
Blackburn, who to be fair compounded the first half loss of Travis by then having to remove Harry Pickering at half time, necessitating a switch into Adomah’s path for midfielder Tayo Edun where he promptly got absolutely murdered, were absolute baggage long before the end. Twice, to the referee’s credit, they received a yellow card for kicking the ball away, though Webb then blotted his copy book by going through this ridiculous solves-nowt, testiculating routine with goalkeeper Kaminski’s flagrant time-wasting. Book, book early, problem solved. Stop waving it around and start fucking.
Their pursuit of a nil nil draw made all the more stupidly futile by QPR’s record of scoring in 26 consecutive games. It’s fast honing in on a club record, and is easily the longest current sequence in the English leagues. They score when they play well, they score when they play poorly, they score whether they win, lose or draw, and limiting your ambition to trying to become the first team to prevent that in 27 attempts is shoot-me-in-the-face-with-a-massive-gun levels of plain dumb. The goal was spontaneous, brilliant and beautiful. It was crafted around a pair of defenders who inadvertently screened events from their goalkeeper. It used the post as a marker, starting out two feet to its right, ending it two feet to its left. It was struck as purely as you’ll see, zero spin on the ball as it zipped through the night air and past Kaminski like a shell before he even knew it had happened – the keeper didn’t move. It was, for the fourth time in four games, Ilias Chair. It was richly deserved. And it was inevitable.
Now, of course, like Preston before them, Blackburn suddenly in a big rush. From District Line to Victoria Line in the blink of an eye. Kaminski, treasurer of Darwen and District Arthritis Care for the previous 82 minutes, was suddenly in an enormous hurry to get things started again – bitching and moaning without a hint of irony or self-awareness to referee Webb about the time it was taking QPR’s players and supporters to get the ball back into play for his goalkicks which, miraculously, could now be taken from the same side the ball went out. I strongly doubt there’s a violin small enough anywhere in the world to play a song sad enough for this occasion, not that you’d be able to hear it anyway over the enormous, guffawing racket of all the fucks I give that he suddenly can’t restart the game quite quick enough for his taste. Luckily for QPR, while Webb had done the square root of rock all to stop the keeper’s antics through the second half, he was clearly as tired of them as everybody else because he added a paltry four minutes to the end of a game in which the ball had spent quite a lot of the latter stages being bounced around the Lower Loft by supporters enjoying the schadenfreude. Brilliant for us, but the time keeping and policing of clock running by the referees in this league is a standing joke. Mowbray fumed on the touchline, and it was the only point in the evening he had anything to justifiably moan about. His team have now won two of their last 17 away games.
A 90-minute performance continues to elude QPR. They’ve recovered more points from losing positions than anybody else in the league and while a much-needed fourth clean sheet of the season meant that wasn’t required here, they did have to clog and slog through a prolonged period of pedestrian, almost glacial, football before they revved it up and came home with a wet sail. Nobody has scored as many second half goals as our 18 in this league. I enjoyed Lyndon Dykes’ ceaseless physical domination of Blackburn’s three centre backs, thought Luke Amos made tremendous impact from the bench, Rob Dickie recovered impressively from the weekend mauling down the road, and Yoann Barbet was magnifique. Adomah, naturally, was a clear man of the match. It would be nice to start games like that, and carry it through a full game, but for now, mid-October, a quarter of the way through the season, Rangers are motoring along very nicely indeed in fifth.
QPR: Dieng 6; Adomah 8 (Kakay 86, -), Dickie 7, Dunne 7, Barbet 7, McCallum 6; Ball 5 (Austin 73, 6), Dozzell 5 (Amos 60, 7), Chair 7; Willock 6, Dykes 7
Subs not used: De Wijs, Archer, Gray, Duke-McKenna
Goals: Chair 83 (assisted Dickie)
Bookings: Dickie 28 (foul), Amos 90+4 (foul)
Blackburn: Kaminski 7; Nyambe 6, van Hecke 6, Ayala 6, Lenihan 6, Pickering 6 (Rothwell 45, 6); Travis 6 (Johnson 34, 5), Edun 5, Clarkson 5; Brereton-Diaz 5, Butterworth 6 (Gallagher 67, 5)
Subs not used: Dolan, Pears, Buckley, Poveda-Ocampo
Bookings: Clarkson 45+1 (foul), Butterworth 50 (kicking the ball away), Rothwell 55 (kicking the ball away)
QPR Star Man – Albert Adomah 8 Not a difficult choice.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 5 Crikey we’re not having a happy time with officials at the moment are we? On the positive side, finally a referee that books players for the habit of wasting time and delaying the restart by deliberately knocking the ball away from the spot free kicks are being taken. A point added back on for that. The handball penalty appeal in the first half is ridiculously blatant, two hands high above Johnson’s head batting the ball down in full view of the assistant referee on that side. Let some really meaty stuff go, which I tend to like, but then undermined that by giving free kicks for other ridiculously soft things, particularly the dive by Brereton-Diaz right in front of the F Block in the first half. Also undermined the two yellow cards he did issue by then engaging in this ridiculous routine where the goalkeeper is allowed to waste all the time in the world, while the referee simply does a big exaggerated hand gesture to suggest he won’t tolerate any more – before he then tolerates lots more. The four minutes added to the end of the game was brilliant news for us, as we were now in front, but if it was still 0-0 I’d have been absolutely stewing with that. Proof, if proof were needed, that for all the arm waving, watch pointing, and in this case a couple of yellow cards, they add fuck all to the end of the game for this stuff. Four minutes would have been grossly inadequate even without the time the ball spent bouncing around the Lower Loft after the goal had gone in – when you add that into consideration it was a joke, and Mowbray was rightly absolutely livid about it. Yet another Championship game where the time-wasting, clock-running and gamesmanship is allowed to run rampant by the referee.
Attendance – 11,771 (600 Blackburn approx.) If I’d paid north of 100 notes to travel to London on a Tuesday night and have my manager talk about how the plan was simply to sit in and frustrate a team with the second worst defensive record in the league I would not be overly thrilled. Best of luck to those Blackburn fans for the rest of the season.
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When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.
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