The view from the Pu – November
Wednesday, 8th Dec 2021 10:18 by Steve Hardy
Steve Hardy’s monthly review looks back on an unbeaten November when QPR really pressed home their play-off credentials.
An unbeaten month, with only two goals conceded. It doesn’t really get much better than that, does it? Let’s jump into a month that gave us four victories, a solitary draw, zero defeats and the closing of entries for the goal of the season competition.
Cast your mind all the way back to the beginning of November when we were still angry with Keith Stroud and Omicron sounded like the kind of typo your iPhone throws up every now and then.
headed on one of our two European away trips of the season, Cardiff away. First of all you’ve got to give credit to the 700 odd Rangers fans that made the trip when not only was it a weeknight but it was also available on the red button, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with our away followings this season, none more so than the away games in November when all the games were available to watch on Sky and not exactly what you would call ‘down the road’. Second of all the less said about that game the better, however following the disappointment of the last week of October the ultimate aim of this game was to win it and after we took the lead it was never in doubt, a second goal would have been nice and we really should have got it with some of the chances we created in the second half. What I will say though is that Cardiff are comfortably the worst team I have seen this season and following how we fared at Peterborough it was good to get away with the much needed three points. That pass from Dozzell was worthy of winning any game at this level and brought back memories of a certain Mr Faurlin splitting a Reading defence in half back in 2011. A good start to the month.
Before another round of vitally important international games against teams of milkmen and bakers we headed up to Blackpool to play a game in what could easily be described as a mini tornado, or as the locals called it, a light shower. It really has gone unnoticed how well Blackpool have been doing this season, something that has been mentioned on this website a lot but rarely anywhere else and they are one of the more dangerous teams in this division, especially on their own ground. It also needs to be remembered that they were one of the form teams at the time we visited so to go there and get a point in those conditions and with that kind of atmosphere was a fantastic result in my eyes. Clearly we were very fortunate with the officiating at Bloomfield Road but as much as we were due our fair share of good luck it is more just a sad indictment of the quality of officiating at our level of football. Still four points from two long away days to start the month was a fantastic return and set us up nicely for the games that followed.
So after the England version of Harry Kane easily swept aside the finest postmen San Marino has to offer and Harry Maguire what can only be deemed an ill-considered celebration we were back in action, under the lights at the Kiyan Prince. I’m not going to dwell on my thoughts of what happened after the game as I’ll just get labelled a happy clapper or scarfer, despite not having worn a scarf or replica shirt to a QPR game since I was about 12, but I don’t think it was the wisest option moving that game to a Friday night was it? On the field I was impressed with us, blame it on the skinful I had before the game (yeah, he drinks) but I didn’t feel anywhere near as nervy as I normally do once we take the lead. Bar a shaky start, which seemed to become a theme for the last three matches of the month, I felt we controlled the game. Even more so after the Hatters’ keeper done his usual charity job of allowing us a goal. More importantly I was so pleased to see Charlie back on the scoresheet and you could see from his reaction how much it meant to him, but also in the following two matches you could see how much more confident and happy he looked, long may it continue as we look a much more cohesive team with him in this form leading the line. For my money he was our best player at Derby.
We then moved on to another game under the lights (perfect month vampires this was) in W12. Obviously I’m biased but wasn’t the Huddersfield game exactly why we love going to the Rangers? Weeknight, freezing cold, decent game and ultimately a late winner. I know Huddersfield – despite being only one place below us – gave up all attacking intent from the 50th minute onwards but bar the first five minutes this was our performance of the season so far. We kept going, didn’t resort to long balls, didn’t get frustrated and stuck to the plan and ultimately it paid off with the added bonus of a feel good story in Luke Amos getting his first goal since his return from injury, and again look at the reaction from the rest of the team, says it all. There’s something brewing down in W12 this year and it feels good to be a part of it. One side point, I mentioned the woeful officiating we put up with in this division earlier, and without being too much of a Scrooge there was a moment towards the end of the game where Adomah was deliberately dropping the ball and letting it go behind him to waste time. First of all I do find this hilarious (I’m not a complete bore), especially when the Huddersfield keeper was taking a good five minutes to take goal kicks half an hour earlier, but when the ref is standing no more than two yards away looking directly at it and does nothing what hope do we have for it ever being clamped down on when it goes the other way.
We then ended the month with our very own goal of the season competition. I’m still torn over which one was better to be honest, although when you look at the skill involved with Andre Gray’s effort I suppose it just about shades it, but for Chrissy Willock to side foot that volley first time into the top corner took some doing and let’s not forget his efforts against Blackpool and Luton. Another game where bar the first ten minutes we were pretty much in control, although the caveat here is that Derby were fairly abject which that will happen when you have Tom Lawrence up front and centre back pairing that has a combined age of 75. Still it was a good sign of the attitude of the team to keep going to make sure we got those three points, whereas the majority of the championship would have been time wasting after the equaliser to keep hold of the away point. A refreshing way to end the month after the heartbreak of those last three games in October.
So where does this leave us now? At the end of October I questioned whether we are actually anywhere near as good as we think we are, I think this month has pretty much put paid to that suggestion. Especially when you consider how poor we normally are in the month of November. For reference, this is the fourth monthly summary that I have written this season and for two of those summaries we have gone the month unbeaten (August and November) so we’re clearly doing something right. But I think the thing that I’m enjoying the most is that I’m genuinely excited to go to games now, the Stoke game genuinely can’t come quick enough (excited for a home game with Stoke, I’ve seen it all) and the game will kick off in daylight as well so just imagine what that will look like. It’s been well documented how annoying the Sky moves have been and that’s why this month hasn’t felt quite right without a Saturday 3pm game taking place, even Liverpool had more 3 o’clock Saturday games than us. However it is a sign of a successful side I suppose, and if we are still in this division next year at least we’ll have Newcastle to take over dedicated Sky Sports channel. Still, we actually have a Saturday 3pm game in December to look forward to, so drink that in R’s fans and keep the good times rolling.
November grade – A (as close to perfection as we’ll see)
Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19 >>> September 19 >>> October 19 >>> November 19 >>> December 19 >>> January 20 >>> February 20 >>> March 20 >>> April 20 >>> May 20 >>> June 20 >>> July 20 >>> September 20 >>> October 20 >>> November 20 >>> December 20 >>> January 21 >>> February 21 >>> March 21 >>> April/May 21 >>> August 21 >>> September 21 >>> October 21
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