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Imagine if we won - Report
Sunday, 16th Jan 2022 22:39 by Clive Whittingham

QPR stated their play-off intentions with another last minute goal, and a win to cap a stirring second half performance, against West Brom at Loftus Road on Saturday.

Narrative. And angles. Narrative and angles. More narrative than that David Lynch movie you pretended you’d enjoyed to impress your friends, more angles than the high cheek bones of Alejandro Faurlin. It was Queens Park Rangers against West Bromwich Albion, and it was brilliant.

QPR had ground out a couple of consecutive away wins over Christmas and New Year, though not looked particularly handsome doing it. You could probably put a team together from the regulars at the Crown and Sceptre that would give Birmingham City a game at the moment. Chuks Aneke indeed, Jesus H Christ. Their return to W12 last weekend against Rotherham had been Renault Megane v National Express Coach levels of long drawn out affair — power-sappingly mundane, like test cricket if you play test cricket the way England play test cricket. The students filed into The School of Science seeking to test this theory that Rangers’ class of 2021/22 has a natural limit — capable of knocking the Bristol Cities of this world off without even playing well, but deservedly beaten by Fulham, West Brom, Bournemouth twice and some of the people that came from Stoke.

Play-off credentials rest on the material that ceiling is made of and with West Brom registering more red cards than goals in their last dozen matches suspensions to key players (Alex Mowatt a particular perennial pest to our chances) meant there was a trepidation that if Rangers couldn’t beat them on Saturday then they’d probably have to accept they couldn’t beat them at all. In the first half, at least, Mark Warburton’s team seemed reluctant to give it a tap and find out. A little timid, a bit cautious, often careless with the ball, Rangers created an early chance for Lyndon Dykes who headed over down at the School End, and twice at the end of the half Stefan Johansen tried his luck from range — one a free kick the other in open play — but stand-in Baggies keeper David Button was more troubled by himself than anything Rangers were doing. With Ilias Chair bench warming in Africa, Chrissy Willock was asked to play the lone poet role behind the lumpy bumblings of Dykes and Andre Gray and the visitors weren’t shy of doubling and tripling up on the creator in chief. None of this necessarily mattered — only Luton (two) have lost fewer points from winning positions than West Brom (five) this season so getting into an arm wrestle was certainly a much better idea than falling behind to some old slop off a corner.

At the other end of the ground, the good people of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (your call is very important to them) have been growing restless. When you’ve been subjected to the short termist deathball of Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce in such a concentrated period of time - each problem solved by an even longer, higher ball before they fuck off back to Dubai to drone on at ‘Keysie’ and Gray about how perceptions would all be so different if they were called Alessandro — turnarounds, revolutions and alterations in style of play will take time. This is a squad assembled to simply do it harder, faster, stronger and longer if it doesn’t work the first three quarter of a million times, and the Chinese owners have grown so weary of their play-thing the team is being allowed to decay and age together rather than the required rip up and replenish. Valerian Ismael was far from first choice for the job he’s now attempting to do but, as Harry Redknapp’s QPR showed at this level in 2013/14, parachute payments, Premier League wages, and the ability to spaff £7.7m on a January Daryl Dike can cover a multitude of sins. Two wins from ten, fans in open revolt, My Chemical Hugill in protective custody after one goal in 19 outings… but fourth. That’s the Championship, or more to the point money in the Championship. Five of the current top eight clubs are in receipt of a parachute payment.

They posed some, limited, threat. Initially we got to see what a keen and interested Matt Phillips looks like, which was nice and made a change, though that soon subsided — LFW’s official joke writer (not a salaried position) Simmo’s exasperated “if I pulled out as often as Matt Phillips I wouldn’t have to sit in the family stand” rings truer every time I lay eyes on a player with the talent, physique and speed to be one of the best in the country, built around the heart of a dead toad. Rob Dickie, slightly out of sorts I thought, made a ninth minute attempt on Jayson Molumby's life and was fortunate it was a referee as jolly and lenient as Simon Hooper — yellow card, let’s get on with the quiz.

Ismael’s Barnsley team breathed fire over the wheatfields of Shepherd’s Bush last season, Rangers could not live with the energetic harum-scarum, and at times you could see what he’s trying to implement at The Hawthorns. As with Barnsley, the ball was out of play more than it was in — Matt Clarke had an egg the size of a moon of Jupiter on the side of his bonce after an early head clash — but when it was in it was all about compacting the space with deep strikers and a high defence, keeper as a sweeper, and no opponent allowed more than half a second on the ball. Tight as mouse’s waistcoat in there, last season we described it as ‘football under a grill’, and had Sam Field not covered back brilliantly to intercept a lethal low cross in his own six yard box on 19 minutes maybe it could and would have been that again. But Barnsley’s squad is almost entirely under 26 and West Brom’s, kindly put, is not. Jake Livermore should probably consider quitting and taking up refereeing full time, as this is clearly now where his passion lies. They’re not last season’s Barnsley by any stretch. They’re there for the taking. Only Blackburn have won more points in the second half of games this season than QPR. Nil nil at the break, stage set, places please.

I wondered whether David Marshall might hold the keys to our dreams. I actually think we might have had a right touch with this because 36 and woefully short of match practice he may be, but he’ll be a better goalkeeper when he’s sucking his haggis through a straw than Jordan Archer ever will be in his life and I’m much more confident with him back there than I would be our regular understudy to Seny Dieng. One bouncing Karlan Grant effort comfortably claimed in the first half was the sum total of his involvement until Dickie deflected Grant’s cross back between the keeper and his near post and the veteran Scot just about got an improvised touch to the ball enough to send it spinning like a top along the goal line and safely out on the other side for a corner.

In fact it was Yoann Barbet in front of him who started stealing headlines. Johansen’s second effort at the end of the first half inadvertently set the Baggies away on a counter attack with Phillips which the Frenchman swooped in on as it approached the penalty box and bastarded away into the Ellerslie Road stand to rapturous applause heard at the other end of the Westway. When Karlan Grant streaked away into the opposite channel in the second half Barbet marauded across on the cover and orphaned his children. I want you inside me. This storyline then collided with another, as Ismael sent on $8m booster donation Dike from the bench for the final half hour. He immediately looked the best player on the pitch, charging about the place like a man on a mission, built like the Discovery Space Shuttle, shaped like Johnny fucking Bravo, revving up the away fans with big whirlie arm gestures, more testosterone than Lance Armstrong’s knapsack. He set up Livermore immediately but he thrashed over. Field was booked for deliberately pulling him back into our stratosphere. Shit just got real.

This could have made for a long afternoon, had QPR’s centre backs not fancied it quite so much. Jimmy Dunne — who got his bum out at one point in the first half, bit of blue for the dads - has scant regard for his own health and safety anyway so watching him chuck his frame at brick walls for the afternoon was no surprise but to see Barbet like this was quite a thing. Absolutely rabid, to the point that Dike decided the only thing for it was to smash him into the advertising hoardings by the dugouts splitting his head open, a deliberate act that he was completely in control of and knew exactly what he was doing, somewhere between a yellow and a red card and yet not even awarded as a free kick by frequently lenient referee Simon Hooper. A cunt's trick, he knows it, we know it, everybody knows it. I thought we took that incident a little bit lightly as a team in truth, I’m sure Livermore would have been straight across with a red card if the roles were reversed, but there was no such tepidness from Yoann, who played every minute of last season, is ever present in the league this, and wasn’t about to let a hole in the head interrupt his afternoon this time. New shirt, new shorts, stitches at the side of the pitch, novelty condom stretched over his mane, he got back up, walked back out there, won every header, tackled every tackle, kicked every ball, answered every question, won every prize. When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer, Yoann Barbet is 28. His missus is absolutely banging as well. Seeing him get up like that and carry on was quite the statement piece — like the bastard love child of Kaspars Gorkss and Alan McDonald. It’s not your day when an opponent does that. How do you like the life sucked out of you West Brom? I thought he was going to go in fucking goal at one point. Step aside, I’ll deliver this baby. Take your gym selfies elsewhere Daryl. Meeting adjourned.

It couldn’t help but be settled by an ex. West Brom have lovely Darnell Furlong (take him home to your mum but remind her not to mention that his throw still nowhere near as long as he thinks it is), cowardly lion Phillips and My Chemical Hugill (exactly how many players are going to leave their happy part in this QPR project to be richer and miserable elsewhere before realising there’s more to life than money? Hi Nahki.) among their ranks. Rangers named cardigan-clad Sam Field, best performance of the season and everything their midfield was not, and later hauled on Charlie Austin from the bench. If you’re standing at the other end, you’re backing that guy to score. A minute from time Rangers recycled possession better than they had all afternoon — Albert Adomah’s improvised overhead into Stefan Johansen’s immaculate touch off and suddenly Chris Willock was freed from his shackles. There are Brazilian porn stars spending thousands on surgery for lower back curvature the shape of the cross he channelled directly into David Button’s nightmares. And there was Charlie. You’re here, there’s nothing I fear. Offside to start with, offside during, offside afterwards, offside throughout, piling in over the top of Gardner-Hickman at the back post to score the only goal of the game with ten seconds of time remaining. There, as Nick London says, is the winning goal. Bottle that noise and that feeling, pour it straight into my retina like Eyeball Paul, I need a hit off this right away. You talk about the how’s and whys, I’m going to fall down this set of concrete steps with my mates. Drums.

So there you go, take your pick. A week on from his Ellerslie Road sabbatical, Charlie bites back at critics and former employers. David Marshall, plucked from obscurity, from the brink of retirement to promotion contending, clean-sheet keeping goalkeeper. Yoann Barbet, the inaugural Wikipedia entry for Great French Military Victories. QPR’s perceived ceiling, more straw or glass after all, rather than the concrete or lead we feared. West Brom now on the wane harder and faster even than former Wigan Warriors and England RL national coach Shaun Wane.

Except no. Do you know what it was for me? Looking around that place in the second half, candlelight flickering, stands packed to the gills, everybody utterly absorbed, invested and willing. Listening, hearing, feeling the guttural sounds that old cave made on Saturday. We’ve talked about QPR struggling to match expectations and levels set in the back half of last season, we’ve lamented the three-month lack of a Saturday afternoon game at Loftus Road, we’ve been underwhelmed by crowds and atmospheres in W12 for hard-fought, important home wins against Blackburn, Huddersfield and others. We've bitched about family stands, and terracing returns, and Oldham play-off semi-finals. And then here it all was. As day turned to night, and first half turned to second, so QPR turned back into themselves, and Loftus Road hummed as only it can hum. A friend of mine from work messaged before lunch — “a lot of QPR colours around Liverpool Street this morning”. It was on. It was on all day. It was on from the moment we woke up in the morning. It reminded me of the Cardiff home game in Neil Warnock’s promotion season. It feels, once again, like a club, and a team, and a people, going places. Good places. Not Wigan.

Charlie’s offside, Townsend had an enormous appeal for a penalty just before when Johansen got caught the wrong side, on another day that deflected Grant shot squirms in and we lose 1-0 — give a shit. At the start of the second half Andre Gray fired home and it was disallowed, perhaps correctly, for a technical pull exaggerated by his marker. Come on you R’s. A minute later Dickie put in one of his trademark crosses from the right channel, and Dykes smashed over from close range. Come on you R’s. Within four minutes Johansen’s outrageous improvised chip would have had Dykes in on goal with a sounder touch. Come. On. You. R’s. Come on you R’s. That second half performance, the place reverberated to it. The team was there, biting, pressing, probing, passing, creating. They’re so good when they’re like this. We're so good when they're like this. When they scored they celebrated together as one, players, subs and staff. This is what Warburton talked about when he arrived — a full stadium, watching a team playing like this, watching a team winning like this. The fans were with them, the noise took on its own existence, when they scored the humanity seethed and the limbs flailed. Look at Johansen charging around in seven minutes of added time to close down the scraps. Look at him. These are the good old days. These are the good old days. This is what you think and feel and hope when you walk up to that place on a Saturday. This is what keeps you going through the dark, cold, wet nights of Paul Hart, Mark Hughes and Ray Harford. Imagine if it’s like that. Imagine if we do that. Imagine if it sounds like that. Imagine if we feel like that. Imagine if it’s in the last minute. Imagine if it’s Charlie.

Imagine if we win. Furlong, away from Hall...

It was all of that and more. I wish I was still there now.

Links >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Marshall 6; Adomah 7, Dickie 6, Dunne 8, Barbet 9, Wallace 7; Johansen 7, Field 7, Willock 7 (Ball 90+3, -); Dykes 6, Gray 6 (Austin 54, 7)

Subs not used: Amos, Thomas, Dozzell, Odubajo, Walsh

Goals: Austin 89 (assisted Willock)

Bookings: Dickie 9 (foul), Field 70 (foul)

West Brom: Button 6; Gardner-Hickman 6, Furlong 6, Clarke 7, Townsend 6, Reach 5; Livermore 6, Molumby 6; Robinson 6, Phillips 6 (Dike 59, 7), Grant 6

Subs not used: Diangana, De Castro, Taylor, Ashworth, Palmer, Fellows

Bookings: Molumby 90+7 (handball)

QPR Star Man — Yoann Barbet 9 I had him down as our star man on an eight anyway. Amongst all the usual stuff we’ve come to expect from the ever-present Frenchman, there was a big sliding tackle to end a worrying counter attack right at the end of the first half, and then a humongous recovery challenge on Grant when it looked like he would streak away to score in the second, which I thought pushed him over the top. To then come through the horrible Dike challenge, get stitched up on the site, have his kit replaced, and come back onto the field when everybody thought he must have been done I thought was incredible. Must have been an absolute heartbreaker for Dike and West Brom. Then spent all seven minutes of stoppage time winning absolutely everything — in the air, on the ground. Richard Dunne levels of ‘I’m not fucking having it’. A very rare LFW 9, and nobody could be more deserving. Bonne nuit Aurelia.

Referee — Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 7 Honestly, I could write a bloody thesis on this performance. There are two, possibly three, big decisions wrong, which decided the game. I thought Johansen was wrong side of Townsend, knew it, and was very lucky to get away with his challenge in our box just before the winning goal, in which Charlie Austin is very obviously offside throughout. The only debate about Daryl Dike’s snidey cunt’s trick on Barbet is whether it’s a yellow or a sending off — to not even give a free kick, let alone a card, is madness. I’m sure Jake Livermore would have been quick on the scene with a red card if the roles had been reversed. Again, as at Bristol City, I’m sure if I was blogging for the opposition, I’d be giving a four and talking about key decisions costing my team the game. And yet… I like this referee. I like the way he referees. There doesn’t have to be a big fuss about everything, not every piece of contact is a foul, not every foul is a card, every situation doesn’t require a big palaver and performance before we get to a restart. Perhaps, in situations like Dike v Barbet the desperation to be as hands off as possible actually lets him down, because that was certainly a thick yellow for me, but I’d much rather games be refereed like this, and endure those kind of mistakes as a result, than some of the nonsense we’ve endured in recent weeks. I like James Linington, Geoff Eltringham, Andy Davies and a few others for the same reason — Mark Halsey-style refereeing. So, yeh, maybe I’m being contrary, but fuck it.

Attendance — 16,018 (3,100 West Brom approx.) Somebody will have to walk me round where there were that many empty seats.

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sipower added 22:55 - Jan 16
22:39? You make us wait this long for a report for the ages? A report for a team who are getting under our skin?

Lol - great stuff mate ... Imagine indeed ....

A40Bosh added 23:27 - Jan 16
Weekend complete now
Now I can go to sleep

QPR_Jim added 23:47 - Jan 16
"Yoann Barbet, the inaugural Wikipedia entry for Great French Military Victories" - Brilliant

Myke added 23:55 - Jan 16
Superb report Clive. Very amusing at the start and a rousing finish to mirror the match itself. I was actually driving when the goal went in and thumped the steering wheel which resulted in a bit of a 'swerve'. I say I would die for the club, but realised in that moment not to be taken literally. I think we need to make the prem to persuade Barbet to stay. Last season, he was Mr Consistency, this year is Mr Superb Consistency. I know Chair and Willock are fore-runners for player of the season, but he has to be right up there.
Our strikers are intriguing. All dwarfed by Mitrovic's ridiculous goal stats, none of them close to being prolific, but they are just doing enough. Charlie yesterday, Dykes last week, Gray v Derby. The biggest difference is of course that one goal is now (sometimes) enough. Against 3 of our rivals now - WBA, Blackburn and Huddersfield - it has been enough and that is a huge turnaround.
Pleased for Marshall. I take your point regarding him and Archer, but do feel sorry for the latter. Wait all season for your chance, save the decisive penalty and then bang, in your heart you know you will never play for the club again.

GloryHunter added 00:18 - Jan 17
Great report Clive, thanks. Harsh on Archer though, I think. He's done what he was signed to do, and injured himself in the process.
Charlie does look just offside in the footage, although he arrives late into the box. Strange that none of the West Brom players protest, though.

qpr_tim added 00:25 - Jan 17
Thanks for another great report, Clive!

After a decade of following QPR from the US, I am finally making the pilgrimage to W12!!!

I have my plane ticket and hotel booked for the Fulham game.... I am SO EXCITED to see the boys in person!


Rs_Holy added 07:27 - Jan 17
Cheers Clive... that last paragraph got to me a little bit. (Silly I know) but with everything that has happened in the last 2 years and all the sh!te footy seasons we've have since Neil Warnock was at QPR, this season does feel like (potentially) something special in the making (everything crossed).

stneotsbloke added 07:37 - Jan 17
Barbet gets bludgeoned after 60 mins. You can only wonder what he said to Warbs when it was, as no doubt it was, suggested that he'd be subbed for Ball. No way was he having any of that. A truly magnificent 90 mins from Barbet and a great comparison to Gorkks and Macca. Dunne also superb, like his namesake he's a heroic warrior.
OK, so Charlie isn't close to being as effective as hew was a few years ago but he does strike fear to any defender inside the box. When it went in it took me back to Jamie Mackie v Liverpool. Fantastic.
Yes, the crowd has been a bit quiet recently but the ground really came to life. What an atmosphere.
Great game, great performance, great report.


cornwallmike added 08:08 - Jan 17
England Test cricket is never 'long drawn out' ! Pivotal win for the Rs.

thehat added 08:10 - Jan 17

A work of art Clive - What a way to start the week reading that masterpiece.

Somehow you capture everything about the occasion perfectly especially the emotions.

When Loftus Road is jumping like it was in the second half Saturday there is no place in world I would rather be.

It was written in the stars a last minute Charlie Austin winner at the Loft End.

I wish I was still there with you mate........

dutch added 08:46 - Jan 17
Wonderful writing. Not sure I realised just how great an afternoon it was at the time. But I certainly knew I was very glad to be there, and always want to be there in our cave. We must never leave this place, our place. Come on U Supaah.

Lanhoop added 09:32 - Jan 17
Maybe Dike got away with it because Barbet had wiped out the ref in the first half? :-)

HastingsRanger added 10:55 - Jan 17
Great report Clive, ending a good weekend.

Ghosts of Xmas future did beat the ghosts of Xmas past after all. Interestingly, Bradley Allen said on GLR that he 'did not think that we are the best team in the division but that are a good team that Warburton has got the team playing their hearts out for the club', which I tend to agree. Frankly, that will do nicely.

Also, re. Myke, the fact that we have options for scorers I think is a real positive, as in not being reliant on one player.

Harbour added 11:08 - Jan 17
Great game great report Clive yes the Cardiff game under warnock with adel getting the winner the ground was jumping that day…Saturday seemed the biggest noise we have made for a long time …a memorable game will be remembered like Cardiff in years to come….Bit special at the end pretty much whole ground stayed to clap the team off…happy days.

Jimjams added 13:43 - Jan 17
Utterly fantastic report!

Excuse my ignorance what does "Furlong, away from Hall..." refer too?

PinnerPaul added 14:34 - Jan 17
Jimjams - Play off semi final 2nd leg, QPR v Oldham - Paul Furlong with the winning goal followed by a noise not heard at the old place for years and years and years.

timcocking added 14:42 - Jan 17
Lovely report that one…

Andybrat added 14:54 - Jan 17
Brilliant report, told my wife how we live for those moments and the M4 being closed an irrelevance. Interesting about beating the top teams, Row N in Ellerslie Road stand started a “ we actually do believe” conversation. Dune and Barbet’s head, Rock and a really hard place

loftus77 added 16:01 - Jan 17
Ah jimjams, love the innocence of your question, answered by PP.

Structural engineers may put me right, but I swear to this day that the place literally, as well as figuratively, shook.

PinnerPaul added 16:18 - Jan 17
It DID loftus, watch the TV pictures :-)))))

Marshy added 20:47 - Jan 17
That shove in the back on Barbet would in any other scenario than on a football pitch, have counted as GBH. That was such a heroic recovery from him after all the blood and stitches. The ever present defender won everything in this match both on the ground and in the air, in what must have been his 597th consecutive game for Rangers. After a somewhat indifferent start to his career with us, Yoann has slowly gained a solid skilful and dependable reputation. A legend in the making. Hope we can hold on to him.

As for Charlie’s goal / header, get the crosses in the box and he won’t disappoint. Simple as that! Loved the euphoria following the goal. We could do with a lot more of that atmosphere at the KPFS.


w7r added 20:49 - Jan 17
Superb report Clive, some of it had me laughing out loud, emotional stuff - wifey doesn’t understand of course.

The Dike incident was sickening, just don’t understand how that wasn’t a straight red. He knew exactly what he was doing. That could have been really, really nasty. It’s soccer right, not American Football - ‘kin disgraceful.

A great result and a fitting report.


Loft1979 added 19:41 - Jan 18
are Brazilian porn stars spending thousands on surgery for lower back curvature the shape of the cross he channelled directly into David Button’s nightmares. And there was Charlie. You’re here, there’s nothing I fear. Offside to start with, offside during, offside afterwards…


extratimeR added 20:09 - Jan 19
Jesus, this was good to read, that first half Barbet slide tackle/ interception, yes, one of the best I've seen down here, I've been harsh on Johansen, but I loved his close skill Saturday, holding the ball close, and playing people in continuously, he was very good in the Second Half, it was a great game, loved every minute, match report to match.

Cheers Clive

Loft1979 added 01:50 - Jan 21

Clive, did I miss one of your write ups. I would love to see another opine on how far QPR have come since we last submitted from the Premier league. I thought the points addressed in the article linked here were very well preeented.

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