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How do you like them? Report
Wednesday, 31st Aug 2022 22:16 by Clive Whittingham

QPR produced a scintillating first half display and scored three terrific goals to blow Hull City away at Loftus Road on Tuesday night.

Forty-eight match previews a season, 48 match reports a season, somewhere north of a quarter of a million words to write, somewhere in the region of six million words penned over 20 years of LoftforWords.

As well as getting my bum out of bed on time, finding a train that’s running to within the vague vicinity of our game for a cost less than the debt of a third world country, getting there, supporting the team, getting back safely while full of All The Peroni, the unrelenting tyranny of the task is ‘hooks’. Find the hook, find the angle, find the goal, find the moment, find the refereeing decision, hear the chant, laugh at the joke, marvel at the piece of skill, notice the micro that illustrates the macro and do that 96 times a season. We set goals and players and results in the context of history and economics, we compare and contrast our situations with the ones faced by the opposition, we pad the whole thing out with song lyrics, Simpsons quotes and gratuitous amounts of swearing and cock jokes, and at the end of it all the biggest guarantee is that somebody will think Andre Dozzell was worth a six rather than a seven.

More hooks in Tuesday’s home victory against Hullspor than there are on the walls of the dressing room. Chris Willock, transfer deadline 48 hours away, a fourth goal in four starts, beautifully guided and angled into the far corner of a goal guarded by executive VP of sadness Matt Ingram. Ilias Chair, outstanding in a surprise win at Watford at the weekend, somehow moving up another couple of levels here and crowning it with a goal of his own that Akos Buzsaky and Adel Taarabt would have been proud to call their own. Ethan Laird’s first professional goal, capping another superb display, with the full backs to the fore as Mick Beale’s preferred style and system really starts to bed in and start motoring. Andre Dozzell and Stefan Johansen, written off by many, places in the team under threat from both new arrivals and existing bodies in the building regaining fitness, suddenly haring around like men possessed and torching the visitors’ midfield. The toil, effort and line leading of Lyndon Dykes, set against the contrast of a second half miss even Jordan Hugill might have considered ‘a bit much’.

Both regular readers will know I don’t think things are as well behind the scenes at QPR at the moment as we might think/hope/wish. I think the money, after last season’s outlay, is perhaps even tighter than we believed to begin with — and we were already fitting mice for waistcoats. I think it’s all a bit different to what Mick Beale thought he was walking into initially, hence we’ve gone from “we won’t be doing loans” and “we don’t need experienced players to hold their hands” to trying to do up to five players before deadline and making 34-year-old Leon Balogun one of those — on the bench here for the first time. Even Hull, in remission for ten-years of cancerous Allam ownership and in League One just over a year ago, have a new owner and a big-money player sale under their belts now, moving them towards the ‘haves’ of the league once more, and miles ahead of where we are spending power wise. You’d kill for Oscar Estupinan in our team, and goodness knows what salary it’s taken to move him from Portugal to North Ferriby. Even with the best part of a dozen players injured already, including their four biggest summer captures - Allahyar Sayyadmanesh (chenqui), Dogukan (as opposed to dog who can’t) Sinik, Ozan Tufan and Jean Michael Seri — you could have set the whole thing around that. The bitter sweet modern football conundrum of trying to enjoy Illy and Willy playing like this, while knowing it ultimately just adds zeros to their inevitable transfer value, something we not only can’t resist but actively have to encourage.

Bollocks. For tonight, let’s just strip all of that away. Forget the context. Forget the financial realities. I’ll come back to it, a lot, but it’s for the birds today. QPR has mostly always been badly run behind the scenes, QPR has mostly always been skint, QPR has mostly always had to wave its best players farewell — owners have come and gone, crises have been conquered, new players have grown into hero status. Willock himself is only here because Ebere Eze no longer is. Let’s go right back to basics. We are still here, our football club is still here, and while that’s the case what do you, and I, want from it? How do you want to see this team play? What is you sine qua non? Where are your Theresa May red lines? When you trudge out of work on a Tuesday night and you slog across town, sweating like a two pence piece in a fat man’s pocket in a Central Line carriage Delia Smith might have described as a “cool oven”, what are you hoping to see? Best case scenario. What's QPR at their best, for you? If it’s not this first half here, don’t come again.

QPR fans have always loved their maverick tens. Mercurial and magic, capable of moments of great brilliance, often here by accident and only staying as long as their flaws keep counter balancing their exceptional talent in the eyes of the ‘haves’. The name of genre king Stan Bowles looks down over the present crop from the roof of the Ellerslie Road stand, and he’d certainly approve of what transpired here. Ten minutes in, picking up the ball from Stefan Johansen’s win back in midfield, Rangers’ latest midget gem glided silkily across the field and waited for Chris Willock’s intelligent run to open up a lane of space through which he bent a pure strike right up where the spider’s live. They might have to make August’s goal of the month pay-per-view. If I’ve in any way downplayed that or made it sound simple, forgive me, but that’s how Chair can make these things look. He’s scored in the last three home matches against this opponent, and six of his last eight for the club were from outside the area. Usually when a player scores from this range, with this sort of faultless technique, it draws a different sort of crowd noise — a more continental, perhaps Spanish, roaring noise than the harsher, British cheer. But we got like this with Taarabt, and Buzsaky, so used to the brilliance that you come take it a bit for granted. We barely even look up from our newspaper now. Your dog’s bitten me. Yeh, it’ll do that.

Good QPR teams have great full backs. Within five minutes of Chair burning the barn down, Kenneth Paal had finished a flowing team move with a crafty cross right into the path of Ethan Laird coming in from the other side to slide in a second goal of the night already and his first in professional football. All very Clive Wilson crossing for David Bardsley this one, and long may it continue. Paal, after a nervy start to life in the Championship, has improved so immeasurably since somebody broke his nose a couple of games back that I half wish we’d belted him in pre-season. Laird, meanwhile, is just an absolute whirlwind of energy and positivity on and off the pitch. Legs, brain and conversation moving at a million miles an hour. Each day a gift, each game an opportunity, each charged crossing of the halfway line giving life to him and his team. There’s a lot of joy in this boy. I get sat next to people like him on the tube when I’m hungover. I much prefer them playing right back for my football team. Must not fall in love with loan players, must not fall in love with loan players, must not fall in love with loan players.

QPR have a proud tradition of wonderful wingers. Dave Thomas, socks rolled down. Trevor Sinclair, all dreadlocks and bicycle kicks. One of the very best now observes from the commentary box and the joy in Andy Sinton’s voice was there for all to hear when Chris Willock took his turn five before half time — the ball won again on a high press by Johansen, the movement again a cut above what we’re used to, the use of space to find the unsavable shot pure sex — curling a third goal into that same side of the goal to seemingly finish the game off as a contest. If you’re a club with money who’s not currently trying to buy Chris Willock then somebody in your recruitment department should be collecting their P45.

Maverick tens, sexy wingers, flying full backs, 30 yard goals, 3-0 first half leads, this time next year Rodney… But as well as the trinkets, there was graft here. QPR are never going to be a big club, things are never going to come easy here, we’re in a traditionally working class part of the city and the fans like to see that ethos in their team. Losing we’ve got used to over time, lack of trying will never be tolerated. QPR were absolutely fucking ceaseless here. Whether it be improved fitness, Beale’s coaching, or, more cynically, simply the threat of being replaced, we’ve suddenly got the on loan Stefan Johansen back from somewhere as opposed to the permanently signed version, and Andre Dozzell has dispensed with the no-look passes for the TikTok and replaced it with a Josh Scowen ratting routine on 2.5x speed. Johansen claimed two assists on a high press in the first half, and there was clearly a huge trigger in Hull’s play that Rangers had been told to look out for — everytime they did it Johansen led a charge of thousands that the Tigers just couldn’t cope with or play around.

Chair, though, was a different level again. Absolutely insatiable. Everywhere, at all times, at a breakneck pace, constantly, for 80 minutes. I was tired watching him. It was unreal. Those poor bastards playing for Hull, it’ll have been a long coach ride home after this chasing and I suspect if they’d looked out the back window as it trundled back up the A1 they’d have seen Chair chasing after them on foot in the lane behind. It should, really, have brought a fourth goal when his latest hustle and harry sent the ball bouncing right across the goal to Lyndon Dykes, four yards out, keeper nowhere, no defenders in sight, but he spent too long thinking about it and Dean Coneyed the thing wide. It was a glaring miss, another savage blow to his confidence, and cruel on a night when, like at Watford, he’d been pretty effective as a lone striker without ever looking like scoring.

Were Rangers perfect? No, of course not. Remember, Hull are yet to win away, were missing a host of players, and lost Lewie Coyle in the pre-match to further compound their problems. Sam Field got a first half back pass all kinds of wrong and Seny Dieng had to spring from his line to rescue him. Laird rather over committed himself defensively on 23 minutes giving Tetteh a chance to shoot to the near post and draw another save from the Senegalese stopper. Soon after Hull’s move of the match gave Estupinan a clear look at the whites of the keepers’ eyes, but Dieng made a flashy camera save up over his head. Hulls’ efforts to make headway in the face of fierce opposition were hampered further by their inability to stay onside — so many flags in the first half the linesman got a sore arm and had to be replaced by the fourth official — but I always think back to Neil Ruddock and Liverpool spending a whole evening on this ground stepping out with their arms in the air and believe you’ll get caught doing it once a match, as Les Ferdinand did to Roy Evans' side that night. Sure enough, in the closing stages, sub Tyler Smith was able to run clear and score a consolation goal. Beale says it’s two yards offside, but if you pause the tape I don’t think it is. Slightly annoying, two clean sheets in 27 now and none so far this season, but nothing more than that. Interesting that Jimmy Dunne, usually front and centre of post match celebrations, was straight down the tunnel at the end fuming, despite the victory.

He wasn’t alone to be fair. Tyler Roberts had a strange cameo from the bench — all overhit passes and miscommunication with fellow sub Albert Adomah, culminating in a frustrated whack on Randell Williams that was a yellow card three inches thick. He and Albert looked a bit grumpy at the end at the way the second half had drifted which, I guess, is a good sign. QPR were certainly not at their scintillating best again after the break as Beale withdrew star performers for a rest, and experimented for a while with Osman Kakay coming in as a third centre back to form a back three. Hull tightened and improved for the half time introduction of Ryan Woods, recently arrived from Birmingham and often a star performer against QPR whoever he plays for.

It didn’t matter though. On nights like this, when QPR play like that first half, none of it does.

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QPR: Dieng 7; Laird 8, Dickie 6, Dunne 6, Paal 7; Johansen 8 (Adomah 71, 6), Field 6, Dozzell 8; Chair 9 (Armstrong 81, -), Dykes 6 (Kakay 70, 6), Willock 8 (Roberts 53, 5)

Subs not used: Archer, Masterson, Balogun

Goals: Chair 10 (assisted Johansen), Laird 15 (assisted Paal), Willock 40 (assisted Johansen)

Bookings: Roberts 90+4 (foul)

Hull: Ingram 5; Christie 5 (Williams 57, 6), Figueiredo 4, Greaves 4, Elder 5; Jones 4, Slater 5; Longman 6 (Woods 46, 7), Cannon 5 (Smith 75, 6), Tetteh 6; Estupinan 6

Subs not used: Baxter, McLoughlin, Jones, Jacob

Goals: Smith 85 (assisted Slater)

QPR Star Man — Ilias Chair 9 Not a difficult choice.

Referee — Steve Martin (Beverley Hills) 7 Not much to referee, but definitely the best display from an official we’ve had so far this season.

Attendance -12,716 (1,100 Hull approx.) God that terracing looks great. Loving the crowd support for Dykes after his glaring miss — we’re such a better, more supportive crowd when you take expectation out of the equation.

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Patrick added 23:58 - Aug 31
Just love the idea of Ilias Chair chasing the Hull team bus up the A1. Nice one. The little fella really is the Championship Maradona.

QPR_Hibs added 00:50 - Sep 1
"Beale says it’s two yards onside, but if you pause the tape I don’t think it is."

I think this should say "offside" rather than "onside."

Great report as usual Clive.

hoops_legend added 07:44 - Sep 1
Another absolutely fantastic report Clive. You are like a vintage fine wine and keep getting better each season. Don't know how you do it! Thanks for all your efforts

silverbirch added 07:49 - Sep 1
Thanks, Clive. A great report (and spot on with the ratings).

HordleHoop added 07:52 - Sep 1
I wish I could put into words as good as those you write, how good those words are, that you write!

RsinWales added 09:06 - Sep 1
I am going to be honest, I pay for Patreon each month but rarely get a chance to listen in. The reason I keep paying? The sheer quality (and underpinning effort) that goes into these match reports and previews. I feel very lucky that Clive is an R. Win, lose or draw I am astonished at what you produce.

I used to occasionally write match reports for the old QPRNet site, so have an idea quite how much hard work goes into watching, recording and writing this stuff. Thank you! A joyful read.

Andybrat added 09:37 - Sep 1
Monster report Clive which I was reading on the Piccadilly line last night surrounded by Arsenal fans ( quite a few in pink shirts?) and reckon I saw a better game than them. We have to enjoy Ethan Laird while we have him and actually be proud Man Utd have entrusted us with him, many Kyle Walker comparison conversations in the stand. Also re sustainability etc, at leat Paal and JCS are ours and I think clever we have the 2 TR’s on a rent to buy scheme so more than a loan but less than a purchase. I understand the Balugan purchase if we go 3 at the back and need the cover. I just love Loftus Road under the lights, and amazingly the Gooners I spoke to said how much they loved going to Loftus Road because of the closeness to the pitch and football as it used to be. Doesn’t help the bank balance though. Someone tell me what the hell is Dozzell on and that pass to Uncs!!! Clive do you have a ghost scriptwriter because I have no idea how you have the time and brain capacity to keep churning this amazing stuff out. Sending at 9.36 on transfer deadline day, more worried about outgoing than incomings….. Andy

hopekillsyou added 10:02 - Sep 1
Great report. Except you didn’t really mention Andre Dozzell who I suspect will never be a crowd favourite ( Busby, Fillery…) but is doing the stuff.
Err…” traditionally working class part of the city”: have you seen house prices in Shepherds Bush ( or indeed Acton - I guess Harlesden still just about meets that description.

oakskull added 10:51 - Sep 1
A team that wants to chase promotion, cannot afford an attacking player that does not score. All "toil, effort and line leading" doesn't change that.

Paddyhoops added 11:04 - Sep 1
Same as Andybrat . Rarely get time to listen to patreon but worth every penny that I fork out to support this brilliant forum.
Spot on about referee . Never even knew he was there.
We should enjoy Illy and Willy while they’re here.
Far too good for this level!

Northernr added 11:04 - Sep 1
Afford is the right word, in the wrong context. A team in our financial position cannot afford a striker that does score.

HastingsRanger added 12:17 - Sep 1
Such a scintillating first half, unsurprisingly Hull could not live with it. And to expect this to be maintained in the second half was unrealistic.

What was so impressive was the whole team performance and particularly for me the anticipation of the players. Both without and with possession, catching them out and then making seriously good chances.

Paal has improved enormously and I never saw the 'pre-signing' Johansen and now get what all the fuss was about! The only thing I would say regarding Dykes was that Ingram did keep his feet well, which made himself big against Dykes. Still should have buried it but as said, a decent non-striking performance.

A great night under the lights and as always, thanks for the report.

Marshy added 12:31 - Sep 1
“Must not fall in love with Loan Players”. So true. Outstanding first half with outstanding performances over the 90 minutes. Loved the constant pressing and 100% effort from everyone. Chair goal was magnificent. A thing of real beauty. Long may the Illy and Willy double act continue! Micky Beale’s Blue Army is finally on the March!

thehat added 13:59 - Sep 1

Brilliant as always Clive - Captured it perfectly.

Great night under the lights and what a difference a few days can make.

A few of us are taking our kids to Swansea on Saturday via GWR, a proper train away day and we are all really looking forward to it.

Your previews and reports help get us through all the crap that is happening in life and as others have stated, it's the best £12 that comes out of my bank account each month.

Northernr added 08:09 - Sep 2
Thehat - thank you for that mate, the Patreon has been a fcking lifesaver for Dave Thomas and myself.

HastingsRanger added 09:42 - Sep 2
PS Also, noted that I did not spend part of the game thinking how bad the refereeing was because he was actually doing his job. A rarity.

TacticalR added 20:12 - Sep 2
Thanks for your report.

I really wondered how we would do against Estupinan and Hull's foreign legion. We got our knockout blows in so early that I never got a chance to find out what Hull were capable of - it felt like they were on the defensive the whole game. The good thing is that not only did Chair and Willock score two fantastic individual goals, but with our backs getting forward we got a team goal as well. My first thought after seeing Laird's goal was of Dave Clement - he always seems to end up in the box. Our backs getting forward worked well - only time will tell if it's going to work well on every occasion.

Chair is playing like a man possessed, and Willock must be driving the opposition mad with his ability to hang on to the ball and to send players the wrong way.

It would be great if Johansen gets going again - his loss of form was one of the key reasons behind our dip in form last season. Perhaps it's a bit easier for him now the team is playing better and he's not trying to do everything himself?

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