Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Saturday's no-show piles pressure on QPR at Plymouth - Preview
Tuesday, 9th Apr 2024 09:41 by Clive Whittingham

It's a rekindling of the crucial April six-pointer at Plymouth tonight for QPR, though unlike previously they're both trying to avoid falling back into League One rather than escape out of it.

Plymouth (11-11-19 LDLLLW 19th) v QPR (12-10-19 DLDWWL 17th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday April 9, 2024 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – bright but extremely windy >>> Home Park, Plymouth, Devon

When you find goals as hard to come by as QPR, a drop in intensity of even a few percent can be fatal to your chances of winning a game.

Even during Saturday’s fairly pitiful display against Sheff Wed, Rangers could have got out of the game unscathed had Lucas Andersen not hit the underside of the bar with a presentable chance, and the defence not contrived to kick the first goal in off Gassama’s shins for him. When you have goals in your team sub par performances, particularly against poor sides, can still yield points. When your goalscoring threat is Ilias Chair and Chris Willock launching ever more wild and frustrated efforts over the bar from ever more ridiculous distances and angles, then you have to be at it.

QPR have still only scored more than two goals in a game on one occasion this season – at home to Stoke, who were down to ten men for most of the second half. The last six wins they have managed have all been 1-0 or 2-1. Victories have to be dragged by this team, kicking and screaming, over the line because they don’t have the goals in them to make it comfortable even when they’re playing well. When they’re not they don’t have the goalscorers to get them out of that hole – Lyndon Dykes, without a goal in 14 games, is top scorer here with five along with Chair. It’s why we’ve said from the start we didn’t think tonight’s opponent Plymouth would go down – Morgan Whittaker (20) and Ryan Hardie (13) have nearly scored as many goals between them (33) as QPR have in total (39) – though they’re certainly running it close after a poor spring. Plymouth have scored three goals or more in a game ten times at Home Park so far.

It means that every positive result QPR get can feel like shitting out a snooker table. Maximum effort, maximum strain, maximum intensity, maximum concentration required, and any slight drop off in any of it, any mere hint of complacency or not being quite at it, and the game is lost. The games that are won can feel like long, drawn out ordeals, where you’re just wishing the time away. There’s also the underlying terror of checking the other results, and with Millwall, Huddersfield and Sheff Wed all in action tonight there’s going to be a good deal of that going on around another sold out away end.

While we’re praying for others to do us a favour against the likes of Birmingham and Blackburn, QPR themselves have been incredibly accommodating to their fellow strugglers. From 13 games against the seven teams currently below them in the table only three have been won and six lost. QPR have given at least one point to every other team in the bottom half of the table, including whipping boys Rotherham. The results against Huddersfield (a defeat and a draw) and Sheff Wed (two losses) have been particularly damaging. Reverse those results and QPR would currently be eleventh on 56 while Huddersfield would be three adrift of safety and Sheff Wed seven.

The two defeats to the Owls both came at a moment when you thought Marti Cifuentes had finally cracked the curse in W12 and Rangers were coming out of the doldrums. They’d won three and drawn one (the corresponding fixture with Plymouth) when they went to Hillsborough and took the lead in December. This time just one defeat in seven, two in 13, and two consecutive wins over Easter to lift the R’s to the brink of survival. On both occasions a win would have opened up a ten point gap on the Owls.

The impact of losing the first game to two goals after the 86th minute contributed to QPR going eight without a win over Christmas. If Saturday’s no-show has a similar effect, Rangers will be left needing snookers.

Links >>> Plymouth left to sweat – Oppo profile >>> Promotions and POPs – History >>> Simpson eh – Referee >>> Plymouth Argyle Official Website >>> Plymouth Herald – Local Press >>> Argyle Life/Green and White Podcast >>> Pasoti – Forum >>> Cornich Janner – YouTube Vlog

90s Footballer Conspiracy Theories No.39 In The Series - Colin Calderwood thinks TFL keep the gaps between tube carriages and platforms on purpose in order to maintain profits on "Mind the Gap" merchandise, which is why he refuses to come back to London for any Spurs reunions.

Below the fold

Team News: QPR were without both Jack Colback and Michy Frey for the weekend loss at home to Sheff Wed, and it sounds like both are unlikely to make it back for this one. The rare start up front for Sinclair Armstrong, as it did for a 1-0 loss at Stoke and indeed the first meeting with Sheff Wed in December, did not produce the desired results. If he’s to return to impact sub duty and Frey is injured then it would seem certain that Lyndon Dykes would come in from the start. Rayan Kolli is a long term injury absentee.

Plymouth fired rookie manager Ian Foster last week after losing five home matches in a row without scoring a goal to sink to fourth bottom of the table. While local pensioner Neil Warnock seemed an absolute shoo in for the temporary gig, Argyle have decided to keep it in house with Neil Dewnsip and Kevin Nancekivell. Bali Mumba’s goal was enough to force a vital win away at Rotherham in their first game in charge. The new gaffers returned to what was working previously, with nine of the starting 11 the team that won promotion from League One last season plus Lewis Gibson and Spurs loanee Ashley Phillips. The Greens have no fresh injury concerns, and an extra day to prepare, after that Friday trip to South Yorkshire, and young Spurs loanee Alfie Devine is back from a suspension incurred after Keith Stroud sent him off here against Bristol City last weekend.

Elsewhere: As ever for this midweek round, the Mercantile Credit Trophy fixtures are divided equally across two nights.

Three big games for QPR to keep an eye on other than their own tonight. The Neil Harris bounce seems to have come to a definitive end at Millwall who have taken one point from their last four games and lost their last two to lowly pair Rotherham and Huddersfield. That last minute defeat in South Yorkshire at the weekend puts them two points and two places outside the relegation zone ahead of tonight’s tough home game with promotion chasing Leicester. Sheff Wed obviously had a much better time at the weekend at Rangers’ expense, and they can potentially move out of the bottom three and above the Lions if they win this evening at home to Norwich. Huddersfield will be hoping to follow up on that first win in seven with another at Preston. If QPR were to lose then Millwall would go above them with a win, Huddersfield would draw level with a marginally inferior goal difference, Sheff Wed would be a point behind.

At the top end two of the faltering big boys, Southampton and Leeds, have chances at home to Coventry and Sunderland respectively to regain ground on Ipswich and Leicester.

With Rotherham now officially relegated ahead of tomorrow’s trip to West Brom the QPR eyes will be fixed on Swansea v Stoke – the Welsh side a point and place above Rangers, Stoke level on points and two goals worse off – and Birmingham’s home game with Cardiff. The idea the Blues are eventually just going to cruise out of this trouble at the bottom of the table without too much difficulty seems to persist, but the late defeat at Leicester at the weekend was a seventh defeat in nine, three of those in the 90th minute, and they’re now in the bottom three ahead of a visit from Cardiff. Blackburn, level on points with QPR but four goals better off, are at Bristol City.

The games at the other end feature Ipswich at home to Watford and Hull hosting Middlesbrough with both teams trying to keep flagging play-off hopes alive.

Referee: Lancashire official Jeremy Simpson faces the long trip down from the north west for just his second ever Plymouth game, and first with QPR since the disastrous 6-1 capitulation at Blackpool a year ago. Details.


Plymouth: Argyle finished above Ipswich and Sheff Wed atop League One last season, claiming the title with 101 points. That was built on unbelievable home form at The Theatre of Greens where they won 20 games, drew one and lost only twice, scoring 44 goals in 23 games and conceding only 16. That initially continued at the higher level. It took until Swansea in their fifteenth away game for them to get a victory on the road (since added to with one at Middlesbrough and then Rotherham on Friday night) but at Home Park they really made an impact winning eight of their first 14 Championship fixtures here and scoring 36 goals into the bargain. They bagged six at home to Norwich and scored three each against Huddersfield, Blackburn, Sheff Wed, Boro, Rotherham, Birmingham, Watford and Cardiff in that sequence – a reminder that QPR have still only scored more than twice in a league game on one occasion this season. It meant that after 15 home games played no team in the division had scored more at home than Plymouth, and their home record across the whole of 2023 was a ridiculous WWWDWWWLWWWWLWWLLWDWWWD.

It's the collapse in this form that was the most stark problem under new manager Ian Foster. Argyle come into this game on a run of five consecutive home defeats in which they’ve failed to score a single goal – Bristol City and Preston both won here 1-0, Ipswich and Leeds 2-0 and West Brom 3-0. Overall they’re without a win in seven league and cup games on their own patch now, with six defeats and a lone draw with Coventry making up a run that has seen Plymouth slip from a relatively comfortable spot in midtable down to fifth from bottom and bang in trouble. Friday’s much needed 1-0 win which relegated Rotherham was the first in seven games and only the second in 13. They’ve failed to score in six of the last ten and have only scored once in three of the others.

Morgan Whittaker with 19 in the league and one in the cup is easily the top scorer here – only Sammie Szmodics (23) and Adam Armstrong (19) have more league goals than him in the division. Ryan Hardie comes next with 12 league and one cup meaning that between them (33) they’re only six shy of the 39 goals QPR have managed between them collectively. Argyle’s 56 goals scored is better than seven of the teams above them, including Preston in tenth.

QPR: Rangers’ double win over Easter lifted them to a season-high place of 16th and put six points between them and the bottom three – as safe and far away from danger as they’ve been since ten seconds into the first match at Watford. Rangers had won seven, drawn four and lost only two of 13 games coming away from Swansea and were feeling pretty good about themselves. It meant for the second time this season they had a chance to put a ten point gap between themselves and Sheff Wed, but as at Hillsborough in December the R’s lost in fairly hapless circumstances to narrow that gap back down to four and cast the whole thing back into the balance. Rangers have now played 13 matches against the seven teams currently below them in the league with tonight’s making up the full set – they’ve won only three of those games and lost to Sheff Wed twice, Stoke, Millwall and Huddersfield.

That loss to the Owls continued another couple of worrying trends. At home, while things had improved to the extent of one defeat in seven games prior to Saturday, Rangers have still only won five times which is the lowest total in the division bar Rotherham. Only five teams have scored fewer than QPR’s 23 home goals and only Plymouth have conceded more (33) on their own patch than QPR’s 32. Away from home things are a good deal better with seven wins the best total south of 11th in the league, and more than both West Brom (five) and Norwich (six) have managed while occupying play-off spots. Still, the 16 goals scored in achieving that is the lowest away goals total in the Championship bar Rotherham and Sheff Wed. Ilias Chair and Lyndon Dykes are the top scorers with a paltry five apiece. Dykes is on one of his runs of 14 without a goal.

QPR haven’t shared a division with Plymouth since 2009/10 when the R’s won 2-0 at Loftus Road and drew 1-1 here with a Heidar Helguson goal. The first meeting this season finished 0-0, and Rangers were beaten 3-2 here in a lockdown League Cup tie under Mark Warburton. Four of the last five, six of the last nine and seven of the last 11 league meetings between these two have been drawn 1-1 or 0-0.

Prediction: We’re once again indebted to The Art of Football for agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. You can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s newly extended QPR collection here. Reigning champion Aston says.

“After the joy of Easter and six points, I get the feeling QPR are all set to do a QPR and make this unbearably difficult for us for the remaining weeks. Plymouth made a big change putting their DoF in charge, they beat Rotherham after this, but then who doesn't? I have a bad feeling here though. 2-1 to Plymouth, Chris Willock to score.

Aston’s Prediction: Plymouth 2-1 QPR. Scorer – Chris Willock

LFW’s Prediction: Plymouth 2-0 QPR. No scorer.

If you enjoy LoftforWords, please consider supporting the site through a subscription to our Patreon or tip us via our PayPal account

Ian Randall Photography

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

snanker added 10:12 - Apr 9
Bang on Clive this absolutely has a Charity Park Rangers script written all over it and some !

snanker added 10:14 - Apr 9
Apologies all f...'n keyboard stuck, hope R's can score that many tho !!

CateLeBonR added 10:16 - Apr 9
Can’t disagree with the pessimistic predictions but this feels a bit like the Sunderland game last month. Team in poor form looking for first home points in a while, up against, er, us. Think keeping a clean sheet is vital as any goals against and we’re likely to lose. 0-0.

Is it over yet? 😬

Lblock added 13:34 - Apr 9
I'll go with whatever Snanker says (just so he doesn't have to say it again)

TacticalR added 14:49 - Apr 9
Thanks for your preview.

The statistics tell us what we all know: we aren't doing well against teams around us (although at least we managed to beat Rotherham and Birmingham at home).

Because the attack and the midfield have dried up it's difficult to know where our next goal is coming from. On Chair and Willock's 'wild' shooting, if I was Cifuentes I would at least tell them to try and get more central if they are going to shoot from outside the box. Once they have started scoring again, then they can gamble when the angle is against them. At least Andersen brings some thought to proceedings and makes sensible decisions on the ball.

It's a bit unfortunate that Plymouth have got rid of Foster. We can only hope that they aren't picking up steam after their win at Rotherham.

You need to login in order to post your comments

Blogs 31 bloggers

Knees-up Mother Brown #22 by wessex_exile

Queens Park Rangers Polls

Logo for 'BeGambleAware' Logo for 'BeGambleAware' Logo for 'GamStop' Gambling 18+
About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2024