Gorkss' double moves QPR six points clear - full match report
Sunday, 26th Sep 2010 13:21 by Clive Whittingham
Kaspars Gorkss scored his first two goals of the season as QPR beat Doncaster Rovers 3-0 to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship to six points
There are little moments in every match that sum up the bigger situation. With 15 minutes to go on Saturday Shaun Derry clearly had a sudden problem with his calf. Mikele Leigertwood had been ready to replace him for a minute or so and when the ball went out by the dugouts Derry signalled furiously that the change needed to be made right away as he was unable to carry on.
A combination of the QPR bench being slow off the mark and Doncaster not being in the mood to hang around meant the ball was returned to play before the change could be made. Derry could have sat down to protect his injury and allowed Rovers to play on around him, hoping it would come to nothing. Instead he made sure it came to nothing. He flung himself into a couple of challenges, disrupted the Doncaster attack, and got the ball dead again so he could be taken off.
It was typical of Derry’s performances so far for QPR, and summed up the entire ethos and willingness to work that has been on show this season. It also added another name to QPR’s growing injury list – we are by no means doing this the easy way.
Other clubs certainly cannot point to us and say we’re simply lucky to have our first team fit week in week out because we’re not and we haven’t. As ever the media are quick to point at Cardiff’s missing strikers Michael Chopra and Craig Bellamy – but on Saturday QPR were without Peter Ramage, Bradley Orr, Alejandro Faurlin, Rob Hulse, Lee Cook and Leon Clarke through injury and Martin Rowlands was only fit enough for the bench. The loss of Derry potentially adds another name to the list for Tuesday night’s massive match against Millwall – for now we can enjoy yet another win and clean sheet, but how long this run can be maintained with an ever growing list of injuries remains to be seen.
Nevertheless Neil Warnock was able to name an unchanged team for the third game running. This meant a home debut at right back for Spurs’ loanee Kyle Walker. Kaspars Gorkss, Matt Connolly and Clint Hill completed the defence in front of Paddy Kenny in goal. Up front Heidar Helguson led the line with Mackie, Taarabt and Hogan Ephraim in support. Shaun Derry and Akos Buzsaky played in between.
Doncaster were able to call upon one time QPR transfer target James Hayter again after injury, but the former Bournemouth man only made the bench alongside Welsh international Brian Stock. Billy Sharp carried the goal threat in attack, Neil Sullivan started in goal – one of the few old Wimbledon players left in the league these days.
LoftforWords’ match previews are often long, rambling affairs but every now and again a piece of information finds its way in there that actually turns out to be quite perceptive. This week it was noted that in the three games Doncaster have won this season they have scored in the first quarter of an hour and that made a fast start to this game almost inevitable.
Within a minute QPR almost had the ball in the Rovers’ net and barely 90 seconds later the visitors should have had a penalty at the Loft End. First a long throw by Kyle Walker, a useful addition to our arsenal that came with his arrival, dropped in the Doncaster six yard box and Hogan Ephraim was unlucky to see his close range shot blocked away.
Doncaster responded by winning the first corner of the game which was quickly followed up with another – although Paddy Kenny tried hard to keep the ball in and the linesman who gave the decision from the opposite side of the field was well behind the play when he made the decision. From this set piece the ball was again allowed to drop in the area and Doncaster defender James O’Connor appeared to be tripped after he toed the ball back out to the corner taker. To me it looked like a nailed on penalty kick and QPR were fortunate it wasn’t given by referee Roger East.
Play then switched straight back to the School End where George Friend the Doncaster left back hacked the ball into touch and then saw it thrown back in, over his head, by the quick thinking Heidar Helguson. That gave Jamie Mackie half a sight of goal but he couldn’t get a shot away in a crowded penalty area and the chance was gone.
So, not everything you read on here is nonsense.
Kaspars Gorkss gave a hint of what was to come in the second half when he caused Doncaster problems at the near post under a Kyle Walker long throw just past the quarter hour mark. On this occasion he was penalised for pushing, although a Doncaster defender did seem to thrust up an arm towards the ball at one point so on another day maybe a different decision would have been made.
QPR owed a huge debt to Paddy Kenny and Clint Hill for keeping the score level in the twenty fifth minute. Hill was the man penalised initially for a foul on James Coppinger 25 yards from goal. Martin Woods took the free kick, beating the QPR wall with ease and sending a fine shot screaming towards the top corner of the Loft End net. Paddy Kenny flung himself off to his left and somehow got fingertips to the ball and tipped it onto the post. The rebound fell to O’Connor in the penalty box and a goal seemed certain with Kenny out of the picture and O’Connor blessed with time and space but his shot was cleared from the goal line by Clint Hill racing back to rescue the situation. The incident seemed to boost Hill’s confidence and he was right on his game for the rest of the afternoon – his best performance for QPR so far.
Rangers put a nice move together just after the half hour that, on his current form, I would have expected Jamie Mackie to finish off. Heidar Helguson, who worked tirelessly and won every header in a superb display of lone attacking play, held the ball up and fed Kyle Walker well on the right. His low cross found Mackie in the area but Doncaster survived when his tame low shot was comfortably saved and held by Neil Sullivan. From that sort of range, I would have put my house on Mackie scoring.
Helguson is playing superbly at the moment, the perfect all round loan striker for this division. QPR’s success at the moment is being built on a powerful, uncompromising spine of the team with Kenny at the base, Derry in the middle and Helguson at the top. It’s unlikely that Helguson will stay fit for much longer – because he’s never been able to stay fit for this long before – and it’s vital we get Hulse fit and firing for when that injury comes because he’s the only other one I can see doing that job even half as well as the Icelandic international is doing it at the moment. He was given a deserved standing ovation when he was replaced by Patrick Agyemang two minutes from time.
Two minutes were added to the end of the first half in which time a rare mistake from Kaspars Gorkss presented Doncaster with a great attacking opportunity but Kenny was equal to a low shot from Shiels from the edge of the area. That brought a very even first half to a close – one where Doncaster had the better of the chances and could perhaps count themselves unlucky not to be ahead.
QPR opened the scoring ten minutes after half time from a controversial corner. Jamie Mackie went on a typical swashbuckling run down the right flank, avoiding a crude swipe from Dean Shiels before hitting the deck under heavy shoulder contact from George Friend. The ball trickled dead, bouncing off the corner flag as it went and the linesman immediately signalled a corner. Doncaster were pretty upset by this and I have to say at the time I thought it was more of a free kick than a corner and having not given the foul it should have been given as a goal kick.
When it was taken, by Buzsaky, the set piece was met by Kaspars Gorkss at the near post who headed it down into the six yard box. The ball struck Dumbuya on the shin and rolled back from whence it came, straight to Gorkss who just had time to land and regain his feet before firing the ball high into the roof of the net.
Falling behind didn’t seem to perturb Doncaster much and they could easily have been level within four minutes. Akos Buzsaky gave the ball away in his own half and then allowed himself to be turned on the edge of the box by Coppinger as he attempted to track back and make amends. Having worked space for himself Coppinger beat Kenny with a fine curling shot but it bounced off the crossbar and away to safety. Within a minute Rovers were almost in again, this time it was Matt Connolly with the error as his bad back header gave Sharp the sniff of a chance and Gorkss was required to rescue the situation with a fine sliding tackle on the edge of the area.
Buzsaky found himself on much more familiar ground five minutes later when Taarabt and Mackie combined to tee him up on the edge of the area but Martis just got a foot in and intercepted the ball as the Hungarian approached for a typical blockbusting shot.
Rangers went close to doubling their advantage on the hour when another fine cross from the right by Walker after a buccaneering run that carried him past two Rovers players was volleyed wide first time by Mackie. Two minutes later Helguson had the ball in the net having cleverly lobbed Neil Sullivan from the edge of the area but he had long since been flagged offside by the uber keen linesman on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground.
I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen of Kyle Walker so far. Defensively he’s very good but his real strength actually lies in his attacking. He’s quick and tricky with excellent ball control, hinting at a hidden past as a winger, and several times in the last three games he has skinned a couple of opponents and delivered some good service into the box. It’s been a breath of fresh air this season to have first Orr and then Walker at right back – proper full backs who can actually play a bit and cross the ball at the same time.
Walker wasn’t alone in impressing from right full back on Saturday. I really liked the look of Doncaster’s Mustapha Dumbuya too – he didn’t have height on his side but he defended soundly and presented problems going forward except for one hilarious moment in the second half when he charged down the centre of the field with the ball never once under control before eventually tripping up over his own feet. Still, that apart, I thought he was probably Doncaster’s best player.
With about 20 minutes left for play Doncaster started to turn the screw with a couple of corners but QPR were able to deal with them without too many problems, John Oster drilled wide from the edge of the box in the biggest scare for Rangers. On the counter attack the home side actually managed to get the ball in the net at the other end when Taarabt played a glorious through ball into Ephraim and he finished calmly only to find the world’s most efficient linesman with his flag in the air ruling the goal out.
Neil Warnock was forced into a change with 15 minutes from time. Shaun Derry suddenly started signalling to the bench that he had some sort of problem and needed to come off. Mikele Leigertwood was readied to replace him but Doncaster weren’t in the mood to hang around and let the change happen which meant Derry had to continue for another couple of minutes – and despite carrying a knock he flung himself into a couple of challenges in that time in typical style. Leigertwood has come on in a few games recently and been fine, but I would worry if Derry is going to be out for any period of time because he’s so important to the way we play. He holds his position well and knows exactly what is required of the role – I’m not convinced Leigertwood does and I don’t think we’ll be the same team with Legs playing there if he has to start the game against Millwall on Tuesday night. Christ I never thought I’d be saying things like that about Derry when we first signed him.
Despite the upheaval of Derry’s departure QPR doubled their ten minutes from time with QPR’s sixth penalty of the season already – although not for the first time had the referee allowed play to go on a goal would have resulted anyway. Heidar Helguson burst into the area chasing a perfect through ball from Adel Taarabt, toed the ball past Neil Sullivan as he raced from the goal line, and then hit the deck under heavy contact from the keeper. It was a clear and obvious penalty but had play been allowed to carry on for three seconds Helguson bounced back up and stuck the ball into the empty net anyway. Exactly the same thing happened at Ipswich last week when Akos Buzsaky had a glorious long range strike ruled out and a penalty awarded instead, and against Barnsley on the first day of the season when Taarabt lashed home after a penalty had been given. There was an incident in the first half of this game as well where East blew up too early, hauling QPR back for a free kick in their own half when an advantage would have seen the R’s away with a heavily weighted counter attack. Referees just need to hold the whistle for a second or two, they can always come back and give the decision four or five seconds later. Having given the penalty Sullivan should surely have been sent off, as it was a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Anyway Adel Taarabt stepped up to take the penalty – I genuinely have no idea how him and Helguson are working out who takes what spot kick at the moment – and he calmly sent Sullivan the wrong way and slammed in the game sealing second goal from 12 yards out.
Martin Wood fired over for Doncaster but they looked like a team that knew the game was up by this point and two minutes from time Kaspars Gorkss got his second goal of the game to provide icing for the cake and a flattering look for the scoreline. Again Taarabt took the corner but this time he floated it up to the back post and Gorkss’ powerful header flew into the net without the need for a second bite of the cherry.
It’s a shame really that the phrase ‘life, finds a way’ came from Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park. What a wonderfully pretentious conclusion to a match report it would have been had I been able to quote from Citizen Kane or Schindler’s List or The Shawshank Redemption. Alas, I’m stuck with a Spielberg inspired kids film. QPR, find a way.
When QPR play well they win, when QPR play poorly they win, when they play against bad opponents they punish them and when they come up against a decent time they wear them down and find a way to win. Kaspars Gorkss is the eighth different QPR player to score a goal this season – prior to the start of play only Doncaster, with seven, were level with us on that score. Having very successfully kept Taarabt, Ephraim and Mackie quiet, while never quite coping with Helguson, Doncaster were ultimately undone on set pieces by our big centre half.
It’s this ability to find a way to win, and win well, from a variety of circumstances that is impressing me more than anything this season. A good team can stick three through a poor Middlesbrough side or four through Barnsley. It’s a really good team, a potential promotion winning one, that can continue to win by big scores against good teams like Doncaster or when they’re not quite on their game as was the case at Leicester. The injuries are mounting making this more and more difficult to keep up
Nevertheless Tuesday promises to be a big night.
QPR: Kenny 8, Walker 8, Connolly 7, Gorkss 8, Hill 8, Derry 8 (Leigertwood 76, 7), Buzsaky 7, Taarabt 6, Ephraim 6, Mackie 6 (Smith 89, -), Helguson 8 (Agyemang 87)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Rowlands, Borrowdale, Parker
Goals: Gorkss 53 (assisted Buzsaky), 88 (assisted Taarabt), Taarabt 81 (penalty won by Helguson)
Doncaster: Sullivan 6, Dumbuya 8, O'Connor 7, Martis 6, Friend 6, Coppinger 7, Gillett 7 (Hayter 79, 6), Oster 7, Martin Woods 7, Shiels 7, Sharp 6
Subs Not Used: Gary Woods, Stock, Lockwood, Wilson, Hird, Fairhurst
Booked: Sharp (foul), Sullivan (penalty concession)
QPR Star Man – Heidar Helguson 8 Plenty of candidates for this when you look at the marks in the QPR team, however I’ll just spend a little while justifying this if I may. Walker, Derry and Helguson got marks of eight for their overall performances. Clint Hill, Kaspars Gorkss and Paddy Kenny also got marks of eight, but they were boosted by individual saves, clearances or goals. I gave it to Helguson over Walker and Derry simply because I could not recall him doing anything wrong all afternoon. He won every header, held the ball up well, led the line superbly – had he actually been allowed to score in the penalty incident he may have been pushing a rare ten in my eyes.
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire) 6 Not bad overall but three key incidents dragged his mark down. Firstly Doncaster should have had a penalty after four minutes, no question about it. Secondly QPR set off on a very promising counter attack in the first half where five players were comfortably outnumbering the backtracking Doncaster players but East pulled the play back for a QPR free kick giving Rovers chance to bring their whole team back behind the ball. Thirdly Helguson’s goal should have stood, again he was too quick with his whistle with the penalty. Referees seem to be far too quick to whistle this season because this is the third time we’ve scored but had to take a penalty instead.
Attendance: 13,990 (660 away) Quiet and nervous in the first half, relaxed and noisy after the goals started going in. I did think in the first half yesterday there was that horrible expectancy around Loftus Road that crippled the team in the early days after the takeover but had thankfully disappeared in the early part of this season. As you would expect with the team playing well and winning there are some new faces around, and that’s great because we need to boost our attendances. But there is nothing more annoying than somebody who hasn’t been there all season suddenly turning up and then slagging off Mackie and Ephraim (as two blokes behind me did yesterday) or Taarabt (as my brother had near him at the Boro game) when they have been outstanding all season. Doncaster travelled in small numbers and said nothing throughout.
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