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Olly's Loftus Road revenge
Olly's Loftus Road revenge
Tuesday, 18th Sep 2007 11:59

QPR lost their third straight home league game on Tuesday at the hands of Plymouth. The R's again failed to score and the thoroughly deserved victory for Ian Holloway's men.

I think they call this square one. Welcome back to it. One year ago a pile of birthday cards (listen four counts as a pile) lay unopened on my kitchen table as I frantically tried to keep this website updated while we shifted a manager aside and appointed a new one. At the time we were the worst team in the league, playing abysmally with no spirit, and coming off the back of three embarrassingly easy defeats.

Here we are again exactly a year later. Five birthday cards this year, all unopened while I delete the threats and trolling from the message board that flowed forth after a pathetic evening of football at Loftus Road. Only a similar level of incompetence from the team at the end of my road is keeping us off the bottom of the table with three home league defeats already under out belts and no goals scored in any of those games.

Happy birthday to me.

I was in a bad mood before we even began last night. Leafing through my match programme I was again confronted with the idea that we were "good value" and "well worth" our point at Leicester on Saturday when frankly I thought we were bloody awful for 80 minutes. Adam Bolder said he was sure the QPR fans that travelled up there would agree with him - well Adam I'd love to meet them because of all the people I've spoken to and read the thoughts of since Saturday I can still only count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who didn't think we were crap for the vast majority of the game.

I said in the match preview it was hard to envisage a set of circumstances whereby Stefan Moore would make the team again and yet as I arrived in my seat there he was, fresh from the most anonymous performance I've ever seen from a footballer in my life on Saturday, back in the team again for this match. Alongside him in midfield was the creative pairing of Bolder and Leigertwood while Rowlands manned the other flank. Hogan Ephraim got a goal and man of the match for the reserves last week and praise from his manager and the supporters for his impact from the bench at Leicester. Thoroughly sensible therefore to leave him out again last night. I must be missing something there.

At the back still no sign of Sammy Timoska, and I'm definitely missing something there, so once again Rehman and Barker were the full backs, Stewart and Cullip the centre halves and Camp the overworked goalkeeper. Up front Nardiello, unlike Ephraim, was rewarded for a good performance for the reserves and a positive impact as a sub on Saturday with a start alongside Blackstock.

The first action of the game came in the fourth minute when Damion Stewart was adjudged to have fouled Hayles and Plymouth were awarded a free kick 25 yards out from goal. Peter Halmosi stepped up to take it and beat the wall and Camp all ends up but the ball flew wide of the post. From where I was sitting it looked in all the way so that was a lucky escape.

Rangers were still hoofing a lot of long balls down the field but with Nardiello showing a willingness to work hard he did manage to craft chances from one or two of them. First he fired a low shot tamely at McCormick in the Plymouth goal after wriggling away from Seip on the edge of the box, then he beautifully pulled a big punt down out of the sky, laid it off to Rehman and made the penalty in time to meet the cross and head the ball onto the bar.

Rehman and Nardiello combined again five minutes later but this time it was the striker setting the full back up in a one two situation, Rehman just seemed to lose heart and bottle as the keeper came out to smother the return pass. It looked like he could have reached the ball if he'd been a bit braver, but perhaps that was just the angle I was watching from.

In between these two chances Cullip stayed deep and played everybody onside allowing a cross from Ebanks Blake to flash right across the six yard box in front of the QPR goal with nobody able to get a killer touch. Buzsaky was off target with two more tempting free kicks before half time as Barry Hayles continued to hit the deck with embarrassing ease for such a strong man. The first was narrowly wide of Lee Camp's goal, the second flew high into the Upper Loft.

Continuing a recent theme of not even getting the basics right QPR allowed Hayles to stand completely unmarked on the edge of the penalty area for their final corner of the half. Despite fans all around me pointing Hayles out long before the corner was taken he was still all by himself when the ball was played out to him by Buzsaky. In the end his well hit low drive was blocked by a crowd in the six yard box and cleared away but that could so easily have been the opening goal and the defending for it was the stuff of a park pub team. Seconds later Sawyer volleyed towards goal from distance but Camp was equal to it.

Plymouth took the lead two minutes after the break. The impressive Peter Halmosi cut in from the left flank and with one touch seemed to bamboozle everybody within 30 yards of him. Rehman promptly fell flat on his back giving Halmosi the time and space he needed to finish nicely past Camp into the far corner in front of the jubilant Green Army. The goal was proceeded by QPR's fresh from the training ground kick off routine that consists of two touches and then a big boot into the South Africa Road stand.

Martin Rowlands was unlucky not to draw the R's level ten minutes into the second half. Rangers' most impressive player on the night Danny Nardiello was cynically hauled back by Seip after tricking his way through and from the free kick Rowlands bent a lovely shot over the wall, past the beaten McCormick and off the angle of post and cross bar.

Moore and Rehman were then removed and received a hostile reception from the home crowd. They were replaced by Bignot at right back and Ephraim on the right wing but they barely had time to take their positions because within seconds a cross from the Connolly caught Bignot out for height at the back post and the ball was nodded down calmly by Halmosi for Norris to slam in a second from close range. It was like shelling peas. The goal gave Rangers the chance to give their patented kick off drill another airing, and once more coffee and hot dogs were sent flying as the ball thudded into the East Paddock.

The ground started to empty alarmingly from this point and many had left by the time Nardiello fired over from a tough angle 15 minutes from time. This was one of the few times he'd actually been allowed to get a shot away by the linesman who seemed to have his flag on an automatic trigger in the second half, mercilessly penalising the QPR attack regardless of circumstances. Nardiello was withdrawn shortly after this and replaced by Ben Sahar who did at least work hard but he was guilty of missing the best chance of the night. A ball through the centre of the Plymouth defence finally sprung the offside trap but Sahar fired over on the half volley. Still, a chance at the Loft End, I'd almost forgotten what one looked like.

Blackstock headed straight at McCormick in injury time but there was barely anybody left in the ground to see it, or to boo the team off when the whistle sounded seconds later.

We are playing incredibly badly at the moment and it really is hard to see why we've suddenly started doing this. At Bristol City we played well, we passed the ball, we scored twice and could have scored four more times on top of that, we were inventive, we were creative, we were exciting to watch. Suddenly three days later we played like tarts and lost Leyton Orient and it's only got worse since then. What on earth happened between that Bristol City game and the Orient match?

I mean for the love of God we are now a side that can't even take a kick off properly. Three times we tried last night, three times we hoofed it straight into touch - they weren't even close to staying in play. It was embarrassing. We've gone from playing the top of the table side off the park in their own back yard to being incapable of executing a fucking kick off.

The key to last night's match was the midfield - Plymouth are an average side at this level and destined for a safe mid table position. One thing they do have though is a high quality midfield with Nalis holding things and Halmosi, Norris and Buzsaky controlling everything else. The four of them were everything their opposite numbers weren't - composed on the ball, committed in the tackle and capable of actually getting the ball down and passing it about. They also posed a real genuine goal threat all night.

I hope the players and management are comfortable receiving their pay packets this month because I certainly don't think they've earned them. I'd urge those involved in our home games so far this season to consider a charitable donation of some sorts. Better still how about clubbing together and laying on a coach or two to a future away game - bit of an apology to the loyal supporters who are still turning up to be humiliated like this. I notice the coach fee for the televised Sunday lunch time game at West Brom is £26 - I'd appreciated anybody involved last night being able to look me in the eyes and say that offers good value for money at the moment.

QPR: Camp 6, Rehman 5 (Bignot 59, 4), Cullip 6, Stewart 5, Barker 4, Rowlands 5, Nardiello 7 (Sahar 81, 6), Bolder 4, Leigertwood 4, Moore 4 (Ephraim 59, 6), Blackstock 5.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Curtis.

Plymouth: McCormick 7, Connolly 7, Seip 6, Timar 7, Sawyer 7, Norris 8, Buzsaky 8, Nalis 7, Halmosi 8, Hayles 8 (Hodges 90, -), Ebanks-Blake 7
Subs Not Used: Larrieu, Chadwick, Doumbe, Fallon
Booked: Seip (foul), Timar (foul)
Goals: Halmosi 50, Norris 62.

QPR Star Man - Danny Nardiello 7 - Can at least hold his head up today and know that he worked hard, tried to make things happen, showed a nice touch and went closest to scoring. That he got close enough to the goal to hit the cross bar was quite something considering the service he was getting once again. Constantly flagged offside in the second half, some of which was down to an over keen linesman, but he does need to time his runs better. There's a good player here waiting for an opportunity to show that - must receive better service if he's to shine.

Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands) 5 - Seemed to give every fifty fifty decision Plymouth's way and bought every dive Barry Hayles offered to sell him but overall fairly standard Championship refereeing and in no way can we blame or offer him as an excuse for another woeful home performance and defeat.

Attendance: 10,850 (1500 away approx)

Photo: Action Images

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