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West Brom seal title at R's expense - QPR 0 West Brom 2
West Brom seal title at R's expense - QPR 0 West Brom 2
Monday, 5th May 2008 19:59

West Brom were confirmed as the Championship Champions after beating QPR 2-0 in a referee affected game at Loftus Road on Sunday.

How on earth do they pick the contestants for the Apprentice? I mean in the first series I could sort of believed that those people were the brightest business brains in the country but now I’m just left shaking my head at the ineptitude of those involved. I mean the guy that got fired last week fitted satellite dishes for Sky for goodness sake – I’ve nothing against people who fit Sky dishes for a living you understand, they’re probably paid more than I am, but surely one of the country’s brightest business brains would be put to better use in another profession? Maybe I’m being unduly critical but the quality of the candidates and the Big Brother style squabbling back at the house is putting me off this programme more and more. From a serious concept to start with it’s increasingly appealing t the lowest common denominator. It surely can’t be long before ‘Frances’ is replaced by Davina McCall.

This week, for those that missed it, the candidates were asked to come up with an event, design a greetings card for it and then flog the concept to some snooty executives who were so far up their own arses you’d have thought they were in the buying department at NASA rather than Clintons Cards. One of the teams came up with a ‘Singles Day’ where you’d send a card mocking somebody for living alone in a grotty bedsit in Wakefield the day before Valentines Day – presumably to counteract the problem of a growing population on a small island by upping the suicide rate. Still there must have been something in it, Tesco bought nearly 20,000 of the death inducing things.

The other team decided to mark “Save the Planet week” by creating a load more cards to go in land fill sites and proceeded to lecture the executives and try and guilt trip them into buying them. The team leader got fired.

Surely these magnificent business brains should have realised that there’s a card orientated event ready to be marked right under their noses. Last day of the football season. I call this a card orientated event because, faced with the thought of three months stuck kicking their heals with no misery to be inflicted on anybody, the referees seem to go a little bit crazy on the final day of the season and hand out more cards than Clintons could ever fit in their grotty orange shops. Who can forget the final home match of the 2002/03 season when Rangers played Crewe and had two players sent off by Andy Hall for the heinous crimes of failing to retreat at a free kick, free kicks that were fired at them by Crewe players before the referee had even finished blowing his whistle with the clear purpose of getting players booked, and challenging the goalkeeper at a corner.

Or last season, when Trevor Kettle, Trevor Kettle’s ego and the voices in Trevor Kettle’s head turned up for the final match against Stoke and, eleven yellows and a red later, were chased from West London by a pitch fork wielding mob of people angry at having the entertainment they’d paid £27 to watch ruined by a man too slow to keep up with play and too fat to fit in a standard sized arm chair.

And then there was this Sunday at Loftus Road. Again the last game of the season, again abysmally refereed, again red cards shown when yellows would do. Mr Taylor, apparently making it up as he went along such was the infuriating inconsistency of the man, assisted by one linesman just as inept as he was and another so fat, behind the play, inconsistent, clueless, slow to react and incompetent that you wanted to remove the flag from his possession and beat him to death with the handle, ruined what was up to the thirtieth minute a hugely attractive and entertaining game of football. West Brom showed all the slick passing and attacking poise that has taken them to the top of this division and were superb at times, but Rangers matched them stride for stride with eleven men and were on course for a creditable point at least until the referee stepped in. Rangers were already short on numbers before the match even began. Injury ruled out Fitz Hall, Akos Buzsaky, Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang, and Damion Stewart served the first game of a two match ban for his sending off at Norwich. That meant a recall to the middle of the defence for Zesh Rehman alongside Connolly with Delaney at left back and Michael Mancienne playing his final QPR game at right back. Lee Camp completed an ever present season in goal. In midfield Rowlands and Mahon started in the middle with Ainsworth and Ephraim on the wings. Up front Balanta partnered Blackstock.

West Brom all but sealed their promotion with a draw against Southampton on Monday but came to Loftus Road with the tile still to be claimed and put out a strong team to that end. Bednar and Phillips got the nod up front which was something of a relief after the way Ishmael Miller ripped us apart at the Hawthorns but still looked very threatening all the same. Chris Brunt replaced James Morrison in the only other change to the visiting team that also included Dave Clement’s son Neil in the back four and he was given a warm reception by the QPR fans before the match.

Once the teams had been read out attention turned to the centre circle for the unveiling of the new QPR badge, fireworks, flame throwers and four QPR legends – Stan Bowles, Gerry Francis, Les Ferdinand and Paul Parker. The legends, Stan in particular, looked all set for a stroke when the flame throwers kicked into life either side of them but they made it out to the centre circle eventually followed by Flavio Briatore who tried to make a speech to the capacity crowd only for the mic to break on him. You sense an order for one horse’s head has gone in first thing this morning as a gift to the man in charge of that. Still it’s nice to know that QPR, despite the rebranding and relaunching, still have the potential to be absolutely crap – just as we like it.

As is becoming the pattern of games at Loftus Road Rangers started by hassling opponents in possession high up the pitch and denying them any space on the ball. Once it was won back the R’s set about creating chances of their own with Gareth Ainsworth at the heart of everything and West Brom looking a little nervy on their big day. Angelo Balanta skewed the first chance of the match wide of the post inside the opening ten minutes while West Brom’s first shot of the game came from Koren and deflected into the arms of Lee Camp off Gavin Mahon.

Blackstock went within inches of breaking the deadlock after eight minutes. Ainsworth was again the instigator, running in behind Robinson and skinning Brunt wide on the QPR right before speeding into the penalty area. With options ahead of him a good cross was essential and he stood a beauty up to the back post for Dexter Blackstock who headed goalwards and wheeled away celebrating despite Kiely’s best efforts on the line. However, with no signal from either referee or linesman there was to be no repeat of Blackstock’s opener at Hull and the Baggies brought the ball away after a lucky escape. I have friends in the X Block who swear it was over the line, without a replay to consult I can’t pass comment from my seat in F Block so we’ll leave it at that. It was a great chance to take the lead either way.

Down at the Loft End the home fans got their first introduction to the portly linesman on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground when he farcically kept his flag down as Bednar ran through into the penalty area and fired a powerful drive at goal that Lee Camp did very well to turn over the bar. In fairness to the official Damien Delaney was often far deeper than the rest of the back four playing people on, however some of the circumstances that developed during the first half without a flag being raised were incredible. The best one for me was when a cross to the back post towards the end of the half almost found Kevin Phillips who slid in and came within a whisker of tapping it into the bottom corner from a position at least five yards behind the last man when the ball was played. The flag remained securely by the linesman’s side. If that’s not interfering with play I don’t know what is.

The sides exchanged good shots on the goal around the half hour mark. First Dexter Blackstock was crudely felled by Leon Barnett on the edge of the area and Martin Rowlands curled the resulting free kick half a foot wide of the post with Kiely beaten and half of Loftus Road celebrating what they thought was the opening goal. At the other end Chris Brunt got a decent shot away on goal in similar circumstances to Bednar’s earlier effort – again Camp was equal to it and palmed the ball skilfully over the bar with one hand. After last week’s abomination at Norwich it was nice to see the keeper back on top form here.

Then, in the 37th minute, the key moment of the whole game. Martin Rowlands, having a pretty poor game to this point, allowed a ball to run away from him slightly on halfway and in trying to reach out and flick it wide to Ainsworth he caught Greening on the shin after the West Brom man had beaten him to it. Greening collapsed in a heap and the referee came across, seemingly with the first yellow card of the afternoon in his hand. Then suddenly on came the linesman, who was further away from the incident than the referee, and after his intervention yellow became red and Rowlands was off much to the disbelief of his team mates.

For me it wasn’t a good challenge, but it wasn’t a horrendously bad one either. I think the referee’s initial assessment of yellow card was about right and why he changed his mind on the say so of one of his linesman, who had this point shown nothing to suggest he actually had any sight at all never mind eyes good enough to spot something the referee missed from twice the distance, I don’t know. It was a harsh decision in my opinion.

As at Norwich last week De Canio sprang immediately into action, although unlike at Carrow Road this time he got the change right. On came Leigertwood for Balanta, Ephraim could easily have been the one withdrawn instead, and he went into Rowlands’ position in midfield with Blackstock up front by himself. That’s what should have happened last week and with Ainsworth this time left on the field his work rate became a massive factor in QPR’s efforts to stay in the game – it was only when he tired in the second half that West Brom were able to pull away.

Despite the sending off Rangers were able to continue to pose a threat, something they failed to do with ten men at Norwich the previous week. A typically marauding run from Damien Delaney five minutes before half time almost saw the former Hull man open his Loftus Road account but Kiely was equal to his low right footed drive. From the keeper’s throw out West Brom attacked down the right into the space left by Delaney and only tremendous last ditch defending from Rehman and Connolly prevented a goal scoring opportunity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m all for Delaney charging off down the field and posing a threat but we need to sort the cover out behind him – in the first half Ephraim showed no desire to fill in for him whatsoever and then in the second half, when the former West Ham man was playing by the dugouts and was told to go back and mark Delaney’s man he seemed reluctant and did a bit of a half arsed job. If we don’t cover for Delaney then he can’t go forward, simple as that.

West Brom replaced Bednar with Kim at half time but the biggest change since the sending off had been the time and space afforded to the Baggies midfield. Prior to the red card Rowlands and Mahon had been hassling their opponents and allowing them no time on the ball, without him that understandably didn’t happen and Jonathan Greening was able to pull the strings in the middle of the park. At times he was like an American Football quarter back with the ball snapped back to him in the middle of the park time after time after time. Some of the things Greening tried didn’t come off, but it was never long before the ball was back at his feet and he was able to pick the R’s apart in the second half. The home crowd’s booing of him as a result of his part in the sending off only served to highlight just how much of the ball he was seeing and how much influence he was having on the game.

Blackstock fired over from the edge of the area after Ainsworth had won a header against Robinson but is was a rare foray into the opposition half for the home side and within eight minutes of the restart they were behind. Phillips slipped the ball through to Lee who lost out in a tackle with Connolly but when Delaney allowed the ball to run loose to Gera there was only ever likely to be one outcome. Gera chipped the ball back into the six yard box past Camp to Lee who headed into an empty net. A soft goal defensively, but an inevitable one.

Brunt cracked a shot against the cross bar and Kim hammered the rebound at goal only to be denied by Camp as the Baggies continued to press for a second goal. Rangers’ attacks were few and far between but when they came they came through Gareth Ainsworth. He was the victim of two cynical challenges from Robinson and Clement, who were both booked and then immediately substituted so as not to leave them at the mercy of a poor referee any longer, and really gave it everything for the team. Sadly it was all to no avail and he tired in the final 20 minutes.

Tony Mowbray had the QPR fans breaking out in cold sweats with the introduction of Stefan Moore’s brother Luke with 20 minutes to go - one can only imagine the glass bill for neighbours of the Moore family when those boys were growing up. Luke showed a Stefan like fondness for blazing sitters over the bar in injury time as a presentable chance was dispatched into the bouncing Baggies behind the goal from only a few yards out. Zoltan Gera went a lot closer when he turned and hit a snap shot from the edge of the area that beat Camp but whistled just past the post as well.

With 13 minutes still to play the visitors put the game to bed with a second goal that again owed as much to the piss poor standard of the officiating as the excellent West Brom players. Another harsh decision against QPR from Mr Taylor, still frantically searching for the plot he’d long since lost, presented Chris Brunt with a free kick on the edge of the area right of centre for a foul on Hoefkens by Delaney. There are few better with free kicks from this range than Brunt and his left footed curling shot right into the top corner was unstoppable and sublime – easily the best free kick I’ve seen all season and one of the best ever. A superb strike. Mr Taylor ran as far away from the QPR players as he could, standing on his own in the other half of the field where the home fans let him know in no uncertain terms just what they thought of his performance so far.

Ramone Rose came on for his first ever QPR appearance with ten minutes to go and looked nervous, giving the ball away badly with his first two touches. He soon settled down though and showed some nice touches and skill in his time on the pitch and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of the boy in years to come.

Dexter Blackstock showed excellent control, turn of pace and skill to trick his way into the penalty area but his toe prodded shot went a fraction wide of the post. A late QPR free kick came to nothing as Ainsworth’s tired shot rolled wide of Kiely’s post.

As the game ticked down towards full time it started to resemble an episode of ER. Albrechtson picked up a nasty head injury and more histrionics from Greening did little to endear him further to the crowd. A superb player at this level no doubt, but seriously prone to exaggeration when tackled and an obvious boo boy target.

Stoppage time passed without further incident and West Brom were left to claim their trophy on the pitch in front of the jubilant travelling thousands in the School End. The result was harsh on QPR who stayed with West Brom with eleven men and actually looked the more likely to score before the sending off. With Zesh Rehman underlining his recent improvement by keeping the West Brom forwards that ripped him apart earlier in the season very quiet I really think we’d have got a point with eleven men on the pitch.

The celebrations on the pitch brought back a lot of memories of our own promotion party at Hillsborough for me, although to their credit most of the QPR fans stayed behind and clapped the visitors back onto the field unlike the Sheff Wed fans who invaded the pitch and tried to attack us back in 2004. Once the trophy had been lifted and celebrations wound down the QPR players re-emerged and did their traditional lap of the pitch with an ever growing band of toddlers in tow. Flavio Briatore joined the players, but there was no sign of manager Luigi De Canio – not that I’m reading anything into that you understand, he seems sure that he’ll be back next season even if the newspapers don’t.

So the final act in a season of massive change at Loftus Road, and wasn’t it good to see the ground rammed and jumping on the last day? Hopefully that will be a regular thing next season – although that could largely depend on the damage inflicted by the season ticket prices which will be on your door step by May 12. Certainly if the team is successful it will be full regardless after a few games.

I’m upset that we’ve ended a superb second half to the season with two defeats, five goals against and none scored. Both results were a direct result of decisions made by match officials, and while we didn’t look interested at Norwich our effort and commitment against the Baggies, allied with an excellent opening half hour, makes me think we’d have been good for at least a point. Still two defeats, no goals and two of our better players suspended for the opening matches next season isn’t conducive to my favourite thing in football - momentum. Still it’ll probably be a very different QPR team that takes the field in day one with anything up to seven signings rumoured to be heading our way this summer. I’d be surprised if Rowlands isn’t a huge part of our side next season and it’s very annoying to think of him missing the first three games with this ban – perhaps we could ‘do a Cardiff’ and form a Football Association of Shepherds Bush to hear the appeal.

Anyway that’s it for another season, another 48 match reports, 48 match previews, several thousand miles travelled, several thousand pounds spent – and all to see us secure that coveted 14th position. It’s madness really when you think of it like that. Thanks to everybody who’s read these rambles this season, and of course to Tracy, David and everybody else that’s helped me out with copy over the past nine months. There’ll be a bigger thanks to everybody later in the week but I thought I’d flag it up here as well. Happy last day of the season everybody. Have a red card on me.

QPR: Camp 7, Delaney 5, Mahon 6, Mancienne 6, Blackstock 6, Ainsworth 8, Rowlands 5, Connolly 6, Ephraim 6 (Rose 80, -), Rehman 7,Balanta 6 (Leigertwood 39, 6)
Subs Not Used: Cole, Barker, Lee
Sent Off: Rowlands (37) (late tackle)

West Brom: Kiely 7, Hoefkens 7, Barnett 6, Clement 7 (Albrechtsen 53, 6),Robinson 5 (Moore 72, 5), Koren 7, Gera 7, Brunt 7, Greening 8, Bednar 6 (Kim 46, 7), Phillips 6
Subs Not Used: Miller, Morrison
Booked: Clement (foul), Robinson (foul)
Goals: Kim 53 (assisted Gera), Brunt 77 (unassisted)

QPR Star Man – Gareth Ainsworth 8 - At the heart of everything good that QPR did and the R’s drifted out of the game when he tired. Very unlucky to be on the losing side.

Referee: Paul Taylor (Hertfordshire) 3 - Really poor, and his two linesmen were an embarrassment. I don’t agree with the sending off but whether it was or it wasn’t after that he seemed to tie himself in knots trying to even things up. Missed three blatant hand balls in or around the West Brom penalty area and then punished QPR for one at the other end. West Brom removed both their players with bookings for fear that he might come after them again. Ruined a really good game. A pain in the arse throughout.

Attendance: 18,309 (3000 Baggies approximately) Biggest crowd of the season and a terrific atmosphere inside the ground for almost the entire match. Loads of the West Brom fans came dressed as super heroes and made a great noise in the School End, the QPR fans did their bit as well and sportingly clapped the trophy presentation afterwards. One or two people ran on the pitch, including a young kid from the Paddocks, and the jobs worth nature of the stewards towards them made me laugh and started a ruck down below me in the South Africa Road stand – I always thought they were there to stop trouble not cause it. Still, you go on the pitch you expect problems.

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Three users have commented on this article, click here to add your thoughts

Big thanks to Clive for his superb, balanced and honest reports this season. Discovered this website midway through the season and found it wonderful to find a match report which described a game just as i had seen it. Been hooked ever since. I wanted to say that I was so pleased for Zesh that he's shown he can be a reasonable defender at this level. Well done to him. It was also pleasing Hogan decided it was about time he actually took on defenders and got past them and put a cross in. Shame he has no idea how to cover when Delaney goes marauding. I did wonder why Di Canio didn't join the lap of honour. From my view in Ellerslie (almost level) as soon as I saw Rowlands challenge I said to my mate he could go for that so it didn't surprise me to see the red. The linesman in front of me was truly awful. Too fat and unfit to keep up with play so had to make a guess each time he had to make a decision. A thoroughly absorbing game ruined by the sending off still an enjoyable day.W ell done to West Brom - quality team, hope they survive if not beter next season. Final note, all that cash and no back up mic for Flavio, typical Rangers!! - DaveyBoy

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for you work on this website. Living in West Texas USA it is a bit difficult getting to the matches. I have to rely on you and various other websites for news and match reports. Once again thank for the great effort and can't wait till next season. Come on you Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs - QPRDave

Many thanks for your wonderful reports Clive. Enjoy your break. - Hoops1962




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