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QPR go three for three at expense of Villa and Terry - Report
Sunday, 28th Oct 2018 13:16 by Clive Whittingham

QPR crowned a fantastic week by making it three wins and three clean sheets from three matches with a 1-0 televised win against Aston Villa at Loftus Road on Friday.

There’s something stirring down Shepherd’s Bush way. Queens Park Rangers, three wins and three clean sheets in a week, two points shy of the play-offs and looking pretty bloody splendid doing it.

The third in that sequence was by far the toughest, at home to Aston Villa on Friday night. The Birmingham-based side may have started the season poorly and already worked their way through one manager (sending Steve Bruce on his way with nothing but a cabbage to the back of the head by way of thanks), they may have marooned themselves with a top heavy squad lacking centre backs after three seasons of Supermarket Sweep-style transfer activity, and they may have been on run of one win from five coming into the game... but this is a team with plenty to call upon. On Friday their bench contained a winger Everton paid £25m for and one of three strikers they have splashed £12m on in the last couple of years. Another eight-figure buy, Jonathan Kodija, led the line with the obligatory Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham. Even pushing the boat out as far as Tomer Hemed and Nahki Wells, these are nice shiny things to which our access has long since been cut off.

After the cakewalk against a diabolical Ipswich Town side, and the professional dismantling of midtable Sheff Wed, this was to be a backs to the wall effort and no mistake. QPR had 35-year-old Angel Rangel and 33-year-old Geoff Cameron running on fumes in this third game in six days. Within a minute Alan Hutton had one-time QPR transfer target John McGinn in off the shoulder of Mass Luongo for a shot wide with Joe Lumley struggling. But Loftus Road was full and crackling with anticipation again for the first time in ages and the team responded in kind. It was indeed to be one of those nights under the lights in W12.

Despite the rush of fixtures, Steve McClaren stuck with the same team to do the different job. A nice early move from Rangers ended with a low Freeman shot and comfortable save for Orjan Nyland in the Villa goal.

Jack Grealish, saving on the VAT with a pair of child’s shorts and socks, shot wide after referee Daren England played a good advantage through a foul on Abraham. Then McGinn stayed on his feet when clipped by Lynch in the penalty area — hit the deck and it’s almost certainly a spot kick. Later Pawel Wszolek would go to ground in the other box having apparently been hauled back by Neil Taylor — England said no to both appeals. When Joe Lumley confidently smashed through a crowd scene to claim a twenty sixth minute Villa corner he bowled the ball out quickly to centre half Toni Leistner who set off on a marauding rampage through the middle of the pitch. More escaped zoo animal than effective counter attack, a man with a giant butterfly net and a blow dart brought the nonsense to a swift close.

The ongoing mini research series into whether Joe Lumley is a good goalkeeper or a lucky one entered another piece of evidence into the case file on the half hour. Grealish was chopped by Lynch for the game’s first yellow card, and took the free kick himself, curling a shot around the wall which Lumley seemed happy to leave until it skimmed off the surface and struck the base of the post. Not since Robert Green waved that one at Reading away for a goal kick only to see it crash back into play off the bar have I seen anything quite like it. We’ve probably still got that ball with the bell in it we used for him lying about somewhere if Joe needs help.

That scare survived, QPR took the lead eight minutes before half time. Initially, good refereeing, as England allowed play to continue after a foul on Hemed on halfway with the ball breaking to Cameron. Whether James Chester had mistakenly decided a free kick had been or was going to be awarded I’m not sure, but he suddenly found himself too high up the field and square to his team mate as Cameron sought out the wide open spaces beyond with an exquisite through ball. Pawel Wszolek had read the situation altogether more adeptly and raced onto the ball before finishing powerfully over Nyland and in off the underside of the bar. Goal line technology? Balls to that, get that bloody music on. Eventually England’s watch confirmed what we all knew — it was in by several feet.

There was still time for Lumley to palm away at the near post after Kodija had caught Cameron a little too wrapped up in appealing for a free kick on his own byline, and Luongo improvised a first time volley wide in injury time. But Rangers were into another half time lead, and the frustration was starting to tell for the visitors — Kodija leathering the ball at Leistner after the whistle had blown sparking a brief touchline melee as the players left the field. I can certainly think of plenty of players I’d kick the ball at before I got to Leistner. ARE WE HAVING A PROBLEM PUNY BOY?

We all know the stat by now but this would be one of the tougher half time advantages to see through to conclusion. Villa peppered the penalty area with free kicks and corners early on, requiring Leistner, Lynch and Cameron to stand tall and firm. When they didn’t, off a devilish McGinn free kick, Abraham sidefooted an absolute sitter wide of the post from four yards out.

During a period of concerted QPR pressure, Eze had a shot destined for the bottom corner deflected over but as Rangers tired around the hour mark Tuanzebe had a header from a corner saved by Lumley who subsequently made better saves to deny Bolasie twice in quick succession, the first when unsighted at his near post. By Championship standards it was gripping, thrilling stuff, with the atmosphere building all the time.

Cameron was absolute baggage by this point, with Grealish and the excellent McGinn growing in influence. Barely able to kick the ball or run, he conceded possession and then laboured to get back to retrieve the situation on 70 minutes. Josh Scowen was summoned for 20 minutes of ratting to see the job through. A running theme of this season — McClaren making the right substitutions, but ten minutes later than he really should have done. We await news of Cameron’s hamstring ahead of Blackburn next week.

If there’s ever been a more Sunday league moment in the professional game than Scowen climbing out of the dugout with his kit all over the place, necking a can of Red Bull, to go on and man mark a young lad with an outlandish haircut, fake tan and spray on shorts then I haven’t seen it. Short of turning up in an old Vauxhall Cavalier with a bag of balls in the boot and stubbing a fag out on the side of the dugout before jogging on I’m not sure how much more complete the look could have been. Maybe add in a Sondico tracksuit and a skinfull the night before. In the end, not only did Scowen’s fresh legs solidify an ailing midfield, he came closer than anybody to adding a second with a fierce shot from long range that Nyland tipped over from just under the bar.

Afterwards Dean Smith accused QPR of systematically kicking Grealish out of the game. Grealish and Ebere Eze are the two most fouled players in the Championship this season, though Grealish has clocked up in excess of 60 free kicks in 14 games to Eze’s 30+ which is quite remarkable really. We know through previous experience with Darren England that he’s not the most adept referee at clamping down on those sort of dark arts but I didn’t notice anything unusual in the treatment of the Villa man — bar one gratuitous attempt on his life by Lynch in the first half which he followed up with a big gobfull for the man on the floor for some reason - and in fact Eze seemed to get fouled just as often to me.

It’s impossible not to admire the work Smith has done at Walsall and Brentford, and the style in which those teams went about their work against opposition with greater resources. Well done Aston Villa for finally, belatedly going down this route rather than chucking big money at big names again. But there’s often a smugness to him and his teams that doesn’t reflect well on him or them, nor help them on the pitch. I’d compare it to the way Dario Gradi used to talk in disparaging terms about Ian Holloway’s QPR back in our Second Division days, before it turned out that Gradi’s club was harbouring a massive paedophile ring of course. A sort of self-righteous aloofness that football should only really be played one way and that they’re the only true exponents of it, and anybody else doing it another way is a philistine only ever destined to wins games through luck or poor refereeing.

Our oft-joked about regularly repeated line from Brentford that “everybody says we’re the best team they’ve played” while losing 1-0 at home to Bristol City and 4-3 away at Preston the perfect embodiment of it. Fact is, with two strikers the standard of which QPR could only dream about, Smith’s team banged away for 90 minutes and didn’t score once. At Loftus Road last season, Smith’s Bees team was showboating and he was throwing on more attackers at 2-0 up only to concede twice in injury time to draw — afterwards lots of talk about QPR’s good fortune and how many of our fans had left early, but no recognition that they’d perhaps been a bit too full of themselves in those closing stages.

Rather than moaning about how often Grealish gets fouled, perhaps ask why you’re playing him so deep on the field giving teams the opportunity to trip him and concede free kicks in non-threatening positions. When Eze is fouled, which he is a lot, it’s almost always in a position where the resulting free kick can hurt the opposition. If Grealish is going to ponce about on the halfway line him and his manager shouldn’t be surprised when opponents use that as a chance for a quick trip and back into defensive shape. That’s Villa’s, and Smith’s, problem, not QPR’s, or the referee’s.

There was a degree of hanging on as 75 became 80 became 85 became stoppage time. Villa have scored in every league game they’ve played this season. But QPR kept turning up for each other and getting bodies in the way and bringing on Nahki Wells, re-energised by a first goal for the club during the week, kept a nervous looking Villa defence occupied and actually it felt a lot more comfortable than the scoreline or situation should really have allowed. The outstanding Luke Freeman, chasing around like a man possessed, teed up Wells for a shot at the keeper as time ticked down and then the loaned Burnley front man did some assisting of his own by chasing back and winning the ball from McGinn before feeding Scowen for a low shot wide of the post.

A certain racist beat a hasty retreat from the touchline at full time — maybe he was parked in a disabled bay again? He left behind a scene of noisy celebration and happy players in Hoops. Season successfully rescued, we now wait and see just how far this team can go.

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QPR: Lumley 7; Rangel 8, Leistner 8, Lynch 8, Bidwell 7; Luongo 7, Cameron 7 (Scowen 70, 7); Wszolek 8, Eze 8 (Smith 90+1, -), Freeman 8; Hemed 7 (Wells 62, 7)

Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Osayi-Samuel

Goals: Wszolek 38 (assisted Cameron)

Bookings: Lynch 29 (foul), Wszolek 80 (foul), Luongo 82 (foul)

Villa: Nyland 6; Hutton 6, Tuanzebe 6, Chester 5, Taylor 6; El Mohamady 5 (Bolasie 62, 7), Bjarnason 6 (Whelen 41, 6), McGinn 8; Grealish 7; Kodija 6, Abraham 5

Subs not used: Lansbury, Hogan Hourihane, Jedinak, Bunn

QPR Star Man — Luke Freeman 8 Third time in a week that most of the team could arguably have been a candidate, but I thought Freeman was the best player on the pitch, playing with real purpose and menace and with none of the selfishness and ball hogging which can occasionally blight his game when he’s frustrated or trying to do too much by himself. Brilliant stuff, too much for Villa to cope with.

Referee — Darren England (South Yorkshire) 7 Two penalty appeals that both maybe would have been given had the players gone down — Lynch on McGinn and the pull on Wszolek. Interesting debate to have about whether players have to go down to get these decisions, whether contact is sufficient for it to be a foul and a penalty — both players were able to continue on and get their shot/cross away. Best you can say is it evened itself out and England was fair and consistent with all his other decision making as well. We know, from the Preston away game when Ben Pearson ran through his full repertoire of gamesmanship, that he can be weak in the face of such behaviour but I didn’t think QPR were anywhere near as bad for that on Friday as Dean Smith rather sourly suggested afterwards. Overall pretty decent.

Attendance — 16,036 (3,000 Villa approx.) The old girl’s still got it. When it’s full, and under lights, and people are into it, and the game is as gripping as this one, there’s no better place in the world to watch football. Loftus Road crackled like old times and the players deserved that support for their performances this week. Wonderful to see and be part of. It’s criminal how much I let the results of this bloody football club affect my mood.

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Esox_Lucius added 14:59 - Oct 28
Great report!
QPR take all 3 points #leedswouldhavetakenmore

E15Hoop added 15:00 - Oct 28
Hi, Clive. Well said about Dean Smith!

If you're that good, Mr. Smith, then how come your central defenders don't know where they are?? Classic case of trying to deflect the blame when you'd be better served taking a good long hard look at yourself and your own shortcomings. But maybe we should have expected this lack of insight and emotional intelligence from any tw*t that thinks it makes good sense to put Big Racist Scumbag in a position of leadership!

Isn't it great when Rangers actually win one of these battles - and on a Friday night AND in front of the Sky cameras?? Maybe I'm not so apathetic after all..

BlackCrowe added 15:16 - Oct 28
"Toni Leistner who set off on a marauding rampage through the middle of the pitch. More escaped zoo animal than effective counter attack" . LOL

londonscottish added 15:19 - Oct 28
Great report, that week is the week that keeps on giving.

Noelmc added 15:38 - Oct 28
Great performance by the R’s matched by the quality of your report. Loved the sections on Grealish saving VAT on his shorts/socks, Scowen making a Sunday League entrance & the racist having to rush off to move his car from a disabled bay. All LOL moments, Thanks, Clive.

Addinall added 15:47 - Oct 28
It’s criminal how much I let the results of this bloody football club affect my mood.

It' s been affecting mine for over 70 years so it's probably good for you.

Nov77 added 15:59 - Oct 28
Eze 8 out of 10 and Grealish 7 out of 10? Not sure even Tony Cinzano would be that biased!

grealish was the best player on the pitch by a mile.

Northernr added 16:03 - Oct 28
Did you think? Big fan of his, said in the pre-season stuff I thought he'd be the best player in this division, but he's 20 yards too deep, which as discussed means you can nulify him by tripping him and giving away neutral free kicks. One shot just wide in the first half, but not a lot of threat in or around the penalty area other than that.

Plus, as I've explained many times during the terribly interesting "a 6? for that" weekly debate, the ratings are governed by the result and the team performance. So Villa were maybe a high 6 as a team, and lost the game 1-0, so we're not going to be handing out 8s to many/any of their players.

Burnleyhoop added 16:15 - Oct 28
Great week and a remarkable turn around. Stand out for me is the togetherness of the players. I was particularly drawn to how all the players embraced one another just prior to kick off before the Sheffield game and the obvious partnership / love in developing between Leistner and Lynch.

A great team spirit, well balanced team and no shortage of ability and work ethic are all factors that are driving this current team forward. I fear Cameron’s injury and a possible absence from the next game at our bogey club Blackburn will bring it all to a, hopefully, temporary end.

And what is it with Grealish and his tight shorts?

PinnerPaul added 16:29 - Oct 28
That last line Clive - you're not alone mate, as could be witnessed by the outpouring of joy on the way out of the ground.

Great stuff, nothing wrong with enjoying it!

thehat added 17:17 - Oct 28

Brilliant report again Clive - Absolute hysterics regarding Leistner's charge forward.

Love the comments on Loftus Road - Its outdated and cramped but I wouldn't swap it for the world and hope we never leave our cave!!!

It was a sombre journey home from WBA and I just can't believe where we are now - Long may it continue!!

Paddyhoops added 18:11 - Oct 28
Great report again Clive.
Noticed in the posts so far that there is barely a mention of Steve Mclaren. Credit where credits due, its a long time since I,ve seen a Rangers side as well organised as this one. A superb defence, a midfield who are finally hitting top form and a front man with nous and intelligence . Also when did we have the luxury of bringing on player of Nakhi Wells quality??. Hats off again to our fans who excel when we're protecting a 1.0 lead lead against quality opposition. Its spine tingling and uplifting when in full voice.
As for Dean Smith....grow up!!

HastingsRanger added 18:14 - Oct 28
I thought Villa were a decent team, not reflecting their league position.

What It emphasised was the importance of defending well and that is exactly what we did, concentrating, keeping shape and not jumping in. Reminiscent of the play-off final.

I thought Scowen was going to struggle with Grealish but in fact he excelled! All round, great entertainment.

Love the comment on Grealish's kit but was he wearing shin guards, as I thought not wearing them was flaunting the rules? (and if not, plain stupid not to).

Thanks Clive, a good read to remind me of a great night.

GloryHunter added 18:45 - Oct 28
"Jack Grealish, saving on the VAT with a pair of child’s shorts and socks . . ." - that'll go down as one of your greatest hits, Clive. What a poser that guy is. Refs should send him back to the dressing room and tell him to don the regulation kit. If he gets his shins cracked it'll be his own fault.

CiderwithRsie added 20:08 - Oct 28
Top three comments this week:
1. The Leistner charge
2."If there’s ever been a more Sunday league moment in the professional game than Scowen climbing out of the dugout with his kit all over the place, necking a can of Red Bull, to go on and man mark a young lad with an outlandish haircut, fake tan and spray on shorts then I haven’t seen it"
3. Grealish's shorts/VAT

We probably ought to hold some sort of end of season competition for zingers.

Myke added 21:18 - Oct 28
Cheers Clive, a great week to be sure. I suppose the lasting legacy of that 7-1 debacle at WBA ( apart from the supporters mental health) is our goal difference. We successfully eat away the entire 6 goals of that 45 minute collapse this week, but overall, we have the only team in negative gd with the same or similar points. It could effect our whole season and play-off chances should we remain in the hunt (but to be even talking about play-off chances seems surreal)

Marshy added 21:30 - Oct 28
It was a brilliant win with a team that’s showing tremendous tenacity and camaraderie. We have become an extremely well drilled, and well organised unit. 3 wins and 3 clean sheets in 6 days - I’m absolutely loving it! In just a few short weeks from the depths of despair and almost facing our own football Armageddon, this team have risen from the ashes to make the most improbable recovery. Not even Nostradamus could have predicted this turnaround. But this is QPR, and with our illustrious and rollercoaster history in mind, we should have known to - always expect the unexpected!

CliveWilsonSaid added 21:32 - Oct 28
I thought it was one of Eze's best performances yet. It was a similar game to the Norwich game in which he was particularly poor. His off the ball work and positioning was so much better in this game, the best I've seen from him. On the ball he was a handful throughout, always available and a threat.

ozexile added 21:36 - Oct 28
Excellent point about Grealish Clive. I was watching the game and after 20 mins thought the same. Keeper to centre half, grealish drop deep to receive and ping it to other centre half. Totally predictable and we were wise enough to not push out too far and leave space in behind our midfield. Villa need a plan B if they want out of this division. For all his faults warnock told Tarrabt that he doesn't want him touching the ball in our own half. Top management.

nix added 21:45 - Oct 28
Brilliant report as usual Clive with lots of lol moments.

Smith is probably a bit concerned given that he is playing three top six teams away in the next six matches: Derby, Middlesbrough and West Brom and Forest (7th) and Birmingham (9th) at home with only Bolton as their ‘easy’ match. He was probably banking on three points from us.

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 10:13 - Oct 29
What a glorious week.

Myke added 10:59 - Oct 29
And not a single person moaning anymore about our crap performance against Blackpool and the fact that we should be looking forward to Arsenal this week - what a difference a few wins make!

lockers added 13:09 - Oct 29
"Nov77 added 15:59 - Oct 28

Eze 8 out of 10 and Grealish 7 out of 10? Not sure even Tony Cinzano would be that biased!

grealish was the best player on the pitch by a mile. "

BirminghamLive (hardly the most unbiased on online publications I'll concede) only rated him a 6 ............

Granted he showed real glimpses of class but spends too much time trying to be a budget Ronaldo than playing to his potential, shame really, or lucky for us.....

BoxOfficePhil added 13:30 - Oct 29
If Groundhog Day was a week, I would pick that one please.
BTW - I save your reports for Monday lunchtimes, nadir of the week, thanks for brightening them up, even things ain't so great.
PS On MacLaren, if you get the blame when it goes wrong, you are entitled to some of the good stuff too...too soon?

YorkRanger added 13:40 - Oct 29
A tremendous week and I'm so pleased with the progress the team has made and the discipline/character on display. Credit to the team and the coaching staff for where we have got to.
That said to Myke's point above, I'm still sore about Blackpool...

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