|Sheffield Wednesday 1 v 2 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 31st August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Hugill's double seals second away win in Sheffield - Report
Sunday, 1st Sep 2019 23:33 by Lee McAlpine
QPR, just five away wins all of last season and three the season before that, made it two from three road trips to start the 2019/20 season at Sheff Wed on Saturday - Lee McAlpine was there for LFW.
There was a definite feeling of deja vu as our train arrived in Sheffield on Saturday for my first game since we enjoyed a last day victory at Wednesday in May.
So much has changed since Big Smith's ludicrous last-minute volleyed winner stopped referee Davies' scandalous effort to stop us winning. We now have virtually a whole new team, as well as a new second 11, who both look capable of matching anyone- well they did before Wednesday night’s poor effort against Portsmouth.
A new proactive, intelligent manager, who doesn't wait until the 80th minute to make changes. And the changes, when they come, are not just predictable like for like, we have changed systems successfully mid-game, which must mean good coaching in between games. I can't believe how good our bench, and even those who don't make the match day squad, actually are. Competition for all places and not a sign of those overpaid, under performers. I can't see anyone in the current squad getting deliberately suspended or injured this Christmas.
What hasn't changed, thankfully, is Eberachi Eze who was on show again on Saturday, but also sadly and more predictably, our team ran out in another stinking, random-coloured, repulsive away kit. I guess as long as long as Eze (and others) continue to wear anything with our badge on and play like this, I'm willing to put up with us continuing to wear any old nonsense.
Not that Eze was the star performer, he was good, but the team as a whole were better, creating some outstanding passages of play culminating in two very good goals and a deserved victory. This in spite of a strange officiating display that looked set to undo all our good play.
In light of the midweek cup defeat, there was an added significance and edge on today's performance. The possible negative reactions from earlier defeats against Swansea and Bristol City had been tempered by the positive performances, but that was clearly not the case on Wednesday. Today's game at Hillsborough gave the team an immediate opportunity to return to the smooth, compelling footballing efforts that were missing against Pompey. And boy did they take that opportunity, giving a very mediocre Wednesday team, a complete schooling.
We lined up with a 3-5-2 formation: Hall, Barbet and the super solid, home fan-infuriating, Leistner being the three. After recent calamities, it was great to see a sound effort from Barbet, the manager obviously rates him and his confidence will grow - and silly errors disappear- after this effort. Rangel and Manning took the wide positions with Ball holding, allowing the ultra-fluid and beautiful on the eye quad of Eze, Chair, Wells and Hugill to rampage in forward areas.
The first half was made up of a mixture of: great approach play without the necessary final ball or finish from us, poor play and niggly fouls from Wednesday, and some quite frankly awful decisions from the referee.
Most of the play was in the midfield area, with only Wells testing Westwood with a smart low effort, before the referee decided to liven things up in the 22nd minute by awarding a perplexingly soft penalty to the home side. Just before this occurred, I'd very stupidly thought (but didn't say it out loud) that I couldn't see them hurting us, they looked so ponderous and ineffective. Then bang, ball nowhere near him, Forestieri decides to do an impression of a goat and put his face into the grass. There probably was some kind of contact from Hall, but enough for that reaction, I doubt it. You will have all seen the highlights by now and I bet it looks even softer on the screen. I don't recall any appeals for a penalty, but the referee was happy to take centre stage and give Wednesday a chance to have an actual shot. Lumley, as usual dived early and the wrong way. It was a good strike by 87-year-old Fletcher and Lumley wouldn't have saved it anyway. But Joe, just wait a second, stand your ground and save the bad penalties.
Talking of penalties, Hugill ended up on the deck in the box, twice later in the half, one of these looked a very good shout, but nothing was given. Any little touch outside the box was instantly blown for- so bloody infuriating.
Despite the setback, we continued to dominate the ball and applied plenty of pressure in the final third. The impressive Chair had a couple of long range shots, one comfortably saved, the other into the side netting. This was also the destination for a Manning free kick, which cleared the wall and momentarily looked very good.
There were a fair few cynical fouls and handbag situations, which were initially unpunished before the referee stated waving his yellow card around. The very annoying (and unusually poor for him on the day) Bannan was finally booked for a spat with Hugill, who was also carded. Bannan was lucky it wasn't worse after kicking out. Forestieri also saw yellow for a niggly foul against Manning and Rangel received the same for a very professional, breakaway stopping trip on halfway.
It just felt so typically QPR, to go in at half time one down ,to such a soft goal after playing so well.
If we'd been good in the first half, we were flipping tremendous in the second. But this time the superb approach play was rewarded with chances and goals. Wells had brought out a fine save from Westwood before we deservedly equalised. An outrageous overhead flick and turn on the halfway line by Rangel started the move, before a beautiful, incisive pass from Wells, freed Hugill who rounded the keeper comfortably and slotting home- a brilliant goal.
Four minutes later and the game had been completely turned around. More great passing in midfield before a chip down the left was chased by the marauding Manning. Hugill would've been flagged offside if he'd gone for the pass, but he cleverly left it to Manning and instead met the cross and guided it home. The home players and fans were baying for offside (and blood) and the assistant referee in front of them was not very popular and I think that they did contribute to his bus fare home by chucking a few coins in his direction. Anyway the goal stood and there was fun to be had in the away end.
Just after this Massimo Luongo came on for Wednesday, the tannoy system is so poor at Hillsborough, that we didn't notice he was on til the very end. There was no 'curse of the ex' here as thankfully, our former player made zero impact. An obviously disappointed Wells was replaced shortly after by Brighton loanee Mlakar, and the pattern of the game continued with Rangers in complete control. Wednesday made two more substitutions and one of these Nuhui, should've equalised late on when failing to hit the target from close range.
There was no late barrage from the home side, we continued to leave Wednesday players chasing shadows and Eze almost made it 3-1, but stumbled when he looked certain to score. Kane replaced Angel and also nearly scored when a great goal-bound effort was blocked.
The referee's final bit of weirdness was to add six minutes to the 90. Up until this point there had been no time wasting, a few subs and injuries, but six did seem excessive. We needn't have worried, this elongated time was played out comfortably, most of it, successfully, down by the Wednesday corner flags. Leistner received a booking for an overly aggressive, tackle midway in our half. This allowed the home team to launch a free kick into our box. Concern in the away end was real, until Lumley palmed the ball away from danger and smothered it. There'd been an Old Trafford style exodus from the home stands way before the end, but delirium amongst us as back to back wins and away wins in Sheffield, were signalled by the final whistle.
So many positives to take from my first game of the season. Some stunning interplay all over the park, a very solid defensive display, fighting back after a nonsense decision and a great team spirit. We now have a really good looking strike force, which will be getting plenty of ammunition from a super creative midfield. Chair and Eze better have good shin pads because booting them looks like the only way to stop them. As a team our players need to make sure that referees don't let this happen- a little bit of Preston style cynicism and bleating needs to be added to our game plan. All the good things I've read about were on display, we look a very good outfit, even with the likes of Amos, Cameron, BOS and Pugh not making the pitch or squad. Wednesday can have zero complaints, they were gift-wrapped their only shot on goal by the referee and comprehensively outplayed throughout.
We now go into an international break, which is a pity, with bundles of confidence running through the club. Lots of people have said we are going to give someone a real spanking soon. Sheffield Wednesday should be very relieved it wasn't them, because it really could've been.
Match Gallery: 24 photos
Sheff Wed: Westwood 7, Palmer 5 (Murphy 75, 5), Iorfa 4, Bornar 4, Fox 4 (Luongo 67, 4) Reach 4 (Nuhui 76, 4), Hutchinson 5, Bannan 5, Harris 5, Forestieri 4, Fletcher 5.
Subs not used: Lee, Rhodes, Dawson, Bates
Goals: Fletcher 23 (penalty, won Forestieri)
Bookings: Borner 21 (foul), Bannan 23 (unsporting) Forestieri 45+3 (foul), Iorfa (90+4 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 6; Rangel 7 (Kane 88, -) Manning 7, Barbet 6, Hall 6, Leistner 7; Ball 6, Eze 7 ( Scowen 83, -), Chair 7; Wells 7 (Mlakar 68 5), Hugill 8.
Subs not used: Pugh, Osayi-Samuel, Owens, Kelly
Goals: Hugill 60 (assisted Wells), 64 (assisted Manning)
Bookings: Hugill 23 (unsporting) Rangel 43 (foul), Leistner 90+6 (foul)
Star Man: Jordan Hugill 8 Top front man performance. Apart from two lovely finishes, battled for everything all afternoon and gave Wednesday defence a torrid afternoon.
Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire) 3 Ridiculously soft penalty when compared to two claims at the other end. Let too much go early on and struggled to regain control. No issue with any of the bookings and did improve in second half- good job he did.
Attendance – 23,446
The Twitter @LeeMcAlpine1
Pictures – Action Images
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