|Plymouth Argyle 3 v 2 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 5th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
QPR back in action at Plymouth, sort of – Preview
Friday, 4th Sep 2020 16:25 by Clive Whittingham
Just 46 days since they finished the 2019/20 season with a 2-2 at West Brom, QPR are back in competitive action on Saturday with a trip to our old friends at Plymouth Argyle in the League Cup.
Plymouth Argyle v QPR
Rumbelows Cup, first round >>> Saturday September 5, 2020 >>> Kick Off 12.30 >>> Weather – Sunny and dry >>> Home Park, Plymouth, Devon
Is it a bird? Is it a friendly? No, it’s the League Cup First Round. On a Saturday. In September. Who would have thought a week where Southampton legend Matthew Le Tissier started shouting at parked cars about Anne Frank could get even weirder still. 2020 is certainly bringing big chaotic energy if nothing else. I’m starting to think Monkey Dust wasn’t bleak enough. Dystopian future? I’d sell up and live in that series now if I could.
What you’re looking at here ladies and gentlemen is the lesser spotted coherently thought through and succinctly expressed Ian Holloway idea. Why not, mused Olly, instead of coming back from a three month break to three matches in seven days, move the first round of the League Cup to the last Saturday of the summer? Clubs often looked to play their most competitive friendly there anyway, frequently with a far stronger team out than they would pick in the cup the following Tuesday, so the competition would benefit from better team selections. And a competitive Saturday game would almost certainly draw bigger crowds than the flagging numbers turning up for the midweekers, which were frequently played out in front of stadiums more closed than open.
Brilliant. Genuinely. Love that.
And, well, here it is. A sort of saggier version. The latest cobbled together best-of-a-bad situation solution designed to drag the sport kicking and screaming through the Covid-19 pandemic and out the other side in something resembling one piece. Keeping the Sky taps turned en route. If football in this country was run in any kind of joined up way, rather than the EFL, FA and Premier League all pulling in different directions and cross-purposes, all desperate to keep the TV money flowing, then this might have been a good season to just knock the League Cup on the head for 12 months and bring it back in 2021/22. Of course the Premier League would see that as an opportunity to do away with the pesky thing altogether and open up more time for vitally important shirt-selling tours of the Middle and Far East and US, which the EFL, and Sky, and chuffin Carabao, know only too well, so we press on, with four rounds to be played between now and the end of September. Four rounds. Last team standing, literally, gets the pot.
The original idea, the one Olly chucked into conversation one afternoon between that story about him shouting at Roy Wegerle and that other story where he gets the season of our Swindon defeats mixed up, was a pretty good one I thought. What we have here instead is just another “yeh, it’s shit, but what you gonna do?” moment that will come along pretty frequently during a global pandemic. It’s a match between a team that has only had a six-week off-season, time for all our football people to join all the other football people in Mykonos for a couple of nights and pass the venereal disease around then return for three quickfire friendlies, and another that hasn’t played competitively since March 7 and spent a good chunk of that time furloughed, locked down and unable to train. First world problems, but problems all the same.
It solves the issue of Championship teams coming back next week with a quick blast of three fixtures in a week, but fixture chaos lays down the line as a reward for winning this first round game. Particularly for teams in Leagues One and Two who are also simultaneously starting their EFL Trophy campaigns this week – a competition closer to death than even this one thanks to the actions of its organiser, and another thing we could, should, surely, surely to Christ, have been able to do without in 2020/21.
Let’s say Plymouth use their bye tomorrow to progress through to round four of this comp. Combined with their EFL Trophy group games against Cheltenham, Newport and, disgracefully, Norwich’s children, it means they’ll go from no football at all since March 7 to games on September 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 October 3, 6, 10, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 31. Plymouth already have eight matches in October regardless. There’s “new normal”, “needs must”, “get back to work you plebs” and there’s being bloody stupid about it and, as usual, the EFL has veered into the latter. Explain it to Sky and fucking Carabao, maybe they’ll understand. Use the finger puppets.
For QPR, and others in our league, this game lands on an international weekend when we ordinarily wouldn’t play. A debut for Lyndon Dykes must wait, he’s away with Scotland, leaving a choice between Aramide Oteh and Marco Ramkilde up front for what is supposed to be a competitive fixture. Rangers, like many, will field a scratchy side tomorrow and we’ve got away lightly – Norwich are heading to Luton minus 15 first teamers following Danel Sinani’s late Luxembourg call up during the week.
A bit of a farce to start with then. Well, if you didn’t know we were back before, you do now.
Welcome to 2020/21.
Geoff Cameron Facts No.103 In The Series - Mykonos was founded in the 11th century by Iones from Athens who, with their leader Ippokli, son of Nilea, settled in the place of present day Chora. Geoff carried their bags.
Team News: George Thomas impressed in the first half of the opening friendly with Wimbledon but has sat out since with a knock and one would think it unlikely he be risked for this one having only returned to training this week. Tom Carroll should make his second debut though, providing the papers were submitted for his signing prior to midday today, which by all accounts they were. Rob Dickie is also in line for a debut after featuring against Arsenal during the week. Lyndon Dykes is away on international duty with Scotland and Nico Hamalainen is with Finland so neither will be involved. Conor Masterson was part of a four-day training camp with the Ireland U21s from Monday to Thursday this week ahead of qualifiers in October and November, but they don’t have a game this weekend so he is in theory available. Eyes down look in for Ryan Manning and Bright Osayi-Samuel involvement. Both have a year to run on their current contracts and have so far resisted signing extensions. Mark Warburton said last week players that didn’t want to be here would not be played and would be moved on rather than being allowed to run contracts down.
Plymouth completed the permanent signing of key man George Cooper from Peterborough for the left side of their wing back formation this week while former Charlton and MK Dons midfielder Ben Reeves joined yesterday.
The Many Varied Adventures of Dillon Barnes – This week Dillon is going on loan to Hibernian.
Elsewhere: Games scattered far and wide through this first round, with four ties played last week and all three Championship teams involved safely avoiding upsets. Blackburn beat Doncaster 3-2, Preston did Mansfield 4-0 and Stoke prevailed on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Blackpool. Even allowing for the weakened teams selected by the second tier teams it is worth bearing in mind that they were playing competitive football six weeks ago while the bottom two divisions haven’t been in action since March. No QPR, I will not hold your beer.
Two matches tonight, with Middlesbrough playing Shrewsbury in an early evening kick off, then Burton Albion against Accrington later on.
There are 28 games tomorrow spread across six different kick off times and starting with newly promoted Conference champions Barrow’s first game in the competition away at Wayne Rooney’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass live on the tellybox at 12.00. With Leeds, Villa and Newcastle all now dead to us I suspect we’ll be seeing rather a lot of Mr Potato Head in return for our Sky subscriptions this season. The Sam Saunders derby between Spartak Hounslow and Wycombe is the early Sunday televised fixture.
Select picks from the other 26 games include a competition debut for Harrogate Town at Tranmere, an administration ravaged Wigan Warriors heading to Fleetwood, a clash of fallen Premier League clubs between Sunderland and Allam Tigers, and a West Country derby of sorts between Bristol City and Exeter. Nottingham Florist return to the scene of their play-off costing July horror show with an away game at Barnsley.
Referee: Antony Coggins from Oxfordshire has been fourth official with us before but this is his first QPR appointment. His last Plymouth game was their first round League Cup game last season too, a 2-0 home win against Leyton Orient. Brief details.
Plymouth: Argyle went ten games between 2004 and 2010 without losing to QPR before going down 2-0 to Neil Warnock’s Rangers in March 2010 thanks to goals from Damion Stewart and Adel Taarabt. They haven’t lost to QPR at home since Richard Pacquette scored the only goal in January 2003. Since then the Greens have won four and drawn three of the seven meetings at Home Park, scoring crucial goals in the final ten minutes of games on five occasions including two in injury time (1-1 09/10, 2-1 07/08). Ryan Lowe’s side haven’t played a competitive game since March 7 when they beat Macclesfield 3-0 in League Two. They’d lost only three of 17 games prior to the lockdown, keeping six clean sheets. They finished a truncated League Two season with a record of W20 D8 L9 and 68 points from 37 games and were third in the table when play was stopped. At home they lost just twice in 19 league games last season. Having beaten Leyton Orient 2-0 in the first round of the League Cup they were punted out on this ground in round two, losing 4-2 to Reading. In pre-season they beat Plymouth Parkway 2-1, lost 1-0 to Middlesbrough on the annual Neil Warnock tour of the South West, and then won 2-1 against Forest Green Rovers.
QPR: Rangers won seven away games in the 2019/20 Championship, their best total on the road since they managed eight in the 2013/14 promotion season. Rangers have been knocked out of this competition by League One opposition in the last two seasons – Portsmouth in round two in 2019/20, Blackpool in round three in 2018/19. Geoff Cameron and Yoann Barbet were the only two players to emerge from last season with a positive WDL percentage from their appearances and remain with the club – Josh Scowen and Marc Pugh were the other two. Only four clubs in the Championship (Coventry, Birmingham, Wycombe and Norwich) have made more signings than QPR’s five so far this window. In pre-season they’ve beaten AFC Wimbledon 3-0 at home, lost 1-0 to Oxford away, and run Arsenal close in a 4-3 defeat behind closed doors.
Prediction: It’s a brave man who backs QPR to do well in a cup game.
Plymouth 3-2 QPR. Scorer – Ilias Chair
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Letters from Wiltshire #26 by wessex_exile
Well, after a piss-poor Xmas period so far for the U’s, culminating in the Roots Hall horror show on Boxing Day, let’s hope the U’s have burned off those festive calories and are raring to go. They’ll certainly have to be at their best against a Cheltenham side aiming to force their way into the automatic promotion places. In other news, we now finally have confirmation that there will be a trade deal in place with the EU once Brexit arrives in 2021. It remains to be seen whether it’s a good deal or not, and more to the point, who for, but at least it’s not the economic uncertainty of no-deal.
Letters from Wiltshire #25 by wessex_exile
A little earlier than usual, but as we approach the end of what has been a most difficult year for everyone, I’ll keep the introductory editorial brief, as I’m sure you will all be very busy in the coming days rescuing what you can from this pandemic-ravaged festive period. I simply wish you all peace on earth, goodwill to all (yes, even our South Essex cousins), and here’s to a happy, prosperous and most importantly healthy 2021 for us all.
Letters from Wiltshire #24 by wessex_exile
Welcome to our last match before Christmas. With South Essex going into Tier 3, by the time we take to the pitch at Roots Hall, it’ll be another behind-closed-doors match. With the Tier 3 boundary creeping inexorably closer, one wonders how long the JobServe will hold out and still be able to allow fans to attend. Robbie is doing all he can to make it possible for supporters to attend, and I confess I’m seriously considering our January 2nd match against Tranmere. In other news, I’m relieved to read that the FA will not take disciplinary action against Colchester United after a shameful minority chose to boo players and officials taking the knee, in the words of the EFL “as they highlight the inequality and injustice experienced by the Black Community”. I noticed a tiny minority chose to boo at our mid-week match at the Abbey Stadium, but I was pleased to hear they were immediately drowned out by the remainder of the 2,000 cheering and applauding. I admit I’m a little anxious about today…
Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
As I’ve been providing updates on the ongoing US presidential election, it is worth mentioning that the Electoral College votes have now been cast, which formally confirms Biden as the new President-elect. Normally a formality, as the losing candidate has usually long-since conceded defeat, but these are far from normal times, and America has far from a normal lame-duck President. Still, at least the threat of members of the Electoral College ignoring the popular vote in favour of an outcome demanded by Trump has failed to materialise. In the UK, new Covid tiers were announced this week, with London going into Tier 3. Colchester stays in Tier 2, but only just, with as far north east as Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford also moving into Tier 3 – and as if you need reminding, Tier 3 means no supporters at matches.
Letters from Wiltshire #22 by wessex_exile
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…hence I’m a bit late today, following the inevitable Christmas tree hunt – the decorating will have to wait until later I reckon. In the news, despite my confident assurance several weeks ago that Trump appeared to be grudgingly starting to accept that he had lost the US presidency election, he’s since doubled-down on his baseless accusations of election fraud – without obviously providing a single shred of evidence to back it up (and how could he, there isn’t any). His latest apoplectic tirade, just today, follows the Supreme Court telling Texas just where they can stick their egregious lawsuit demanding that Biden’s victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia be thrown out in favour of Trump. From a global perspective, it is deeply troubling that no less than 126 republican congressional representatives signed an amicus brief supporting the challenge. Trump will leave the White House in January, but they will stay at the heart of the US government, and I don’t think that’s good news for democracy, nor even the rest of the world. Ho hum…
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