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Strikers misfire as Austin watches on - Report
Sunday, 10th Jan 2021 18:36 by Clive Whittingham

QPR were beaten in the FA Cup third round for a record breaking fiftieth time on Saturday, as Fulham made the most of Rangers' profligacy in front of goal to win the day in extra time.

The FA Cup loves narrative, and the storyline of Queens Park Rangers’ third round tie with near neighbours Fulham was writ large. Watching on from the bowels of the South Africa Road stand, returning local hero Charlie Austin. Out on the field in front of him, the reason why.

QPR missed. They missed headed chances, shooting chances and volleyed chances. They missed from close in, long range, and all four corners of the penalty box. They missed with mitigating circumstances, and they missed ones you thought you’d probably score yourself. Chance after chance, over and over, for the best part of two hours, and in the end they were put out of their misery at the third round stage of this competition for a record breaking fiftieth time. Bat raised to the pavilion, members stand to applaud.

There was barely a minute on the clock when Macauley Bonne headed Little Tom Carroll’s outswinging corner over the bar from six yards amidst a half-arsed marking job from Aleksandar Mitrovic. Vague appeals to referee Simon Hooper for a pull perhaps betrayed his embarrassment at the simplicity of the chance. This would be a developing theme.

Bonne would later be played in behind a reshaped Fulham back three by Lyndon Dykes but was so desperate to manipulate the ball back onto his favoured right foot the opportunity passed him by. When Dykes then cut a ball back intelligently for Bright Osayi-Samuel to strike he hit the ball too close to goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

Things escalated after half time. A rare example of a Todd Kane cross not flying straight at the head of the nearest defender deflected through to Bonne at the far post, with time to do as he pleased, but he butchered a snatched volley over the bar. He then went through on the goalkeeper one on one after a ball from Geoff Cameron, of all people, found its way through to him on a tight angle but Rodak saved strong and decisively at his feet. Rodak also saved fairly brilliantly from Dom Ball after Kane got him in along the byline but the goalkeeper was not required when a long punt out from his opposite number Seny Dieng got Dykes clean through on the goal with the ball sitting up invitingly and no Fulham defender in the picture — he banged a horrible, ugly shot into the Loft End.

Warbs Warburton decided to try tattooed child Charlie Kelman from the bench, see if he could do any better. He could not. Not brave enough at the near post to convert one cross from Bright Osayi-Samuel, not sharp enough to bring a good ball from Dykes under his spell when it looked like he would go through on goal.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Joe Bryan’s audacious 50-yard lobbed attempt over Dieng after a quarter hour was inches away from finding the top corner — a beautiful effort from a lovely footballer. Fulham really are blessed in that position, later introducing the muscular Antonee Robinson from the bench who was similarly impressive. When QPR’s structure collapsed completely on itself on the half hour Josh Onomah was allowed to pull a ball out of the sky in 20 square yards of clear space inside the Rangers half and he fed Mitrovic who was then denied by a typical hail Mary challenge from Yoann Barbet. Another one of those, and a goal line clearance, were required on the hour when Ivan Cavaleiro sprung a creaking offside trap and advanced into the area — Mitrovic, again, with the effort that required the Frenchman’s intervention under the crossbar. Bryan, Onomah and others shot wide from range, Mitrovic would have gone clean through on goal at the start of the second half with a better first touch. He looked like he’d rather be anywhere else, and Fulham felt clunky and half interested, but their chances still came and went.

Nor were the strikers the only problem. QPR’s wing backs, once more, struggled. Down the right Todd Kane just looks bereft — an extra time cross that struck Bryan on the temple and knocked him clean off his feet rather summed up his afternoon. Down the left, Bright Osayi-Samuel was given a go as a makeshift option, Warbs Warburton finally conceding that Captain of Glasgow Rangers Lee Wallace and umlaut enthusiast Niko Hämäläinen are as much use between them as Anne Frank’s drum kit. He didn’t do too badly, but there’s not a defensive bone in his body, and we looked open down that side — Ilias Chair, prize from the middle shelf for a lung busting 80 yard sprint back down the pitch to rescue a first half counter attack out of Rodak’s hands. You can rarely fault this team’s effort to be fair to them.

The midfield, too, remains more of a concern than anything else. As against Reading, Bristol City, Brentford and others things started well, with Carroll dictating, showing, getting, giving, moving the ball intelligently, maintaining and recycling possession, passing forwards with purpose. When Carroll plays QPR play, but when he fades, and fade he does, the team go with him. He had, along with Chair, as per usual, been substituted before a period of extra time was forced by the stalemate. Faysal Bettache was given long awaited minutes in his stead and looked keen, calm and confident, but it was noticeable how few options show for the ball from the defence once Carroll and Chair aren’t there any more, and Bettache was one of a couple you could perhaps accuse of being too passive when Bobby Reid worked a one two on the edge of the area with Mitrovic and then whipped an accurate shot into the bottom corner for 1-0.

A second followed soon after, Fulham shifting the ball right, right again and right a third time until QPR simply ran out of bodies and Neeskens Kabano was able to power one home at Dieng’s near post. A second goal for a substitute emphasising the relative strength of Fulham’s bench compared to Rangers’. Five kids were introduced by Warbs Warbuton, and the sum total of their contribution was Hämäläinen showing Kabano the outside route to the byline and inviting him to take it, then pulling him down for an obvious yellow card when he took him up on it. A booking only beaten in its stupidity by Barbet’s crack straight through the back of the same player in a neutral position a moment earlier. The French centre half, to be fair to him, didn’t play too badly otherwise.

It was a long afternoon to sit through for that as the reward.

The problems with this team stretch way beyond simply who’s playing up front. There have been games — Bournemouth, Watford, Bristol City, Brentford and now this one — where the missing of chances has been the biggest issue. You certainly couldn’t argue with the service in this match, Osayi-Samuel, Chair and Carroll in particular but also Cameron and even Kane at one point or another all left justifiably exasperated that good ball into dangerous area was wasted by those ahead of them. But that’s not always been the case this season. Unlike last year, where Jordan Hugill’s glaring misses were a regular punctuation to the campaign, it hasn’t felt like we’re missing a tonne of chances in general, up to but not including this game.

There are still, for me, more pressing problems elsewhere. If QPR try and survive in the Championship this season with these full backs and this midfield they’re going to be playing Rochdale when we’re eventually allowed back in, Charlie Austin or no Charlie Austin. We are seeing a pattern repeat when Rangers play reasonably for the first half, even the first hour, but then fade as Carroll tires and the opposition add options from a better furnished bench to the middle of the park.

But, on this occasion, without a doubt, QPR win the game with a better striker up front.

Links >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Picture Gallery >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Dieng 6; Dickie 6, Cameron 6 (Masterson 90, 6), Barbet 7; Kane 5, Carroll 6 (Thomas 82, 5), Ball 6, Chair 6 (Bettache 82, 6), Osayi-Samuel 6 (Hämäläinen 90, 5); Bonne 4 (Kelman 73, 5), Dykes 5

Subs not used: Willock, Barnes, Adomah

Bookings: Cameron 35 (foul), Barbet 112 (foul), Hämäläinen 115 (foul)

Fulham: Rodak 7; Aina 6, Ream 6, Kongolo 7 (Hector 67, 6); Tete 6 (Odoi 90, 6), Onomah 7, Reed 6 (Kebano 78, 7), Loftus-Cheek 6 (Robinson 90, 7), Bryan 8; Cavaleiro 5 (Reid 67, 7), Mitrovic 5

Subs not used: Adarabioyo, Fabri, Carvalho, Jasper

Goals: Reid 104 (assisted Mitrovic), Kebano 105+2 (assisted Onomah)

QPR Star Man — Yoann Barbet 7 Usual seat of your pants, madcap, out of control nonsense at times, but two big goal-saving tackles and an important goal line clearance cap a decent enough display.

Referee — Simon Hooper (Hampshire) 8 Probably the best player on the pitch. Gave the game every chance, bought none of the attempts to con him by Mitrovic and others. A calm, unobtrusive authority.

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WestonsuperR added 19:01 - Jan 10
Incredibly frustrating match but feel it a little harsh to be too critical of our midfield, we competed for the majority of the match, could argue we were the better side and certainly created a host of chances with far inferior and less valuable players. Overall the performance was good, far better than the usual substandard rubbish we have to put up with in the FA cup but have to start converting our chances, I’m hopeful Austin will do so.

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 19:10 - Jan 10
I don’t think you can fault Warbs for this one. Strong team, on paper at least, and fresh legs introduced for extra time. If we had got to penalties it would have been a lottery, whoever was on the pitch. All that and doubtless an eye on protecting the squad for imminent important games.
As for Dykes and Bonne...

stevec added 19:12 - Jan 10
Yeah, centre mid is not good, not good at all, but at the moment it’s the least of our worries.


Northernr added 19:17 - Jan 10
Disagree Steve. For me it's the biggest one.

062259 added 19:35 - Jan 10
At some point the club has to stick, rather the keep twisting with both managers and players. Are Dykes and Bonnie (and even Kelman), and most of the midfield, and all of the full back write-offs? Is Warburton a bust? Are we doomed?

No to all.

Sure, some tweaks are needed, but not wholesale reconstruction, and the big question to ask is: would it be better to go down and develop the existing talent, and at least give it time to prove itself, with Warburton at the helm, or blow the whole thing up, yet again, and start all over again, again?

Sittingbournehoop added 19:37 - Jan 10
At least we got beat by a premier league team because I would have dreaded Marine away, it’s never a cup shock when we get beat, regardless of the opposition. Dykes just isn’t a finisher, no composure whatsoever, he seems to get a rush of blood to his head and almost panics when he gets a chance. As for Bonne, just seems out of his depth. Not his fault, we signed him and paid the money, why? Even a half fit Austin is a big improvement but the teams problems are much deeper, the full backs are awful and the midfield weak. When relegation happens, I expect a clear out from boardroom downwards. Heads should roll, the club are a shambles and recruitment has been woeful, too many mistakes made. I can’t wait for the season to end.

TheChef added 19:47 - Jan 10
Nice report Clive.

I know midfield is an area of concern, but the inability to score goals only helps highlight the other issues.

ngbqpr added 19:49 - Jan 10
For a few games now, your player markings have been full of 5s & 6s. To be fair to the squad, very few 4 or below - but equally next to no 7+s.

If we can have the squad collectively hitting 6s and 7s weekly, with an 8 or two per match, I think we stay up.

Myke added 20:06 - Jan 10
Cheers Clive. Got a good laugh re Anne Frank's drum! No point in discussing Austin here, it's been done to death on the forum. We have criticised MW in the past for removing Carroll and Chair and people have mentioned on the match thread that we threw in the towel by removing them yesterday. Whatever about Chair I didn't see it that way with Carroll. I felt his influence had waned for a while before he had been removed. I wonder why is that? Yes he works very hard, doing a lot of off the ball stuff, as well as constantly giving and laying off the ball. He is in perpetual motion, but not 'flat out', so not sure why he gets knackered in every game. He is quite slight, so maybe his body is incapable of storing any more stamina. Whatever the reason, we need to get a another high-energy player into mid-field this window.

Myke added 20:08 - Jan 10
Oh and you didn't mention Ball. I thought he was excellent yesterday - better than a 6, but yeah, yeah, the team, I know.

derbyhoop added 20:59 - Jan 10
Positives - we competed with a PL side for 100 minutes and created chances. If we'd taken one of them would we have won in normal time?
Barbet and Dickie forming a good partnership and Cameron in between is a better option than playing CDM.
Negatives - Kane had a mare with his crossing frequently hitting first defender and how much longer can we keep missing chances?

Not sure why Carroll, who dictates the tempo of our game, fades after an hour.
I suspect if we play as well on Tuesday as we did on Saturday then we should get something from the game. Stand by for a complete QPR f*** up.

E15Hoop added 21:05 - Jan 10
Dave McIntyre wrote not so long ago that Warbling Warbs sees George Thomas as an obvious direct replacement for Luke Amos. When you look at him, Chris Willock, Tom Carroll, Faysal Bettache, we've actually got a good handful of players who are neat and tidy with the ball. The problem is they don't seem to have the "I'm going to take the bull by the horns " mindset that Dom Ball does, which is why I'd be tempted to keep him in that position and give him the responsibility of driving forwards and picking out passes. Another suggestion I have, which is a bit more left filed, is why not stick Albert Adomah there for the moment? He is properly two-footed, can pick out a pass beautifully, and sees the whole game in front of him. Let the young bucks do the running and let Uncs do the orchestrating.

toboboly added 21:19 - Jan 10
Not sure why Willock and Adomah weren't used

nix added 22:00 - Jan 10
I agree the ref was excellent. Credit where credit's due. Makes such a difference when you don't have to feel disgruntled by rubbish refereeing.

I also agree that centre midfield is a big issue. Now we've got Charlie in I hope they'll focus on getting one box to box midfielder and at least one fullback.

Patrick added 23:15 - Jan 10
If any of those chances had gone in (Dykes elbowing BoS out of the queue for Miss of the Season) we wouldn't be debating the midfield or defence. Give those "strikers" (sic) a banjo apiece and every bovine south of Watford would breathe a sigh of relief. No wonder we're laying out the fatted calf for Charlie.

062259 added 00:29 - Jan 11
Oh, and the Anne Frank comment isn’t cool. You are far too good to need to resort to that.

bellomatic added 11:14 - Jan 11
Why does Chair always get subbed?

E15Hoop added 11:50 - Jan 11
I think they're just trying to wrap him up in cotton wool, Bello. Once you get fatigued, you're much more susceptible to muscle tears, and that's the last thing we need to see happen to our most creative player.

TacticalR added 12:33 - Jan 11
Thanks for your report.

I missed this game, but going by your report there were some positives, and we stayed in the game. Unfortunately, if you don't take your chances then you are just waiting until you lose.

nightwish added 15:09 - Jan 11
Someones mentioned why Willock and Adomah wernt used, thats because they arent very good thats why.Checked on the player ratings on what fans have given the referee and his rating is 6.8.Not sure what people expect from a referee i cant remember him making a wrong decision i gave him a 9.Just goes to show you how ever good a ref can be they never get appreciated by alot of fans.To only be on 6.8 must mean some fans must of given him 5, its beyond me

E15Hoop added 17:41 - Jan 11
Not sure what you're basing your assertion that Willock and Adomah aren't very good on, Nightwish. You must be watching a different set of games to me. You'll be telling me that Gus Caesar was your all-time favourite QPR player next! 🤣🤣🤣

kingfisher6404 added 19:14 - Jan 11
Not having Kakay fit for so many weeks has made it easier for opponents to cross without hinderance or bypass Kalamity Kane or a still-learning(?) Hamalainen. We simply do not have depth in the squad to bring quality off the bench. In regard to Carroll it is now many weeks into the season, so why does he have to come off at 60 mins? Is he not match-fit still? (Chair and Dykes run themselves ragged, so I understand why Chair is replaced.) Having said all that we know our major problem is our finishing. Bonne knows the Championship (heck we knew him too) so he should have landed with his boots on! Dykes is just trying too hard, coming far too far back to assist when Bonne is incapable it seems of taking the upfield flick and doing something notable with it. Dykes and whoever need to focus upon the goal area and Warburton must ensure they get far better service from BOS, Kane and Hama!

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