|Queens Park Rangers 2 v 1 Brentford|
Wednesday, 17th February 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Resurgent Rangers finally have their Field day – Report
Thursday, 18th Feb 2021 18:03 by Clive Whittingham
A stirring second half fightback at Loftus Road secured a rare derby day victory for QPR against probably the best team they’ve played all season.
Queens Park Rangers are winning. They’re winning at home, they’re winning away, they’re winning against good teams, and they’re winning against poor ones. They’re winning when they play well, and they’re winning when they don’t. Should have seen them coming, walking down the Uxbridge Road…
Few did. If you’d said this ragtag bunch of budget buys would go from four wins all season to four wins in five matches a month ago you’d have been invited to spend some time in the padded room. Problem is, as has been made so plainly clear to us over time, we’re not allowed nice things. With the heady scent of Charlie Austin-fuelled revolution in the air has come a series of postponements, less Rangers run the risk of winning so often they climb above their place in this world – sixteenth, always sixteenth. To go with no family, no pubs, no holiday, no friends, no fun, no life, no bombing, no heavy petting, now we have no football either. Just you, in your house, wondering whether this rejuvenated team might have made fifteenth by now were it allowed to actually play the odd game or two. Wycombe at home, eminently winnable, scratch that. Rotherham away, well you wouldn’t put it past us, get that iced off as well. Brentford at home though? Not a snowball’s chance in hell of a QPR win in that one, get the temperature turned back up and let the boys play. Sun. Actual bloody sunshine. Heartless, vengeful God.
Bloody Brentford. Bloody Brentford with their shiny new stadium while we can’t get a basic training ground development past a gaggle of angry skylarks. Bloody Brentford with their multiple, transformative, multi-million-pound sales of drone pilot Said Benrahma and Ezri Konsa and Chris Mepham (who Paul Bruce said was crap and released from QPR for nothing), while we lose Ryan Manning and Bright Osayi-Samuel for the cost of a first class stamp and Alex Smithies goes to Cardiff in exchange for something they picked out of their bum. Bloody Brentford with their amazing replenishing strike force that goes from Scott Hogan to Neal Maupay to Ollie Watkins to Ivan Toney without skipping a beat, while we mourn the loss of My Chemical Hugill’s towering three yarders and Lyndon Dykes and Macauley Bonne giggle their way through another unsuccessful round of Arse or Elbow?. Bloody Brentford with their relentlessly astute, mathematically brilliant, statistical genius owner, Moneyballing his way through the chaff of the Championship, while ours plays Fifa with Loic Remy, in an Air Asia baseball cap. Bloody Brentford with their sodding recruitment model, bummed so heartily by the division’s host broadcaster, that picks up a player for 33p because the algorithm noticed that never before had somebody with so few pubes chested down so many xGs in the Danish Superior Liga C division, and end up selling him to Aston Villa for a gazillion pounds, while Les Ferdinand and Lee Hoos splash around in Yeni Ngbakoto’s bathtub yelling Marco and Polo at each other. Bloody, stupid, sodding Brentford.
Some football to watch at least, but we know how this one goes. We’ve sat through nine defeats from 13 meetings. Like being invited out to dinner by people you hate – nice to have something to do, break up the lockdown tedium, and in theory you quite like restaurants and the food they serve but, yeh, those cunts are going to be there.
And for a while, that’s exactly how it was. QPR certainly not looking like a team in any kind of form, overawed and overwhelmed, conceding possession and free kicks with alarming frequency. Dom Ball fouled a geezer straight from the kick off, and kept committing fouls even after referee Gavin Ward had cautioned him for doing so too frequently, placing him on a red card tightrope. Occasionally they managed to gather themselves for a collective high press, Geoff Cameron particularly impressive with some snappy early interventions on halfway, but quite often having achieved the victory of forcing Brentford to go long from occasional goalkeeper David Raya they then lost the first header and second ball anyway. Ivan Toney, on the odd occasions he remained upright, was a predictable handful.
Brentford - whose warm up partially consisted of jogging on the spot in a circle while that fat, bald bloke from the Lambert and Butler adverts pointed at them and yelled about how Peter Gilham will explode into a thousand pieces if they so much as allow That Lot From Shepherd’s Bush to cross the halfway line - looked all fit and competent. A cross from perennial scourge Rico Henry deflected high into the sky, landed at Tariqe Fosu-Henry and was volleyed over. Dalsgaard shot wide from range after Sergi Canos had tried and failed to turn a cross in at the near post.
At one point Jensen, who was incredibly good for the first 45 minutes, took a clearly embarrassed Charlie Austin out of the game with a lob, collected it on the other side and nutmegged Ball in one fluid motion, and then sent a 30-yarder screaming towards the bottom corner requiring a super save from Seny Dieng. Seny, mate, honestly, what do you want from me? First born? It’s yours. Girlfriend? I’ll help guide you in. If that had gone in the only thing preventing us from seeing it, hearing about it, and reliving it seventy-five thousand times a day for the rest of our lives would have been the tidal wave of seminal fluid washing down the Westway, engulfing all before it, clogging our lungs and drowning us. Sky Sports Mathias Jensen would have launched immediately, replacing Sky Sports NFL in the off season, playing the goal on a loop from all angles, with the omnipresent impartial analysis of Brentford B coach and former Brentford midfielder Sam Saunders to guide us. All other football would have been declared null and void. Life would have been even more horrible and pointless than it is already. Probably the best goal anybody’s scored since the dawn of time. Anyway, Seny, I love you. Big kiss.
There was, inevitably, a goal. A lesser goal than Jensen’s would have been, obviously, but a goal all the same, and he was involved. No surprise it originated down the left, where Henry and Canos v Kane and Kane was a veritable footballing carvery – Rangers’ outnumbered and outclassed full back having to admit defeat with a deliberate foul and yellow card, Jensen whipping essentially an undefendable free kick into the near post and England’s Ivan Toney peeling away to flick in his fifty eighth goal of this magnificent season. Later he’d strike a free kick of his own marginally over via a flick off the top of the wall.
There wasn’t a lot you could say. Mark Toney a little bit tighter? Build a bigger wall? Put a man on the near post? Unlike the goal he’d scored in similar circumstances at LegoLand Kew in the corresponding fixture, I wasn’t really sure we could have done a lot with it. Canos, Jensen and Tony, three of the four best players on the pitch in the first half, along with Henry, combining to win and execute a very skilful opener. It rather microcosomed a half that had been all too much for QPR, Brentford’s upturned umbrella set-up sweeping down the field in perfect formation, enveloping any opponent in its path and carting them back towards their own goal. Rangers could do little other than concede possession and foul in desperation. When Mads Sorensen, a weak link in the first meeting, passed the ball straight to Lyndon Dykes on the edge of the penalty area he was so surprised he dribbled it out for a goal kick immediately. Later Dykes left a bit on Raya chasing a through ball, a meagre crime for which the goalkeeper and Brentford bench angrily demanded 25 to life, as they’re rather prone to do.
The best thing about the half time scoreline was the half time scoreline. This was a half in which the exhumed corpse of Winston Reid calmly stood and pinged 80-yard diags over the head of stranded QPR wing backs. But for it all, it was only one nil. QPR had shown what was possible as long as that remained the case when a late corner was volleyed powerfully towards goal by former Bee Yoann Barbet, brilliantly saved through a crowd by Raya, and Austin had fluffed a relatively simple rebound by his standards. One and there was hope. Two and it was time to Arthur Fowler the sitting room again.
A nervous start to the second half from Rangers threatened more of the same, but a couple of things had changed.
Firstly, Rangers were competitive. There was anger and attitude, there was pressing and tackling, there was no more of this taking-it-lying-down business. Rangers had looked, frankly, a little scared. No more. Stefan Johansen played a key role. Fear drained away, replaced with a pugnacious energy. Our house, and all of that jazz. Rich-wha? Warbs Warburton had effectively affected a mentality change over the tea and oranges. An early free kick to the far post found Barbet and Dickie in more space than should really have been allowed and the latter had a dangerous shot blocked. Actual shots now, see, an improvement already.
Secondly, that other side of bloody, stupid, sodding Brentford started to show through a bit. The Bees had been 21 unbeaten prior to a weekend defeat to Barnsley. They’ve scored more than anybody else in the division, won more games, lost fewer games, have the division’s top scorer, and all of these other tiresome facts of life. They will, almost certainly, be promoted this year, an incredible achievement in the land of the parachute payment. But, mentally, there remains a question mark over this oh so perfect team, which shit the bed on a promotion the needlessly chippy boil-in-the-bag Audrey Roberts on the touchline insisted they’d win last year because somewhere among all the immaculate recruitment, scouting and analytics they decided it would be clever, progressive and neat for the goalkeeper to stand 20 yards away from his goal for the opposition’s attacking free kicks. That mark will remain until they do see a promotion through, and you saw why here. There’s self-belief and confidence, and there’s smug complacency, and they do very occasionally cross that line.
First half, with all the ball, and none of the opposition, a rosier garden never hath grown. Canos gliding around, Toney bullying the smaller boys, Jensen doing fucking rainbow flicks. Second half, without it, a rather spectacular wilt. QPR weren’t having it any more, and Brentford didn’t really know what to do about that. Jensen went from best player on the pitch to bare bystander – turfing one sitter over the bar with better options for a pass with the carefree attitude that comes with an arrogant belief there’ll be another chance just as good along in a minute so it doesn’t really matter. Canos, bar the clever backheel that got Jensen in on goal, vanished to such an extent the next time you see his face it’ll be on a milk carton. A truant from Hammersmith Slimming World waddled on in a Bryan Mbeumo shirt and contributed about as much as you’d expect, volleying one presentable late chance so high over the bar referee Ward wrongly assumed it must have been deflected there. Toney spent vast, vast, vast swathes of the second half lying down on the floor, using what precious little time he spent on his feet to commit silly, pressure-relieving fouls, and abusing the referee, for which he was eventually, belatedly, yellow carded. Where’s the algorithm for ‘going got tough’?
Into this mix, QPR added much needed quality ball players. Dom Ball was called down from the highwire and replaced with debutant Sam Field, immediately more composed and conscientious with his possession. Chris Willock replaced the hapless Dykes and very quickly ascended the Best Player on the Pitch throne. Raya, as he’s rather prone to do, came charging out of his area needlessly, almost presenting an open goal to Ilias Emilian Chair. Ilias Emilian. What a fucking dude. Chair then hit the bar with the resulting corner. A deep cross from Barbet almost got Austin in at the far stick. The QPR manager has had his substitutions repeatedly questioned this season, often with plenty of justification, but he impacted the game positively with progressive changes here. QPR had gone from clinging onto coattails to dominating the game. Where Jensen and Canos had reigned, now Willock and Field were masters of all they surveyed.
Could there be an actual goal to show for the power switch? Yes there jolly well could. Willock, my word, through three players in the centre circle, each left to regret not committing a cynical foul as Kane crossed, Austin scrambled at the back post, Henry headed back into traffic, and Field swept home the loose ball with a technically perfect left footed shot from 15 yards out. Debut goal. Sweet dreams are made of this.
One wonders whether Willock, who impresses every time he makes it onto the field, might be better served starting instead of Kane at right wing back in the games we feel we can attack, and off Austin instead of Dykes in the ones we see as more taxing. Well, hold that thought, and that erection, because here goes Kane with a crossfield ball for the ages, and chugging into view over the horizon it’s Captain of Glasgow Rangers Lee Wallace, final boiler lit and swallowing coal, to collect and pile through two would be challenges en route pour Boulogne from where he cut a cute, clever, calm ball back into trouble, which of course, as we know, is Charlie Austin’s home address, and in it went as it was always going to do. In it fucking went. Where else was it going to go? Two goals in four minutes. Butter my arse.
A third goal in six for Austin since returning for a second stint, a statue carved in marble in the works for Batman Close, and a loud, provocative celebration in front of a Brentford bench from where so much of their brilliance, and all of their flaws, permeates down. Perhaps, in a quieter moment, Audrey may concede that… “I showed only one clip to the players after the Barnsley game, which we lost to a team that was just a tiny bit better than us. The clip I showed was in the 94th minute when we had eight players sprinting back from a corner. If you have that mentality, work-rate and togetherness you will be absolutely fine. …doth not adequate preparation make, nor due respect show.
They… cared. QPR cared. It was etched all over Austin’s face. Joe Lumley, who hasn’t played for months, and Dom Ball, tired from an hour of exertion, ringing each other’s necks in violent celebration in the Paddocks. You could hear us, actually hear us. Revelation. For years we’ve looked west over the top of the School End with a sort of bemused, 'da fuck dey doing over der?' expression while Brentford have worked themselves into a steamy lather about something that may or may not have happened the way they say it did back in the days when we used to send kids up chimneys for sport. Time and time again we’ve gone into these fixtures under cooked, under prepared, and humiliated ourselves against a team for whom victory is everything. Manager after manager has trudged that long trudge in front of the Griffin Park away end and forlornley tried to justify half-arsed no-shows and severe beastings at the hands of a more committed opponent. Now though, suddenly, needle. It finally mattered. They cared.
First Rob Dickie, and then Geoff Cameron, ceded cynical, tactical fouls to disrupt dangerous attacks – Cameron, caught under a long ball, probably somewhere between a yellow and red as Toney threatened to streak clear, angle and cover marginally in Captain America's favour. Johansen read one move so perfectly he was able to cruise around and crunch into a perfectly timed widowmaker on Henry that would have taken the fucking roof off the place had we been there to help it on its way. Dieng was booked for time wasting, then timed an arrival between two Brentford players to defuse a dangerous cross perfectly. There was Preston cramp setting in all over the show. QPR were shithousing. Mummy’s little soldier all grown up. Couldn’t be prouder. And, I say again, you could hear us. Austin especially, loving life. Informing the Brentford bench just how over the game was as a final goal kick soared into the night sky.
Brentford, meanwhile, went completely the other way. Heads lost, daft actions, multiple, multiple silly free kicks conceded, and, no word of a lie, long throws. I mean I thought committing dead money to borrow a 32-year-old centre back from West Ham who hasn’t played since the time of the dinosaurs was the sort of backward thinking, retrograde move silly little idiots like QPR do, and now here they were launching long throws to chase a deficit. Long throws. From Brentford. My word. Some clothes for the emperor if you please, there’s a chill in the air.
Raucous celebrations at full time, and long into the night online, drew further ire from The Kabin, and betrayed just how much the self congratulation from way out west has got up everybody’s nose. A red wine for Geoff. A crown for King Charlie. A fifth win from six. Warbs Warburton, not long ago seemingly certain for the sack, now taking richly deserved credit for turning a game against his former employer around with a big half time address and clever second half subs. A result I’d have offered you any price you liked on at half time. An eight-point gap to the relegation zone and eyes now fixed firmly on the catchable teams above.
Queens Park Rangers, are winning.
QPR: Dieng 7; Dickie 7, Cameron 7, Barbet 7; Kane 6, Ball 5 (Field 56, 7), Johansen 7, Chair 6, Wallace 7 (Kakay 79, 6); Dykes 5 (Willock 65, 7), Austin 6
Subs not used: Lumley, Hämäläinen, Bettache, Kelman, Adomah
Goals: Field 72 (unassisted), Austin 76 (assisted Wallace)
Bookings: Kane 29 (foul), Ball 33 (repetitive fouling), Dickie 57 (foul), Cameron 84 (foul), Dieng 90 (time wasting)
Brentford: Raya 6; Dalsgaard 6 (Rasmussen 83, -), Reid 6, Sorensen 5, Henry 6; Dasilva 6 (Ghoddos 75, 6), Janelt 6 (Forss 83, -), Jensen 7; Fosu-Henry 6 (Mbeumo 58, 5), Toney 7, Canos 7
Subs not used: Pinnock, Daniels, Rasmussen, Bidstrup
Goals: Toney 30 (assisted Jensen)
Bookings: Toney 90 (repetitive fouling)
QPR Star Man – Stefan Johansen 7 Key to the first half cling-on, with midfield partner Dom Ball out of his depth and Jensen running amok. Led the second half turn around, bolstered by quality arriving from the bench in the form of Field and Willock who could both have taken this honour despite only being on for half an hour. A big, fat, fuck off tackle on Rico Henry to quell the last of Brentford’s stoppage time resistance was a moment crying out for a crowd.
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 8 Some irritations – in both fixtures I’ve marvelled at Ivan Toney’s ability to commit seven, eight, nine fouls a game without even being spoken to – but overall very decent, keeping close control of a difficult game to referee.
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Friday night football – can’t beat it. Gives you that feelgood factor all weekend, sitting back to enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon watching others fail in your wake. Of course, you have to win first, which we’ve been struggling to do for a while now, so be prepared for the possibility of a miserable weekend just in case. We share this evening with Reading v AFC Bournemouth, albeit they kick-off an hour later than we do. In the real world, leaders of the UK’s five largest business groups have written to Boris demanding action on the substantial difficulties they are facing over Brexit bureaucracy, whilst French border authorities are reporting that two-thirds of lorries arriving from the UK are empty (i.e. no exports leaving the UK). Still, at least the NHS can enjoy their extra £350m per week…
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