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Peterborough United 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 23rd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
To see the Queens Park Rangers - Preview
Friday, 22nd Oct 2021 18:51 by Clive Whittingham

It's another bumper away following hitting the road tomorrow as QPR look to cement their early-season play-off credentials with a win at struggling Peterborough. What could possibly go wrong?

Peterborough (3-2-8 WLDLLW 20th) v QPR (6-3-4 DLWWLW 5th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 23, 2021 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Windy, grey, dry >>> London Road, Peterborough

Four thousand of us tomorrow, apparently.

Up the A1... as long as you can find petrol on Plague Island, and some chinless wonder, with nothing better to do with their time, hasn’t left their uninsulated house with a gas boiler to come and sit in the middle of it and hector you about your uninsulated houses and gas boilers. On the “Great” Northern and Thameslink trains... assuming those incompetent, unsafe, thieving cunts have enough drivers on shift to get us there which - as anybody who has to haemorrhage money out of their arse like mutton vindaloo-aftermath to pay them to take you to work everyday will be able to tell you - hasn’t been the case for the last decade. Or on the big, new, shiny red LNER trains... as long as you’re willing to sacrifice your first born to some human traffickers to meet the demands of the extortion, and are then able to successfully complete your extras role in the remake of 1980s classic The Labyrinth, which also doubles as their website, and deposit the money for one ticket on a set train at a specific time. Dare to board a different one and yours is a back aching for the lash.

If you do get there, history is not on your side. London Road has been graveyard for QPR teams for a long while. Our last visit here in the league was 2009/10 for a 1-0 defeat in which Mikele Leigertwood and Peter Ramage were both sent off, and Tamas Priskin and Marcus Bent ailed all afternoon up front in what would prove to be the nadir of the Flavio Briatore/Bernie Ecclestone reign. It is the only time in my life I have left a game at half time, so disgusted was I with what the team and club had become, so certain was I that even against a team destined for relegation and trailing only by a single goal that the game was over. A couple of us snuggled up by a fire in the Great Northern opposite the station, and watched the score roll in exactly as we’d expected it to, over tall, frosty beers.

There was some success here in 2003 when Richard Langley scored directly from a corner right in front of us, and one of the stewards pealed his coat back to reveal the red and black halved away shirt underneath in the celebrations that ensued. But prior to that one of the low points of the QPR modern era had occurred in the 4-1 loss featured in this week’s history column. A red card for debutant Danny Shittu compounded a miserable night, spookily 20 years to the day tomorrow.

Usually teams from this part of the world, combined with QPR spending the first half of their existence in the Southern League and Division Three South, have played us an ungodly amount of times – we’ve faced Norwich more than any other club. Meetings with Peterborough have been less frequent – 26 in all, nine of those since 1990 – but they include 4-1, 4-2, 5-1 and 6-1 defeats on this ground. QPR’s too-high too-soon first ever year of top flight football in 1968/69 included among its humblings a 4-2 League Cup loss here against a Fourth Division Posh side.

Not only that, but travelling thousands from W12 can also be a mixed blessing. Rangers will be roared on tomorrow by nearly as many fans as Peterborough have in the ground, and against a struggling newly promoted team with 26 goals conceded so far (the worst total in the league) there’s a real chance to make hay. Rangers have lost their last three on the road, but there were against the top three teams in the division, and prior to that they were on a run of three defeats in 19 away from home that had also included five straight wins straddling last season and this. There have already - at Hull, Middlesbrough and Reading – been some memories-for-life moments on our journeys so far, and if we play to our potential then tomorrow could well be another.

But a big traveling following out of London is usually a harbinger of doom. The R’s took more than 10,000 to Villa Park for the final day of 1967/68 to see the team seal promotion to the top flight for the first time with a 2-1 win. But after that it took until 2004 for a sizeable away support to also coincide with the victory they all craved, and that one at Hillsborough was a happy coincidence of a brilliant QPR team that subsequently took the Championship by storm playing below its level against a Sheff Wed side so bad the home fans tore their ground apart in protest at it all afterwards. Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu indeed.

Norwich in 1976 is the most infamous example. Twice we’ve taken north of 6,000 to Old Trafford for cup ties, and all we have to show for that is managing to keep “Paul Ince is a wanker” going for so long (including through the half time break) that even the United players were laughing as “The Guv’nor” stewed. Port Vale, must win, relegation decider, 1999, a big ear from Carl Griffiths, and a fight in the car park. Even this year's takeover at Reading quickly turned into The John Swift Show prior to a late rescue act. In London it’s more of a mixed picture – the League Cup final (not that one), the play-off final, the Highbury semi-final… but also that time we took 12,000 to Wimbledon for the FA Cup fifth round and lost to a half-arsed Crazy Gang.

I’m sure there are others I’ve missed here – Villa Park, 2008, League Cup, Damion Stewart – but speaking generally if there are a lot of us, if you’re scrabbling around for match and train tickets, if you can’t get served at the bar, and if there’s somebody already in your seat when you get there, chances are you’re all going to soon be wondering aloud why any of you bothered. Having stayed painfully true to form at Fulham last week, it would be very welcome if this QPR team goes back to bucking trends and putting smiles on faces with a win tomorrow and the extension of a promising cup run on Tuesday.

Links >>> Not famous any more – History >>> Running up that Hill – Podcast >>> Heads above water – Interview >>> Prem ref drops down – Referee >>> Posh Official Website >>> Peterborough Telegraph – Local Press >>> London Road – Forum >>> Football Ground Guide

Below the fold

Team News: Albert Adomah was man of the match against Blackburn in the week in what was his first league start for the club since the win at Middlesbrough last season on April 17. Whether it’s enough to keep the spot ahead of Moses Odubajo, who didn’t even make the bench during the week, we shall see. Sam Field will play for the U23s next week and is said to be two weeks away from a first team return. No similar word on Lee Wallace as yet. Stefan Johansen returns from a one-match suspension in the middle of midfield.

Much of the pre-season talk around newly promoted Peterborough centred on their attack, with chairman Darragh MacAnthony notoriously demanding of an attractive and offensive style of play from his managers. Jonson Clarke-Harris replaced Ivan Toney in fine style last season with 33 goals in 49 appearances, but serves the final game of a four match suspension for historic social media posts tomorrow having bagged just two goals so far this campaign. Jack Marriott was something of a returning hero when he signed back on a free transfer from stricken Derby, but he exploded his hamstring into a thousand pieces in the September loss at Reading and is said to be facing five months on the sidelines. Former England youth goalkeeper, and Posh number one, Christy Pym also hasn’t played since that game on September 14 after manager Darren Ferguson thought it would be a really splendid idea to have a row with his goalkeeper and resolve never to pick him for the first team again. Lower league journeyman David Cornell has shipped 16 goals in seven appearances as his replacement. Midfielder Joel Randall is also out having stood on a Lego brick in bare feet.

Elsewhere: No Friday night kick and rush with West Brom this week for a change, they’re firing guns into the air against Bristol City at The Hawthorns tomorrow, though Sky have deemed it acceptable to make Middlesbrough fans head to Cardiff for a 12.30 Saturday kick off as Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock face their mass extinction event together. To be fair, a couple of 2-0 home wins against struggling Barnsley and Peterborough has calmed nerves on Teesside, but the Welsh side have now lost seven in a row, conceding 17 and scoring just once. I have a sneaky feeling I know exactly when they’re going to be pulling the trigger there.

One would have thought it would suit all concerned, and the police, if the much more enticing prospect of a first league derby between near neighbours Blackpool and Preston Knob End has been given that early televised slot, but that would require a modicum of imagination and common sense (can you tell the mood the news about the Sheff Utd and Stoke games as put us in?) and so that’s at 15.00 Saturday. It’s joined by league leaders Bournemouth, yet to be beaten and now facing surprise play-off hopefuls Sporting Huddersfield, and another shock early pace setter Coventry who remain fourth despite a midweek defeat at Deepdale prior to their turn in Wayne Rooney’s Derby County’s attempt to 0-0 their way to salvation.

You can always tell things are going swimmingly at a club when they boot the local media out and stop answering their questions, and that’s where the Allam Tigers are right now having lost midweek at home to fellow strugglers Peterborough. They face a tough trip to Lutown who are starting to come good on pre-season predictions that they may be a dark horse – climbing to ninth with one defeat in nine, although six of those games have been drawn. Birmingham v Swanselona, Blackburn v Reading, and the Marxist Hunters at home to Stoke round up the Saturday games.

Two on Sunday. The notoriously calm, sound, rational and competent South Yorkshire Police have basically turned Barnsley into a demilitarised zone for the apparently enormous threat posed by a visit from Sheffield Red Stripe – that one kicks off at three in the morning now lest anybody be caught having a good time. Then it’s arguably the game of the weekend as Florist, fresh from a pair of injury time goals at Bristol Shitty in the week, host promotion favourites Jeffers and AJ.

Referee: After some torturous refereeing in QPR’s recent fixtures, it’s hoped that Australian Jarred Gillett will add a touch of quality on his secondment from the Premier League this weekend. We marked him 8/10 in all four of his QPR fixtures last season. He has already been at London Road once this term, sending off Harlee Dean in Birmingham’s 3-0 loss here last month. Details.

Form

Peterborough: Posh have found their return to the Championship hard going, losing nine of their 14 league and cup games so far. The 2-1 midweek win away to fellow newly promoted side Hull is just their third of the season and has put them twentieth, with 11 points, two points and places north of the relegation zone. Nobody in this division has conceded as many as their 26 goals in 13 league games. They’ve conceded three goals in a game on four occasions (Luton A, Reading A, Coventry A, Bristol City H), four against Plymouth here in the League Cup, and six at Bramall Lane against Sheff Utd. However, that might all mask the threat that lies in store at London Road where their record in the league is 2-2-2, with Derby (2-1) and Birmingham (3-0) the beaten teams, league leaders Bournemouth (0-0) and Cardiff (2-2 in a game Posh led 2-0) the draws; and the only defeats coming against high flying West Brom (1-0 last minute) and Bristol City (3-2, 84th minute winner). They had easily the best home record in League One last season too – no team won as many as their 15 games, no team lost as few as their three. There have been six injury time goals in Posh games this season, and a further three scored in the final five minutes of games. Two stoppage time goals against Derby gained Darren Ferguson’s side three points from a losing position, but since then they have given up five further points against Cardiff, West Brom, Bristol City and Boro with late goals. Siriki Dembele is currently top scorer here with three.

QPR: Rangers have lost their last three away games, albeit against the top three teams in the league, which is as many defeats as they suffered in the previous 19 on the road (W9 D7 L3). By contrast, the win against Blackburn during the week was the third in a row at Loftus Road and keeps Rangers fifth on 21 points. While the top six is undoubtedly the aim this season, and would represent year-on-year improvement having finished 13th in 2019/20 and ninth in 2020/21, it is worth pointing out that at this stage in Mark Warburton’s first season we were also fifth, with two more points than we have now, only to then dip into one of our six-game winless runs that eventually stretched out to two wins from 13 and derailed the whole campaign. That began in game 14 with a 3-1 loss at home to Brentford. The Blackburn win was just a fourth clean sheet of the season, and means three teams now have a worse defensive record than us (Reading 22, Cardiff 24, Peterborough 26). It continued a run of second half goals – Rangers have scored 18 after half time this season, more than anybody else in the league, compared to just six in the first. It also put Ilias Chair on five goals in 14 appearances this season, just three shy of his final total of eight in 46 last season. All of them have come at home, and four in his last four appearances, continuing his overall record of 16 goals at Loftus Road compared to just three away – Millwall and Bristol City last season, Barnsley the season before. And, as we keep saying, it maintained our record of scoring in 27 consecutive competitive games dating back to the loss at home to Huddersfield in March – the club record is 34 and was set in September 1963 straddling two seasons. Lyndon Dykes has struck 15 of his 19 shots on target this season (79%), the best percentage of any player in the division. There’s much talk of Yoann Barbet’s miraculous run of 74 consecutive starts in the league, but it has rather drawn the attention away from Rob Dickie who has started the last 46 and Chris Willock the last 32. Hat tips as always to @QPR_Stats, @JTSupple, @HoopsDreams_QPR and @ChrisGuyW12 who do so much great stats and trivia work around QPR and are really worth your time on social media.

Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. You can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Here’s last year’s champion Mick_S and his thoughts on Blackburn…

“A clean sheet against Blackburn has left me feeling quite confident about this one; with large travelling support that has been superb this season, what could go wrong? Peterborough are struggling at the moment so we should be favourites. I’m going to stick my neck out on a 1-3 to Rangers and Dykes to score our first goal.”

Mick’s Prediction: Peterborough 1-3 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes

LFW’s Prediction: Peterborough 2-3 QPR. Scorer – Chris Willock

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Konk added 22:00 - Oct 22
Guessing SYP might have moved Barnsley v Blades to Sunday as Wednesday are at home to Lincoln at 3pm on Saturday, and there was too much potential for bother in Sheffield, with Barnsley being under 30 mins away on the train.
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M40R added 22:11 - Oct 22
I still break out in a cold sweat when I recall the 1968 League Cup loss to Peterborough. It was 4-0 so far from a narrow defeat. Hope we can end the curse in style tomorrow...
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062259 added 22:14 - Oct 22
Steve Palmer is the only player to complete 100 consecutive games for QPR in the last 35 years.
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TacticalR added 22:32 - Oct 22
Thanks for your preview.

A timely warning about our performance in front of large away followings. I am afraid that in the past we haven't handled expectation well.

The secret of the championship is to handle everything that is thrown at you. Let's see if we can do that.
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saxbend added 23:24 - Oct 22
Lego is a doddle, believe me. Anything less than an upturned mains plug and I'm calling it Sean Maguire.
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sevenhoop added 23:43 - Oct 22
Still scarred by Norwich 76. There were so many of us there in a lovely sunny day and those bastards ruined it all
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snanker added 07:00 - Oct 23
Top write up Clive, measured trepidation. Danger, danger Will Robinson !!
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Northernr added 08:42 - Oct 23
Konk - they always go way overboard for that fixture. A few years back if you were Sheff Utd and wanted to go to the game you were hoarded into and held in some nightclub or other in the town (dry) and then marched to the ground en masse at a moment of the police's choosing.
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enfieldargh added 08:45 - Oct 23
If Peterborough are Posh what on earth are Fulham?

8:45 better get my skates on!!
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Konk added 11:16 - Oct 23
Fair enough, mate. I was just guessing. I remember being up in Manchester on several weekends in the 90’s and United or City mobbing-up in town and it all kicking-off when the other lot returned from away games in the North and Midlands.
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