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Millwall 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 26th December 2023 Kick-off 13:00
Brace for impact, QPR crash at Millwall - Report
Wednesday, 27th Dec 2023 20:22 by Saffa Michail

QPR are back where they started again, five points adrift of safety in the relegation zone after a lamentable performance at Millwall on Boxing Day – Saffa Michail was there for LFW.

Due to a late change in ferry schedules, I spent most of Monday trying to arrange how I would get up to The Den and back from the Isle of Wight.

After negotiating a way, my evening was spent watching “Chicken Run 2” with the family.
In the latest, and hopefully final incarnation, the whole plot (*spoiler alert*) is how the farm equip the chickens with neck braces that turn them into dumb, stupid zombies. It makes for an excruciating 101 minutes of ‘braindead’ chicken’s basically cheating death over and over, in ever more calamitous and hilarious fashion.

But even in this kid’s film, you keep doing stupid things - you eventually get punished. Which brings me nicely onto Boxing Day football at The Den, for another 104-minute slap-dash serving of total idiocy.

Our opposition came into this having not won at home for three months - and that against a Rotherham side that have amassed a total of two points away from home all season. Throw in the early kick-off, on Boxing Day, and this was inarguably as quiet as I’ve ever heard this ground.

As has been the case of late, Cifuentes reshuffled the starting 11 and bought in Kakay for Cannon at RB, Larkeche at LB, with Paal moved into midfield over Dixon-Bonner, and Smyth in for Willock who was apparently injured in the warm up.

You can rotate over and over - this set of players, under successive managers, have an innate ability to make the simple, run of the mill stuff into terrifying, heart-stopping, game changing moments of absolute madness.

Within a matter of minutes, it was apparent that QPR’s biggest danger was only ever going to be themselves.

Exhibit A… eight minutes on the clock. A long Millwall ball from deep smashed long goes out for a QPR throw-in around halfway between the corner flag and halfway line. Kakay’s resulting throw could only find an unmarked Millwall shirt, whose first-time header floated over Dunne’s head and left him wrong-footed with Tom Bradshaw through on goal. Dunne tussled with Bradshaw with the latter hitting the deck for a blatant yellow on the edge of the box. Another foot or so and it’s a penalty and potential red.

The resulting free kick from Honeyman sailed over harmlessly.

In an attacking sense, we offered precious little. Paal received the ball towards the edge of the box with two men immediately on him, and he cleverly nutmegged one and left the other for dead before playing in Chair with oceans of space to run into. As he broke, he slid in Smyth behind Cooper, before he cut in and saw his shot cannon off the Millwall man for a corner.

As far as goalmouth action came, that was about as good as it got. According to Jack Supple we are now the worst in the division so far with a poultry (sorry…) two goals all season from set-pieces. And there was absolutely no danger of improving our XG on this one, as the short corner between Paal and Chair was called for offside in either event. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

I’m really scraping the barrel here, but the only other attempt we had this half was JCS’s lunging attempt from a corner that ballooned over the bar.

Following the alarming rate that we seem to be conceding goals right at the end of each half, true to form, we conceded here in the 48th minute. There is so much wrong here, I don’t know where to start.

A long ball played from Larkeche hit Dykes, but his poor control saw the ball hooked back towards the half way line from the oncoming Millwall player, Bradshaw brings the ball down and turns Field, leaving Watmore running through with Saville to his left… Kakay goes on a one man journey of discovery at the back-post before realising his left his area completely open and hurriedly tries to unsuccessfully cover, Dunne is a dead man, Field and JCS watch the ball evade them and Bradshaw pokes into the empty net at the back post to make it 1-0.

It's another horrific goal to concede. Appalling defending from back to front.
Millwall finished the half with just 34% possession, yet had seven shots to our two… Virtually all of which came from our own making.

A few minutes into the second half and Paal was robbed by Emakhu deep in his own half, with just JCS ahead of him, Begovic comfortably tipped the Millwall man’s effort round the post for a corner.

On the 60th minute mark, finally, a chance. A horrendous back-pass saw Chair pick the ball up around 30 yards from goal with only one defender ahead of him. After making his way towards goal, he set himself, but the effort was incredibly tame and dribbled into the grateful hands of Sarkic in the Millwall goal. Sadly, that was the biggest test he had throughout the 90 minutes.

Cannon replaced Dunne, and Dixon-Bonner replaced Larkeche shortly after.
Our biggest moment of the game came with just over 10 minutes on the clock. JCS played the ball centrally to Paal, who turned and set Chair free on the left, his darting run down the wing saw him advance to the edge of the box, before teeing up Paal who curled a beauty of a cross into the box… It beat everyone and fell perfectly for Cannon at the far post… His first-time volley looked for the world like it was nestling into the bottom corner but just evaded the back post with the keeper beaten all ends up.

The game started to open up somewhat from here, but we weren’t having it all our own way, and Flemming saw a long-range effort fly just wide of the post a couple of minutes later. Chair was the next up to try his luck, and after receiving the ball, he jinked his way past three men on the edge of the box, but his low driven shot flew wide of the post.
This was a really poor game of football, being played by two really poor sides. We then hit a spell where literally every single challenge resulted in a Millwall “head" injury.

The following were my brief notes taken from my phone: Tackle, head injury. Tackle, head injury. Head injury. Another head injury.

When Millwall weren’t rolling round holding their heads, Adomah had a very, very soft shout for a penalty, and there bought an end to our last meaningful attack of the game.
As the clocked ticked down, the belief was sucked out of the crowd and players alike. As Millwall were awarded a corner - the fourth official signalled a whopping ten minutes injury time, which did something to re-focus the attention and belief for the fans left remaining.

And then, in typical QPR fashion, to the second, Millwall crash in their second. Game well and truly over with another incredibly soft goal.

Quite what Begovic is up to is anyone’s guess, if that’s a youth player you bomb him out on loan and let him learn his trade on someone else’s clock… His antics on Twitter promoting his brand and Boxing Day sale a few minutes after full-time don’t exactly endear you to him, nor do his appearances on Chelsea podcasts… But if this is the ‘culture guardian’ marauding round with a captain’s armband on then I’ve clearly missed the memo.

Kakay, try as he might, simply isn’t good enough. As usual, he was beaten by his man and Wallace rounded off the game for a well deserved home win.

Neck brace engaged. Carvery time.

A minute later, Dixon-Bonner loses the ball near the half-way line, Kakay has 5 yards on his man, but Nisbett gets in behind him and lashes the ball into the side netting for what could, and probably should have been 3-0. There was still time for Flemming to send an effort deflecting wide of the post before the referee bought an end to proceedings.

They say that if you can’t beat them then join them, with high-flying Ipswich next up on Friday night… Anyone got a neck brace handy?

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

Millwall: Sarkic 6; Leonard 6, Harding 7, Cooper 6, Bryan 5 (Wallace 71, 6); Norton-Cuffy 7 (McNamara 85, -), Honeyman 6, Saville 7, Emakhu 6 (Nisbet 83, -); Bradshaw 6 (Flemming 71, 7), Watmore 6 (Esse 83, -)

Subs Not Used: Hutchinson, Longman, Bialkowski, Mitchell

Goals: Bradshaw 45+3 (assisted Saville), Wallace 90 (assisted McNamara)

Yellow Cards: Emakhu 33 (foul), Honeyman 44 (foul), Wallace 90+3 (foul)

QPR: Begovic 5; Kakay 4, Dunne 3 (Cannon 63, 5), Clarke-Salter 6, Larkeche 5 (Dixon-Bonner 63, 5); Dozzell 5, Field 5, Paal 6; Smyth 5 (Adomah 79, 5), Dykes 4, Chair 6

Subs not used: Duke-McKenna, Archer, Richards, Kelman, Drewe, Armstrong

Yellow Cards: Dunne 9 (foul), Smyth 37 (foul), Chair 75 (foul)

QPR Star Man N/A

Referee – Thomas Bramall (Sheffield) 6 Marti Cifuentes was booked at full time for something he said to the official, but it was really difficult to see what he was that upset about. The Adomah penalty appeal was soft, and while he bought into all the play-acting and time-wasting antics in the second half he did at least add a chunky ten minutes to the end of the game unlike the four we got against Southampton.

Attendance – 17,432 (2,000 QPR approx.)

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ParkRoyalR added 21:24 - Dec 27
Dunne 3 and Clarke Salter 6?

I thought it was Clarke Salter on the sleeping at the back post shift this week, must have been mistaken.

NewYorkRanger added 00:05 - Dec 28
A guest reporter makes a great effort and your only comment is to have a go about the marks out of 10? Nice

Sittingbournehoop added 10:01 - Dec 28
That was torture and having the defence looking quite tight and organised against Southampton; we we were just awful. At the very least you expect a team to be committed and playing with pride, especially in a London derby. Our set piece play is just woeful and no improvement under the new manager, our short corner routines just embarrassing! Surely in the winnable games you play your best team, and rest the players and use the squad for the harder games such as Ipswich away. The squad needs such an overhaul and hard to see us avoiding relegation. In the immediate short term we just desperately need a striker with a few goals in him to give us some hope and either a loanee or a bargain from the lower divisions. Anyway, Happy New Year to all you all.


Myke added 13:00 - Dec 28
Cheers Saffa. A worrying regression just when we didn't need it Also we now have Marti criticising his players in public just as Critchley did exactly 12 months ago and we saw what happened there. This could go (further) south very quickly. I find the managers honesty very refreshing but also rather naive. Interesting to see how the next few games pan out.

stainrodnee added 13:23 - Dec 28
Saffa if you travelled from the Isle of Wight to watch that, you should have a stand named after you. And if Marti can keep this bunch of players up, without January reinforcements, he’ll be a miracle worker.

TacticalR added 17:21 - Dec 28
Thanks for your report.

It was horrible to give away that goal on half-time, when there hadn't been much in the way of chances. As we are having so much trouble scoring, that was pretty much game over. The thing that was noticeable in the build-up to the goal was that we had nobody in the left back or right back position, just big spaces for Millwall players to run into. So in answer to ParkRoyalR, yes, Clarke-Salter could have done better, but he was trying to cover two players behind him, because the left back was nowhere to be seen.

snanker added 00:02 - Dec 29
Good work Saffa. Were they all hungover ? Back to keystone cop "defending" at it's worst. Brain fades again in both injury times and WHAT was Begovic doing when we conceded the second goal !?? Player body language post both goals woeful
Frustration beyond belief. Is Cook crook and unavailable ? Looking like a route up at Portman Rd Fryday !!!

Loft1979 added 05:13 - Dec 29

At this point we are hand full of points behind the survival marker. I January looms and Naryi clearly has his wish list. I wish a few of our play were a had done more to show they care. But on my himble opinion, the Rs have been in every game and should have netted more points. I have no doubt 1-2 players will change this team. Plus there are 2-3 players who NEED TO GO!


ParkRoyalR added 10:12 - Dec 29
TacticalR fair point on 1st goal but Clarke Salter was also weak for the 2nd goal, it's in his space and he's too weak and easily taken out by the Millwall player, hence querying (apologies Saffa) why he scores double what Dunne does but has to do better for both goals. Looks good on the ball but weak in contact for me.

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