Rangers held by brave Lions
Thursday, 30th Sep 2010 09:27 by James Bishop
QPR are held to a goalless draw by their south London rivals, but still remain 6 points clear at the top of the Championship table.
On a night with passions running high, Rangers had the lion’s share of chances, Heidar Helguson, Jamie Mackie and Clint Hill in particular and also had an Adel Taarabt drive superbly saved by David Forde in the Millwall goal on the hour.
I was thinking when some of these chances didn’t go in and wouldn’t fall for us that we are used to then being caught by the sucker punch. Not now, this set up and spirit that has been building since Neil Warnock arrived feels so different and we are going to be a bugger to beat this season.
After a couple of knocks at the weekend it was a relief to see Neil Warnock name an unchanged side that beat Doncaster. Paddy Kenny in goal, Kyle Walker and Clint Hill at right and left back respectively, Kaspars Gorkks and Matt Connolly completed our mean defence. Shaun Derry sat in front with Akos Buzsaky. The attack spearheaded by Heidar Helguson who had Jamie Mackie, Hogan Ephraim and Captain Adel Taarabt making up the attacking options.
Millwall’s line up saw David Forde in goal behind a back four of Alan Dunne, Darren Ward, Tony Craig and Skipper Paul Robinson. In midfield was, Scott Barron, Nadjim Abdou, Chris Hackett came in for the suspended Liam Trotter and Tamika Mkandawire was given the job of marking Taarabt. Up front, top scorer Steve Morison was supported by Danny Schofield.
The R’s again started really quickly and with barely 60 seconds on the clock, Kyle Walkers throw in came back to him who then half volleyed a cross into the 18 yard box finding Heidar Helguson at the back post perfectly placed to head home only for the Icelandic international not to get enough on it and seeing the ball go agonizingly wide. Now Heidar has been superb this season, but for some reason he still struggles in these goal scoring opportunities.
Millwall’s response could have been immediate but a cross from the right hand side was inaccurate and Paddy Kenny claimed with ease.
Just a couple of minutes later Rangers were pressuring again and Kyle Walker’s burst into the box couldn’t produce a decent cross however the ball broke lose 30 yards out from goal and Buzsaby let fly which may have seen the ball swerve as Forde in the Millwall goal managed to save with his knees. The rebound eventually found Hogan Ephraim who carved out a right footed effort for himself in the box but saw his shot wide of the near post with Forde scrambling.
The intensity of the first ten minutes was frightening from a Millwall perspective as the R’s set the pace, but the Lions just about weathered the storm. So much so that they had a half chance which Scott Barron headed wide under pressure from Gorkss. Just a couple of minutes later Taarabt put Mackie through, who appeared to time his run perfectly, only to see the assistants flag go up.
The Lions had a little spell of their own for a few minutes. First seeing another half chance header, this time from Steve Morison high and wide, a free kick into the box which went behind in between two corners one of which was cleared by the impressive Matt Connolly, the other penalised for a foul on Kenny.
Rangers then launched another attack of their own and a rare first half free kick saw Adel Taarabt fire his effort into the wall from 25 yards. Rangers should have had another free kick after a push on Mackie, the ball ended up at the feet of Ephraim who ran 40 yards at the Millwall defence and forced a corner at the near post.
Rangers were then denied a couple of penalty appeals, one where Mackie was fouled on the edge of the area which brought nothing and another which I didn’t see properly, leaving the R’s top scorer in a heap around the penalty spot. Judging by the reaction from the west paddock and the QPR bench it may well have been justified and certainly we have been given them for less this season. Referee Mr Probert obviously thought there was nothing in the incident and waved play on. He was after all just 15 yards away. He generally seemed determined not to give us anything judging by the way Helguson was pushed and pulled at every aerial challenge.
Soon after Ephraim crossed for Helguson but was found offside, before Mackie created a chance for himself in the box only to see his shot rise high and wide into the travelling fans. QPR were pretty dominant in their possession and Buzsaky found space on 41 minutes to try his luck again from about 30 yards out but failed to test Forde as his effort went wide. With the clock ticking towards half time the R’s still had two more chances. First Kyle Walker used some great power and pace to beat both Darren Ward and Chris Hackett to get into the box and deliver a dangerous cross that was scrambled away after Mackie went in on goal. This then brought a free kick a few yards from the area. Buzsaky curled the free kick around the wall but managed to curl it around the post as Mr Probert decided to give the Lions a breather and blew for half time.
Five minutes into the second half and Rangers got going again, kicking towards their favoured Loft End, Taarabt’s trickery earning a free kick just outside the area which Millwall cleared. Mackie then forced a corner which Gorkks tried an ambitious header sailing over and two minutes later a series of corners after desperate defending eventually ended with Clint Hill missing arguably the best chance of the game. His free header, well over the bar. Mr Probert appeared to be a little more favourable to our front line in the second half and on the hour gave a free kick for a push on Helguson just inside the visitors half. Buzsaky took it, slipped but still managed to find Taarabt who turned a drove his right foot effort towards goal. Somehow Forde managed to get an outstretched hand down to his left corner a push the ball around the post. Handbags then came out before the corner, after Helguson had gone looking for the rebound with some determination.
At this point the pressure was relentless and felt like it was just a matter of time before the Lions defence would be breached.
Neil Harris on for Scott Barron gave the visitors a little respite with an effort on 67 minutes but this failed to trouble Kenny who watched the ball safely over the bar. Straight away though Mackie was causing problems on the right again and when he was brought down by Alan Dunne the ref had little option but to book him. From this free kick the ball went over the top to Helguson at the far post who controlled it expertly and then whipped the ball back over only for the keeper to gather.
The Lions then had a little spell of their own and firstly Steve Morison found himself racing towards Kenny’s goal only for Walker to outpace him and make a challenge before he shot. A couple of minutes later Tony Craig put a decent cross to the back post finding the advancing Morison who guided his header downwards where Kenny pushed the ball round the post at his near corner. It was end to end stuff here and the visitors threatened on 82 minutes when Danny Schofield found space in the box only for his near post effort was saved by Kenny.
Mikele Leigertwood replaced the tiring Buzsaky with 5 minutes remaining and looked nervy with a couple of misplaced passes but soon picked up the pace. Kyle Walker again made his way into the opponents box, this time trying his luck himself but straight at Forde.
The influential Shaun Derry was penalised two minutes from time for a challenge on Morison, which really could have gone either way. With four minutes of time being added big Pat Agyemang replaced Hogan Ephraim for a last throw of the dice. He won a free kick soon after down by the right corner flag. There was one last cross into the box from Walker which Mackie headed over before the ref blew the final whistle.
Overall, it was a good Rangers performance, played at a high tempo in the main and on another day we would have probably scored a couple of goals. As Neil Warnock said, Millwall defended with their lives and battled hard. As you would expect Kenny Jackett has them well organised and they look like they will consolidate this season.
As I said we look like we are going to be tough to beat this season as we are so well organised at the back and everyone working so hard for each other. If we play like this against Palace on Saturday we should win.
QPR: Kenny 7, Walker 8, Hill 7, Gorkks 7, Connolly 7, Derry 7, Buzsaky 7, (Leigertwood 6), Mackie 7, Taarabt 6, Ephraim 6, (Agyemang 6), Helguson 7
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Rowlands, Smith, Borrowdale, Parker
Booked: Helguson (foul)
Millwall: Forde 7, Dunne 7, Robinson 7, Ward 6, Craig 6, Hackett 6, Mkandawire 7, Ward 6, Barron 6, (Harris 6), Morison 6, Abdou 6
Subs Not Used: Mildenhall, Smith, Henry, Grimes, Laird, Robinson
Booked: Dunne (foul)
QPR Star Man – Kyle Walker. This boy is quality. He has everything for a full back. He’s good in the air, tackles well, controls the ball well, gets forward, crosses well, has pace and works as hard as anyone. I really think he could challenge Glen Johnson for the right back slot in the national side later. He was superb again tonight and if his loan is extended, could keep Bradley Orr out.
Referee: Lee Probert 6. Wanted to let the game flow which can only be a good thing, however, he missed /ignored some fouls on Helguson and Mackie in particular and then awarded free kicks for some softer challenges. To be honest I would have to see the second Mackie challenge in the first half which brought the west paddock to their feet before deciding if he got that terribly wrong. He did keep things fairly calm in a pretty intense atmosphere.
Attendance: 15,325 (2400 Millwall and approx 90 Scumbags) No wonder there was a weird atmosphere walking up the Uxbridge Road to the ground as little did I know some trouble had kicked off earlier. Inside the ground the atmosphere was great from both sets of fans. Lots of noisy banter, a real London Derby. This is a better place to be this season, a real unity has been formed again. Unfortunately, both sets of fans were let out at the same time at the end and I hear trouble started again. I must say there were some Scumbags that stayed behind in the corner of the upper School End determined to show off and letting the real Millwall fans down by throwing coins and ripping out seats. So clever.
Photo: Action Images
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