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Helguson inspired QPR heap misery on dire Stoke – full match report
Helguson inspired QPR heap misery on dire Stoke – full match report
Sunday, 20th Nov 2011 21:24 by Clive Whittingham

QPR secured a third away win of the Premiership campaign with a fine 3-2 victory at out of form Stoke City on Saturday.

QPR don’t win promotion often, but recently they’ve developed a troublesome knack of doing so with a team led by an ageing centre forward.

In 2004 they climbed from the Second Division into the Championship aided by 16 goals from veteran striker Paul Furlong. The 36-year-old Furlong was a wily, classy centre forward with a tremendous awareness of space in the penalty box and years of experience and knowledge that enabled him to use his physicality to great advantage against younger more naïve defenders. Still, the general consensus was he would need replacing at the higher level – relying on a player who would turn 37 during the season to spearhead a Championship attack was folly.

A year and 18, often spectacular, league goals later and humble pie was being scoffed by the doubters – but of course the problem remained, and had if anything grown larger. Where could cash strapped QPR find a centre forward as good as Paul Furlong before age finally caught up with this Rolls Royce of a player?

It could reasonably be argued that it took them until 2009 to do so, and even then given the fitness and form difficulties experienced by Heidar Helguson during his initial time at Loftus Road it wasn’t immediately obvious that they’d finally succeeded. Helguson, like Furlong, is now enjoying an Indian summer at Loftus Road and playing arguably the best football of his entire career. On Saturday against a Stoke City side renowned for its physical approach to the game the barrel chested forward gave a model lesson in centre forward play, exhibiting movement worthy of some of the league’s finest players. He scored twice, and had a third disallowed, and all after taking a boot to the face in the opening minute of the game.

Neil Warnock says the priority for QPR in the transfer market is to find a younger equivalent of the 34-year-old Icelandic international. Two things Paul Furlong taught us is that might be a lot easier said than done, but the need might not be as pressing as it first appears because if Helguson is fit enough and in form like this, then his age becomes less of a factor. There’s life in this old dog yet.

On Saturday QPR needed a performance like that from their centre forward. Stoke were in poor form approaching the game – three straight league defeats in which they’d conceded 11 goals including five at lowly Bolton last time out – but the Britannia Stadium is one of the division’s most feared grounds these days and 27,618 people had packed in to see this one. Worth noting the attendance for our last visit to this ground in 2007 the gate was just over 11,300. Loyal bunch.

The visiting team’s preparation was less than ideal. Jay Bothroyd, a man of the match contender in an unfortunate 3-2 defeat against league leaders Man City before the international break, pulled out with a training ground injury on Wednesday and Neil Warnock then lost Jason Puncheon through illness and reserve keeper Brian Murphy with a calf injury during the warm up to leave him with a substitutes bench of just five players including former Harrow Borough youngster Troy Hewitt.

Bothroyd’s absence meant a more advanced role in the team for both Jamie Mackie, who supported Helguson in attack, and Armand Traore who moved to left wing with Clint Hill restored at left back against his former club. Hill’s excellent heading ability made him a likely selection for this match in any case. Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon played at centre back with Luke Young on the right and Paddy Kenny in goal. In midfield Alejandro Faurlin and Joey Barton played in the centre with Shaun Wright Phillips given a free role to complete the line up against the club that tried to sign him in the summer. Rangers emerged in a blue and white home strip, with changed blue shorts.

Stoke’s poor run of form has brought criticism of manager Tony Pulis who is accused by sections of the home support of nursing favourites in the team. Calls for goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson and centre back Robert Huth to be recalled at the expense of Asmir Begovic, who’d conceded 11 goals in his last two matches for club and country, and Jonathan Woodgate, who has earned the unfortunate nickname Floodgate since a summer move from Spurs, were heeded. This was only Sorenson’s second league start in more than a year. There was still no place in midfield for another former Spurs man Wilson Palacios though and the combination of Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead in the middle of the park was as ineffective and unimaginative as you would expect given the obvious limitations of both players. Peter Crouch partnered Jon Walters in attack against one of his many former clubs.

The appointment of Cheshire official Mike Jones to referee this game was the source of some conjecture prior to the kick off. Jones is not kind to away teams, producing 12 of his last 14 red cards for players on visiting teams and upsetting QPR by allowing a winning goal for Chelsea in 2009 League Cup tie between the teams despite a clear foul on Wayne Routledge in the build up. He’s not terribly popular in Stoke either – this was his first visit to this ground since his officiating allowed an FA Cup quarter final here against West Ham last season to descend into a farce of ignored handballs and soft penalty awards.

He didn’t have to wait long for his first incident of note. In the opening two minutes the first Stoke corner of the afternoon dropped to Jermaine Pennant on the edge of the penalty area and he crashed to earth claiming a trip from Joey Barton. The replays showed that Barton, despite doing his best to avoid the collision, had indeed caught Pennant’s trailing leg but on this occasion I can see, given the theatrical way the player went to ground, why Jones ignored the extensive appeals from home players and fans. Stoke would have another much more blatant penalty appeal waved away in the second half.

Stoke, who Rangers haven’t met in the top flight since 1984, took the lead in the eighth minute, crowding Joey Barton out of possession in the middle of the QPR half and then clinically slicing the visiting defence apart with Crouch feeding Walters who finished crisply across Kenny and into the far corner of the net. QPR were close to signing Walters before he joined Stoke instead 18 months ago and he has settled into Premiership life admirably since making the switch.

QPR were doing everything wrong. All the talk pre-match of special preparation aimed at combating the home side’s well renowned strengths and weaknesses was starting to sound rather hollow as Rangers persistently conceded possession in their own half, presented Stoke with a host of free kicks and throw ins around the penalty area, and afforded too much respect to the home team’s front two.

The lethargy was summed up shortly after the Walters goal when Anton Ferdinand inexplicably allowed a routine high through ball to bounce, and then tried to shepherd it back to Paddy Kenny who was always a distant second favourite for the ball behind Peter Crouch who’d smelt blood the moment the ball hit the ground. Crouch did indeed beat Kenny to it, and hooked the ball towards goal but was denied a first ever career goal against his former employers by a combination of a desperate save from Kenny and Clint Hill’s timely goal line clearance.

You would think after Fitz Hall’s disaster at Craven Cottage, and Per Metersacker’s decision making in advance of Norwich’s first goal in the early match on Saturday, that the QPR defenders would be ready to accept a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to such situations but apparently not. Ferdinand was very fortunate not to be held culpable for a second Stoke goal on that occasion. Lads, they cannot score from row Z.

Kenny then needed a heartstopping two attempts to gather a free kick under his cross bar after Peter Crouch had bought a free kick from the match officials with a theatrical fall down the Stoke left.

A tame shot at Sorenson from Alejandro Faurlin and a corner which resulted in a Stoke free kick with Clint Hill accused of climbing over Ryan Shawcross was as good as it got for the visitors in the opening stages.

So 20 minutes in and just about everything that could have gone wrong for QPR had done: they’d lost two players in the warm up and the in form Jay Bothroyd in training prior to the match; they’d conceded one, survived a big penalty appeal and should have conceded another; they’d created nothing for tehmselves while playing right into Stoke’s hands at the other end. A long old afternoon seemed to be in store as the mist started to roll onto the field through the open corners of Stoke’s hilltop home.

And then suddenly Rangers equalised. The value of actually having some controlled, considered possession in the Stoke half shone through with a splendid goal from Heidar Helguson. A patient move between Armand Traore, Shaun Wright Phillips and Alejandro Faurlin climaxed when the Argentinean played a ball in behind Andy Wilkinson for Traore to run onto. The Stoke fans, clearly unaware of Faurlin’s ability and unaccustomed to such quality build up, ironically cheered the Argentinean’s ball believing it was skidding straight out for a goal kick. Not only did the pass stay in play, it also gave Traore a chance to wrap his left foot around the ball and produce an absolute peach of a cross into the heart of the penalty area. Helguson meanwhile had pulled beyond Higginbotham the last defender at the back post and then committed to an intelligent run across the face of goal that left him unmarked and nicely placed to thump a bullet header into the top corner of the net. A fantastic goal all round, and one Helguson was rewarded for with a further poke in his already injured eye during the celebrations.

Stoke were rattled, and picked up the game’s first yellow card when Andy Wilkinson crudely lunged in on Armand Traore – ridiculously named in a Talksport Top Ten of the worst players of the season so far but increasingly growing into his regular first team spot at QPR. Shawrcross was also carded before half time for tripping Joey Barton, but the QPR man was lucky to survive another loose piece of play in the centre of the field on the half hour – his possession concession allowed Matthew Etherington to break and shoot wide. Otherwise Etherington and Jermaine Pennant were largely anonymous, QPR finding joy in taking the only two genuinely creative players in the Stoke team out of the game in the same way Newcastle did on this ground three weeks ago.

Rangers were also coping reasonably well the set pieces – Huth headed a corner over ten minutes before half time as he continues to look for his first goal of the season after scoring nine last term.

QPR took the lead for the first time in the game a minute before half time and again it was the visiting side’s ability to actually pass the ball effectively and imaginatively that set them apart from their rudimentary and cumbersome opposition. A slick move started when Joey Barton passed a ball into Jamie Mackie on the corner of the penalty box. Shaun Wright Phillips had allowed that ball to run while Luke Young had steamed past him to add another body to the penalty box mix. This created a numerical advantage for QPR in the right channel that they subsequently executed to absolute perfection. Mackie tucked the ball back to Wright Phillips and then spun off into the area to receive a return pass that he then cut back to the unmarked Young and he fired the ball into the roof of the net for his first QPR goal, and first goal for anybody in 18 months.

It’s easy to forget Luke Young has been a semi-regular member of the England squad for many years but now we are getting the privilege of seeing him play regularly you can see how he caught the eye of various national coaches. He’s threatened a goal for QPR several times since arriving from Aston Villa, regularly committing to lung-bursting runs into the penalty area without ever receiving a reward until now. His signing looks like one of the most astute made by Neil Warnock at Loftus Road and Rangers must hope that an injury which ended his afternoon early in the second half here isn’t too serious with a busy December fast approaching.

Two minutes were added on to the end of the first half during which Joey Barton picked up a suspension activating fifth yellow card of the season in harsh circumstances – penalised for a deliberate handball near his own corner flag. Stoke wasted the free kick and QPR deservedly led at the break.

Ten minutes after half time QPR gave themselves a two goal cushion and if the first two had been a result of footballing lessons for the home team the third was all about playing Pulis’ team at its own game. Joey Barton, who’d crossed well for Helguson to win a corner in the first place, received his own cleared set piece back from Shaun Wright Phillips and then delivered a delicious cross through the corridor of uncertainty between keeper and defenders to the back post where Helguson had once again intelligently peeled off beyond the last defender before making a perfectly timed run and this time he scored from close range with his left foot.

Rangers thought they had a fourth moments later when a low cross from Mackie on the right was touched onto the post by Shaun Wright Phillips and Helguson buried the rebound only to be flagged offside. A hat trick goal for the Icelandic international would have been richly deserved after a fine afternoon of centre forward play, and few could argue QPR were good value for a 4-1 lead either, but it wasn’t to be and when Stoke then went down the other end and made it 3-2 this seemed like a moment that the game swung back in favour of the Potters.

Predictably, given that three quarters of Stoke’s goals have been scored this way this season, it came from a set piece. Neil Warnock said his team had done little else than work on corners and throw ins in the week leading up to the game but when the first header is won by 6ft 7in Peter Crouch and the crucial touch on the goalline is provided by 6ft 4in Ryan Shawcross it’s hard to know exactly what Rangers could have done to prevent it without the use of stepladders. Fortunately this was one of very few well executed dead ball situations from the home team.

Pulis tried to push forward his side’s advantage by sending on Kenwyne Jones for Peter Crouch (heaven forbid he actually change his system) and then later Ricardo Fuller for Jermaine Pennant. Neil Warnock is deprived of such option from the bench at the best of times but with only five subs named here the problem was worse than usual. QPR were starting to look jaded at the worst possible moment in the game, but except for Bradley Orr’s introduction necessitated by a worrying looking injury to Luke Young, they had to go with what they had.

Fuller’s first action was to execute a horror tackle on Armand Traore over by the dug outs. Fuller’s disciplinary record is chequered to say the least and this looked like a red card from the moment both his feet left the floor – however a split second before he did so referee Jones had actually blown in his favour which resulted in the ridiculous situation where a QPR player was writhing in agony on the ground after a dreadful tackle on him, but Rangers were left to defend a free kick with ten men. Thankfully Traore was fit to continue.

Stoke should have been handed a chance to equalise from the penalty spot in the eighty second minute. Another long throw was allowed to drop in the heart of the QPR penalty box and, rashly, Joey Barton went to ground and hacked through the back of Robert Huth as he attempted to control the ball. It looked a stone wall penalty from the moment it happened but Mike Jones, for the second time in the game, waved the appeals away and QPR had survived. Huth responded by wrestling Barton to the floor as the ball was worked clear – an incident that was seen by World Cup final linesman Darren cann and signalled for but there was an agonising moment as the referee came across to speak to him where QPR wondered whether in fact he was going to draw Jones’ attention to the original offence.

A poor decision from the referee who was perfectly placed to see what was a clear and obvious foul but then given that Pulis, his players and the Stoke fans appeal long, loud and bitterly over every single decision in every single game maybe there’s an element of boy crying wolf about all of this. A member of the Stoke coaching staff was sent from the touchline in the immediate aftermath.

The incident only served to increase Stoke’s persecution complex. Manager Tony Pulis criticised referee Mike Jones afterwards, saying referees arrive at the Britannia Stadium with a pre-conceived idea of what to expect from the home side. Pulis, and Stoke’s players and fans, also rail against criticism of their style of play but the facts were pretty stark on Saturday – Stoke completed just 118 successful passes in 97 minutes of football. That’s a Premiership team managing little more than one successful pass per minute. The criticism of them is wholly valid – they were awful to watch here and well beaten.

The sense of injustice manifested itself in the central midfield area where Barton won the ball with a firm but fair tackle and was then immediately hacked down by Rory Delap who was rightly carded. Heidar Helguson also blotted his copy book slightly with a yellow card for a foul on Wiilkinson. The bad feeling escalated when Barton went across to take a late QPR corner and was pelted with coins from the home end – it wouldn’t be a QPR game in Stoke without a lashing of bad feeling and poor behaviour in the stands.

With five minutes remaining Pulis sent on Glenn Whelen for Dean Whitehead, but that was merely replacing one mediocre central midfield player with another. Whelen even managed to be dreadful in a 5-0 away win for the Republic of Ireland in Estonia last week and although he came closer than anybody to equalising here, sending a dipping volley a foot over the bar in five added minutes at the end of the game, his introduction was more of a boost for QPR than it was for Stoke. Another Whelen volley went well wide after QPR had dallied over clearing their lines.

The five minutes of injury time also included, right at the death, another Rory Delap long throw – headed over the bar by Kenwyne Jones on this occasion. Delap’s throw ins are a menace to opposing sides, but against first Newcastle and now QPR in recent games at the Britannia they’ve actually played into the visiting team’s hands. First of all it’s clear that without the throw ins Delap would barely be able to command a place in a Championship team – him being out there to take them means Stoke are automatically at a disadvantage in open play and against Newcastle with Cabaye and Tiote in midfield and then on Saturday with Faurlin and Barton there for QPR that lack of quality has really shone through.

Secondly although they’re a useful weapon they take an absolute age to set up – even when trailing by a single goal as the final few grains of sand drained through the egg timer Delap was going through the meticulous preparations that involve marking a run up out and towelling the ball off. It not only kills all the momentum of a Stoke attack, it wastes a lot of time and gives the away side free reign to go through the same towel routine with their throw ins as a further time wasting exercise. How Wilson Palacios cannot get into this team is beyond me.

But to focus on Stoke’s many shortcomings for too long would detract from a fine QPR performance and result. They started the game so poorly, running down a checklist of everything you should not do against Tony Pulis’ side and executing each item perfectly. The first QPR goal was a thing of pure beauty and it turned the game completely on its head – from then on Rangers dealt with the obvious threats of the home team efficiently, but didn’t get so absorbed in that as to not play their own game as well. The second goal was expertly crafted and had Shaun Wright Phillips made it four instead of hitting the post few could have argued that it was deserved.

Rangers were well set up, well drilled and lead magnificently by Heidar Helguson up front. They’ve taken six points and plenty of plaudits from a run of four games against Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea and this away game at Stoke and currently sit ninth in the table.

These are fine times to be a Queens Park Rangers supporter.

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Stoke: Sorensen 6, Wilkinson 5, Shawcross 6, Huth 6, Higginbotham 6, Pennant 5 (Fuller 68, 6), Whitehead 5 (Whelan 85, -), Delap 5, Etherington 6, Walters 7, Crouch 6 (Jones 65, 6)

Subs Not Used: Begovic, Wilson, Upson, Palacios

Booked: Wilkinson (foul), Shawcross (foul), Delap (foul), Fuller (foul)

Goals: Walters 8 (assisted Crouch), Shawcross 64 (assisted Crouch)

QPR: Kenny 6, Young 7 (Orr 77, 6), Ferdinand 6, Gabbidon 7, Hill 7, Wright-Phillips 7, Barton 7, Faurlin 8, Traore 8, Mackie 7, Helguson 9

Subs Not Used: Derry, Buzsaky, Smith, Hewitt

Booked: Barton (handball), Helguson (foul)

Goals: Helguson 22 (assisted Traore), 54 (assisted Barton), Young 44 (assisted Mackie)

QPR Star Man – Heidar Helguson 9 A complete Premiership centre forward display with two fine goals, a third unluckily disallowed, expert hold and link play and plenty more besides. Helguson was also a key figure in the QPR penalty area, defending really well against all of the Stoke set pieces.

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire) 6 Stoke will point to two penalty decisions – both of which could easily have been given, the second on Robert Huth should definitely have been awarded. It’s mpossible to mark a referee highly with two such big decisions made incorrectly, although I sympathise with him on the first one because Pennant looked like he’d dived at normal speed. Should have taken action against Fuller for a dire tackle on Traore on the second half even though he’d already awarded a free kick to Stoke. Seemed to struggle to keep a handle on the game throughout.

Attendance: 27, 618 (1,500 QPR approx) Stoke’s attendances have almost tripled since they were promoted to the top division and a ground that I previously considered one of the worst examples of a new build, mainly due to its wide open corners and distance of the main stand from the pitch, is now one of the most feared and atmospheric. Apart from one deafening chorus of club anthem Delilah after the first goal the noise from the home ranks was almost entirely restricted to appealing for various free kicks and penalties – and given that they appeal for absolutely everything at the same ridiculous volume the effect of that is open to debate. QPR travelled in good numbers, selling out their allocation, and were in understandably good voice throughout.

@loftforwords Tweeted updates live from the Britannia Stadium throughout this game. Get following now for more to come in future matches.

Photo: Action Images

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N12Hoop added 21:58 - Nov 20
The Top 10 most over-rated players article included Barton and SWP in it so we had 3 of the top 10 places! But then again what do you expect from a truly dreadful radio station?
Great to see us playing such decent football and again we see how much more effective we are without AT. Thought Mackie's pass to Young for the 2nd goal was fantastic as was the finish. These are indeed good times but with only 6 points or so separating 9th from 18th let's hope we can continue this form. Barton suspended next week so we should see Derry back for a game.

MelakaRanger added 22:30 - Nov 20
What was especially encouraging was that even at 3-1 up, QPR continued to attack looking for goal number 4. It would have been easy to shut up shop once 2 goals uo but no, we never stopped.

That was also key to our performances against Man City and the second half at Spurs

Likewise for the past 2 1/2 games we have played without Taarabt. In that time we have played more as a 'team', been more dangerous to our opponents and have scored plenty of goals. QPR are a far better team without him now.

So lets hope next weeks only change is Derry for Barton. Then 3 points at Norwich is very achieveable


PeterHucker added 23:53 - Nov 20
great report as usual Clive.
I thought Ferdinand played really well and won loads of headers and should be up there with Faurlin and Traore on 8 out of 10.
No arguments with HH for man of the match though.

Myke added 00:04 - Nov 21
6 seems high for a ref whom you had only criticism for? How can Hewitt be on the bench when not in original 25?

Northernr added 06:14 - Nov 21
Hewitt is young enough not to have to be included in the squad - you can have as many under 21s as you like.

Fan123 added 06:17 - Nov 21
Amazing pace of journalism. Multiple wind up is required. Well said and done.

JB007007 added 07:38 - Nov 21
Thanks Clive.
Real football won this. Heidar was a real hero. That bang he took early on would have been enough for most players to shy away from the game. The Anton hesitation reminded me of Connolly against Leicester last year. We were very lucky to get away with that. I thought we did superbly in the last 10 minutes with those set pieces bombing in - my legs were like jelly! The only criticism was for their second goal. When Crouch got his head to the throw in I was expecting Paddy to challenge before Shawcross got to it. Probably harsh I know. Just hope that Luke Young is ok too.

Monahoop added 09:22 - Nov 21
Great report. Helgusson has had his detractors on here in the past many saying he was not Premier League standard, but in the last few weeks he has proved those doubters wrong. He may not be graced with great skill, but his work rate, timing and courage more than make up for this and I feel he is worthy at this level. His mere presence in opposition boxes causes concern with his 'have a go' attitude.
Good to see Luke Young get a goal. To me he is the unsung gem among the new crop of signings.
Great win in what proved to be a difficult game.

NorwayRanger16 added 10:38 - Nov 21
Great report and a wonderful win against the hoof merchants. Think your ratings are spot on, very close to my own ;-)

Just wondering if you caught the whole towel incident? During the second half the ref went to speak to the Stoke dug out re use of towels at throw ins. This was the reason why one of the Stoke coaching staff got sent to the stands imo. And if you look closely, Delap didn't use towels towards the end, had to use his t-shirt underneath his jersey. The same goes for Clint Hill who also used the towel in the first half. The cameras caught it and zoomed in when Stoke staff "smugled" a towel to a ball boy. Do you know if there is new rules laid down by the FA/refs? Would be welcomed if so.

SomersetHoops added 10:51 - Nov 21
Great from HH in addition to his positioning and execution of the goals I was impressed by how many times he headed out from defence.

Barton needs to be careful now; more than once he has deserved a penalty against him at crucial points in games and got away with it and referees will be aware of that. He needs to keep his head a bit more. The tackle on Huth was at a time when he was no direct threat to goal and on another day could have given Stoke a chance to equalise via the penalty spot and lost us two valuable points. His quality is there to see, but he needs to keep his brain switched on at all times to avoid costly mistakes.

For Talksport to denigrate Traore just shows their lack of observation and judgement. Anyone can see he has the potential to become a great player and I think NW is the best manager with his tough bluntness to get him to that level.

I'm really pleased for Luke Young who has been getting on with his job very well and again is a player of real quality who deserved his goal.

Tonto added 10:52 - Nov 21
Good report, except Traore didnt get in the top 10 over-rated players. it was Barton, SWP and Tarabt who did...

Fan123 added 11:05 - Nov 21
Not having edit button here, it's like Watergate scandal.

Myke added 11:28 - Nov 21
O didn't realise that rule re u21s -thanks

benbu added 12:23 - Nov 21
A brilliant well deserved win for the Rs!

At 1-0 down I thought we were going to be on the end of a Stoke backlash and feared the worst too. The build up play, the cross and the header from HH was a stunning move and I really enjoyed seeing it live. We didnt look back from the equaliser and played some great football afterwards. The 2nd goal before half-time was also some lovely football from Rangers. I havent seen many sides in the premiership play quick moving football like that (only Spurs and City) have. Stoke were left standing still and had no clue as to our wonderful passing game.

I would have loved to see HH bag a 3rd, always liked him at QPR and so pleased to see him hitting great form in the top league.

As for Stoke, yeah people give them stick and say they play bad football, which I agree it isnt pretty to watch at all. They are also a horrible physical side to play against but if we can match what they have done in 4 premier league seasons then we would all be happy. I dont dislike Pulis either but I wouldnt be too impressed with the football they play week in week out.

Mackie, SWP i thought were excellent saturday but HH has to be my MOTM.

great 3 points

themodfather added 12:41 - Nov 21
let stoke fester with their own problems, we won..the ref was on the spot for both "calls", it's not like we are blatantly cheating or fouling yet i felt motd made us wrong....we scored 3 at the britt and played the better FOOTBALL....i keep on about this but stoke are the new leeds! with a seasoning of watford added in,lol.

W7Ranger added 12:45 - Nov 21
Republic of Ireland won 4-0 in Estonia.

And Traore wasn't in that top 10 list.

Other than that, brilliant write up as usual Clive.


isawqpratwcity added 12:45 - Nov 21
Great report, thanks, Clive.
Happy to admit that I am one surprised by how well HH is shaping up.
Stoke cost themselves the draw by being inaccurate: the last ten minutes they made several strong attacks and I thought our defense looked a bit shapeless and fragile but they couldn't get on target.
You're right, these are great times. The team is doing better than anyone would reasonably have expected, and it seems to be because they are developing a great enthusiasm and work ethic (it's great hearing our supporters so loud home and away, too). If AT doesn't pull finger soon, there won't be a place in the team for him.

JAPRANGERS added 13:36 - Nov 21
magnificent report Clive!

LancsBushRs added 13:41 - Nov 21
cheers again for that write up..

an enjoyable day all round!

that awful miss from HH at Palace (one of his first Rs games?) can be forgiven now ;p

dixiedean added 14:58 - Nov 21
THAT miss at Palace was his probably first touch in an R's shirt- he came on as a sub as I recall and it was about 30 secs after half time. To continue the Furs analogy HH has also overcome initial doubters ( of which I was one) and become well accepted by the fans due to his 100% effort and commitment, not to mention goals . He's also probably our best defensive header of the ball, with possible exception of Hill.Trouble is he is virtually our only fit forward at the mo, so if he got injured ( which is inevitable sooner or later) we'd be in a spot. No doubt TF will address that in January. Defoe would do me fine !

RangerKIK added 15:27 - Nov 21
Great report. Great game. A real battling performance. At 3-1 up we should have got into ole football mode and killed the game and shut the crowd up. We certainly have the technical ability to do that but we still have this 'basketball' mentality and play like we have to get a shot on goal within 25 seconds. Hopefully now we are sitting 9th in the table (9th in the Premier league how good does that sound!!) we will start to believe in ourselves more and play with a bit more swagger. Also it would be good to see JB impose himself on games more.

Anyway one rash challenge aside it was really good to see us keep our heads again in a very hostile enviroment. Roll on the Canaries!!

windsorloop added 15:40 - Nov 21
Hi Clive,
Great report
I am a season ticket holder & go to the all the home games with the occassional away, Fulham was a disaster. Can you expand on the injury that Helguson received. He must be at least 5' 10" tall & according to the report in the Sunday papers he was knocked on the cheek bone by crouch's knee. How did this happen?

RBLOCKPAT added 18:12 - Nov 21
I remember his goal at Palace last season and it was vital in us going up. Since we changed formation all of our forward play has been magnificicent and the exchanges for the second goal at Stoke were fantastic, they really are gelling and Jamie Mackie has that strength we have needed all season up front. I think Adel is only going to be a bit part sub till January which is a shame because of what he did for us last season but he just hasn't worked at making the transition to the Prem. and I just dont want to see us change our system to accomodate him as much as I love Monsieur Taarabt.

DublinQPR74 added 23:15 - Nov 21
A great read, thanks. I missed the game - pesky 3pm Saturday kickoffs.

YorkRanger added 13:49 - Nov 22
My overriding view after the game was how depressing it must be to support Stoke and watch that sort of football week in week out. Your point about number of completed passes was well made - ultimately we played the better football, dealt with their threat and were worthy winners

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