|QPR win after scary second half|
Tuesday, 9th Aug 2005 18:27
Rangers secured their first win of the season on opening night at Loftus Road, defeating promotion hopefuls Ipswich 2-1.
As expected some changes were forced on Holloway, although not as many as predicted. Shittu and Bircham passed fitness tests so both continued while Ainsworth deputised for Cook. Rowlands took the wide left position with Ainsworth on the right. That aside it was the same team that played at Hull. Shimmin, Nygaard, Brown and Moore were all warming the bench, no doubt itching to get on.
Ipswich meanwhile had a slightly less well known team than last season, not surprising after some of the quality players that left. There were still some familiar faces such as Magilton, Currie, Westlake and new signings Forster and Sam Parkin. Mark Fish was also making his debut for the Tractor Boys after joining from Charlton.
QPR started brightly and built up a considerable amount of possession, Mark Fish looked to be off the pace of the game and the R's certainly noticed this by firing balls in towards him and not letting him have any time on the ball.
Furs was his usual self up front - causing no end of problems. Rowlands and Ainsworth were also coming into the game nicely. Rowlands especially looks up for it this season and hopefully he can build on this form after a slightly disappointing season by his high standards last term.
Doherty was instrumental in midfield and already looks to be a firm favourite at LR. He's got a wide range of passing in his locker but the Irishman is also an organiser and talker throughout. I think his arrival could have the added benefit of improving Bircham as well. There is added competition and Birch is going to have to raise his game this season.
Ainsworth had a great chance when he charged clear of the Ipswich midfield, he chose to go for glory but his shot came cannoning off an Ipswich defender. Ipswich didn't seem to get going in the first half but were always a danger coming forward - Forster and Parkin are proven goal scorers and don't need to be asked twice.
Forster had a great chance during the first half, he managed to wriggle free from Santos and Shittu and was bearing down on Royce with great speed. Royce, made a decision and chose to stand his ground. It proved to be the right decision and the shot from Forster came bouncing off his body for Big George to clear the line.
I thought Shittu and Santos worked better as a partnership than Saturday, it must be said that Santos made some very timely crunching challenges. As always though there is constant worry and doubt in my mind as to what he does with the ball after this. On the odd occasion it can be magical but on the whole it's a hopeful punt that no-one has got a chance of reaching. The madness of King George indeed!!
The continued pressure from Rangers finally paid off in the 37th minute. Bignot had the ball at his feet and put in a decent ball for Furs to knock down. The ball fell to Gallens feet and he twisted and turned with Fish breathing down his neck to knock a shot past the keeper. Loftus Road erupted and it was the least we deserved after the pressure we had.
This gave Gallen extra confidence after this and he was even seen winning some headers and getting stuck in with a few challenges. We continued to push forward and the second soon followed before the break - and what a great move it was too. Gallen had the ball at his feet on the right hand side of the area, he passed to Ainsworth who hit the by-line and swept a ball in for Rowlands to attack at the far past. He met it sweetly and cracked a shot into the back of the net.
Around this time we also had a good shout for a penalty when it appeared that Birch was dragged down in the area. The referee was disappointing to say the least all evening and with no doubt the reputation that Birch has it was no surprise to see the man in black wave away our appeals. On countless occasions the ref let a moving ball be taken from free kicks and let players gain valuable yards from throw ins.
Ipswich made two substitutions for the second half - it wasn't surprising and I'm sure Royle laid into them at the break. They seemed to have renewed confidence and Magilton early on had an excellent free kick saved by Royce.
In the 54th minute Ipswich got right back in the game. Parkin got the better of Shittu and the ref waived play on as I think Shittu had fouled Parkin. He chased the ball and managed to wrestle it from Santos and then calmly fired the ball into the corner. You could see it coming and it was just typical that Parkin had scored the goal. We should have done better with clearing our lines and Santos should have just fired the ball into row Z.
Then followed a period where Ipswich really bossed the game, they out muscled our midfield and played some decent passing football. This called for our back four to be on their guard and for the whole they were. As always there were some worrying moments - Rose and Bignot both got caught in possession more than once during the game. In fact Bignot was regularly out of position in the first period and seemed to think he was a right midfielder. Rose also made some ambitious attacking moves from the back which broke down far too easily.
We managed to weather the storm and started to create chances again. Furlong, Gallen and Doherty all went close but the ball just wouldn't hit the back of the net. Moore came on to replace the tiring Ainsworth and he was involved in our disallowed goal. After a scrabble in the box, Furs got hold of the loose ball and fired home - everyone started celebrating and pigbag was in full swing. Then came a flag from nowhere and the goal was ruled out. It would be very interesting to see the incident again to see exactly what happened.
Ipswich had a great chance towards the end that somehow stayed out and I think Bignot was the man to scrabble the ball away. Furlong was replaced by Nygaard towards the end, Furs was a constant threat all night and with a bit of luck could have had a hat-trick. Nygaard is a tall, lanky striker and he worked hard when he came on.
The ever picky official chose to add 4 minutes of added time on, much to the disbelief of Loftus Road. We managed to hold on though for an important first victory of the season. Doherty looked absolutely shattered for the last fifteen minutes of the game and it was interesting to see that he had thrown up at half-time but refused to come off?!
Holloway will be delighted with the victory as Ipswich are a very good footballing team, it's also important to get the first victory out of the way. Sheffield United is going to be a huge task on Saturday and we are going to need our big strong physical players to be on form for a big test.
QPR: Royce 7, Bignot 6, Shittu 8, Santos 7, Rose 6, Ainsworth 7 (Moore 75, 6), Bircham 7, Doherty 8*, Rowlands 7, Gallen 7, Furlong 7 (Nygaard 87 N/A).
Subs Not Used: Cole, Brown, Shimmin.
Booked: Rowlands, Shittu, Doherty.
Goals: Gallen 37, Rowlands 45.
Ipswich: Price, Castro Rodriguez, Naylor, Fish (Richards 45), Wilnis, Magilton, Garvan (Horlock 46), Westlake (Peters 69), Currie, Forster, Parkin.
Subs Not Used: Supple, Bowditch.
Booked: Richards, Horlock.
Goals: Parkin 54.
Referee - K Stroud - 5 - A generous 5 at that as well. The game was a pulsating affair that had both sets of fans on tender hooks, but Mr Stoud was a constant thorn in the side of both sets of players and fans alike.
Man of the Match - Tommy 'The Strangler' Doherty - Named after his exploits in Ibiza, the Doc was totally competitive and a leader throughout tonight. Thumbs up for playing on as well when even reportedly throwing up at half-time! He can certainly play football as well as stick in a tough challenge, if he carries on like this he's got a big future at LR ahead of him.
Photo: Action Images
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