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Possession, but no cutting edge
Possession, but no cutting edge
Wednesday, 19th Oct 2005 19:06

Rangers dropped two points with a frustrating draw at home to lowly Plymouth on Tuesday.

There were a couple of changes from the team that drew at Preston. Holloway kept faith with Evatt at the back and dropped Santos to the bench in place of Bircham. Doherty partnered him in central midfield, Cook and Gallen filled the wide slots while Furs and Nygaard started in attack.

The ground at 7.35 was a mass of empty seats with no real atmosphere building up to kick off. Slowly but surely things filled up but not even 12,000 turned up for this one - perhaps that says more than anything about our current situation. The travelling Plymouth fans were housed in the upper tier and the 1000 or so who made the trip will be well pleased with a point.

For many the highlight of their evening would have been the performance of the Royal Marines at half time - and it's easy to see why. The sight of Jude the Cat, head butting and scissor kicking our armed forces is a sight to behold and was more entertaining than the football according to some. Rumours that Lee Cook is to be sent for training with them to toughen up have yet to be confirmed.

The first few minutes of the game were bright for QPR, but we quickly lost our spark and couldn't break down a resilient Plymouth backline. After just a couple of minutes Evatt had a free header but couldn't get enough power behind to test the keeper.

Predictably with Nygaard and Furlong in attack, most of our attacking was restricted to putting high balls into our front men. Nygaard was working hard though and was causing Plymouth enough cause for concern. His cross box pass found Cook, but he didn't come anywhere near finding the target.

The longer the half went on the less cohesive we seemed to be as a team. The ref was blowing for plenty of picky fouls and we didn't really have any flow to our play. In some patches we passed the ball well, but we never did enough to really penetrate Plymouth. If the ball did get to Furs or Nygaard there were no midfield runners to knock balls down to.

Cook seemed to spend most of the first half on his backside and rarely made any sort of contribution to the team. During the second half, he improved every so slightly and had a chip tipped over the bar. I don't know what is up with Cook but that was his worse game I've seen for long time.

Although certainly not a right midfielder I didn't think Gallen done too badly. He naturally wants to come inside and he obviously lacks pace for a winger, but he saw plenty of the ball during the game. It was good to see him chasing the ball down by the touchline and he managed to win the ball off the unsuspecting full back.

From an attacking point of view Plymouth offered pretty much nothing, until they scored of course. The excellent Buzsaky found plenty of space in central midfield and without being closed down, drilled home a fizzling shot from outside the box; it was a terrific strike and flew straight in. It looked like it had got a deflection from my seat in SA Road but it appears that it went in unaided. He was also the danger man from dead ball situations with his pinpoint free kicks. QPR players please take note.

We kept on going for the rest of the half but offered little in terms of quality and immediately after the whistle blew the team were booed from the pitch. A sorry state of affairs all round really.

We started the second half in a similar vein to the first and couldn't find the killer pass or trick to force the keeper to make a save. Furlong managed to get his head to a Cook cross but his effort went just wide of the post. Then just moments later Evatt had a headed effort cleared on the goal-line. As the half progressed fans and players alike were being more and more restless.

Holloway then chose to make a sub with half hour remaining, with Ainsworth coming on for Doherty. The Doc wasn't impressed with his choice and the look on his face was one of total anger. Bircham seemed the obvious choice but Ollie had other ideas. The Doc had picked up a stupid booking during a period when he was having an on-running battle with the ref. The Doc lost his temper and when he does this he loses his concentration as well.

The high ball bombardment of the Plymouth box continued and we then had a decent shout for a penalty turned down. A deep ball from the left was attacked by Nygaard and it looked like the Plymouth man had his hands all over the big mans shirt. Yet referee Messias disagreed again.

With 20 minutes remaining we finally got a penalty and Plymouth couldn't really complain about this one. A ball into the box was headed back across by Nygaard and handled by the Plymouth man. Finally at long last we had a penalty and Gallen drove the ball home. It was more a sigh of relief when we scored as frustrations were getting the better of many.

Plymouth continued with their time-wasting antics throughout the second half and the referee should have stamped it out much earlier. If he had yellow carded the keeper then the rubbish from him would have stopped. Only 3 minutes were added which is a complete joke for the amount of time he wasted. Still from their point of view they will be happy with a point from their travels.

We had a great chance to take the lead when Ainsworth skipped inside the box and whipped the ball in front of goal. Furs was on the end of it but his effort soared over the bar and summed up a pretty poor night from him all round really. Just moments later he was replaced by Sturridge but he didn't look like breaking his scoring duck and he doesn't look any closer to getting his weighty goal bonus.

The game then faded away really as we just didn't have the creativity to break Plymouth down. With just seconds remaining, Holloway brought on Santos for Cook which was roundly jeered by those left in the stadium. Then just seconds later the curtain was brought down on another frustrating evening at Loftus Road for everyone concerned.

Ultimately, despite having much of the possession we couldn't break them down. We relied on high balls into the box and Nygaard was working hard to make an opening for himself. Furlong was well off form and doesn't look the same player as last season. There was little creativity in midfield and without our wingers hitting the by-line and putting crosses in we looked far too one dimensional.

Many will disagree but I thought Gallen made the best out of a bad situation really. He isn't a right midfielder but he worked hard for the good of the team. Bignot saw plenty of the ball when attacking down the right but there were few options available to him.

Dyer didn't seem to get forward enough really as there were acres of space down the left but he was held back by his defensive responsibilities. At the back Shittu and Evatt were both fairly solid and winning the battle with the Plymouth forwards.

Out of a possible six points we have picked up two, which considering the opposition isn't really the return we all would have liked. From the teams I've seen so far Plymouth will struggle this season and have to win games like this.

In the past our aims for the season has been clear. For example when in the old Division 2 everyone had the aim of promotion on their minds. Last season, realistically people would have been happy with fourth from bottom. This season the stakes have been raised through people's expectations of the team and the dreaded price rises. But we look well off a team who could battle for a play-off spot at the moment.

We can have all the possession in the world but you need players to score goals and we simply aren't doing that at the moment. The body language of the players isn't good and the whole aura of the place stinks at the moment to be honest. Norwich on Saturday now and after the battering they took last night they will be well up for a fight.

QPR: Royce 7, Bignot 6, Shittu 7, Evatt 7, Dyer 6, Gallen 7, Bircham 5, Doherty 6 (Ainsworth 63, 6), Cook 4 (Santos 90), Furlong 5 (Sturridge 80), Nygaard 7*.
Subs Not Used: Moore, Langley.
Booked: Doherty, Furlong.
Goals: Gallen 69 pen.

Plymouth: Larrieu, Connolly, Doumbe, Aljofree, Capaldi, Norris, Buzsaky (Brevett 86), Wotton, Djordjic (Chadwick 69), Evans, Taylor (Gudjonsson 80).
Subs Not Used: McCormick, Derbyshire.
Booked: Taylor.
Goals: Buzsaky 39.

Att: 11,741

Referee: M Messias (S Yorkshire). 4 - Didn't let the game flow and was far too keen to make an impression on the game. Nygaard received precious little protection from him and had a great shout for another penalty. And why oh why he didn't stop the time wasting is a complete joke as there was far more than 3 minutes that should have been added.

QPR Man of the Match: Marc Nygaard - Again battled hard all evening and wasn't really supported by an out-of-sorts Paul Furlong. Excellent tracking back included trailing a Plymouth player for at least 25 yards and making a timely interception. Sadly his efforts weren't taken on board by others tonight.

Photo: Action Images

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