|Merry Christmas my R's|
Monday, 19th Dec 2005 00:38
QPR crashed to another home defeat as Coventry notched a last minute penalty in front of the Sky cameras.
After four points from two away games had the tide started to turn on the strangest of seasons so far? Well, not really. We are only halfway through this rollercoaster season but everyone is used to expecting the unexpected in W12. This was another frustrating performance at Loftus Road and makes our home record look very sorry for itself.
Holloway changed things slightly from the team at Ipswich by dropping Milanese to the bench in place of Evatt at centre half. Rowlands was partnered in centre midfield by Bean with Ainsworth and Langley out wide. Big Georges once again took up the role of emergency striker and he was partnered by Stefan Moore. With Gallen out injured Shittu took up the role of captain. Matthew Rose and Marc Bircham returned to the bench, despite reportedly not being fully-fit.
With our dismal record on Sky this was a fixture to hardly get the pulse racing and I doubt this was a game watched by many neutrals. Still, the offer of £1 a child managed to get some extra people in through the turnstiles and there was a healthy enough crowd for this time of year and considering our average gate this year.
QPR started the stronger and forced a couple of early corners. Gareth Ainsworth was typically throwing himself around in the area and his robust header was turned around the post by Fulop. Santos, despite clearly not playing in his natural position was winning some flick on's and trying to link up with Moore. There was later one neat move when Bignot played a neat ball into the feet of Moore who dummied for Santos - but Georges seemed a bit surprised to receive the ball! He tried to keep the move going but it petered out. Still nice to see attacking football being played on the floor.
We continued to press, but once again didn't test the keeper enough. Langley had some neat touches and tried to makes some openings but things just weren't happening. Moore didn't quite connect enough with an Ainsworth cross and Langley was charged down while lining up a shot from outside the box. Ainsworth saw plenty of the ball and was full of his usual running but not enough chances were created as a result of his work.
QPR started the second half in a similar vain - but again struggled to break down the resilient Coventry backline. The Sky Blues had created precious little chances and like many teams in this league were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. But with Adebola's strength and the threat of McSheffrey's our back four had to be on their guard. Shittu was having an excellent game and was well up for this one after he got so wound up at the Ricoh Arena early this season. He was relishing the battle with Adebola and was coming out on top.
Ainsworth continued his one man assault on the Coventry left back and came painfully close when his header went flying inches over the bar at the Loft end. As the second half progressed our play became more sluggish and our players looked more and more off the pace. Langley especially drifted out of the game and Ainsworth also started to tire. Big Georges up front had run himself into the ground and looked like he was on his last legs. He did link well with Dyer though down the left but his final ball into the ball box looked like that of a tired player and was too early for the on-rushing Moore.
Holloway made a change with Bean making way for Cook, who went out wide with Langley coming inside. Cook had one chance when his dipping volley from outside the box - but it wasn't quick enough to trouble the Coventry keeper.
Santos then made way for Bircham who came on in central midfield. Its shows how short we are up front when we have to take our emergency striker off because he's knackered and replace him with a half-fit central midfielder. Ainsworth then pushed further forward to help Stefan Moore.
With a few minutes remaining, McSheffrey was allowed too much space by our casual defenders and Evatt (again exploited with his lack of pace) was caught well short. He couldn't catch him and McSheffrey's poor touch took him wide of the goal. Out came the on-rushing Royce and down went McSheffrey. Rennie had his moment of fame and immediately pointed to the spot. He then reached for the card for Royce and it was not long before he sent his gloves and shirt flying onto the Loftus Road turf as he made his way towards the tunnel! Jake Cole quickly got changed and made his long awaited debut, coming on in place of Gareth Ainsworth.
He took his place in goal but McSheffrey was ready and smashed home the ball past the young debutant. The fourth official then held up the board to signal for four minutes of added time. We didn't look like scoring and the game quickly petered out.
Coventry had offered pretty much nothing in terms of attacking football and had instead played a risky game but it paid off for them. We, on the other hand had again had plenty of possession but couldn't find the opening. Our home record is pretty appalling this season and with further suspensions to Santos and Royce our squad is pushed to the limit even more.
Without no Furlong or Nygaard we look hopelessly lost and our main attacking outlet has been taken away from us. It just isn't good enough to rely on Furlong, Holloway knows this only too well, but it still doesn't change the situation. It has been the story of many of games this season but despite a fair amount of signings at the end of last season and close-season many have not lived up to expectations.
With the busy Christmas period nearly upon us and four games in a week, it's going to be a matter of last man standing at this rate. Despite this, we still had the players on the pitch against Coventry who should have been able to finish them off. We all need some Christmas cheer and we shall see if Rangers can deliver on Boxing Day at Brighton.
QPR: Royce 6, Bignot 6, Evatt 6, Shittu 8*, Dyer 6, Ainsworth 8 (Cole 86 n/a), Langley 6, Bean 6 (Cook 66, 6), Rowlands 7, Santos 7 (Bircham 81), Moore 7.
Subs Not Used: Milanese, Rose.
Sent Off: Royce (85).
Booked: Rowlands, Santos.
Coventry: Fulop, Whing, Page, Shaw, Duffy, Morrell (Impey 61), Doyle, Osbourne, McSheffrey (Jorgensen 89), Adebola (Scowcroft 76), Hutchison.
Subs Not Used: Ince, Thornton.
Booked: McSheffrey, Adebola.
Goals: McSheffrey 87 pen.
QPR Man of the Match: Danny Shittu - Held the defence together for 87 minutes of the game and marshalled Adebola superbly. But unfortunately our defence has moments when they go missing and the goal was one of them. Was leading the team well and shouting out instructions throughout the game too which was good to see.
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire). 6 - Usual display from the hapless Mr Rennie, he was itching to make his impact on the game in front of the cameras and he had the perfect opportunity. No complaints about the cards in the game but he constant nit-picking with free kicks etc…was frustrating for all to watch.
Photo: Action Images
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