|R's KO'd in ugly Boxing Day clash|
Monday, 26th Dec 2005 00:40
Rangers slipped to a poor 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Boxing Day.
Feeling bloated, hungover and generally fed up? Why not try a trip to the beautiful surroundings of the Withdean Stadium (cough) on a wind swept, freezing day to watch a ball being punted around in the air.
Well, that's what the unlucky few hundred Rangers fans were treated to on another thoroughly depressing day for QPR. Unfortunately there's far too many of them at the moment and we can only just pray that Wednesday brings some much-needed relief.
Last season saw a last gasp Matthew Rose goal seal all three points for QPR in a goal crazy affair down by the seaside. This time round we'd be lucky to see Matthew half-fit, let alone pinging in shots from twenty yards out!
With the recent tiny increase in capacity at Brighton, the away fans are now shacked up at the opposite end of the running track by the tunnel and portacabins. As expected, Furlong returned to the starting line and was joined in attack by Stefan Moore. The midfield consisted of Langley, Bean, Rowlands and Ainsworth while it was the normal back in four in front of Jake Cole making his full debut.
As all too often this season we started the game far too slowly and let the opponents firmly grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Its even more frustrating knowing that our opponents are one of the poorer teams in the league and with the right attitude the team picked could have easily contested such a game.
The first half all round was a stop-start affair that was dominated by far too many whistles from Mr Styles (feel like you've been here before), untold amount of disruptions and a generally poor standard of football.
The first major stop came after four minutes when Charlie Oatway went down after Marcus Bean crashed into him from behind. After a few minutes of treatment it was clear he wasn't continuing and the QPR fan was carried off the field.
Then just a couple of minutes later a free kick taken by Richard Carpenter, was headed home by Guy Butters. He easily climbed above our stagnant defence and headed past Jake Cole who was rooted to the spot. It was hardly the perfect start for Cole on his full debut for the club.
Around the same time as the goal, Breaker was given his marching orders from the sidelines. Styles had immediately had an impact on the match and this will no doubt keep his twisted fantasies going till Wednesday at least. In fact Breaker sprinted to the tunnel and an area which was Styles-free, the Rangers fans behind the goal were sharing his pain. Worryingly, Breaker probably sprinted faster and broke into more of a sweat than our team did during the first half.
Apart from a Furlong header in the final few minutes we created pretty much nothing and Furs was fighting a losing battle as Moore gave him precious little support. Furs seemed to be just off the pace of the game - and with him being permanently suspended it's another frustrating situation. It's as if he needs a couple of games to bed back into the side.
The game wasn't pretty and the first half was particularly frustrating with plenty of interference from Styles and endless balls hoofed up into the air. There was absolutely no football being played from our point of view and Brighton managed to carve us open a few times. Jake Cole was called into action during the later stages of the first half with Frustos just one player to test him with a low shot.
The second half kicked off with the cold and quiet Rangers fans hoping for greater things. Too be honest, at this point I thought Styles was saving all his cards for the second half and just for us. Luckily I was proved wrong.
After a few minutes we won a free kick in a promising position. Langley, Rowlands and Furlong all stood over the ball and it was Langley who had the final shot. He curled it round the wall but Kuipers saved well to his right hand side.
After 60 minutes, Holloway changed things round as Bean and Moore were withdrawn in place of Cook and Nygaard. He added some much need presence up front with Furlong and got stuck in straight away. Cook also immediately came into the game and passed his first hurdle but not falling over!! He kept the ball well and started to work with Dyer down the left hand side.
The changes had the desired effect and we started to play a bit of football and finally some (but not enough) urgency came into our play. Cook had an effort on target from outside the box but Kuipers again was equal to it.
The Brighton keeper was a source of annoyance to the Rangers fans during the second half with his constant time wasting - something that has to be kicked out of the game, especially from goalkeepers. If it wasn't ball boys doing their job at a snails pace then it was Kuipers who was unhappy with the damn football.
We made our third substitution of the game on 75 minutes when Ainsworth made way for Bircham with Langley moving out to the right hand side. Despite looking more like an attacking outfit it was far too late really for Rangers.
Jake Cole, despite having a quiet second half was alert and he saved brilliantly from a strong shot from Kazim-Richards. This was Cole's best moment of the game and was a good point blank save.
We then started to put more pressure on the Brighton goal. First Nygaard headed wide from a Langley corner and then Furlong had our best chance of the game. Bignot crossed the ball over to the far post and Furlong somehow managed to rocket the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score. He was literally yards out and it was by far our best chance of the game.
Cole was again called into action at the other end as he saved well after McCammon was put clean through.
During the final few minutes we had a penalty appeal turned down by Styles. This was hardly surprising given his previous track record with games involving QPR. A ball was pumped into the Albion box and it looked like a hand touched the ball, despite protests from players and fans he and the lino (who was close) turned down the appeals. Although I need to see that again as I was miles away behind a running track!
But its all academic now anyway as we've picked up zero points at the Withdean. Again, the lack of a cutting edge up front and coming into the game too late has cost us dear. The performances so far this season have really been dire and at the moment they aren't going to have a lot to show on the end of season DVD.
I think we'll see a few changes for Wednesday and many of today's substitutes will be given starting appearances - lets just hope they can bring some festive joy to the proceedings.
QPR: Cole 7, Bignot 5, Evatt 5, Shittu 6, Bean 6 (Cook 61, 7), Ainsworth 6 (Bircham 75, 7), Rowlands 6, Dyer 5, Langley 6, Moore 5 (Nygaard 60, 7*), Furlong 6.
Subs Not Used: Milanese, Rose.
Booked: Rowlands, Bean.
Brighton: Kuipers, Reid, Butters, El-Abd, McShane, Hart, Oatway (Carpenter 4), Hammond, Frutos (Mayo 62), Knight (McCammon 61), Kazim-Richards.
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Sullivan.
Booked: Hammond, Kazim-Richards, Reid.
Goals: Butters 7.
QPR Man of the Match: Marc Nygaard - A close one this as there were few contenders. Nygaard made an instant impact on the games so that's why he's been handed the coveted award! He isn't pretty or full of silky skills but he made a nuisance of himself and actually got in the Brighton area. Special mention as well to Jake Cole on a steady debut. He made a couple of excellent saves and it will be interesting to see his development. Lee Cook also made an impact as a second half substitution.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire). 3 - It wasn't the card frenzy that many were expecting after an early flurry from Mr Styles. He still stamped his personal touch on the game though with some bizarre decisions, Tim Breaker for one will be glad to see the back of him. Major points lost for not stamping out any of the time-wasting going on in the second half. Generally shocked he didn't dismiss any players this time round.
Photo: Action Images
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