|Cue on the rack|
Saturday, 15th Apr 2006 01:19
Rangers drew 1-1 with Derby at Loftus Road in the first Easter fixture, extending their winless run to eight games.
Recent results have hardly been impressive for caretaker boss Gary Waddock. Just two wins since Ian Holloway was placed on gardening leave, only now is he finding out the real stresses of first team management. But playing out the season with some players who clearly don't earn their money isn't easy.
Derby County were the visitors to W12 for the second last home game of the season, it appears both clubs have similar circumstances with caretakers bosses and the cloud of the mysterious ABC Corporation hanging over both clubs in their dire financial plight.
County were backed by a healthy following from the East Midlands and they made plenty of noise throughout the game. Lee Camp was given a round of applause from the Rangers fans and received plenty of chants during the second half when keeping goal at the Loft. In fact, he probably got just as many as our own players did on the day - surely that says something!
After placing a rather damning verdict on some players at the club, Waddock was again after some sort of reaction from his men to prove him wrong. Although this was an improvement on recent weeks it was hardly awe inspiring either - and some players didn't do themselves any favours.
He made changes and brought in some of the clubs recent home-grown talent, both Bailey and Donnelly started with the later playing just behind target man Marc Nygaard. Ainsworth continued as captain and Langley returned to the centre of the park. World cup hopeful Martin Kus again started at right back to try and show the management what he could do.
Following on the back of three straight defeats it was vitally important for the R's to at least get a point out of this fixture. The slight change in formation took a while to settle and Nygaard looked lost up front on his own. Donnelly didn't quite look comfortable either in his role and it wasn't the best of first half's from the young midfield man.
Our strongest attacking avenue again looked to be down the left hand side with Lee Cook combining well with Milanese. Cook has somewhat been revitalised under Waddock and appears to be enjoying his football more. A couple of attempts from him failed to over stretch ex-loanee Lee Camp too much though.
At the other end Tommy Smith was superb for Derby and was a problem all afternoon. He swapped flanks and on countless occasions during the first half was left in acres of space out wide on our right. Kus didn't really get to grips with him and he wasn't properly picked up.
Ainsworth had our first real effort but it ended in disaster. He was just lining up a shot inside the box when he seemed to slip and lose his balance. His shot then went totally wrong as he scuffed his effort wide.
Stefan Bailey was working hard in the middle of the Rangers midfield and was having more of an impact that Bircham or Lomas did in previous games. He was tackling well and breaking up some Derby moves. Alongside him Langley was having a very disappointing game. He never looked like he was in the game and his body language suggested he thought it was a practice match.
In parts, Rangers played some decent football and after some nice interchange in midfield the ball was swept out wide to the advancing Milanese. He whipped in an excellent ball into the box but the on-rushing Nygaard couldn't quite connect with it.
Towards the end of the half Ainsworth had one of his trademark spectacular efforts as his dipping 40 yard effort fizzed just wide of the goal. Ainsworth had swapped places with Donnelly in a bid to try and get the young midfielder into the game more. He had looked lost playing just behind Nygaard and it was hoped that this way he would see more of the ball.
After the break, came one of the highlights of the game when Shittu went on one of his mad runs from defence. He won a challenge that he didn't really have any right to win and then went through the Rams midfield as he was egged on by the bored crowd. After receiving a pass from Nygaard he let fly with a left footed shot but it went scuttling wide of Camp's post. However, rather worryingly, it was one of the brighter moments of the game.
On 58 minutes, Waddock decided to make a change that didn't go down too well with the home crowd. Donnelly was the player that came off; it seemed a strange decision as he had come into the game following the break. However, it turns out that Waddock made the decision as a precaution with an injury to Donnelly. Furlong came on in his place and moved up front alongside Nygaard.
Less than a minute later and Rangers were in front. Furlong laid the ball off to Cook who sent in a delightful ball. Nygaard attacked the ball and bundled it home past Lee Camp. It was what we deserved in terms of possession but again we hadn't troubled the keeper enough.
Nygaard was once again his usual frustrating self but it's when balls like this are put in the box he can be a real danger. Unfortunately the lead only lasted eight minutes as we self destructed once again. Smith received the ball in midfield and as he ran unopposed our defence backed off. He reached the edge of the box and curled a great shot past Jones into the corner of the goal.
The game looked to be heading for a draw at this stage but we managed to create four further chances and we should have taken at least one. Shittu had a free kick go just wide then Camp palmed away a Furlong shot.
Furlong then had two great chances which would have simply flown in for him last season. Cook was again the provider and after turning the full back inside out he delivered a perfect ball for Furs. Unbelievably he managed to guide the ball away from goal and the chance was wasted - just quite how he done this I don't know but it just about sums up his season. Furlong then missed a cross that came his way and Ainsworth failed to pick out Nygaard who had found some decent space in the box.
With two minutes remaining the referee couldn't contain himself any longer and had an opportunity to use his red card. After picking up a yellow Moore clumsily clattered into Cook when he was attacking down the left. It was never a second yellow but the temptation proved too much and Moore was soon walking down the tunnel. Cook would probably fall down if you flicked him so I don't think it was a surprise when he went to ground.
The referee then blew a halt to proceedings and it was another sparse stadium at the final whistle. Our season has been over for ages and it shows in players and fans alike. Although an improvement today it should have really been three points for the R's. But once again it was the usual problem. For all our possession we just don't test the keeper enough. We need a goalscorer for next season otherwise we are going to struggle.
With our London neighbours Millwall heading down and somewhat in crisis - it dawn on me that without some serious surgery over the summer could that be us in 12 months time? Am I panicking or over reacting? Well, perhaps but if a striker can't be found to improve our scoring record we will again struggle next term.
The keeper and back four were generally solid with Milanese especially having a good day working well with Cook. Bailey was effective and worked hard in midfield and it would be good to see him feature in the final few games. Cook was generally good and made some telling crosses. Ainsworth worked hard but didn't really get into the game while the fourth midfielder was unbelievably poor. Langley just didn't put himself about and on these performances won't be earning a new contract.
Nygaard continues to frustrate with the endless free kicks he gives away and passes that go astray but he came up with the goods for the eighth time this season. Furlong looks like a striker who has had enough and he is really short of confidence.
Overall it was a game played between two sides who have given up on this season. Let the season end as quickly as possible and lets see what Waddock and co (if they get the job that is!!) can do over the season - I think it will be a busy one as our squad needs some surgery.
QPR: Jones 7, Kus 6, Shittu 7, Evatt 7, Milanese 8, Ainsworth 6, Donnelly 6 (Furlong 58, 5), Bailey 8*, Langley 5, Cook 7, Nygaard 6.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Santos, Lomas, Howell.
Goals: Nygaard 59
Derby: Camp, Jackson, Moore, Nyatanga, Michael Johnson, Smith, Barnes (Peschisolido 64), Bolder (Idiakez 64), Seth Johnson, McIndoe (Holmes 64), Lisbie.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Edworthy.
Sent Off: Moore 88
Goals: Smith 67
QPR Man of the Match: Stefan Bailey - Both he and Milanese were excellent but the quiet way he went about his job very impressive. He wasn't afraid to put a few challenges in and didn't look out of place. It would be great to see a few of the youth team come through next year and lets hope this experience is worthwhile for the young midfielder.
Ref: T Kettle (Berkshire) 5 - Apparently well-known for loving a card he got his wish two minutes from time when Moore harshly got his marching orders. He did manage to only produce two yellows though and let the game flow during the first half. Become too involved in the second half and disrupted play too much.
Photo: Action Images
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