|Awayday Review - Sheff Utd, Bramall Lane|
Saturday, 12th Jan 2008 10:32
As always everybody had a decent day out in Sheffield, unusually QPR lost to the Blades on the pitch
1 – The Match
Despite the defeat I dare say this was a pretty decent game for the neutral. The first half belonged to QPR, the second to Sheff Utd. Rangers could only get one goal during the first period, a close range strike from Patrick Agyemang on his full debut. Buzsaky was twice denied by Kenny and other half chances went begging before the break. Rangers were made to pay for that in the second half when Sheff Utd upped it several gears and got amongst our new look side. Billy Sharp’s wrongly disallowed goal served as a warning shot before the equaliser arrived – Rangers mastering their own downfall in spectacular circumstances. Chris Barker allowed a deflected through ball to drift out for a corner when he wrongly presumed it was a goal kick and chaos ensued from the resulting set piece. Michael Tonge’s hammered a poor clearance back into the danger area and although Camp saved that he parried it back into the danger area and in the confusion Damion Stewart had a brain explosion and smashed it into his own net off Martin Rowlands. Within minutes the game turned around completely when Matt Connolly and Lee Hendrie slid in at the near post and got the ball caught between them. The home fans screamed for a penalty as Connolly appeared to put his hand on the ball, but when Camp rushed out to try and dive on it the appeals were replaced with celebrations as Hendrie dribbled it round to Connolly’s right and smacked it into the empty net. Rangers didn’t come back into the game until the closing minutes when Kenny denied Stewart with a save in the corner and then Matt Kilgallon headed/punched Akos Buzsaky’ volley off the goal line. Rangers appealed, but no penalty was forthcoming. Entertaining, but disappointing.
2 – Rangers’ Performance
Lots to admire about the first half, plenty to learn in the second. In the first 45 Rangers were in control for long periods with Rowlands and Mahon dominating the middle of the midfield and lots of decent link up play going on between them and Buzsaky and Agyemang up front. In truth they should have been more than one goal up at half time. After the break Sheff Utd came out with renewed purpose and we didn’t cope very well with that. They put a man on Rowlands which killed much of our creativity and when De Canio introduced Blackstock and moved Buzsaky out to the left that killed it off altogether. Buzsaky is not a left winger and barely got a touch out on that wing. Rowan Vine was poor on the other side and consequently Rangers were dominated more and more as the half went on. They did end the game strongly though and had two good efforts blocked on the line in the dying seconds – how legitimate Kilgallon’s clearance was is still open to debate, it looked alright from where I was sitting I have to be honest. A draw would have been a fairer result but United played very well in the second half and Rangers didn’t make the most of their first half ascendancy so we can have few complaints.
3 – Rangers Support
Decent in number if not in volume. An upturn in our fortunes combined with cheap tickets brought about 1300 QPR fans north for the game and they took up the majority of the lower tier in the Bramall Lane end. That’s commendable but the atmosphere was strangely muted, even when we went 1-0 up. A chant of “there’s only one Bryan Robson” brought a smile to my face as we took the lead and I only wish we could have held on and sung it loud and proud at the final whistle as Robbo got a call to meet his chairman in the boardroom. Overall though there wasn’t much singing or anything from the QPR fans which sparked some wits at the back to start chanting “if you don’t know the words write them down” at some of our fans who they perceive to be newly arrived since the money arrived. Probably harsh but it is fair to say that the QPR fans weren’t as lively as normal.
4 – The Ground
Still one of my favourite away grounds in the Championship and with a cheap ticket offer bringing a full house it made for a terrific theatre for a good advert for the division. I do prefer being in the upper tier of that stand, but the lower tier still offers a decent unobstructed view of the match and the concourse area is big, bright, clean and well staffed. Bramall Lane is now fully enclosed after work on the previously open corner to the right of the away end was completed during their Premiership season. That only adds to what was already a superb venue and one I always look forward to visiting. Thanks to Bryan Robson it looks like I’ll have the pleasure again next season.
5 – Atmosphere
As I said the QPR fans weren’t in good voice despite travelling in decent numbers but that didn’t detract from the atmosphere too much with a cheap ticket deal bringing the United fans out in force. With Rangers on top in the first half and the feeling in the city running against Bryan Robson the boisterous mood in the home stands quickly turned to discontent by half time but credit to the supporters for backing their side in the second half. They were deafening at times, as loud as I’ve ever known them, and they roared their team home to victory. It made for decent, if a little one sided, atmosphere at the match.
6 – Pre Match
Living in Sheffield should put me at an advantage for picking pubs before matches in the city. Problem is most of the pubs I like to frequent are outside the ring road – away from the football ground. The middle of Sheffield is student central and consequently the pubs are built to suit them. They’re big so you can get as many as possible crammed into them, they have rubber floors so you can clean the sick off them easily, they have cheap Carling branded rat’s piss so they can drink on their student loans and they have cheap, over cooked congealed manky excuses for food so they don’t have to eat beans on toast every day of the week. Since the Corner House closed it is now impossible to get a decent meal in a pub anywhere in the middle of the city – consequently we ended up in The Walkabout at noon for some of their giant burgers. Not good, but you know what you’re getting. From there we headed down the hill to the Old Monk which is a regular haunt of ours on matchdays simply because it’s close to the station, has Sky Sports on and doesn’t get effected by pre-match trouble or over the top police presence. A good crowd of R’s in there for a pre-match drink and good to see Swiss Cottage from the board in there as well. Headed down to the ground at about twenty past two. There were plans for a big night out afterwards but Northern the Younger got so irate during the match he stormed off home at the final whistle, Tracy had rather too much to drink and in the end it turned into a few pubs, Nandos before closing time and home in decent time. Pretty dull overall, will try harder at the Sheff Wednesday match.
7 - The Journey
Definitely not applicable to me. I watched Soccer Am and then walked the mile and a half from my home into the city centre to meet the rest of the Northern R’s in the Walkabout. Job done. Northern the Younger brought his latest squeeze over on the train from Scunthorpe and said everything ran to time on both legs of the journey, the girls drove up from Langley and made excellent/barely legal time as always.
8 – Police and Stewards
Rangers fans have a long history with stewards and police at both grounds in this part of the world but there seemed to be few incidents this time around. There didn’t seem to be many Police around at all as opposed to normal and the day passed off without incident. The stewards allowed the QPR fans to sit where they liked and they didn’t say anything to the people round us who wanted to stand at the back showing good common sense – no idea if that policy was repeated elsewhere in the away end.
Total – 58/80
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments