|Silva lined Barnsley too good for QPR - full match report|
Sunday, 1st Mar 2009 15:21
QPR’s wildly inconsistent performances continued on Saturday at Barnsley as they followed a good draw at Cardiff up with a poor defeat.
I think I am going to have to start accepting the unpleasant truth – I am not going to get one prediction right in the match previews this season. I am currently fifty third in the prediction league, and I am only that high because I have backed the right first scorer on six occasions. Never once have I even been close to getting a score right.
In my defence QPR have been infuriatingly inconsistent this season. How can a team that has lost only once and conceded only one goal in seven games against the top four also have dropped points to Charlton, Forest, Plymouth, Watford, Derby, Blackpool and now Barnsley? How can a team that beat Wolves, Birmingham and Preston at home lose on the same ground against Derby, Ipswich and Burnley? How can a team that played well and rarely looked threatened against Reading then get absolutely battered at home by Ipswich, then go back to looking solid and impressive in a draw away at Cardiff then collapse again at Barnsley?
Perhaps inconsistent team selection brings its own rewards? Iain Dowie never kept the same team for two games running and Paulo Sousa has taken the tinkering to a whole new level. After making six changes a match over Christmas the Portuguese seemed to settle on a team and system in a 451 formation only to take two of the most impressive players our of it for unknown reasons against Ipswich, then put them back in at Cardiff on Wednesday, and then change the system completely at Barnsley on Saturday.
That change was to line Rangers up in a 4-4-2 formation that many fans have been crying out for. Even on Wednesday night when I thought we played superbly at Cardiff and where only poor finishing cost us all three points people moaned about our perceived lack of ambition with one up front. On Saturday we got to see just why it is such a foolhardy idea to take Gavin Mahon out of our midfield and add an extra striker away from home. Against a vastly inferior side to Cardiff we were all at sea - comprehensively outplayed, dominated in midfield and out scored. All by a team playing 4-5-1 at home. And yet even during the brief time that we managed to get level and hang onto Barnsley’s coat tales people in the away end were signing about how great it was that we were playing 4-4-2. You’ve got to laugh really.
Gavin Mahon was not the only change – Lee Cook also missed out after producing one of his best performances of the season at Cardiff. The rumour was he picked up a late injury. Anyway Alberti came in for him wide left with Routledge wide right and Miller with Leigertwood in the centre of the par. Top scorer Dexter Blackstock returned to the line up in attack alongside Helguson. At the back Connolly and Delaney were the full backs either side of Stewart and Gorkss with Cerny in goal.
Barnsley started with Mifsud alone in attack to be supported by a cosmopolitan five man midfield that had class and physical presence in equal measure. QPR had nobody across the middle of the park that could hold a candle to any of the Barnsley players on the day. On this evidence it is a complete mystery how the home side can be so low in the table. All this without Van Homoet, Campbell Ryce and Darren Moore through a combination of injury and suspension. Kozluk, Souza and Hammill came into the side as replacements and were all impressive.
The game started at a steady pace with both teams feeling each other out rather than grasping the game by the scruff of the neck. Rangers were given an early warning of Bogdanovic’s abilities when he nutmegged Damien Delaney and won a corner after a tricky run down the flank but Rangers dealt with the resulting set piece pretty easily. At the other end Foster failed to clear a Miller free kick despite attempting to do so twice with his head – German goalkeeper Heinz Muller eventually lost patience with his skipper and came out to deal with the situation himself.
It took ten minutes for any serious attempts to be registered on goal but then all of a sudden the teams had one each. In front of the QPR fans in the vast Oakwell away end Michael Mifsud fired high and wide from the corner of the penalty area. From the goal kick Rangers travelled down field and attacked Barnsley with Routledge. The former Palace man whipped a cross into the area and Blackstock turned to shoot after bringing the ball down with his back to goal but could only fire straight at Muller.
That pair combined again for the best chance of the game in the twenty fifth minute. Routledge took Kozluk to the byline and crossed, Blackstock controlled the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the six yard box and with the defender right at his back he did well to turn and shoot. His low effort beat Muller all ends up by rolled wide of the post. Blackstock did well to fashion the chance for himself but having done so he really should have scored in my opinion.
In between the two Blackstock chances Barnsley had a great opportunity to take the lead themselves. Bogdanovic was again at the heart of the move, flicking the ball in behind the QPR back line towards Mifsud who collapsed theatrically on the edge of the penalty area under challenge from Stewart. Referee Shoebridge gave a free kick, which in truth it was, but rightly left the yellow card in his pocket.
Slightly left of centre and right on the whitewash at the edge of the box this was a terrific position for Barnsley and the Yorkshire side have no shortage of foreign talent keen to get involved in situations like this. In the end it was Colace who took responsibility but his free kick was poor – low and straight into the wall. It was one of the few things Colace did wrong on the day, he was just one of several outstanding performers for the home team. Moments later Hammill crossed for Mifsud but the Maltese striker fired wide at the back post.
Immediately after Blackstock’s miss, in the twenty sixth minute, QPR fell behind with a very soft goal from a defensive point of view. Damion Stewart was dragged out of the centre half position following Mifsud out to the wing and when the Jamaican lost his footing that gave the Barnsley man all the time he needed to swing over a terrific cross from the Barnsley left that Bogdaonvic calmly strolled onto ahead of Delaney and headed into the net.
Delaney made amends for that slack marking with the equaliser inside eight minutes. Last season Delaney scored a goal in South Yorkshire at Hillsborough after starting and finishing a move down the left flank but the Irishman’s lung busting charges down field have been fewer and further between this campaign because of the more defensive attitudes of first Iain Dowie and now Paulo Sousa. However on this occasion the big Irishman did decide to gamble on Alberti beating his man on the halfway line after passing to him, had Alberti lost the ball there were two Barnsley players waiting to run into the space Delaney had left behind, and leg it down field in support of the Italian. The value of an aerial presence that no defenders are detailed to pick up arriving late in the penalty area was underlined when Alberti swung the ball over and Delaney arrived unmarked to plant a bullet header past Muller and into the bottom corner from six yards out. A terrific goal, Delaney’s second of the season after scoring at Swindon in the League Cup.
This goal sent the noisy away following into raptures and started a chant about singing the blues and playing 4-4-2. Sadly though that wide open formation would ultimately cost us and while the celebrations were in full swing Barnsley had two near misses before scoring a second goal. First Bogdanovic poked the ball wide after De Silva mis-hit a shot into the area and then Teymourian sent the ball high into the stand after Cerny had flapped at a cross.
It seemed a matter of when not if and sure enough Barnsley retook the lead a minute or so before half time and if you thought the first goal was a defensive shambles well, as the song goes at the start of the QPR World updates, you aint seen nothing yet. A free kick on the lip of the centre circle was lofted into the penalty area by Hassell. Radek Cerny came off his line for the ball but either didn’t call or was ignored by Damion Stewart who headed the ball partially away but only as far as Anderson De Silva whose powerful first time volley was blocked bravely by Delaney. That only succeeded in teeing the ball up for the Brazilian to have a second crack though and he fired an unstoppable shot past Cerny for what would turn out to be the winner. That was no more than De Silva and Barnsley deserved in the end – they were marginally the better team in the first half and completely took the game over after half time with the Brazilian and loan Fulham man Teymourian absolutely outstanding in midfield.
The last action of the half saw Damion Stewart escape without punishment when De Silva hit the deck as a QPR corner was delivered. It looked from the other end of the ground like Stewart had struck the Barnsley man in the face but the Jamaican quickly fled the scene and left referee Shoebridge to speak to Mikele Leigertwood, award a free kick but produce no card. It will be interesting to see if there is any come back from the authorities on that one.
Barnsley should have been three one up immediately after the restart when poor tackling and tracking by QPR on the edge of their own box allowed Hammill to run in behind Delaney – the Irishman was grateful to Radek Cerny who made a fine save with his legs at close range. Despite this miss the hosts took almost total control – moving up through the gears with a high paced, passionate and committed performance that QPR could not match with the ball or cope with without it.
Teymourian went close twice in the first five minutes of the half – first running through the massive gaps in the QPR midfield before firing wide from the edge of the box then doing likewise when Cerny had flapped at another cross and sent the ball straight to the Barnsley man fifteen yards out. A fine tackle from Gorkss denied Mifsud a clear run on the goal on the hour.
Paulo Sousa sent on young Ramone Rose for Liam Miller presumably hoping for the same effect he had as a sub in the cup game at Burnley. Liam Miller, after a promising start to his QPR career, is regressing back to the mediocre and light weight midfield presence he has been at all his previous clubs and for the second consecutive game deserved to be taken off but rather than arrest the alarming slide in QPR’s performance this only served to make things worse.
Rose really struggled and looked very naïve against Hassell the Barnsley right back and Alberti, moved into the middle of midfield as part of the reshuffle, looked embarrassingly out of his depth – caught in possession time after time and beaten to every second ball. It needed another change ten minutes later, when Jordi Lopez came on for a debut at Alberti’s expense, to correct the situation. Lopez passed the ball nicely and took a few decent set pieces which we have been sadly lacking on all season – he was a rare positive to take from the game. Many fans may not want to hear it and may disagree but we really missed Gavin Mahon on Saturday – away from home he should be one of the first names on the team sheet at the moment.
From one of the Lopez free kicks Gorkss headed wide at the back post when at one point it looked like he was just going to stride onto it and power home his first QPR goal but Souza, Barnsley’s giant and impressive centre half, did enough to put him off. Rose cut in off his flank and fired a decent shot across goal but these were QPR’s only two threats of a half when yet again they failed to register a serious shot on target. Blackstock and Helguson offered absolutely nothing, not threat whatsoever, and things did not improve much when Di Carmine replaced the latter. All three of them looked flat footed, disinterested and slow.
The only surprise in the end was that Barnsley did not capitalise on their own excellent performance and QPR’s abysmal one with a third or even fourth goal. Michael Mifsud was lively all afternoon but his chronic lack of ability to stay onside often halted the rhythm of Barnsley’s attacks that came in waves for most of the second period. Colace’s neat flick on halfway sent substitute Jon Macken away but QPR muscled up in defence then with 20 minutes left to play Mifsud dragged a shot wide of the post after a neat move between De Silva and Colace on the edge of the penalty area. Hammill fired a free kick over the bar with a quarter of an hour to go and after Mifsud was denied by Damion Stewart the loose ball proved to be just out of Macken’s reach at the back post – it was all one way traffic at a time when QPR should really have been pressing for an equaliser.
Five minutes from time a free kick from Hammill after a foul by Stewart found Macken unmarked at the back post but QPR were just about able to get enough bodies around him belatedly and clear the ball.
The first booking of the game followed the restart – De Silva carded for a trip on Leigertwood forty yards from goal. While very impressive with the ball it did become tiresome after a while that De Silva and Teymourian spent so much time around the referee questioning every decision, demanding yellow cards for QPR players and generally being a pain in the arse. In my opinion the referee had a good game and he could have done without their incessant input into his decision making. Perhaps De Silva’s yellow card, for a tackle that was a long way off being the worst one in the game, was more for the repetitive nature of his fouls and referee baiting.
Three minutes of stoppage time passed without any serious threat from QPR and the Londoners were left to reflect on a poor performance. In my opinion QPR in the 4-5-1 formation that has worked so well away from home for the past few months would have won this game 1-0. In a 4-4-2 formation we were far too open, Barnsley walked through us at will in the second half and for all the talk of showing more ambition and playing two strikers we did not manage a serious shot on the goal in the entire second period and Blackstock and Helguson offered us next to nothing.
For all the talk of formations and Sousa’s chopping and changes though the players have to accept responsibility. Too many QPR players were poor on the day. Both the strikers and both the central midfielders had their worst games for some time.
The real surprise for me on the day was how good Barnsley looked. Despite sitting seventeenth in the league at the start of play the home team were hugely impressive – Bogdanovic was a threat wide on the right, De Silva and Teymourian ran the midfield and Colace was a classy presence throughout. Clearly consistency is a problem for the Tykes as well because there had been nothing in the games leading up to this match to suggest they could play like this.
QPR fans must hope our team’s own inconsistency swings the other way this week as they face Norwich fighting for their lives, Sheffield United fighting for the Premiership and then the division’s form team Doncaster Rovers that represents another very tough trip to South Yorkshire.
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Barnsley: Muller 6, Hassell 7, Foster 7, Guedes 7, Kozluk 7, Colace 8, Teymourian 8, De Silva 8, Hammill 7 (Devaney 82, 6), Mifsud 6, Bogdanovic 8 (Macken 66, 6)
Subs Not Used: Steele, El Haimour, Rigters
Booked: De Silva (repetitive fouling)
Goals: Bogdanovic 26 (assisted Mifsud), De Silva 43 (unassisted)
QPR: Cerny 5, Connolly 6, Stewart 6, Gorkss 6, Delaney 6, Routledge 6, Leigertwood 5, Miller 4 (Rose 55, 5), Alberti 6 (Lopez 69, 7), Blackstock 3, Helguson 3 (Di Carmine 80, 4)
Subs Not Used: Hall, Mahon
Goals: Delaney 35 (assisted Alberti)
QPR Star Man – Matt Connolly 6 Marginally the best of a very mediocre bunch I thought. Again though man of the match with a six tells you everything. Lopez was impressive when he came on but hard to give a star man award to somebody who only played for twenty one minutes!
Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire) 7 Barnsley seemed to be pretty irate that he kept his cards in his pocket on a few occasions but for me the only mistake he made was not sending Stewart off for chinning De Silva. Played good advantage throughout, was lenient with the players and allowed them to get on with it. Much better than last time I saw him against Norwich.
Attendance: 11,614 (773 QPR fans) Barnsley is always a pretty quiet ground and Saturday was no exception. The travelling QPR fans were in good voice in the first half but quiet in the second in response to an insipid performance from their team. To sing about us playing 442 after the equaliser when we were clearly second best and getting taken apart by Barnsley (yes, Barnsley) was a bit daft.
Photo: Action Images
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