Brentford pile on the misery as QPR lose six straight – Report
Sunday, 23rd Apr 2017 23:58 by Clive Whittingham
For the second time this season, QPR have lost six league games in a row following Saturday’s 3-1 loss at near-neighbours Brentford.
Six defeats in a row for the second time in five months – a season that started with some promise, collapsed completely, seemed to have reignited, now cannot end a moment too soon for Queens Park Rangers.
That the latest setback came in the West London derby against Brentford invited all the usual comparisons of wage bill, resources and how the clubs are run. For the second time this season the Bees, who have all the stadium and income issues Rangers do with none of the parachute payments, comprehensively dominated the game and deserved their comfortable win.
Jake Bidwell, making his first return to Griffin Park since a summer switch - and hefty wage increase - between the two clubs provided a useful microcosm with a nightmarish afternoon in which he was tortured to the point of cruelty by the home team’s outstanding winger Jota. The nadir of Bidwell’s personal humiliation came just after the hour when Nico Yennaris landed a crossfield ball perfectly over his head for the Spaniard to take on the full with his first touch and sprint past the stranded full back before rounding Joel Lynch and slotting a crisp finish below Alex Smithies. Aesthetically pleasing and defensively catastrophic in equal measure.
For the second time this season this was a team with a well thought-through plan against a team with only the vaguest idea what it was supposed to be doing. How galling, having seen QPR abandon the enterprising play that brought them good wins at Reading and Ipswich and replace it with something from the back of John Beck’s fag packet, to watch Brentford play with such extreme width to such good effect.
Jota was exceptional down the right, Sergi Canos almost as good down the left, and just to complete Bidwell’s misery his replacement Rico Henry, a summer buy from Walsall where he was outstanding last season, had a terrific game at left back. Most importantly they all stayed wide, as tight to the touchline as they could get, throughout the game. It stretched Rangers this way and that, leaving space down the middle for Romain Sawyers and Lasse Vibe to impress in attack, and Ryan Woods to control and dictate the midfield just as he had done at Loftus Road. They executed it perfectly.
But wage bills, resources, formations, shapes, systems, fancy Spanish wingers… none of it is really relevant when you defend as QPR did on Saturday. They wouldn’t have beaten a factory side with the back four playing as it did. James Perch lasted five minutes before launching into the first of two disgusting, lunging tackles on opponents that they were lucky to walk away from and referee James Adcock was unbelievably generous to only issue a warning under the It’s A Bit Early Yet Act of 1986 – the red card Perch seems to crave so much would have conveniently ruled him out for the remaining games and sent him on his summer holiday early. His all-round play was pathetic.
Pathetic would be being kind to Joel Lynch. Somewhat accident prone and positionally suspect all season, he turned in a centre half performance here so shambolic it would have shamed the bastard love child of Karl Ready and Zesh Rehman.
Lynch and Perch were involved in the first goal, scored by Barbet on the half hour. Jota, shrugging off taunts about his hair from the obviously hirsute and highly fashionable QPR fans behind the goal, took an outswinging corner which found Barbet completely unmarked in the centre of the goal and his volley was cleverly directed down into the turf so it bounced just high enough to find the roof of the net. Watching it back, Perch and Lynch start marking two players at the back post only to then run away marking the same man as the kick is taken leaving Barbet by himself. Perch finishes up sitting on his arse on the edge of the six-yard box. Matt Smith was down too, and he and Onuoha harangued Adcock saying there’d been a foul at the near post. There hadn’t.
That was a shame for a few reasons, not least because QPR had actually done alright in the first half, holding their own in the game and enjoying the better of the chances. Dan Bentley, the impressive home goalkeeper who could have been playing at the other end had circumstances worked out slightly differently, dived to his right to save fairly comfortably from Lynch after a Smith knock down, then denied the big striker with a better save as he headed a left wing cross towards goal.
Viewers of the club’s training ground youtube videos will have expected Conor Washington to score a volley from the edge of the area when Smith guided the ball into his path, having done exactly that at Harlington last week, but, as is too often the case with the former Peterborough striker, he shot wide. Given his goal record, nobody will have expected Massimo Luongo to go quite as close as he did when he drew his foot back from 25 yards and struck the top of the bar – the Australian has hit the woodwork at the Ealing Road end of this ground three times in two visits now.
Brentford had chances too – Henry forced a good save from Smithies piling in from the left, Jota lashed wide after drawing Bidwell out wide, flicking it over his head and burning him for pace in fairly embarrassing fashion, Vibe shot into the side netting with the fans in the main stand believing he scored.
The difference at half time was the defensively shambolic first goal, which is why it seemed strange that Holloway twisted so early, removing Sean Goss and sending on Kazenga Lua Lua. Like Michael Petrasso a week ago, Goss had been a surprise starter – only the third start of his senior career and second since March 4 – but unlike the Canadian had actually seemed to play quite well to me. Quite what is expected of these players, suddenly tossed in after weeks of inaction, playing in games of this intensity, for them not to be taken off at half time, who knows? Quite what we accomplish by doing this to them, other than demoralising them, likewise. The removal of one of the central midfielders from what was a much more basic 4-4-2-type set up only served to give Woods more freedom to dictate the play, and he’d already looked pretty bloody handy anyway.
Nevertheless, Rangers thought they’d levelled soon after half time when Freeman picked out Conor Washington at the back post and his header appeared to cross the line before being cleared from within the goal, up onto the bar and, seemingly, a bit of the roof of the net, by a desperate defender. As at Blackburn, Washington was left appealing to a linesman in vain. Had the one at Ewood Park been awarded when it should have been, Rangers would now be safe. This looked in as well.
But you cannot lose six games in a row twice in a season and pick out one refereeing mistake back in January. Nor could QPR hold too much against Adcock and his assistants here given how they played, and particularly defended, for the remaining 40 minutes of this game.
Within minutes Lynch had conceded a penalty with a piece of play of such staggering ineptitude I could scarcely believe he’d done it – except he’d done exactly the same thing in the left channel in the first half, switching off with a ball loose five yards ahead of him, panicking when he realised it was his responsibility, and then launching into a fool’s mission lunging tackle. This time he sent Colin flying and Jota dispatched the penalty. An error from the darkest recesses of Gus Caeser’s mind. Perhaps if he concentrated more on his own game and less on screaming and shouting at Bidwell such brain farts may occur less frequently.
Amazingly it was then Lynch who got Rangers back into it, flicking a header home from Luke Freeman’s brilliant free kick – why, when Freeman can deliver a ball like this, he insists on going short with set pieces so often, again, is anyone’s guess. I swear to God they’re trying to drive me to an early grave.
That moved Lynch’s mark from a two to a three, but the fan club members needn’t have got too excited as the amateur hour special for the third goal followed immediately. Having got themselves back into the game, Rangers slipped back out of it again within a minute with Jota’s brilliantly crafted but defensively inept second.
It almost made you feel sorry for the much-maligned Nedum Onuoha – with those two jokers to the left of him and Perch to the right there he was, stuck in the middle of poo. Not that he played particularly well himself – Brentford, like so many others before, happy to let him have the ball uncontested to such an extent that at one point in the first half he ran 40 yards down the pitch and had a shot himself with predictable results.
Had a lofted effort from substitute Idrissa Sylla crept inside the post for 3-2 on 80 minutes who knows. But Smithies saved from Jota and Vibe hit the post at the other end as Brentford threatened a rout. Perch was booked for his second eye-watering tackle of the game.
His side well beaten, Ian Holloway was croaky and downcast in a post match plea for the fans to stick with the team for next week’s game against Forest. I’m not sure that’s an issue. He should have been at this fixture last year, when Chris Ramsey got taken apart, if he wants to know what it’s actually like when that happens.
Brentford boss Dean Smith, meanwhile, said he felt his side underperformed.
Brentford: Bentley 7; Colin 6 (Clarke 71, 6), Dean 7, Barbet 6, Henry 7; Woods 8, Yennaris 6; Jota 9, Sawyers 8, Canos 8 (Jozefzoon 71, 6); Vibe 8 (Shaibu 87, -)
Subs not used: Bonham, Hofmann, Egan, Kerschbaumer
Goals: Barbet 31 (assisted Jota), Jota 60 (penalty won Colin), 64 (assisted Yennaris)
Bookings: Jota 62 (over celebrating)
QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 4, Onuoha 5, Lynch 2, Bidwell 3; Mackie 5 (Sylla 67, 6), Goss 6 (Lua Lua 46, 6), Luongo 6, Freeman 6; Washington 6 (Ngbakoto 68, 5), Smith 6
Subs not used: Ingram, Wszolek, Manning, Furlong
Goals: Lynch 62 (assisted Freeman)
Bookings: Freeman 42 (foul), Perch 47 (foul), Lynch 60 (foul)
QPR Star Man – N/A
Referee – James Adcock (Notts) 6 Very decent control of the game, as he did when the sides met at Loftus Road before Christmas. But the Washington goal and the Perch tackle were major incidents that he got wrong and Luke Freeman was later booked for what looked like a good tackle to me – albeit I was a long way away. QPR’s long complaints over an alleged foul in the run up to the first Brentford goal look as flimsy as their defence having studied the replays.
Attendance – 11,888 (1,300 QPR approx) I was upstairs so I’m not sure what it was like on the terrace but, for me, the QPR fans are actually sticking with their team and manager a remarkable amount given the results and performances. At this fixture last year they were tearing strips off the players and Chris Ramsey and we were in the top half of the table.
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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