Sylla leaves it late to slay Tigers - Report
Monday, 21st Aug 2017 08:49 by Clive Whittingham
QPR came from one down to win two win in injury time against Hull City at Loftus Road on Saturday thanks to goals from substitutes Matt Smith and Idrissa Sylla.
Why do you keep doing it? Why do you keep going every week? How can you stand it? Don’t you realise how much it’s costing? Aren’t they a bit shit these days? Haven’t all your friends got married and had kids now? Why are you still there?
Injury time goals mate.
Friendship, loneliness, addiction, alcoholism, work stress, boredom, grief, bereavement, loyalty, stupidity, guilt and a burning desire not to be one of those poor bastards that’s surrendered to the drudgery of modern life to such an extent that they’re sitting in a queue of traffic at ten past eight on a Saturday morning to get into a suburban B&Q… whatever your reason for still being there, injury time goals must be right up there.
Those who used to go all the time but don’t any more. Those who you catch conversation with at chance meetings and hear all about how much better it is going to Saracens at the weekend. Those who never understood in the first place. Those who’ve given you up as a lost cause. Those who say things like “I didn’t even realise we were playing this weekend”. Those who say they’ve got better things to do with their time. Your superior lives take one hell of a beating from injury time goals. For there can be no greater feeling than being there to see your team plunder one in such circumstances. I don’t think I’d make much of a heroin addict (needle phobia), but if the high is half as good as an injury time goal then shoot me up right now, I’m all in.
Some are of huge importance, to be remembered for generations – Jamie Mackie against Liverpool. Some are memorable, but meaningless – Paul Furlong against Leicester. And others mean so little in the grand scheme of things that you only recall them when accidentally stumbling upon them while looking for something else on YouTube – Gareth Ainsworth against Preston. But the moment they go in, the moment they hit the net, the moment you realise the flag isn’t up… there is no context to that moment. That moment is just for you, and whoever is unfortunate enough to be in your way when it happens.
Just as well really, given how Saturday’s game with Hull City played out.
A relegated Premier League team with maximum parachute payments Hull may be, but this was by far the easiest fixture in QPR’s tough August fixture list. The Tigers are the waitress from the cocktail bar, picked up and turned around by a rich guy who bought her nice FA Cup finals and things. But he can put her back down too, and after she failed to deliver the deeds to her publicly-owned house he so craved he’s doing exactly that, carpeting her Premier League TV money, her parachute money and the money from a slew of player sales. Asset stripping is rife, and although talented winger Sam Clucas was at Loftus Road on Saturday he was forbidden from playing as a move to the Premier League beckons. He follows Andy Roberston, Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davies, Eldin Jukupovic, Josh Tymon, Ahmed Elmohamady, Harry Maguire, Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore throught the exit door in the last eight months for fees in excess of £50m.
Where that money, this season’s £42m parachute payment, and last season’s £120m Premier League TV money has gone is anybody’s guess. The FA and Football League seem quite happy for it to be syphoned off by Hull’s owners as the club descends. Even the fanciful suggestion that Kevin Stewart – who lasted barely ten minutes here before being subbed off – cost £8m only makes a tiny dint in it. Another summer signing, Fraizer Campbell on a free transfer, limped out at half time. There are still those that defend the Allam ownership of Hull because they saved them from administration in the first place and put £75m into the team – where they think all this money has gone is an interesting question and, from the sounds of the anti-board chants from the tiny band of City supporters still following their team away from home despite it all, there weren’t many around in Shepherd’s Bush we could ask.
You can’t help but feel for likeable Leonid Slutsky, who has taken the Hull manager’s job in the same desperation to work in England that led him to live alone in London for the first six months of this year learning the language a faithfully attending job interviews. He describes the opportunity as “a dream” but already looks and sounds like a rubber-featured man who realises what he’s let himself in for.
Three points for the taking then, especially with Abel Hernandez rupturing an Achilles during the midweek defeat to Wolves leaving Hull woefully light up front.
Not so. Luke Freeman may have calmly slotted wide from 15 yards out for the fourth time in as many games after a quarter of an hour, Kazenga Lua Lua may have driven a presentable free kick opportunity into the Hull wall, but Hull were more than in the first half and led at the break. Adama Diomande shot wide with Smithies beaten after Luongo conceded possession. Luongo seemed to give the ball away a lot to me on Saturday but the stats showed his pass completion was 10% higher than Freeman’s and he made the most tackles and interceptions (not unusual) as well.
Smithies saved from excellent youngster Jarrod Bowen when he tried his luck from an angle on 23 minutes. Bowen, Hull’s outstanding player, slipped in the opening goal from a tight angle ten before half time after Lua Lua had missed several opportunities to get back and either mark or tackle his man.
Lua Lua played on Saturday despite his father dying the day before, which is really something and perhaps explains the depth of his personal collapse before half time when he suddenly went through a nightmare ten minutes of possession concession, mistimed tackles, appalling defending and just being a general liability. We weren’t to know the circumstances at the time, but even without that tragedy he’s still no kind of right wing back. Using him there hadn’t worked at Norwich on Wednesday and it felt borderline unfair for Ian Holloway to hang him out there again. Rangers had switched to a back four long before the end of the half.
Hull, with two players already off injured, didn’t approach the second half with much ambition. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor saw yellow for timewasting near the end of proceedings but referee James Linington could have taken action against the luminous stopper much earlier than that. They asked QPR to break them down and sat back to see if it would happen. Seb Larsson’s deliberate pull back and booking when Rangers did look like they’d got the right side of their opponent summed it up.
Holloway sent on Matt Smith for Lua Lua, then Pawel Wszolek for nervous debutant Alex Baptiste, then Idrissa Sylla for Jamie Mackie. The system changed again, and then again, to a three up front. Perch, Onuoha and others handed around sheets of paper from the bench and looked confused. No sooner had all the subs been made than James Perch clattered through David Meyler and Josh Scowen successfully injuring all three of them. Perch, by now at centre back, limped through the remainder of the game on one leg in a heroic personal effort. It was nothing short of chaotic and QPR’s best hope of getting back into the game appeared to be some sort of freak accident. Sylla’s turn and shot sent the ball onto the Hull post, back out into play, onto the back of the goalkeeper’s head, and agonisingly wide. It tends not to be your day when such things happen.
Rangers did, for once, cross the ball for Smith rather than punt it long down the field, playing to the lumbering striker's strengths. One from Bidwell was headed straight at McGregor, another from Freeman on the right was glanced wide, and then finally Freeman got one spot on from the left and Smith guided it in from eight yards out. Poor goalkeeping.
Hull were still more than happy with a point, and McGregor’s clock running continued. They could have had all three when Larsson broke into the box in the final minute of normal time but Alex Smithies saved smartly with his legs to, at the time, preserve a point. Linington added seven minutes, due mainly to the Hull keeper pisballing about and Perch’s attempt to bereave a couple more footballer’s wives.
Suddenly it was on. Ball dropping over the top, Conor Washington in on goal, keeper rushing out to meet him. He tried to chip him – of course he did – and Michael Hector seemed to have got back in time to see the ball out. Washington gave Hector a mighty shove and the ball came loose on the goal line. Luckily Idrissa Syllla hangs around there laughing his head off most of the time anyway and was on hand to slam in a sizzling three yarder - if you add up the cumulative distance of Sylla's 11 QPR goals so far would they reach the edge of the penalty box? No foul given, and no real appeals from Hull surprisingly. Goal awarded, shirt off, fetching sports bra. Pandemonium. Yellow card. Injury time goals mate.
There was still six minutes to play of course, and with McGregor now tearing about the place like a Tasmanian devil the ball was in play for all of it. Hearts weren’t so much in mouths as being chewed, digested and shit back out again as a Hull corner resulted in a biblical goal mouth scramble during which the ball seemed to be permanently loose and bouncing at waist height on the goal line. It appeared certain to be nudged over at some point but Perch got a block in, Smithies made another save, Hector volleyed right through the six-yard box and eventually Grosicki planted a free header wide from six yards out. Mary mother of Jesus Christ.
Heavy weather made, but seven points banked from a month many believed Rangers would struggle to trouble the scorers in. With injury time goals though, nobody cares about the context.
QPR: Smithies 7; Perch 7, Onuoha 6, Baptiste 5 (Wszolek 63, 6); Lua Lua 4 (Smith 57, 6), Bidwell 6; Scowen 7, Luongo 7, Freeman 6; Mackie 6 (Sylla 72, 7), Washington 6
Subs not used: Furlong, Ingram, Manning, Borysiuk
Goals: Smith 74 (assisted Freeman), Sylla 90+1 (assisted Washington)
Bookings: Perch 82 (foul), Sylla 90+1 (over celebrating), Smith 90+7 (foul)
Hull: McGregor 5; Aina 5, Dawson 7, Hector 6; Clark 6, Meyler 6, Stewart – (Diomande 10, 6), Bowen 7, Larsson 6; Grosicki 6, Campbell 5 (Mazuch 45, 5)
Subs not used: Mannion, Weir, Batty, Olley, Lenihan
Goals: Bowen 35 (assisted Meyler)
Bookings: Meyler 56 (foul), Larsson 60 (foul), McGregor 87 (time wasting)
QPR Star Man – Josh Scowen 7 So crucial to the way we’re playing, doing a terrific job with and without the ball in front of the back three/four/five and holding things together during the more chaotic periods.
Referee – James Linington (Isle of Wight) 6 Should have been down on the time wasting much earlier, and I still think it looks like an obvious foul by Washington for the Sylla goal but Hull didn’t appeal and nobody else has mentioned it so hey ho.
Attendance – 12,609 (500 Hull approx) Turning into a bit of a chore this fixture. It was the same with Preston at home this weekend last year – middle of August with everybody on holiday brings about huge banks of empty seats all round the ground and a stilted atmosphere enlivened only by the late comeback. Hull travelled in small numbers and berated their chairman throughout – really sad what’s happening there.
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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