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Bolton Wanderers 1 v 2 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 15th September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
How was your break? Preview
Friday, 14th Sep 2018 14:47 by Clive Whittingham

Back on the horse and back on the road, QPR go looking for a first away win since March at Bolton Wanderers, who've spent the last fortnight trying to go bust again.

Bolton Wanderers (3-2-1, LWWLD, 8th) v QPR (1-1-4, WLLWWD, 22nd)

Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday September 15, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Rain early, brightening later >>> Whatever They’re Calling Their Stadium Now, Somewhere Vaguely Near Bolton

Media wankers trying to file 48 match previews in nine months (50 now, what’s this bloody cup run all about?) like to refer to the Lancashire and District Senior League’s early weeks as a “stop start affair”. If you’d allow me to mansplain (that’s where a man explains something) this means that for the first three months or so, this steaming turd of a league stops and starts a lot.

QPR played eight times between August 4 and September 1. There was then an international break of a fortnight, which was absolutely crucial considering it’s been nearly six weeks since 32 international teams spent up to two months together, and the rest got together to play them in friendlies. A press release also told us it’s now “properly competitive” because of the introduction of the not-at-all-pointless-and-hard-to-fathom Nations League. I’ll be honest, Simmo has had the finger puppets out at LFW Towers this week trying to explain this new concept to me and I’m still none the wiser. I thought it had replaced European Championships qualifying, which apparently it hasn’t, but you can still qualify through it, rendering the European Championships harder to be refused entry to than Flares Newcastle, though I suspect Scotland are going to have a bloody good go. Knowing about football used to be my thing, now they’ve even taken that from me.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. Learn from rugby union. Simply rebrand the “international friendlies”, which sound listless and pathetic before they’ve even started, as “the autumn internationals” or “the summer tests” or “the Lions Tour” and suddenly everybody will piss their knickers over them and start demanding the landlord change the channel on the pub TV.

Anyway, QPR and the other inmates cannot possibly play any second-tier football while all that is going on because Osman Kakay has been called up by Sierra Leone. So, we’ve been kicking our heels, and will now play seven times in the next 21 days starting tomorrow at whatever Bolton Wanderers are calling their bowl in the vague vicinity of Bolton this season and ending with Big Fat Frank’s Big Fat Derby on October 6 before we get… another two weeks off. That we cannot find a better way of scheduling our fixtures outside The Best League In The World (Richard Keys stopped knobbing his daughter’s mate long enough to tell us we have to cap that up) speaks volumes for the people that run our sport and clubs in this country, and what they think of their paying customers.

It does give us another cliché to throw into our Championship bingo game though, for as sure as managers will destroy their chance of learning anything from their international friendlies/autumn internationals by suffocating them under a blanket of staggered second half substitutions, you can bet that managers and players in the domestic sport will find it impossible to resist telling their club’s official website that the break has come at “exactly the right time”.

DRINK!

Now this can apply to a multitude of situations, almost all of which apply to our beloved, accident-prone Queens Park Rangers. Have you already torn up your plan for the season and started again? Has the whole thing gone to shit? Have you already played your wildcard? Have you introduced a number of panicky signings into the squad late in the window? Have your expectations for the season (maybe we could win the odd away game) shifted somewhat (let’s try and not get beat 7-1 again eh?)? Well then for you a two week break at the end of August to do some of the stuff you should have been doing at the end of July is very handy indeed.

We’re not alone though. Ipswich Town’s brave new post-Mick McCarthy era, with a totally revamped squad boasting the best of what the division below had to offer, is yet to have a win of any sorts to speak of. Likewise Reading, but even those of us who don’t know what the hell the Nations League is saw that one coming.

There is then a succession of clubs with only one victory to their name, including ourselves. Some in that group you’d expect to see there. Birmingham City, for example, whose ongoing attempt to create a footballing remake of Tom Hanks’ classic Apollo 13 where all the astronauts are cooked in their space suits on re-entry makes them a prime candidate. Likewise Hull City, a club being maliciously and deliberately run into the ground under the passive gaze of the Football League by owners angry they weren’t allowed to buy a community-owned stadium for a pound and change the name of the team to the Hull Snow Leopards and unlock latent support in the Far East desperate to pay £10 for a grainy feed of their home match with Rotherham if only they were named after a fucking angry animal.

Preston and Millwall we expected better from, though perhaps they over-achieved slightly last season and therefore a slight row back was inevitable. Stoke City will certainly have expected more than one win for their considerable outlay. Nottingham Forest’s tactic to become unbeatable by buying up every single professional footballer in the world so nobody can field a team against them also hasn’t quite worked out as planned so far. Meanwhile there’s an ongoing emperor’s new clothes situation going on with Norwich’s trendy German manager Daniel Farke which, hopefully, they’ll allow to fester for another week at least.

On this island of misfit toys, the break came at “exactly the right time”, either so they could all fix up the obvious problems they’re having, or simply because you can’t lose any more matches if you’re not playing any and it’s nice to have a break from the perpetual disappointment. Or both.

We’ll start finding out if it’s done Steve McClaren’s QPR team any good tomorrow at the early season surprise package Bolton, who took four months and 20 matches to post three wins last season but managed it in the first three weeks this time around. Despite a 3-0 loss to Sheff Utd here last time out you’d think a break in fixtures while they’re on that sort of roll was the last thing they needed, particularly as they spent the two weeks off trying to go bust again. Re-energised and rejuvenated by surviving their latest scrape with the finance people, or emotionally and physically drained by a week in which it looked for some time like they’d be losing 12 points and relying on an administrator for their wages? Either way, Charity Park Rangers are usually ideal party/wake guests at these things. Six months to the day since our last away win.

Still, it’s something to do with your Saturday isn’t it?

Links >>> From one crisis to the next – Interview >>> Clint Hill’s ghost goal – History >>> Langford in charge – Referee

Geoff Cameron Facts: Before landing his breakout role in the 1984 hit Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Cameron worked as a carpenter in Montana.

Saturday

Team News: After two consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since August 2016, it remains to be seen whether Steve McClaren will introduce Geoff Cameron alongside Toni Leistner at centre back from the start here – as was the original plan – or keep faith with Joel Lynch and the rest of the back four from Birmingham. Josh Scowen missed the trip to St Andrew’s with a minor knee problem but is back and available for this one but Mide Shodipo’s rotten luck continues and he’s now been ruled out for four months with a torn thigh. Darnell Furlong is pencilled in for a return at the end of October after knee surgery but Grant Hall remains unavailable with his ongoing tendinitis issues. We’re offering a free ride home from the match in Les Ferdinand’s helicopter for any sighting of Sean Goss.

Andy Taylor limped out of their draw with Preston prior to the international break with a gangrenous foot and is expected to be replaced at left back by Jonathan Grounds. Josh Magennis (temporarily bereaved) is also missing giving Christian Doidge, who has joined on loan with a view to a £500,000 permanent move in January after scoring 56 goals in 99 appearances for Forest Green Rovers, a chance to make his Championship debut.

Elsewhere: This absolutely crucial seventh round of this year’s Lancashire and District Senior League gets underway tonight with an artery hardening West Midlands derby between Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion. Birmingham have at least managed to shift one of the colossal earners inflicted on them by That Tosser Redknapp since we last spoke, with ostracised goalkeeper David Stockdale heading back down south to join Southend on loan in League One.

You may recall that Stockdale turned down promotion to the Premier League with Brighton, where he was first choice, to remain in the Championship with ‘Arry. A four year contract on astronomical money was signed, and he promptly started turning up to Birmingham training in a Rolls Royce, but the move was nothing to do with the money and was for family reasons, specifically his “daughter’s exams”. Given that Stockdale is still only now 31 one can only wonder exactly how Stockdale Jnr’s SATs will be effected by this temporary switch back down to the south east.

That leaves 11 fixtures for tomorrow, including Blackburn hosting Villa in the evening TV game. Villa haven’t won in five and were systematically dismantled at Sheffield United last time out. Manager Steve Bruce says nobody would want his job, and I make him right. It must be terrible to spend the debt of a small African nation on a gang of players led by Big Racist John, miss out on promotion altogether resulting in the financial obliteration of the club, still keep your job and then immediately get a new owner who lets you do it all over again and address a mediocre start to the season by bringing in the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Tammy Abraham at further extortionate expense… Poor Steve.

You can hear them laughing at Brentford – who sold ‘Arry a job lot of three players last summer and finished above Birmingham anyway, then offloaded Scott Hogan to Villa for £12m and replaced him with Ollie Watkins for less than a quarter of that – from here. They’re beating Wigan at home this weekend to cement a not unpredictable early push into the promotion spots. Sheffield Red Stripes following up that Villa mauling with a game at sixth placed Bristol City is arguably the game of the weekend.

The top two are both away, although as the Champions of Europe have apparently already won the league this season I’m not sure there’s any point in them bothering with a trip to Millwall, nor Middlesbrough with their game at Borussia Norwich. Big Fat Frank’s Big Fat Derby are having a lovely old time in fourth, and they’re also on the road at Rotherham.

Couple of early strugglers, Preston surprisingly, Reading less so, clash at Deepdale. Similarly, Ipswich hunt their first win under Paul Hurst up at the Allam Tigers. Meanwhile big spending Stoke would certainly have been hoping for more than one win so far as they head to the Sheffield Owls. Nottingham Trees picked up another couple of signings during the international break – transfer window you say? – so maybe they’ll now finally have a squad big enough to get that second win of the season at newly relegated Swansea.

That’s it I think? For 48 hours at least.

Referee: Oliver Langford, experienced Championship official and regular QPR appointment, has this one. He took charge of Rangers four times last season, culminating in the 4-2 home victory against Sheff Wed which was the only one we won with him in 2017/18. Extensive QPR case history and recent stats here.

Form

Bolton:Despite their financial problems this week, Bolton actually spent money on player for the first time in several years over the summer, paying fees for Josh Magennis from Charlton and Christian Doidge from Forest Green Rovers. That’s helped them to a very decent start to their season with three wins and two draws from their six league games played, damaged only slightly by a 3-0 loss to Sheff Utd at home in the last game before the international break. Having won only one away game in the whole of last season they’ve already won at West Brom and Reading in the opening month of this campaign. Last season it took them until December 2 against Barnsley to chalk up three league wins, 20 games in. So far at home they’ve drawn 2-2 with Bristol City, beaten Birmingham 1-0 and lost 3-0 to Sheff Utd.

QPR: Rangers’ away form was similarly dire last season with just three wins on the road. The 0-0 draw at Birmingham prior to the international weekend was a significant improvement on the 7-1 loss to West Brom before it and snapped a run of six consecutive defeats away from home stretching back to April. The R’s haven’t won in eight attempts away from Loftus Road since a surprise 3-1 win at Aston Villa on March 13. Having lost four of the first five games conceding 13 in the process, they’re now unbeaten in three with only one goal conceded. They have, however, only won one of eight visits to this stadium since Bolton moved from Burnden Park – 1-0 in August 2013 with a goal from Andy Johnson. Steve McClaren was at the club coaching at that time. The last two games between the sides here have finished 1-1 with QPR equalising in the final ten minutes on both occasions through Matt Phillips and Idrissa Sylla. Steve McClaren is unbeaten in nine matches against Bolton dating back to the 2004 League Cup final when he beat them as Middlesbrough manager.

Prediction: Well, this year’s Prediction League really looks like it’s going to reward the pessimists/realists/people who watch QPR play regularly out from the rest of you hopeless romantics doesn’t it? Elliott Cooke (@cookiee42, Elliott42) won last year and claimed the Art of Football goodies. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’sQPR collection. They’ve kindly agreed to provide prizes to the overall winner AND whoever is top at Christmas. Reigning champ Elliott tells us…

“After a long (too long) International break, it’s back to QPR making or breaking my weekends again. Keeping it short and sweet, I haven’t got a bloody clue what Rangers will turn up after the break. For that reason, I’ll go for us to get our first away win of the season against a club who unbelievably looks to have more issues than us.”

Elliott’s Prediction: Bolton 1-2 QPR. Scorer – Nahki Wells

LFW’s Prediction: Bolton 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Nahki Wells

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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TheChef added 16:40 - Sep 14
No teams beginning with B playing each other this weekend? Disappointing.
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snanker added 01:31 - Sep 15
Indeed Clive this has Charity Park Rangers written all over it with an own goal chucked in to fuel the rotting to the core vitriol a week without our R's instills. However.....lets keep anuvva clean sheet and grab a 1 nil win. What price on Washington to score Saturday ?!
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Myke added 10:48 - Sep 15
Speaking of own goals, have a look at the beauty the Damian Dunleavy scored for (against) Cork v Bohs last night
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TacticalR added 14:40 - Sep 15
Thanks for your preview.

You're right - the long international breaks combined with fixture pile-ups don't make sense for this division.

As for Bolton, playing a team in crisis never seems to work in our favour.
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