|Blackburn Rovers 1 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 3rd November 2018 Kick-off 15:00
QPR suffer more late heartbreak at Blackburn – Report
Monday, 5th Nov 2018 08:34 by Lee McAlpine
For the third time in as many visits to Ewood Park, QPR conceded in the last five minutes of a game to rob themselves of a hard earned result against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend. Lee McAlpine was there for LFW.
"Blackburn's all yours." This a very short and precise message from Clive, to me a couple of weeks ago. No pressure, another away game match report from another ground where QPR have failed miserably in recent years. No pressure, it's just Ewood Park where Craig Bellamy has given us footballing lessons, where Mackie broke his leg and far worse, where Will Keane (thanks Rednapp) led the front line for us. This undoubtedly is an absolute bogey ground for us, far up north where it's always freezing and nothing has gone well. Against a newly promoted side, who as so often happens in this crazy league, have done much better than expected and look well set for a solid season.
I bloody hate going to Blackburn, it’s so much like Preston in so many ways but mostly that undeniable predictability that it will go wrong in the end. Saturday just rubber stamped that hatred for the poxy place with the poxy half-hearted drummer boy and the utterly dreary football.
Zero pressure to produce a few words about a routine away defeat for our cerise wearing team. Well it is a crazy league and we are proving to be one of its craziest participants. Since my last report at that disgusting, non-footballing surrender at the seaside, we've managed a single capitulation in Wales but since then QPR seem to have been part of some weird alien team abduction experiment. Why higher forms from another solar system should choose our team as an inter galactic plaything is anyone's guess, but that's the only reasonable explanation for what happened in October.
Those aliens have definitely done something with Pavel Wszolek since Blackpool, as he seems to be putting in man of the match displays on a game by game basis at the moment. A player I've never seen have any impact (I know I am an occasional) but who now looks like he is playing his way back into the Polish squad. I really hoped he would not revert to his me-viewing ordinariness and he would again be a contender for a rating above five, and not the three I dished out last time. Well those superior beings must already be bored with their West London plaything as there was a sombre, and somewhat predictable return to erratic dreariness for both the team and our Polish winger.
So I found myself in Blackburn with what must be said a pretty disappointing turnout supporting QPR, who were unbeaten in five, collecting clean sheets like Match Attack duplicates, bossed by a manager of the month candidate, looking like a strong Championship outfit with a completely settled line-up and with a multiple of game changing options on the bench. The home side had lost their captain and first choice keeper to injuries in the previous battling 1-1 draw at West Brom, and so on many levels things looked positive for Rangers. No pressure then. What could possibly go wrong?
QPR started with two changes with Scowen and Wells replacing the injured Cameron (which we knew about) and Hemed (which we didn’t.) It's such a pleasure not playing the usual tombola selection game and even more encouraging to see the square pegs in square holes scenario as the two replacements were pretty much like for like. This kind of sensible pragmatism has undoubtedly turned the season around, bringing a renewed confidence which has surged through the team, performances and remarkably the online community; well until today that is.
Blackburn could have taken the lead in the first minute as a mixture of drowsy defending and unfortunate ricochets saw the ball fall to Danny Graham on the left side. He should’ve scored but hit Lumley’s legs. Other than the late penalty which would eventually decide the game, this was Blackburn’s only effort on goal in the whole game, and bar a couple of routine catches, the only time our keeper actually touched the ball. That’s more to be said for the young home keeper, making his debut; he didn’t have a single save to make in the entire game. Such was the pitiful display by both teams in an attacking sense, while both groups of defenders did an excellent job throughout.
Lumley did get away with a terrible schoolboy fumble early in the first half, when he slid to intercept an over hit through ball but somehow manage to drop it to a Blackburn attacker. Fortunately for us, the forward dallied and failed to shot at our unguarded net, instead choosing to cross, which was comfortably cleared.
The first half was a mixture of mistakes, weird refereeing and occasional pieces of neat play, which always seemed to fall to pieces in the final thirds. Wells managed to chip the ball into the crowd from an inviting range and a good strike from Freeman seemed to hit the bar with the keeper a mere spectator. It really was turning into a tediously dull Championship encounter with neither side deserving much more than nil, so a scoreless first half was a fair reflection on what was on offer.
At least the referee was making things interesting, as he seemed to be going around guessing at decisions with no consistency other than that of being consistently bewildering to all who were watching. He blew for fouls that didn’t look like offenses and obviously the opposite when it did; and heaven only know what was going on with Bidwell foul throw or not foul throw situation, it was all just a bit odd and obviously didn’t improve, for us anyway, in the second half. In total yellow cards were handed out without a bad foul in the entire game, including one to Luongo after just four minutes. It seemed Mr Bankes’ ambition was to confuse and frustrate; he clearly succeeded.
The second period was just a continuation of the first. Play was littered with mistakes and so many were just having a bad day. Freeman was strangely anonymous, and Eze had a very frustrating afternoon, where he didn’t look after possession and was often crowded out, as well as being fouled a fair few times. One decent cross from the left by Bidwell seemed to be heading for either Wells or Wzsolek in the centre of the box, but they distracted each other, and Wells’ timid header didn’t even reach the goalkeeper before it was hoofed clear. From a corner, the ball fell to Wells, who volleyed towards goal. This was blocked by a defender and I think was our only effort on target in the entire game; all pretty disappointing really. None of the attackers were on form and Eze’s poor afternoon came to early end when he was replaced by Matt Smith with 15 minutes to go. What a waste of time this substitution was. What on earth is the point of Smith being on the pitch when we were playing with zero width and virtually zero crosses (well one cross I think)? When our game plan reverts to just pumping long straight balls up the pitch, we really look an awful side, just like at Blackpool. And just like at Blackpool Smith failed to win a challenge. Not that he had a chance to as Mr Guessit with the whistle, simply gave a foul to Blackburn every single time Smith went near the ball.
While the forward part of QPR were having an off day, that cannot be said about the defence, with Leistner standing out. Lynch was solid and rather agricultural, but our German captain showed all the qualities of a great centre half. He never missed a header, made a number of clever interceptions and some very solid tackles. One in particular was a real thumper, which left Blackburn’s skilful but whining show pony, Dack, rolling in the turf.
Leinster really didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, but with the game drifting towards the inevitable bore draw, Mr Guessit stepped up to provide some excitement. From the back of the stand, at the wrong end of the ground, Scowen’s challenge on Brereton looked a concerning one thought the linesman standing nearby and looking right at it didn’t seem to have a problem with it. No-one around me was really surprised when Guessit pointed to the spot. I haven’t seen a reply, but I’ve heard conflicting views and it doesn’t really matter. Preston or Blackburn, it doesn’t really matter, we just knew something would go wrong late on and it did. Dack stepped up and Lumley dived out of the way of what would’ve been a routine save, if he’d been braver for a fraction of a second. It’s so frustrating, how many penalties would be saved if the keepers didn’t move so early? This one was just off centre and at a really comfortable height for a goalie; an easy save which would’ve prevented Dack celebrating like he’d won the World Cup. The Blackburn fans finally came to life and we were treated to a couple of renditions of “We are on our way back.” A huge, miss-informed exaggeration if ever I’ve heard one. They are a completely ordinary Championship side who will finish mid table, meaning more joyless visits to this dreary place for us, as you can be bloody certain we aren’t going anywhere either; well not upwards anyway.
In the final few minutes we created zip all. Smith committed fouls and Blackburn kept the ball down by our corner flag. Apparently Chair and Furlong came on for Rangel and Scowen but made no contributions. McClaren was probably happy with 0-0 and this would’ve been a fair result. But Messrs McClaren and Mowbray, this is meant to be entertainment. I know it’s a cliché but people pay good money and give up huge amounts of time to support their teams; this was simply a dreadful game of football with a startling lack quality. A bad day at the office, we didn’t deserve to lose. Blah, blah. You’ve heard it all before. It was just another, typical northern away day defeat for me; made all the more discouraging by all the positivity beforehand. What will be the final insult will be when McClaren receives the manager of the month award. If only we could’ve played this game last Wednesday instead of Saturday, then Frank Lampard’s Derby County’s manager could rightly receive the monthly accolade and the media could’ve ignored the curse effect on us.
Hopefully between now and my next report from Rotherham, the team can go on another unbeaten, cleany sheety, winning run. Maybe our alien friends can get back on board and give us a little extra-terrestrial help again.
Blackburn: Leutwiler N/A, Bennett 6, Lenihan 7, Williams 7, Bell 6, Smallwood 6 (Palmer 63 5), Evans 7, Reed 6, Dack 7, Armstong 5 (Brereton 80), Graham 5 (Rothwell 74 5)
Unused subs: Nyambe, Rodwell, Conway, Fisher
Goals: Dack 86 (penalty won Brereton)
Bookings: Reed 19 (foul), Smallwood 33 (foul), Evans 56 (foul), Brereton 90+4 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 5; Rangel 6 (Furlong 87, -), Leistner 7, Lynch 6, Bidwell 6; Scowen 6 (Chair 88, -)
Unused subs: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Osayi-Samuels
Bookings: Luongo 4 (foul), Eze 51 (foul), Leistner 66 (foul), Freeman 90+5 (foul)
QPR Star Man: Toni Leistner 7 Really solid, encouraging game again from the Captain. Snuffed out everything that came his way, in a composed and controlled way. As I said earlier, didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside) 4 A horribly infuriating official, who badly handled an easy game. I would hate to see him in charge of a tougher fixture. Everyone in the ground was confused by so much of what he did. The assistant was very close to the penalty incident and gave nothing but I wasn’t surprised when it was given.
Attendance – 13,294 (500 QPR approx)
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