Gone in sixty seconds, QPR beaten in Swansea â€“ full match report Sunday, 4th Oct 2009 21:17
QPR suffered their first defeat in seven matches at Swansea on Saturday as both Martin Rowlands and Ben Watson saw red.
Saturday’s clash with Paulo Sousa’s Swansea was billed by one commenter in the match preview as the footballing equivalent of meeting an old girlfriend.
She was exactly as I remembered her. Hair flowing, suit immaculate, exotic tan – superficially everything seemed to be perfect. Just when I thought we’d made a terrible mistake the match began, and the football equivalent of the sex was just as poor and uninspiring as it always had been. Swansea won this game 2-0, and deserved to do so, but with one up front and next to no cutting edge going forward they were everything Paulo Sousa’s QPR side had been and only came out on top (ahem, excuse me) because Rangers’ two central midfielders engaged in a spot of self destruction and managed to both get themselves sent off.
Without those red cards I could not see any way Rangers would lose this game despite being a long way from their best. I don’t know about you but when I see an ex-girlfriend I tend to make a bit of a fool of myself. QPR were tongue tied on Saturday, Rowlands and Watson uncharacteristically rash - Sousa turned for home with a smile on his face wondering what he ever saw in us. Bitch.
For the second consecutive game Jim Magilton named an unchanged team following an impressive performance and creditable point at Newcastle on Wednesday evening. That meant Cerny in goal behind a back four of Leigertwood, Stewart, Gorkss and Borrowdale. In midfield the key duo of Rowlands and Watson played centrally with Routledge and Buzsaky either side. Vine was further forward and Simpson further still leading the line.
Swansea were without their star turn Ferrie Bodde who has re-ruptured his knee ligaments and is out for the season after missing all but the first two months of the last campaign with the same injury. Nathan Dyer and former QPR man Jordi Lopez returned from suspension but the Spaniard had to make do with a place on the bench.
The game was preceded by the arrival of John Hartson on the pitch to rapturous applause from all four sides of the ground as he continues his battle with cancer. He looked a lot thinner than when I last saw him on television but remarkably well all things considered. Sadly a small group of QPR fans near the back of the stand thought it appropriate to chant “who are ya” at him which was a real shame and thoroughly embarrassing for the majority of travelling fans who applauded his efforts.
Jim Magilton had described the unbelievable confidence coursing through the QPR side following the midweek draw at Newcastle and the R’s certainly looked pretty happy with life in the first ten minutes as they twice went close to opening the scoring. In the third minute a low cross from Leigertwood won a corner and although that was cleared Akos Buzsaky returned it with interest with a 25 yard shot that beat De Vries but just missed the top corner and tangled itself in the roof of the net.
Within five minutes Wayne Routledge had a dragged a shot a foot wide of the bottom corner after picking up a delightful flick from Simpson and setting off on a jinking run from the halfway line past several would be tacklers. Swansea struggled to cope with Routledge all afternoon, sadly the same could be said of the Swansea equivalent as Nathan Dyer enjoyed a very productive day against Gary Borrowdale. He may be an odious little git and an easy target for the jibes and chants of the travelling QPR fans but Dyer is a lively and dangerous player at this level and after his weaving run had won the first Swansea corner of the day after ten minutes defender Ashley Williams headed over at the back post when he should have done better. Dyer gave Borrowdale a torrid afternoon.
Perhaps QPR were too confident. On several occasions simple passes were spurned in favour of audacious back heals and miracle balls that more often than not simply conceded possession – we played ourselves into form by always taking the simple option and stringing ten, 15 or even 20 short, ten yard passes together. With Buzsaky, Vine and others suddenly resorting to show boating I was reminded of the famous saying about licking ourselves if we were a chocolate bar. This inability to maintain possession as well as we have been doing gave Swansea the chance to build pressure for a good 15 minutes after the Williams header.
After a quarter of an hour Dobbie got free in the right channel but dragged his shot across the face of goal from roughly 15 yards out. Dobbie had a better effort blocked by Stewart at the near post and then full back Angel Rangel outpaced Borrowdale to receive a good through ball in behind the QPR defence. The Spaniard’s low cross to the near post was lethal, and Damion Stewart had his team’s life in his hands when he stuck a toe out at the near post to try and divert it away from danger – the big Jamaican was no doubt very relieved to see it flash wide of the post rather than into the bottom corner.
It was from another Swans’ corner in the twenty fifth minute that QPR suddenly sprung back into life. Having cleared their lines the R’s put together a very attractive counter attack with Routledge and Simpson at its heart. The move ended when the former played the latter into the penalty area but Simpson’s low shot wasn’t bar wide and the chance was gone.
Swansea were on top in the final five minutes of the half though. Gorkss was yellow carded for coming through the back of Dyer and Rowlands for a rash tackle on Dobbie. Before the break Mark Gower sent a terrific low cross through the six yard box only to find no team mates had kept up with him sufficiently to apply the final touch. Swansea looked very much like Sousa’s QPR side – solid at the back and decent in build up but with next to nothing to offer by way of threat in the final third. Rangers on the other hand had had chances to take the lead but ultimately were grateful to hear the half time whistle and had not even got close to matching the performance level of the previous four matches.
Jim Magilton obviously thought so too and following his half time team talk QPR emerged for the second half in determined mood and much the better of the two sides. Four minutes into the half Damion Stewart nodded a Buzsaky corner down into the six yard box and the whole thing seemed to have opened up perfectly for Jay Simpson. The young striker was falling back and stretching for the ball but was still favourite to score from close range until De Vries denied him with an outstanding one handed save. The Dutch keeper will have poor memories of this fixture after fracturing his cheekbone in a clash with Martin Rowlands last season – he more than got his own back on Saturday with a fine display.
Within sixty seconds a free kick from Watson wide on the QPR right landed plum on the head of Kaspars Gorkss at the back post but he planted the chance into the travelling QPR faithful. His first competitive goal in QPR colours continues to elude him.
This was much, much more like it from QPR. The passing was crisper they were snapping into tackles, Swansea were firmly on the back foot. The entire game swung on two incidents between the fifty second and fifty third minutes. Firstly another super move ended with Routledge and Simpson outnumbering the Swans defence 12 yards out from goal. Routledge did all the hard work by beating Tate and opening up an a chance that was effectively a penalty in open play – on the spot, only the keeper to beat, no defenders left to challenge him. A goal looked certain but Routledge put his shot at a nice height for De Vries who saved well off to his right. Swansea passed the ball out of the area looking for Dyer, the ball was short and invited Rowlands in for a tackle that he mistimed badly. Dyer had not even hit the deck by the time referee Hill arrived on the scene with a second yellow and inevitable red. From wondering just how we were not in the lead the QPR fans were now left to contemplate more than half an hour of football without our influential captain and midfield general.
The sending off changed the pattern of play immediately. Soon it was Swansea back in charge and the QPR goal leading a charmed life. On the hour Pratley thought he’d scored when he met a Dyer cross on the half volley but Cerny got down well to save. The Czech keeper was also on his toes to deny Butler as he tried to squeeze a shot in at the near post. Mark Gower drilled a shot over the bar as well as QPR struggled to cope with the numerical disadvantage.
Magilton sent on Faurlin for Vine but he had little effect on the game. Sousa for his part brought on lee Trundle looking for the crucial goal and replaced Dobbie, heavy legged and posing all the threat of very blunt wooden spoon, with Beattie, and if you thought Dobbie was slow and carrying weight around his arse…
Part two of the worst possible scenario began 20 minutes from time. Ben Watson received a yellow card for sliding through Pratley as Swansea launched a counter attack – Hill rightly allowed the Welsh side to continue playing before pulling Watson aside when the ball went dead. Within seven minutes Watson was passing the soap to Rowlands in the early bath after Borrowdale played him a poor pass, Dyer tried to nip the interception around him and Watson flung out an arm to whip the ball off his tow. It was deliberate handball, silly and an obvious second yellow. Watson knew what he’d done and what was about to come immediately and had his head in his hands as the red card was shown.
In between those two cards, that mean QPR will be without their two most influential players when Preston visit in a fortnight, Swansea had taken the lead as well. Rangel crossed from the right and Gower stole in unmarked at the back post to hammer in on the half volley – Buzsaky looked to be the most culpable for not tracking his man.
Despite now being down to nine men QPR almost fashioned an unlikely equaliser eight minutes from time when a nice move down the right ended with a great cross to the back post from Leigertwood but Taarabt could only volley high over the bar from a very tight angle.
It was always likely to be difficult for eight QPR outfield players to hold out, and they certainly looked very lonely out there. With four minutes left Dyer got free down the right and laid a simple goal on for Trundle from close range – nothing any red and black hooped players could do about that one. Then a minute from time Trundle seemed to be obviously taken out by a crude lunge from Stewart in the area only for referee Hill to wave away his appeals.
This is an incredibly hard game to sum up. In my opinion there is no way QPR would have lost had they stayed at 11 men. I felt we wasted the first half somewhat, going away from a lot of the good things we have been doing in recent matches in favour of gratuitous flicks and tricks. Nevertheless we created two of the half’s better chances which perhaps Simpson and Routledge should have done better with.
The period immediately after half time was much more like it and although De Vries made to great saves, again Routledge and Simpson should both have done better with their chances. We were then left to regret wasting the first 45 minutes and four very presentable chances when Rowlands was sent off. It is the introduction of Rowlands and Watson to the midfield that has triggered this recent run of form and we were never the same team thereafter. That said I didn’t really feel threatened by Swansea, and said as much about two minutes before they opened the scoring, and it needed a piece of slack marking, possibly from Buzsaky, to enable them to finally break us down. The second goal I pretty much write off as an inevitable by-product of us going down to nine men.
We just looked a little bit too cock sure and confident to start with, and then when we shook that off we only had a few minutes at full throttle before losing a man. It was a case of what might have been. Defeats will happen, bad days at the office will happen, the key I how you recover from them and sadly I fear a far bigger issue for us than losing for the second time this season will be the suspension of Watson and Rowlands for the Preston game. The R’s must now take on PNE with, presumably, Faurlin and one from Leigertwood and Mahon in the middle of midfield and that doesn’t fill me with any great hope at all.
QPR Star Man – Radek Cerny 7 Several good saves to keep the score respectable after the sendings off. Wayne Routledge was the most impressive and dangerous of the outfield players but cannot take the star man award as it was his bad miss that led inadvertently to the circumstances of Rowlands’ sending off – should have been one up, instead went down to ten men.
Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire) 7 While it may be easy to rant and rave about us going down to nine men at a time when we were dominating and it all being the referee’s fault that we lost I have to say I don’t think Hill did very much wrong on the day. I agreed with all the cards handed out and Rowlands and Watson have only themselves to blame for the red cards. Perhaps put the pressure on himself by producing cards too early, and definitely missed a blatant penalty on Trundle at the end, but overall wasn’t too bad.
Attendance: 14,444 (600 QPR approx) The home fans were in decent voice in the second half with a larger than usual gang of singers off to the left of the away end. The QPR fans were quieter than normal I thought, despite the best efforts of those at the back to try and get the crowd going. Such a shame that a select group of morons decided to chant at John Hartson rather than applaud him (perhaps they were unaware of the circumstances?) but well done to the majority who applauded.