|Rotherham United 2 v 2 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 27th November 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Freeman rescues Rangers' point at Rotherham - Report
Wednesday, 28th Nov 2018 13:03 by Lee McAlpine
Lee McAlpine reports from a sodden New York Stadium where Luke Freeman scored in injury time to save a deserved point for QPR against Rotherham.
Well you’ve got to admit it, this season is certainly turning out to be a lot more fun and anxiety-free than we could’ve possibly have hoped for.
The remarkable October run of form has continued (bar my horrible match report from Blackburn obviously) with excellent comebacks in games we would’ve usually lost. Our two brightest talents have surprisingly signed contract extensions and the overall mood of everything Queens Park Rangers is just one self-satisfied big grin.
Even Joel Lynch’s calamitous error for Stoke’s equaliser on Saturday, didn’t lead to a melt-down amongst the away support. Nor, even when he repeated the mistake shortly after, did anything more than groans head in his direction. The R’s travelling contingent in the Potteries was brilliant and reminiscent of Warnock and earlier Holloway days: good numbers, loud, encouraging, and with more than pleasing amount of positive cheer, even when the game began to swing away from us.
While the numbers last night were never going to be as great tonight in South Yorkshire, I was really hopeful for more of the good spirits. Obviously events on the field (and my match report curse) would have a critical influence on the crowd, but both teams (and fans) arrived at the still sparkly New York Stadium in a hopeful mood for an entertaining Championship encounter.
Rotherham have certainly not turned out to be the whipping boys many had expected, with a more than acceptable haul of points so far including victories over big boys Swansea and Frank Lampard’s Derby County. They were also the better team in a battling draw with Sheffield United on Saturday, and while their win total is not great (only three), they’re proving a match for anyone in this crazy league. A home game for the Millers on a typical wintry, Yorkshire evening against previous years’, poor travellers, QPR, would normally have led to a comfortable home win. But there’s nothing typical about this Rangers. They’ve completely turned around their efforts on the road since September, and with a kind of back-bone we could normally only dream about, we don’t roll over for anyone anymore. That was certainly the case last night.
Both teams use of the loan market led to enforced changes this evening, with Geoff Cameron returning for Rangers, after his day-off at Stoke. The flipside of these arrangements, meant that Ryan Manning had to take his place in the stands, as he couldn’t face us. What a strange experience tonight’s game must have been for Manning: watching two sets of mates play each other: one whose team have spurned him and the other a team he seems to be having a lot of fun and success with at the moment. I imagine he was a Rotherham fan tonight; I for one wouldn’t blame him either.
Paul Warne’s chosen line-up wouldn’t have rung any bells with the vast majority of the travelling fans. As we’ve seen over the years, that means nothing; how many times have we seen a team of well-known names get ripped apart by players we’ve never heard of? This is a combative side that know their jobs but they’ve a number of skilful players with the ability to hurt the opposition as well.
Another game with another reassuring settled line-up for Rangers. Lumley behind his usual back four. Cameron and Luongo providing the protection, with Wzsolek, Freeman and Eze further ahead creating opportunities for Wells. Simple plan really, with Hemed and Osayi-Samuel looking like the most interesting options on the bench. I was really hoping for a change of ideas with our substitutions. So often recently Matt Smith has been sent on with absolutely no impact at all. McClaren has got figure out how to get something out of the big striker (maybe a cross or two for him to head) or change tack completely. Whether or not Osayi-Samuel is up to this level, no-one could say with any certainty, but we will never find out at this rate as he collects pressure sores on the bench. Also, we are still bringing every man back to defend corners. This still makes no sense to me as we have no out-ball and clearances often lead to more defending, rather than us attacking on the break. Rotherham have been successful with a more direct approach, so a busy night with their heads was expected for Leistner and Lynch, one which they are far more comfortable with than speedy, tricky wingers and clever through balls.
In blustery, damp conditions, the game kicked off with Rangers attacking the far end and instantly looked the more accomplished side with plenty of neat passing. But as so often happens when things are looking good, we concede. Saturday’s hero Rangel badly misjudged a high ball and missed a simple clearance. Williams grabbed possession just outside the box before two clever passes allowed Vaulks to smash a shot passed the helpless Lumley. A good finish but very definitely avoidable from a QPR perspective.
If the Rangers defending for the opener was poor, then the Millers surpassed this six minutes later with a very early Christmas present for Nakhi Wells. Confusion in the Rotherham penalty area led to a ricochet ending up at the striker’s feet eight yards and he couldn’t miss.
The comical defending swung back to the Rangers’ box three minutes later, when from a straight, long and easily defendable free kick, one of Rotherham’s giants was allowed to wander into the box and put a simple, unchallenged header into the corner. As on Saturday at Stoke, Rangers’ offside trap found wanting. Not really sure how any opposition player could be presented with so much free space, so close to Lumley’s goal, but he was and despite being the better side, Rangers were behind again.
This goal seemed to knock all the cohesion and rhythm out of us and from looking pretty good, we went to pretty ragged. Just like so many Championship games, the play from both teams was littered with mistakes and this resulted in very little goalmouth action of any consequence.
We had been warned about the referee before the game, but for most of the first half he handled things fairly and his decisions seemed reasonable. Bidwell was booked for an agricultural challenge, as was Wzsolek for leading with an arm/elbow. The home crowd were screaming for a red card here and because of Woolmer’s dubious reputation, there were concerns amongst us as it took an age for the yellow to appear. His terrible reputation was fully justified after the break, but there had been little in his first half performance to warrant any worries.
For the first hour, Luke Freeman- with his new contract safely banked- failed again (like at Stoke) to look after the ball effectively. At Stoke McClaren showed his obvious frustration, when our assist-king, tried one trick too many in our half and lost possession. Here, Freeman was becoming frustrated and it looked like it was going to be “one of the nights” for him and his team but he found his range and became much more of a threat in the last 30 minutes, and ultimately rescued the point. On the hour mark he sent over a superbly inviting cross that had goal written all over it, as Wzsolek only had to make proper contact to equalise. Sadly he didn’t and the ball squirmed passed the post when it really was easier to score.
Five minutes later Mr Woolmer really came into his own with the kind of dishonest ineptitude that leaves a really sour taste. From a corner Lynch was smashed in the back, dead centre in the penalty area. Everyone saw the challenge including Woolmer; a clear and obvious penalty. Absolutely no doubt about, I haven’t seen a replay, I don’t need to; it was/is a stonewall penalty. Nothing given. Lynch was left in a heap in the area and Rotherham broke away. Rangers regained possession deep in their own half and after a pass to the left wing, Eze turned and shimmered away from three defenders and headed skilfully towards the Rotherham box, only to be tripped on the edge and tumbled alongside the already stricken Lynch. Nothing given again, but the idiot did stop play to allow treatment to Lynch. Later Rotherham substitute Wood was tricked by Eze who ran away towards goal only to be hauled down rugby tackle style by the beaten man – no yellow card.
A baffling sequence of events as far as I’m concerned. But everybody in the Rangers’ end knew what would happen next. Yes, every single decision went our way for the next ten minutes. An absolute clear indication he knew he’d bottled the only real decision of the game and was trying to make it up to us. Get lost idiot, get it right in the first place.
McClaren made three quick substitutions: the ineffective (again when I’m present) Wzsolek made way for Hemed, and Scowen and Smith came on for Wells and Luongo. The changes made a difference as Rangers really took control, but with few clear-cut openings created. Rotherham were taking their time wasting tactics very seriously, rolling out all the old tricks. As usual this was allowed by the officials without censure. The goalkeeper Rodak was chief culprit with a smart array of tactics, especially the one where you make a comfortable catch but still feel the need to fall to the ground. This “permitted” cheating by Rodak was a shame, as he was the home side’s star man in the last 10 minutes.
It did look like it just wasn’t going to be our night, when, with time running out Scowen scuffed a very presentable opportunity wide. Then after great work on the left by Scowen and Hemed, Freeman smashed a goal-bound effort that was smartly tipped by the stopper. This was a good save but the one a minute later from an Eze volley was plenty more than a good save- the volley and the save were quite brilliant.
With that, we all presumed that would be our lot. But Woolmer gave us a glimmer of hope by adding five minutes to the 90 and justice was done. A cross from the left was met with a lovely diving header from Freeman, which Rodak could only help into the net. Great scenes again in an away end which had a good number of travelling fans.
Suddenly, the home side stopped wasting time and even created a chance that was well tipped away by Lumley. We’d settled for a point and that was the absolute least we’d deserved.
Scoring so late, it did feel like a point gained, but overall it should’ve been three. We controlled the game for long spells but only created good chances in the latter stages. Once again we didn’t test the opposition keeper, as good approach play petered out, too often near the box. Rotherham weren’t that great and only hurt us because of our own poor mistakes.
But the good run of form continues and the attitude of the team was excellent, when things (Mr Woolmer) appeared to be conspiring against us. It was an entertaining Championship match and certainly far better than that dirge at Blackburn. There will obviously be plenty of twists and turns ahead but this bunch of players are a solid unit, who keep going right to the end.
All good fun, just as it should be.
Rotherham: Rodak 8; Vyner 6, Ajayi 5, Robertson 7, Mattock 6; Vaulks 7, Williams 7 (Proctor 86, -), Towell 6, Palmer 6 (Wood 69, 6), Taylor 6 (Newell 60); Smith 7
Subs not used: Price, Forde, Wiles.
Goals: Vaulks 6 (assisted Towell), Robertson 15 (assisted Vaulks)
QPR: Lumley 6; Rangel 5, Leistner 6, Lynch 5, Bidwell 5; Cameron 6, Luongo 5 (Scowen 76 5); Wszolek 4 (Hemed 69, 5), Eze 7, Freeman 7; Wells 6 (Smith 76, 5)
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Osayi-Samuels
Goals: Wells 7 (unassisted), Freeman 90 (assisted Bidwell)
Bookings: Bidwell 23 (foul), Wzsolek 35 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Ebere Eze 7 Just so many positives. Nearly all the ingredients to be a top player, if he had them all, he wouldn’t be playing for us.
Attendance: 8,018 (QPR 539)
The Twitter @LeeMcAlpine1
Pictures – Action Images
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