|Wigan Athletic 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 2nd February 2019 Kick-off 15:00
QPR's league slide continues with pitifully weak Wigan showing - Report
Sunday, 3rd Feb 2019 12:16 by Clive Whittingham
QPR registered three consecutive league defeats for the first time since August with an insipid showing and dire loss to struggling Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Queens Park Rangers’ league form continues to slide in 2019 following a third successive Championship loss at lowly Wigan Athletic. From the highs of December when the R’s moved to within three points of the play-offs, they’ve now not won in five matches and slipped to fourteenth. Performing as they did on Saturday, things aren’t likely to improve much any time soon.
Wigan had only won twice in 17 games prior to this one, and looked nervous as hell when Rangers were finally able to exert some pressure on their goal in the final 20 minutes of the game. But a combination of their January additions – Cardiff’s Anthony Pilkington, in particular, was the best player on the pitch – and the old Charity Park Rangers routine in full swing saw them over the line for a win which puts seven points between them and Reading in the final relegation spot. On the first hour at least, they thoroughly deserved it.
The Latics ended up making rather heavy weather of the closing stages, but they did not have to work too hard for their two goals. Former QPR waster Leon Clarke, banished from the city of Sheffield during the week for decimating its pastry supply, started up front and one can only assume the size of his arse creating its own gravitational pull was the reason both Toni Leistner and Joel Lynch went charging out of the defensive line together to try and beat him in the air in the tenth minute. How to turn a neutral situation into a lethal one – when Clarke won the header Josh Windass was afforded a clear run on goal behind the absent centre backs and finished calmly into the bottom corner.
It had felt like it might be one of those days even before that calamity. Literally from the kick off, QPR started the game with Jake Bidwell taking a wild swipe at the ball, sending it high into the air and backwards towards his own penalty area. Lynch recovered that situation, then played a suicidal back pass to keeper Joe Lumley who panicked under the pressure and walloped it straight into touch. That was all in the first 30 seconds. Start strong lads, set the tone. Fuck me sideways.
There were chances for Rangers either side of the Wigan goal. A swerving shot from Nahki Wells was spilled by home keeper Jamie Jones who just about recovered to deny Luke Freeman one on one with the rebound. Then straight after falling behind Wells really should have done better when played clear of a high and square defence but took an uncharacteristic bad touch, toeing the ball way too far ahead of him allowing Jones to recover.
Had either gone in, maybe it would have been a different game. My God I’d have paid a lot of money to go to a different game. Despite the horror show against Preston in the last league match, Rangers were persisting with trying to play out from the back every time. Josh Scowen, as he had done against North End, looked wholly uncomfortable with this, either nervously punting the ball down the field anyway so as to avoid a repeat of the Jayden Stockley debacle, or rolling the ball straight back to Lumley for him to boot away rendering the whole exercise pointless anyway. Leistner was all over the show as well, at one point inexplicably receiving the ball and then passing it straight back into the middle of his penalty area to nobody at all. Clarke, built like a man employed by McDonalds to test their apple turnovers, missed a sitter with his head from half a yard out after great approach work from Pilkington. He had, fortunately for him, already been flagged offside.
There was a good cross from Luke Freeman that was just out of the reach of Jake Bidwell, then a pathetic free kick from a great position by the former Bristol City man which went straight into the wall. Scowen had a volley blocked on the edge of the box on 39 minutes – his first positive contribution to the afternoon. It would have been a bit of a liberty had any of those gone in and sure enough, at the start of the second half, QPR re-commenced their self destruction from the start of the first by passing the ball straight to Michael Jacobs and then waving him right through the middle of the defence for a low shot which Lumley saved far more easily than he really should have been allowed.
When Leistner made an absolute pig’s ear of intercepting a cross in the fifty fifth minute Clarke, looking more like something that should have been floating over the stadium advertising tyres, stole in at the back post and could hardly miss from a couple of yards out. I’d have Furlong back in at centre back as soon as Angel Rangel is fit again on this evidence, all that talk of “the L team” and “name a more iconic duo” from before Christmas looking rather laughable here with Leistner and Lynch turning in the sort of combined centre half performance I haven’t seen since the days of pairing Karl Ready and Steve Morrow together. That said, Furlong looked like he’d planted a seventieth minute set piece straight in the bottom corner of his own net only to see it flash agonisingly wide of the post.
With Aramide Oteh loaned out, even the vague suggestion of another option than just lumping it up to Matt Smith for the closing stages of a game we’ve fucked up has been removed. Not that McClaren ever used that other option anyway, but it was nice to have it there and dream for a while. Smith was summoned after 63 minutes, replacing Eze who had a worse pass completion record than most of the crowd. The big striker charged into the penalty area to meet a Furlong long throw, and was immediately penalised for pushing by referee Scott Duncan – taking brief timeout from making sure all the corners were taken from exactly the right blade of grass.
To be fair though, Smith was pretty effective in the final half hour. He quickly nodded one down for Furlong to strike but a deflection took the pace from the ball and it bounced through to Jones. Luongo’s shot from the edge of the box was also comfortably saved but the keeper could do nothing 15 minutes from time when McClaren’s other substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel – on at half time for Pawel Wszolek, anonymous away from home once again – hit a shot that struck a defender, wrong footed the keeper, and rolled into the net. A big moment for Samuel, who should have been used far more than he has been this season, but unfortunately overall his impact was limited by the outstanding Reece James who could have played in a club suit on the right of the Wigan defence – like rats, in the Championship you’re never more than ten feet from a Chelsea loanee.
There’d been little reason for Wigan to panic before that, but panic they did anyway and when Smith headed Freeman’s free kick down intelligently Leistner came within an inch of an equaliser with a powerful shot that struck the crossbar and bounced back into play. Soon Smith was, fairly hilariously, running towards Jones with the ball at his feet, touching it paste Kipre to go clear on goal only to be deliberately tripped on the edge of the box. Looked a red card to me, Duncan settled for a yellow, Wells took a turn at belting a beautifully positioned free kick into the middle of the wall.
Home manager Paul Cook fished Darron Gibson out of the local Wetherspoons to try and shore things up in the closing stages but his first two contributions were both hopelessly shanked into touch to groans from the home crowd and looks of disbelief from his team mates. Gibson just stood there on both occasions with his hands on his head. When you’re trying to see a game out, I’m not sure introducing one of the few people in this country who drinks more than I do to it is really the way to go. I’d laugh, but QPR were losing to this lot, a team with the town drunk in midfield and one of the 79 moons of Jupiter up front.
A point could have been salvaged two minutes from time when a cross from Wells had Jones flapping around all over the place but Smith headed over when it seemed easier to score. And should have been salvaged in four minutes of stoppage time when a Furlong long throw wrought havoc in the area and Jacobs clearly and obviously blocked Manning’s shot with two outstretched arms in a desperate bid to preserve the point. A save Peter Schmeichel would have been proud of. Duncan, looking right at it from five yards away, gave nothing. Maybe just as well, we’d probably still be there now waiting for that silly old fart to pissball about making sure the ball was on the penalty spot properly.
An unfair way of securing a fair result. The points were more important to Wigan and they deserved to take them, despite their best attempts at a late collapse. QPR were abysmal for the majority of this game, far worse than the scoreline suggests, and it would have been robbery for them to take a point. Only when the game was lost at 2-0 did they start to show anything like, prior to that there was too much suicidal play out from the back, and far, far, far too much turning back inside and passing the ball backwards, rather than turning out and trying to attack the opponent. Bidwell, to Lynch, to Lumley, boot. Furlong, to Leistner, to Lumley, boot. Over and over and over and over and over again. Like somebody scraping through your root canal work with a rusty Phillips head. Or hearing that story about how Dave Whelan broke his leg in the cup final again.
The season now hangs on Tuesday’s FA Cup game against Portsmouth, and we’ll have to be a million times better than this to avoid a similar result.
Wigan: Jones 6; James 8, Kipre 6, Fox 6 (Dunkley 79. 6), Byrne 6; Pilkington 8 (Gibson 77, 3), Evans 6, Jacobs 6, Naismith 6; Windass 7, Clarke 6 (Garner 76, 6)
Subs not used: Walton, Baningime, McManaman, Roberts
Goals: Windass 8 (assisted Clarke), Clarke 55 (assisted Windass)
Bookings: Evans 21 (foul), Kipre 83 (foul), Jacobs 90+1 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 5; Furlong 6, Leistner 4, Lynch 5, Bidwell 6; Scowen 4, Luongo 6 (Manning 88, -); Wszolek 5 (Osayi-Samuel 46, 6), Eze 4 (Smith 63, 6), Freeman 6; Wells 5
Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Kakay
Goals: Osayi-Samuel 75 (assisted Luongo)
Bookings: Luongo 13 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Matt Smith 6 As at Portsmouth a week ago, was effective when he came on and it was the first time QPR looked like they might threaten the opposition goal occasionally. I mean, nothing startling, but after the raw slurry of the first hour it was at least nice to know we could do the very basics and exert the odd bit of pressure.
Referee – Scott Duncan (Durham) 5 Bog standard Championship referee – red hot on the little, insignificant stuff, completely clueless on the big decisions that actually matter. Blatant handball for a penalty not awarded at the end, but is that ball in the quadrant for the corner? Is it though? Is it? Is it? Is it in the right place? That ball? For the corner? Is it in the right place? Is it in the right place? Is it though? Have you put it in the right place? Have you? Have you though? Is it right? Is it? Is it? Is it? Fucking helmet.
Attendance 9,799 (700 QPR approx.) Signs it’s bad – QPR fans singing songs for old players from the past. Signs that hilarious routine is wearing a bit thin – I’m even starting to dislike Akos Buszaky.
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