Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
QPR brushed aside by impressive Doncaster performance – full match report
QPR brushed aside by impressive Doncaster performance – full match report
Monday, 23rd Nov 2009 00:18

Neutrals at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday would have had difficulty picking the play off chasers from the relegation strugglers as lowly Doncaster Rovers produced a fine, attractive, inventive performance and 2-0 victory against high flying QPR.

“I didn’t think much to them, they turned up in gloves and played like twats,” said a Doncaster fan on his way out of the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday evening. That is a fairer summary than I can ever give I’m afraid. QPR turned in their worst performance of the season so far and Doncaster their best in the driving South Yorkshire rain – Rovers were thoroughly good value for a 2-0 victory that lifts them away from the bottom three and increases the gap between QPR and the top two.

Rangers boasted five players with Premiership first team experience, two others who came from Premiership clubs, and four of seven substitutes who have played in the top flight. Doncaster could only offer half that but it was they who played the better football, looked more committed, and eventually won the game with something to spare. I’m sure the likes of Watson, Taarabt and Reid believe they should be playing first team football for the top flight clubs that have loaned them out, while players like Simpson, Routledge and Connolly harbour ambitions of playing there within the next couple of years. A long, long way to go for all of them on this evidence. Doncaster fans for whom this was their first glimpse of QPR this season would probably tell you they wouldn’t even get in their side.

This was a vintage QPR in the north on a cold and wet day performance. The term southern softies has often epitomised our showings in places like Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Hull and Barnsley in the past and it certainly did on Saturday. A little less believing your own publicity lads, and a little more stomach for a fight required. When it became clear that Doncaster were a good side that could pass the ball, and cause us trouble the time came for QPR to move up through the several gears they clearly had in reserve after half an hour of play. That never happened, or threatened to do so. Part of the problem, for me, was the team selected and substitutions made and I will come onto that in more detail when I sum up.

That team to start with saw Tommy Williams making his third QPR debut at left back instead of Peter Ramage who was on the bench. Gorkss and Connolly were the centre halves and Leigertwood the right back making up the back four in front of Cerny. In midfield Steven Reid made his first QPR appearance after signing on loan from Blackburn during the week but seemed to only add further clutter to a central area that also included Ben Watson and Alejandro Faurlin all essentially trying to do the same job. Routledge and Buzsaky played wide with Simpson up top but all three were below their best and isolated in the absence of Adel Taarabt who was surprisingly left on the bench.

Doncaster included Billy Sharp in attack who struggled to adapt to Championship life with Sheff Utd but had scored four goals in ten appearances for Rovers prior to Saturday and bagged a hat trick against QPR at Bramall Lane last season. Martin Woods served a one match ban and was therefore missing from their usual midfield line up. Former Man Utd man Quinton Fortune replaced him as both midfielder and captain.

Rangers actually started reasonably brightly, working an attractive fourth minute move wide to Wayne Routledge who cut the ball back from the byline for Akos Buzsaky to volley over the bar. Those among the sizeable travelling contingent, getting a decent soaking despite the covered away end, who hoped that would be a sign of things to come were left disappointed. A tenth minute free kick, harshly awarded against Faurlin for a meagre foul on Shiels, was turned aside by Cerny as Oster struck for goal and that was much more typical of the next 80 minutes.

Cerny’s save presented Doncaster with a corner which was cleared behind. At the second attempt a better delivery from Fortune created a six yard box scramble during which Tommy Williams made a brave block, taking a shot square in the crotch for his troubles, and an extended period of rest and recuperation was required before he could continue. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Tommy’s partner Nicola McLean by now, so let’s not feel too sorry for him eh? If she’s the one rubbing them better I bet he wishes he got whacked there more often.

Both sides tried their luck from distance midway through the first half. First excellent hold up play and a lay off from Jay Simpson gave Leigrtwood a chance to cut infield from right back and curl a shot with his left foot similar to the goal he scored against Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road – on this occasion he wasn’t bar wide. Then at the other end after Watson had given the ball away attempting to build from the back Shiels cracked a low drive from 20 yards that Cerny got down smartly to save. QPR would be punished for this sloppy and lazy passing later in the game – when you’re playing it around on the edge of your own box you have to be crisp, sharp, confident and fully concentrated, QPR were none of these things on Saturday.

Our referee Mr Bates then came to the fore with two or three questionable decisions inside two minutes just after the half hour. First Billy Sharp crude hacked down Matt Connolly from behind as he crossed the halfway line – play was allowed to continue as Rangers kept the ball but the referee failed to return and book Sharp for what was the absolute definition of a yellow card offence. As Connolly picked himself up Rangers were denied what looked from our vantage point to be a very decent shout for a penalty as Reid was up ended in the box and to rub salt into those wounds Doncaster were then awarded a very soft free kick for an offence barely half as bad as the one committed on Reid in the penalty box.

The sides traded further long range efforts in the final five minutes of the half. Routledge flashed a low drive across Sullivan’ goal and wide from the corner of the box after a rare bit of incisive passing from Watson and then Cerny uncomfortably punched Oster’s 25 yard effort away, wary of the movement of the ball on a wet and windy day as it dipped under his cross bar.

It was no surprise to see QPR emerge from the half time break having changed personnel slightly. Whatever Jim Magilton had intended prior to kick off things clearly hadn’t worked out and Doncaster had been the better team for large parts of the first half. QPR’s football looked laboured, their key strike players weren’t seeing enough of the ball, and the midfield was too congested for our passing to actually have any purpose to it. It was no surprise either that it was Adel Taarabt coming on and within 60 seconds of the restart the Tottenham loanee had beaten a man, cut in from the left and fed a perfect ball into the area for Simpson who should have done better than drag his shot wide of the post from 15 yards.

What was a surprise was that Faurlin was the man taken off as he had been the pick of the QPR outfield players for me in the first half. While Reid and Watson got in each other’s way and did little to affect the game Faurlin made light of difficult conditions by passing the ball well, incisively and creatively. So while Taarabt cured some of the problems with the front three being isolated the lack of Faurlin then created a new problem of getting the four of them the ball regularly and in good areas. It was a problem we failed to overcome for the first half of the second half, and then completely gave up trying to solve when Pellicori and Agyemang were sent on later to no affect whatsoever. Faurlin may not be a Premiership player on loan or have a load of international caps or be very high profile but he was the best player we had as a sub at Sheffield Wednesday and was so again at Doncaster on Saturday and he warrants a place in this side more than Watson and Reid do at the moment.

Sharp lost out in a goal mouth scramble five minutes after the break and Cerny got down well to save from the impressive Shiels again as Rovers started the second half on the front foot.

Doncaster took the lead eight minutes after half time and QPR were masters of their own downfall to some extent. Again passing the ball along their own back line dangerously and without any real purpose or direction the R’ conceded possession when a stray, knee high ball from Gorkss put Williams in trouble, He conceded possession to Shiels who found Sharp and his shot from the edge of the area was deflected wide of the post by Connolly with Cerny struggling to cover it. From the resulting corner Fortune delivered low into the box, Shiels turned it on at the near post after being left unmarked and Sharp, similarly unattended, hooked in from close range. Rangers simply weren’t switched on and organised to face a corner that need never have been conceded in the first place.

Magilton then played his final two substitutions with half an hour still to play. It was no surprise to see Buzsaky, out of sorts and isolated wide in midfield, replaced by Agyemang but the decision to also remove Simpson, our best goal threat, and replace him with Pellicori, a threat only to himself, made little sense. Apart from an infuriatingly high number of offsides the Italian’s sole contribution to this game was a quite ludicrous handball when defending a corner – forget Thierry Henry, this was as blatant as you’re ever likely to see. The Doncaster players were left flabbergasted as Pellicori got caught under a high ball at the back post, reached up and skilfully brought it down to his feet with his hand and played on with both referee and linesman presumably thinking about other things at the time.

Whether the substitutions were right or wrong they were rendered completely irrelevant almost immediately as QPR contrived to create a second goal for the hosts in the same way they had the first. Again a bad pass from Gorkss put Williams in trouble, again he conceded possession to Shiels, and this time the Northern Irishman backed himself to beat Cerny from the edge of the area which he duly did.

Building from the back is admirable and an attractive way to play. Doing it gratuitously, taking needless risks, and simply passing the ball left to right without any progression down the field or thought to where the player you’re passing to can go next is neither of those things. At times on Saturday I felt our players were passing the buck rather than the ball – Gorkss knew Williams had nowhere to go but passed him the ball anyway o he wouldn’t be the one to either lose the ball or get a bollocking from the manager for knocking it long. Like snooker players our lot need to consider not only their pass, but the options facing the man they’re giving it to. Both Doncaster goals came from passes played to Williams that were of poor quality and presented the full back with few options even if he had managed to deal with them adequately.

Doncaster certainly had more purpose about their passing game. Having played more long balls into the channels during the first half than I think I’ve ever seen a Sean O’Driscoll team do, they reverted much more to type in the second half and buoyed by their two goal cushion they brought the home fans to their feet with a glorious move that included the thick end of 30 passes resulting in a chance for Billy Sharp that Cerny saved comfortably. All of the Doncaster passes had a purpose, were well played and went to a player with a couple of options. “What’s it like to be out classed” sang the home fans, and while that was an exaggeration it was certainly fair to say that Donny were giving our players a lesson in how to play an open, passing style.

It was 23 minutes from time when Rangers finally registered their first shot on target – Sullivan could have thrown his cap on Taarabt’s shot from 20 yards – and in truth they were lucky not to either be further behind on the score board or numerically disadvantaged when Sharp went through on goal and was crudely chopped down by Leigertwood who was probably only saved from first squirt of the Herbal Essences by cover from Matt Connolly. Once again Sharp had been a pest to QPR all afternoon and the match preview suggestion that it could be Sheff Utd’s style of play rather than him struggling to adapt to a higher level that has seen him flop at Bramall Lane. Whatever the reason, he seems to enjoy playing against us regardless.

Chambers and Coppinger both had shots blocked in the penalty area as the clock ran down but QPR’s afternoon was better summed up by three late corners – two of which were comfortably headed away, the third from Taarabt barely got off the ground and dribbled into the side netting without troubling a heavily populated penalty box at all.

Ultimately I felt this was firstly a case of too many players putting in below par performances – whether that was because of the weather, a little hangover from the international break, the “it’s only Doncaster” attitude that I spoke about in the match preview, something else entirely or a bit of a mixture of factors I cannot be sure but only really Radek Cerny could come off the pitch on Saturday thinking “I could have done no more today.” Everybody else could have made more effort, completed more passes, run harder, tackled harder, wanted it a bit more.

Secondly I’ve got to lay some of the blame at Magilton’s door. He certainly would have been expecting more from his players, and we had enough quality on the pitch to win the game, but I felt he got the starting eleven and the substitutions wrong. Easy for me to sit here and throw bottles from the back of the lecture theatre at somebody with actual experience of football at this level both as a player and a manager and I’ve shown plenty of times in the past that I know nothing about the game really but in my opinion the team was wrong and the changes we made to it were as well.

In midfield it was a case of too many cooks making a mess of the broth. Watson and Reid were, as far as I could see, trying to do the same job and succeeding only in getting in each other’s way. It was the old problem of Mahon and Leigertwood playing together again – they both like to drop a bit deep and direct us around the field and in the end they were treading on each other’s toes. While both were poor Faurlin I thought was the pick of the midfield five and was the only one actually completing passes and moving the ball forwards. The decision to take him off at half time and leave Watson and Reid tripping over each other for the second half was on I can only assume dictated by injury.

The decision to leave Taarabt out was again wrong for me. Buzsaky, Routledge and Simpson all looked isolated without that talented player in the hole behind the main striker linking them all together. All three had their worst games of the season so far and it was no coincidence in my opinion that those bad performances came on a day when Taarabt was replaced in the attacking midfield role by Reid and Watson who simply weren’t up to it. When Taarabt came on we briefly looked better, and he linked well with Simpson to create a chance just after half time, but Faurlin had gone off which harmed us elsewhere and Simpson was then inexplicably removed for Agyemang, who tried hard but was mediocre at best, and Pellicori who was bloody awful and permanently offside. When you then consider that Tommy Williams had a very poor game while Borrowdale, who has done little wrong this season, sat on the bench I’d say there are five or six team selection and substitution errors there that did us no favours at all. Just my opinion of course.

At the end of the day we will lose games this season. We were below par on Saturday and deserved exactly what we got. Doncaster were far better than us and are to be applauded for their style of play and result. The key is the response – against Coventry next week we face a poor side without a win in seven, but one that has a thoroughly irritating habit of getting a result at Loftus Road in recent years. We must improve our performance by a good 50 or 60 per cent and get back on track against the Sky Blues because while the odd defeat at Doncaster when we play poorly and they’re on their game can be excused, dropped points against first Leicester, then Palace, then Doncaster and then Coventry is not play off form.

Links >>> Interactive Player Ratings >>> Have Your Say >>> Message Board Match Thread

Doncaster: Sullivan 6, Chambers 6, Hird 6, O'Connor 6, Roberts 7, Oster 6 (Spicer 87, -), Fortune 7 (Shackell 72, 6), Gillett 6, Shiels 8 (Mark Wilson 85, -), Coppinger 6, Sharp 7
Subs Not Used: Smith, Hayter, Guy, Heffernan
Goals: Sharp 53 (assisted Shiels), Shiels 65 (unassisted)

QPR: Cerny 7, Leigertwood 6, Connolly 6, Gorkss 5, Williams 5, Routledge 6, Reid 5, Watson 5, Faurlin 7 (Taarabt 46, 6) Buzsaky 5 (Agyemang 63, 5), Simpson 6 (Pellicori 63, 4)
Subs Not Used: McWeeney, Stewart, Ramage, Ephraim
Booked: Leigertwood (foul)

QPR Star Man – Radek Cerny 7 A particularly good save from Oster’s free kick in the first half was the highlight but basically he wins this by default as the only one who could come off the field saying h could have done no more to help Rangers win the game. At fault for neither goal and made some decent saves to keep the score to two.

Referee: A Bates (Staffordshire) 5 Well the positives are he tried to let the game flow and kept his card in his pocket. However it’s impossible to give too high a mark to a referee who missed what looked like a potential QPR penalty in the first half for a foul on Reid and then a ridiculously blatant handball from Pellicori that should have seen Rovers awarded a spot kick in the second.

Attendance: 10,821 (1500 QPR approx) A good following from W12 but pretty quiet in the away end, probably owing to the performance and poor weather. A wide selection of flags were displayed on the seats next to the away end including the excellent, unique Les Ferdinand as Che Guevara ‘meet my by the railway track’ number although this was mysteriously removed by the stewards midway through the first half. Stories circulate as to why, each more ridiculous than the last. Hope to see it again at future games despite this.

Photo: Action Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

You need to login in order to post your comments

Queens Park Rangers Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2024