|Derby County 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Monday, 22nd April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Ways to lose at football - Report
Tuesday, 23rd Apr 2019 20:22 by Clive Whittingham
While few expected anything other than another defeat for QPR at high flying Derby on Monday, the nature of this latest loss was particularly harsh on John Eustace's team.
I think you’re allowed a laugh now. One of those maniacal ones that quickly turns into an uncontrollable torrent of tears, cascading onto the blouse of an experienced therapist. Like when Deirdre Barlow got sent down, all neck veins and nicotine encrusted howls.
A defeat, QPR’s twenty second of the season and thirteenth since January 12, away to a much better team that still has things to play for was not unexpected. We said as much in the preview. In fact, we thought it might be a deal worse. But to actually play reasonably well, as QPR did by their admittedly pitiful standards, create the better chances in the game and make it to the last minute level only to lose amidst a refereeing brain explosion seemed particularly cruel on a club that has suffered enough over the past few weeks.
When we play poorly, as we did against Blackburn and Bolton and Rotherham and Norwich, we lose. When we play alright, as we did here and against Bristol City and West Brom and Watford, we also lose. It’s like we’re going out of our way to find new and creative ways to do it. The two goals Derby scored in a ludicrous 12 minutes of stoppage time added to this game (more, much more, on that later) were the seventh and eighth goals we’ve conceded after the 90 minute mark this season – more than any other team in the league. The nonsense penalty that gifted them their first (more, much more, on that later) was the ninth spot kick Rangers have conceded this term – again, a division high. We’re like Kif with the Women of Amazonia in Futurama – suffering death by a thousand blows to the groin. You will be snoo-snooed by the last-minute goals, then your own crass incompetence, then a dreadful piece of refereeing. THEN THE LAST-MINUTE GOALS AGAIN.
Any hopes that the sudden and unexpected mauling of Swansea last weekend was Rangers finally breaking free of misery’s vice-like grip on their 2019 were quickly dispelled by a gutless showing and comfortable home defeat to Blackburn on Good Friday – ten losses at Loftus Road in the league this season, equalling the club record. Travelling north to a team that’s lost fewer home games than anybody else, and is still well in the play-off hunt, had expectations as low as a snake’s cummerbund. A back four bedevilled by injury and illness featured winger Pawel Wszolek at right back, central midfielder Geoff Cameron at centre half with full back Darnell Furlong, and central midfielder Ryan Manning at left back. There have been episodes of Last of the Summer Wine less predictable than what was surely to follow here – just get that bathtub on wheels up to the top of the hill and watch it go.
But, in actual fact, Rangers, with Tomer Hemed and Nahki Wells together up front and Luke Freeman and Bright Osayi-Samuel on the wings, didn’t do too badly at all. An early Derby free kick whipped in from wide by set piece specialist Harry Wilson had Lumley diving right to make a save from a flicked header, but Rangers marched straight down the field and caused panic of their own in the Derby area with a low cross from Manning that was turned back to his own goalkeeper by a home defender amidst a scramble and hurried clear. Roos’ handling of the deliberate back pass ignored by referee David Webb.
Soon Nahki Wells was in for a clear sight of goal deflected wide and when a high press from the four man QPR midfield got Bright Osayi-Samuel into good ball with too many home players stranded the wrong side of the play Luke Freeman was able to shoot wide and the first rumblings of discontent were heard from the home fans. Freeman hit another similar shot wide just after the half hour and although Wszolek did get caught too high and infield five before the break and had to take a tactical yellow for a deliberate foul on Tom Lawrence the visitors remained relatively untroubled through to half time. The Rams deciding to take a QPR-style short corner with their final attack of the first half, with predictable results, only reaffirmed the unexpected direction of travel in the first 45 minutes of the game. QPR were the better team. Even they looked surprised.
Derby are often prone to going a bit floppy at this time of year. Successive managers have failed to prevent the melty man from darkening their door as spring became the summer and Frank Lampard has been no different so far – if ever those in charge of what passes for media coverage of this division would cease their rimming of him long enough to notice it. Four straight defeats through February, three wins in 13 games prior to this one, had seen the Rams drop out of the top six for the first time this season but thanks to the long, slow, torturous death of Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough reign they’re still well in the hunt. A favour from their arch enemies at the other end of the A52, and the win they ended up with from this game, actually moved Derby back to sixth in the table with two to play. Not that you’d really know it from their performance. For want of a better word, they were strange. Flat, slow, ponderous. Like a midtable team already on the beach. The home crowd’s agitations weren’t so much anger or exasperation as incredulity – what the hell are you doing? As an outsider looking in the preference for Martyn Waghorn up front over former Peterborough firebrand Jack Marriott seemed odd, and having sat through 69 minutes of Waghorn getting no change out of Geoff Cameron here I’m even more perplexed.
The loan players looked their best hope. Wilson tried a free kick from somewhere out near Strutt’s North Mill which Lumley saved reasonably easily, Mason Mount got a sight of goal but spooned a shot over while unbalanced. I thought QPR had a decent appeal for a penalty on 53 minutes but I haven’t seen it back since and in the ensuing Derby counter attack Scowen picked up a yellow card for a typical bit of ratting. Ten minutes later Luongo saw yellow for much the same. Luke Freeman was tackled and the ball went out of play. Derby throw in. In amongst the obvious calls there were, to put it mildly, some odd refereeing decisions.
QPR’s best chance of the match came at the midway point of the second half. Bright Osayi-Samuel, so often our outstanding attacking hope recently, beat Scott Malone in the air in the first instance and then along the ground for pace in the second. His low cross from the byline tempted Roos into a dive in vain leaving Tomer Hemed with an open goal tap in if only he’d set off slightly earlier or been half an inch taller.
That stirred something resembling a response from the home team, with Marriott now on up front and Lumley visibly delighted to see Mount’s one on one effort come back into his arms through a combination of his glove and the post. But QPR continued to play what I’d go as far as to say was pretty well. There was the usual time wasting and shithousery, which we’ve been all too ready to engage in away from home this season when drawing games – have some self-respect and ambition lads, with nothing to play for what exactly are we protecting a nil nil draw for? But that nil nil draw could easily have been a hard fought one nil win had substitute Matt Smith got better connection on a Wszolek cross on 81 minutes. When the former Fulham target man did get a full forehead on a cross in the last minute of normal time it beat Roos all ends up but missed the top corner.
Still, a point is not to be sniffed at when you’ve been as bereft as QPR of late. What came next was cruel.
First of all, nine minutes of added time. Nine. In actual fact, Webb ended up playing more than 12. Now this has been a bugbear of mine all season. In the Championship now, as soon as you take the lead in a game, or not even that if you’re an away side, the time wasting begins. Blatantly, flagrantly, obviously. Sometimes as little as 15 minutes into a game. Throw ins passed around between would-be takers, keepers swapping the sides of their goal kicks, prolonged debates over corners and free kicks, substitutes completing a lap of honour at the speed of Thora Hird before trudging off, goalies catching routine crosses and then falling theatrically to the ground in several stages like a collapsing ironing board. We’ve had it done to us, and we’ve done it to other teams. It’s cheating, it’s rife, and the referees have not only done nothing about it and allowed it to fester, they’ve actually been willing participants and facilitated it – refusing to issue yellow cards other than the odd token gesture here and there, as we saw with the Blackburn keeper on Friday, and spending all afternoon pointing at their watch only to add a nominal amount of time to the end of the game that bears no relation to anything that went before it. Including, it should be said, this same referee against this same opponent in the first meeting at Loftus Road before Christmas. “Prior to the equaliser he’d been another example of a referee enabling and encouraging time wasting by failing to do anything about some pretty flagrant clock running,” we said of him that day.
Then, suddenly, here, from nowhere, 12 minutes. Nine advertised and three more played on top of that. Is this the standard now? Good. Long overdue. I welcome our new ant overlords. But it wasn’t the rules we played to against Blackburn three days ago, and I’ll bet you a Coke it’s not the rules we’re playing to against Forest next Saturday. Twelve minutes. In a half of four substitutions and no goals. Have a fucking day off mate, we didn’t play 12 minutes at Aston Villa on New Year’s Day when the game was stopped for Lumley to have his face stitched back on.
Sadly, Webb was still very much at work. Three minutes into said chunk of stoppage time he awarded Derby a penalty for what was, pretty obviously, a fair tackle from Luke Freeman on Jayden Bogle. A disgraceful decision, clearly wrong, the second time this season Rangers have lost out to an injury time penalty that was the incorrect call. Joe Lumley’s been letting the weak spot kicks beat him recently so he was never likely to save a proper one from Wilson, buried into the corner for the game. Rangers have now lost out on five points by conceding penalties this season, and another four to goals scored in injury time.
Still an evening session left to play of course, during which Marriott curled one wide from range and then Derby were able to add a second goal in unfathomable circumstances. Trying to get a quick restart away and launch a hunt for an equaliser, Ryan Manning took a hurried throw in back to Joe Lumley who was miles out of his goal. The goalkeeper, perhaps believing the final whistle had blown, took a lazy, frustrated, wild swing at a bouncing ball he had plenty of time to take a touch on. This presented the home team with possession, men, and no defence between them and the goal, and they were able to basically walk the thing in from there. Wilson with a brace. Bizarre stuff. Lumley, like most of his team mates, needs this season to end soon.
There was so much of this game that spoke to so much of what has occurred at QPR over the past four months. The fact that down the A38 Rotherham were losing against Birmingham City, rendering Rangers officially safe regardless of the result, screamed loudest. As we’ve long suspected, saved by the incompetence of others, rather than anything we were able to do ourselves.
Subs not used: Carson, Evans, Cole, Huddlestone
Goals: Wilson 90+3 (penalty, won Bogle), 90+11 (assisted Marriott)
Bookings: Bennett 90+9 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 5; Wszolek 6, Furlong 6, Cameron 7, Manning 6; Osayi-Samuel 7 (Eze 82, -), Scowen 6, Luongo 6, Freeman 6; Wells 5 (Walker 90+6, -), Hemed 5 (Smith 73, 5)
Subs not used: Ingram, Shodipo, Phillips, Tilt
Bookings: Wszolek 41 (foul), Scowen 54 (foul), Luongo 67 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Geoff Cameron 7 I originally thought we’d bought Cameron as a centre back to help replace the outgoing Nedum Onuoha and Jack Robinson. This is the first time we’ve used him there properly, as opposed to him dropping in to help out, and his performance suggested we perhaps should have done it a bit more often.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 3 I thought there’d been some pretty weird and wonderful calls across the regulation 90 minutes anyway. What followed in a ridiculously protracted spell of stoppage time was just rank bad refereeing, plain and simple.
Attendance – 25,986 (700 QPR approx.)
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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