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QPR plummeting towards drop zone after Ipswich defeat – full match report
QPR plummeting towards drop zone after Ipswich defeat – full match report
Wednesday, 10th Feb 2010 17:19

QPR dropped another three league places, further ensconcing themselves in an increasingly frantic relegation battle, with a 2-1 home defeat against Ipswich Town at Loftus Road on Tuesday night.

In many ways the fact that QPR actually came out in the second half of Tuesday night’s match with Ipswich and made a bit of an effort to get something from the game actually made things worse. A second half performance sorely lacking in ability but full of effort and endeavour showed that this group of players can actually pull together and work hard for each other when the mood takes them. But that just further reinforces how often they have, technical term this one, tossed it off in recent weeks.

Sadly the vastly improved second half showing against Ipswich came after the worst first half I have ever personally seen at Loftus Road in my time as a supporter during which the visitors, fourth bottom and without a win in four before this game, scored twice and missed countless easy chances for further goals. That things improved after half time was largely irrelevant, Rangers had left themselves with far too much to do and will simply revert to type in the next game.

QPR were mind blowingly poor in this game. Misplaced passes and simple mistakes through lack of confidence are understandable, but Matthew Connolly, Damion Stewart and, on numerous occasions, Matt Hill all shanked simple balls straight into touch under no pressure at all at various points of this latest debacle. Professional footballers. Absolutely inexcusable and, I would go so far as to say, embarrassing to them and us.

The classic frustrated supporter line about being fired from our jobs if we were as bad as the players are at theirs never rang truer than at half time on Tuesday night. These spoilt, over played, egotistical, whinging, moaning bastards are not only fortunate to be earning a living as professional footballers, they’re fortunate to be doing anything other than shovelling shit off the streets. They should be abjectly ashamed of their “performances” over the last three months during which time they have fallen out with, and largely contributed to the departures of, two managers while getting steadily worse, and worse, less committed and, in several cases, fatter.

The guilty party for this fourth consecutive defeat was captained by Lee Cook in the absence of Mikele Leigertwood. The only slight positive for most of the evening was the performance of Cook, and he was the only player who could be bothered to make the effort to applaud a season low crowd of 10,904 at the final whistle. He played wide left with Hogan Ephraim wide right, Nigel Quashie and Alejandro Faurlin in the middle. A lightweight midfield that was completely obliterated by Ipswich for the entire first half. Up front Jay Simpson was recalled alongside Marcus Bent with Tamas Priskin denied permission to play against his parent club – had Ipswich seen him on Saturday at Peterborough they probably would have insisted he start under the terms of the loan agreement. At the back suspensions for Leigertwood and Ramage meant a switch to right back for Matt Connolly and a return at centre half for Damion Stewart alongside Kaspars Gorkss with Matt Hill at left back and Carl Ikeme in goal.

Ipswich left out David Healy who started against Middlesbrough on Saturday but is lacking match fitness. Manager Roy Keane instead partnered Daryl Murphy and Pablo Counago in attack with perennial scourge of QPR Jon Stead on the bench.

Gareth McAuley was left unmarked from their first corner of the night but could only head straight at Carl Ikeme and then took the lead shortly after that when Peters was left unmarked wide on the right and won a throw, which went to Walters unmarked, he passed the ball into Norris in the area who was so unmarked he had time to control, turn and hit the ball into the net via a hefty deflection. Park standard defending.

The visiting Town fans, travelling in big numbers as always, booed their former striker Marcus Bent when the teams were announced but the needn’t have bothered. Within four minutes Bent, on his home debut, was clutching something or other after landing awkwardly. He had a bit of a jog about for a couple more minutes, and then left the field with such indecent haste he hadn’t given his replacement Rowan Vine a chance to get dressed yet. Once again QPR’s fixation with terminally out of form, injury prone crocks in the belief that they will suddenly become free scoring pictures of health in Hoops comes back to bite them. Bent was abysmal at Peterborough on Saturday and lasted six minutes here. Nice money if you can get it. Still, I suppose somebody has to keep the Gemma Atkinson’s of this world in foreign holidays and fake tits.

Rangers finally put a bit of something together in the twelfth minute – completing ten passes down the left side culminating in a cross from Cook that was headed onto the roof of the net by Jay Simpson when he really should have done better but somehow managed to catch the ball with his shoulder rather than his forehead.

Play was soon flowing back towards the Loft End though and only Ipswich will know how they did not double their lead in the twentieth minute. Damion Stewart dropped deeper than the other defenders and played Daryl Murphy onside as he ran into the right channel. Having done so Stewart then allowed Murphy to turn and skip past him on the corner of the penalty box and cross to the back post where David Norris steamed in totally unmarked with a header that Carl Ikeme did superbly to save down low to his left at point blank range. The rebound fell straight to the feet of Counago on the edge of the six yard box but somehow, with the keeper laid on the ground and the goal gaping, he spooned the ball fractionally wide of the post via a deflection off Kaspars Gorkss.

Having survived that QPR launched a couple of attacks of their own. Terrific play by Lee Cook that took him from left to right across the face of the penalty area past three Ipswich players culminated with a reverse pass to Faurlin who was just about crowded out by the Ipswich defence that conceded a corner which was wasted. Faurlin had another effort deflected wide just before the half hour but having already scored one and missed another absolute sitter Ipswich were soon punching gaping holes in the QPR defence again.

QPR left Murphy unmarked at the back post from a corner but the Irishman completely mistimed everything and ended up bobbling the ball into Ikeme’s hands off the end of his nose. Then within 60 seconds Counago was allowed to cut a ball back from the byline unchallenged by Connolly and Murphy sidefooted a simple chance wide with the QPR fans now absolutely exasperated and making their feelings known.

The defending from QPR really had to be seen to be believed at times. Firstly the midfield was paper thin. Faurlin and in particular Quashie were not competing with Garvan and Norris initially, engaging them high enough up the field or tracking their runs into the box. Ephraim too was constantly allowing his man to run into positions at the back post unmarked. The back four was similarly tackle shy and never one marked either Murphy or Counago properly. As the back line became more ragged Matthew Connolly was rightly booked for a lunge on owain Garvan.

Things came to a head when another routine straight from Billy Smart’s circus in our own penalty area ended when Quashie, under no pressure at all, lazily thumped the ball straight into the R Block and was greeted with howls of rage and indignation from the home crowd. Harford removed Quashie at half time – it would have been cruel to him and what remains of the paying public to permit him to continue. Another winning move in the transfer market.

Ipswich doubled their lead little under ten minutes before half time. Grant Leadbitter had fired a long range shot over the bar and with Carl Ikeme continued policy of launching every goal kick straight down the field onto the head of Delaney or McAuley the R’s were soon on the back foot again. Peters passed a ball infield from wide on the right to once again find Leadbitter completely free of challenges in the middle of the field 30 yards from the QPR goal. He elected against the shot this time, instead teeing up Colback marauding forward unchecked from right back, he crossed from the corner of the penalty area in front of the static QPR defenders and Daryl Murphy finally found the target with a crisp shot past Ikeme and into the net.

The second goal was enough for Flavio Briatore who walked out of the directors box early for the second home game running, once again running a gauntlet of laughter, jeers and fierce abuse from the QPR supporters. Anger in the form of chants later turned on sporting director Gianni Paladini who, we assume, has been responsible for the ridiculously long and lucrative contracts given out to some very poor players since the takeover and recommending some of the numerous failed idiots who have had a bash at managing us lately. He’s been very lucky to avoid public criticism so far and on Tuesday evening his luck, deservedly, ran out.

Rangers had two chances to pull a goal back in the closing moments of the half. Only Damion Stewart will know how he failed to find the target from a beautifully flighted Alejandro Faurlin free kick and then when Cook combined well with Ephraim to produce a decent cross Rowan Vine fired high over the bar to rather sum up his own latest abject performance. I’m increasingly coming round to the idea that Vine has an evil twin brother who, jealous of his sibling’s football ability and wealth, has killed him and buried him under a patio somewhere so that he can assume his identity. This lumbering oaf that currently wanders around aimlessly with ‘8 – Vine’ on the back of his shirt is so far removed from the player who used to do the same prior to a bad leg injury it’s hard to believe it’s the same person. Perhaps it’s not.

Harford took drastic action at half time removing Hogan Ephraim and Nigel Quashie and replacing them with Akos Buzsaky, finally given a chance in the centre of midfield, and Adel Taarabt. The impact was immediate. Taarabt got himself on the ball, skinned two Ipswich players and laid a good through ball into the right channel for Simpson to run onto a smash high and hard at the goal from an acute angle. Lee-Barrett in the Ipswich goal thrust up his arms and palmed the ball out for a corner – his first serious save of the game.

For all the improvements the change in personnel and attitude undoubtedly brought though Ipswich still looked as though they could pick us off at will. When Faurlin carelessly lost possession in the centre circle on the hour it set up a three man Ipswich break that ended when Leadbitter, Town’s best player by some distances, laid in Murphy who forced a good save from Ikeme with a low shot aimed for the far corner.

Spared a third goal against Rangers set about halving the deficit with a well worked corner routine. Lee-Barrett came rushing to the edge of the area to collect a long free kick from Buzsaky but saw the ball headed out of his hands by Gareth McAuley and narrowly wide of the post for a corner. Lee Cook and Adel Taarabt worked a routine under the Q Block with Cook taking responsibility to deliver a low cross to the near post that was controlled and fired home from close range by Jay Simpson. The importance of Simpson, eleven goals now this season, cannot be overstated to a team struggling for goals. Give him a chance in the penalty area and his conversion rate and coolness under pressure is impressive – two chances here and one goal.

Ipswich cannot be too high on confidence themselves bearing in mind their league position and recent results. The goal seemed to make them a little nervous and they started to engage in some pretty cynical time wasting tactics, particularly Lee-Barrett in goal. They also picked up two quick bookings – Norris and Walters both saw yellow for cynical fouls on Adel Taarabt who, while clearly still pagging weight, was much more like his old self in the second half here.

As the time ticked into the 70s Ipswich missed two golden chances end all those nerves and put the game beyond doubt. Jon Walters headed a Leadbitter free kick over the bar when, yet a-bloody-gain the QPR defence failed to mark correctly at a set piece, and then David Norris missed an absolute sitter from close range after Murphy had carved the QPR defence apart with a cross he should never have been able to get away from close to the corner flag.

QPR twice went close to equalising five minutes from time. Some direct play down the right wing from Akos Buzsaky ended with a low cross to the near post that Damien Delaney thrust a desperate leg towards and sent flashing wide of his own goal. The roof probably would have come off Loftus Road had the former QPR man put through his own net there, or if Lee Cook’s resulting corner that swept high and powerfully under the Ipswich crossbar not been desperately tipped away by Lee-Barrett scrambling back and panicking somewhat.

Keane sent on Healy for Counago midway through the second half and the Northern Irishman curled a shot wide of the post from distance with Ikeme scrambling across goal as time tcked down. Four minutes of injury time, added mainly for time wasting by the visitors after QPR had scored, was not long enough for QPR to find the elusive equaliser and Ipswich are now just a point behind the R’s down at the bottom end of the table. The news that Heidar Helguson had scored again for Watford and Paulo Sousa had lifted Swansea to fourth just made it all the more galling.

It would be tempting to suggest that something of a corner was turned at half time on Tuesday night. Clearly, after making all three of his substitutions before the start of the second period and then lambasting his players’ performances as ‘unfit for a professional football club’, Mick Harford was not particularly impressed by what he’d seen in a first half that was as bad as any I’ve ever seen at Loftus Road in two decades of die hard support.

Whatever Big Mick said at the break seemed to have the desired affect. QPR had more determination in the second half, more attacking intent, more flair and creativity. They worked hard, closed down, engaged opponents, scored a goal for the first time in three and a half matches and actually looked like they gave a bit of a toss. You would hope it was a penny dropping moment for our shambolic team and they will simply go out onto the field at Coventry on Saturday and play that way again – if ever there was an example of how many problems with confidence and ability can be overcome through sheer bloody mindedness and hard graft it was the second 45 minutes on Tuesday.

But they won’t will they? We thought this after a late surge in defeat against Sheffield United. Come 3pm on Saturday it will just be back to more of the same nonsense we saw in the first half against Ipswich. For all the improvements made in the second half Town still could have scored two or three more after the break and should have been four up by half time anyway. I fully expect this sorry group of players to simply revert to type and slip quietly to another comfortable defeat on Saturday. The players, along with the board and management, are an embarrassment to QPR and everything the club stands for – although what exactly that is, apart from sacking managers, ripping off the average fan in the street and serving up farcical dross twice a week, is not clear any more.

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QPR: Ikeme 6, Connolly 4, Stewart 3, Gorkss 4, Hill 2, Ephraim 4 (Buzsaky 46, 6), Quashie 2 (Taarabt 46, 6), Faurlin 4, Cook 6, Bent - (Vine 10, 4), Simpson 6
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Balanta, Borrowdale, German
Booked: Connolly (foul)
Goals: Simpson 66 (assisted Cook)

Ipswich: Lee-Barrett 6, Peters 7, Delaney 7, McAuley 7, Colback 7, Walters 6, Leadbitter 8, Norris 8, Garvan 7 (Rosenior 65, 6), Counago 6 (Healy 65, 6), Daryl Murphy 7 (Stead 85, -)
Subs Not Used: Brian Murphy, Balkestein, Edwards, Quinn
Booked: Norris (foul), Walters (foul)

Goals Norris 8 (assisted Walters), Daryl Murphy 38 (assisted Colback)

QPR Star Man – Lee Cook 6 The best of a poor bunch. Put the effort in, came infield looking for work, actually looked threatening to the Ipswich defence and set up the goal with a nice cross. One of the few to come out with any credit.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex) 8 Apart from one 30 second period late in the second half when he got caught up with some play acting from Taarabt and Rosenior I thought he controlled the game brilliantly only producing cards when necessary, allowing play to flow, not being too fussy and generally showing a lot of common sense. Allowed some physical contact which is a good thing, and ignored most of the diving and cheating that went on with a smile on his face which quickly saw it come to a stop.

Attendance: 10,940 (1800 Ipswich approx) Plenty from Ipswich as ever to boost the crowd, but still QPR lowest league gate here for quite some time. The QPR fans were understandably angry in the first half but backed their team in the second which shows the boos and jeers will quickly die away if only the players would put a shift in and give us something to cheer about. We want to back and support the team, if only the players will give us a team worth shouting for.

Photo: Action Images

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