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QPR's losing run stretched by lucky Sky Blues - full match report
QPR's losing run stretched by lucky Sky Blues - full match report
Saturday, 13th Feb 2010 21:11

For once QPR could actually come away from a game saying they did not deserve to lose on Saturday - but lose they duly did, 1-0 again, this time to Coventry City.

Well what is there left to say? What can you say? We play well we get beaten, we play badly we get beaten, we try hard we get beaten, we hardly try at all we get beaten, we play long ball we get beaten, we play passing football we get beaten, we play defensively and get beaten and we try and attack and get beaten. We dominate a match from start to finish against a crap side, creating several very presentable opportunities along the way, and we get beaten by a shot deflected in off our own player’s arse.

I would normally sit down and write the match report on a Sunday evening after some time to reflect but to be quite honest I am sick to the back teeth of Queens Park Rangers Football Club at the moment. It swallows my money like a black hole and dominates my thoughts like a big throbbing tumour on the side of my head and I do not want to have time to reflect. I do not want to think of how I am going to sum up our latest defeat in 4000 words all day on Sunday. So here it is, Coventry match report, on a Saturday night, fresh from two hours on the M1, with a little thunder cloud over my head.

QPR were not that bad on Saturday, in fact this was our best performance for some weeks. There was a decent work rate and effort from the players for the majority of the game from what I could see and we actually created some very clear goal scoring chances which is more than we have been able to do in most games recently. However a lack of confidence coursed through the team throughout. I often think you can almost see a bad mood or atmosphere as you walk into a room sometimes and you can almost reach out and touch the lack of self belief in our team. The passes are tentative and weak rather than purposefully struck, the chances are snatched at and the players are grumpy with each other and themselves.

What they need is a bit of luck – a deflected goal, an own goal, a goal bundled in from a scramble – and then a big backs to the wall effort with the fans behind them resulting in a victory and a standing ovation at the end. Just to boost confidence and turn the mood around a bit. What they got on Saturday was a highly fortuitous goal against, that came from Coventry’s first attack after Rangers had swung four quick fire corners under the City bar for no rewards. It is hard to feel sorry for our overpaid, mercenary playing squad most of the time but you had to sympathise with them at that moment.

The eleven charged with ending the division’s worst winless run was changed slightly again by manager Mick Harford following a Tuesday night defeat against Ipswich in which QPR looked like they’d never played the game before in the first half before rallying in the second. Akos Buzsaky was recalled, though on the right wing rather than the middle of midfield where he made such an impact as a sub against the Tractor Boys. Matthew Connolly moved into midfield next to Faurlin instead of the hapless Nigel Quashie, Lee Cook captained the side from wide on the left. Up front Jay Simpson was partnered by Tamas Priskin. At the back Peter Ramage returned from suspension at right back with Gorkss and Stewart in the middle and Matt Hill at left back. Carl Ikeme was the goalkeeper.

Coventry thankfully failed in their Friday quest to bring persistent scourge of QPR Jon Stead in on loan from Ipswich in time for the game, but did include West Ham striker Freddie Sears among their substitutes after a loan deal was struck during the week, and another striker who loves a goal against QPR Clinton Morrison started up front alongside Fredy Eastwood. Former QPR loanee Martin Cranie started in defence.

Things did not begin well with Faurlin panicking in possession right from the kick off and sending an awkward back pass right the way back to Ikeme. Eastwood and Morrison raced to close him down, buoyed by a four game unbeaten run that included an impressive victory against Nottingham Forest on this ground on Tuesday, and the keeper had to stay calm and trick and turn his way out of the danger and clear.

However QPR soon started to enjoy a bit of success at the right end of the pitch. They forced four quick fire corners around the five minute mark. Lee Cook took the first and Damion Stewart looked all set to power his well flighted delivery home at the back post until Coventry keeper Keiran Westwood flung up an arm and sent the ball flying behind for another set piece. Buzsaky hit the first man with that one, and the next, but at the third attempt sent the ball flying to the back post where Matt Connolly narrowly failed to convert the half chance under heavy pressure from his marker.

This was a very encouraging start from Rangers, who for all their recent troubles do look bloody good in that red and black hooped away kit it must be said. Of course when things are not going you’re way in football, the bad luck just seems to keep coming. In the tenth minute Clinton Morrison beat Gorkss to a long ball up to the edge of the area when he really should not have been allowed to do so. The ball dropped off Morrison’s shoulders into the path of City midfielder Gary Deegan who hit his 20 yard shot well enough, but I’m sure would even admit himself he was fortunate to see it smack against Damion Stewart, completely wrong foot Carl Ikeme and nestle agonisingly in the bottom corner of the net.

I expected our heads to go down and another Nottingham Forest style disaster to ensue from here but to their credit the players showed some gallows spirit. Two minutes after conceding Akos Buzsaky’s low cross bounced straight through to Westwood with Jay Simpson, who had an excellent first half, narrowly missing a near post connection that would have diverted it in. Then after referee David Foster had disgusted the Coventry players by awarding a free kick to the R’s right on the edge of the penalty area Buzsaky beat the wall and goalkeeper with a curling effort but saw his shot fly a foot or so wide of the post.

The game adopted a frantic, end to end feel around the 20 minute mark. Leon Barnett used his pace and leggy build to get back at Tamas Priskin and tackle him fairly and firmly in the penalty area after Lee Cook’s clever through ball had set the Hungarian away. Coventry broke from there and Gorkss came up with a brave block on the edge of the area as Deegan shot for goal with power and direction once more. Now back in possession Rangers worked the ball to Connolly in midfield and he set Simpson away into the same channel Priskin had run through a moment before – Simpson checked back searching for his favoured right foot upon reaching the penalty area allowing City to smuggle the ball away for a corner which Gorkss headed over the top.

It looked at this stage like the players were going to defy a rutted and bare playing surface to produce an exciting, end to end encounter but sadly the attacking intensity died a sorry death from this point onwards. Coventry, as they always do, wasted time at every possible opportunity and QPR lacked a sufficient cutting edge to break down their physical back four.

A long Buzsaky free kick into the penalty area that was only partially cleared and hit back towards goal from distance by Damion Stewart was as good as it got for the final 15 minutes of the half – and it will be a very cold day in hell before Damion Stewart scores on the half volley from outside the area I am certain of that.

Five minutes before the break referee Foster, who had a really excellent first half, incurred the wrath of the home crowd by showing a yellow card to home captain Stephen Wright a yellow card for a cynical and deliberate trip on Lee Cook as he skipped away down the line on the counter attack. Cook was rightly furious, and Wright was rightly booked because he knew exactly what he was doing, it was completely deliberate and he made no attempt to disguise it. The outpouring of grief and anger at the decision from the home ranks was mystifying really because it was quite clear that Wright fully intended to stop an attack by chopping Cook to the floor and a yellow card was the obvious choice. Nevertheless the home fans and players bayed for yellow cards after every subsequent QPR foul and the referee coped very, very badly with this and totally lost the plot in the second half.

Wright it should probably be pointed out at this point was sent off in the previous two meetings between these sides, for two yellow cards on both occasions, and the FA extended his ban earlier this season after a sending off at Loftus Road because he threw his captain’s armband at the referee’s head on the way off.

At half time we had the bizarre sight of a QPR fan kicking a ball at a giant sky blue coloured elephant for money set to a backdrop of actor Adam Woodyatt talking about the Haiti Earthquake appeal which drew a rather needless but rather hilarious shout of “fuck off Beale” from one member of the travelling army behind the goal. Still, good on him for actually arranging something worthwhile to help.

Anyway, yes, second half. Adel Taarabt was stripped and ready for action at half time but was strangely left running up and down the touchline in his kit for the first 25 minutes of the second half. Rangers started on the front foot – Jay Simpson was denied what looked like a clear free kick after being upended on the edge of the penalty area, though he really should have slipped Lee Cook in with a pass to his left before being felled.

When Cook did get the ball to feet on the edge of the area around the hour mark he was chopped down – Cook took the free kick himself and although he struck it well enough and beat the wall Westwood was well positioned to make a comfortable save.

The R’s also tried a couple of long throws from Peter Ramage which were both aimed at Damion Stewart at the near post – the Jamaican jumped for neither of them and Coventry were able to clear their lines. This infuriating routine was repeated on three further occasions before full time. What is the point in Stewart running all the way down the field to try and get a head to a semi-long throw if he’s not even going to both jumping when he gets there? Words fail me sometimes.

Words also started to fail me with our match referee Mr Foster. After such a good first half he totally lost the plot after the break. After the Simpson incident in the first attack of the half he then waved play on when Faurlin caught a high boot in the face for an obvious free kick. He angered the home fans still further by failing to card Matt Connolly for a foul in midfield, then produced four bookings one after the other in a ten minute spell in a far from dirty game.

From memory and dodgy notes made at the time Gorkss was booked for a lunging tackle in midfield as he attempted to retake his position at the back during a Coventry counter attack from a QPR free kick, Faurlin got his for dissent when he slammed the ball into the ground after being incorrectly penalised for a perfectly fair ball winning tackle, Matt Connolly did finally get his yellow for tripping Cranie and was lucky not to get a rid when he lunged in on Deegan no more than a minute later but despite Connolly holding his hands up and effectively giving himself up the referee didn’t even give the free kick. For their part Coventry had Martin Cranie carded for a foul on Peter Ramage that the QPR man made the most of. Five cards in the game then, and really only Wright deserved his.

Following that foul on Ramage tight to the touchline 20 minutes from time Rangers came close to bagging an equaliser. Lee Cook took the free kick, swinging a devilish delivery into the near post where Damion Stewart met the ball with a firm and powerful headed that seemed destined for the bottom corner until Westwood miraculously tipped it around the post one handed. He may be an irritating, time wasting little git but Westwood is an outstanding shot stopped and that was a truly world class save – no exaggeration.

Harford sent on Antonio German to add some power and enthusiasm to the attack instead of Tamas Priskin who was pretty average once again, though nowhere near as bad as he had been on his debut at Peterborough. He also introduced Adel Taarabt but after trying him left, right and down the middle in the final 20 minutes it was clear that a more direct style of play – dictated by German’s introduction, lack of confidence, increased desperation and a poor pitch – wasn’t going to suit him and I cannot remember us actually giving him the ball to his feet in an area where he could hurt Coventry once. Consequently he was totally anonymous.

Coventry’s attacks were few and far between in the second half but they seemed reasonably comfortable in soaking up whatever bumbling, fumbling, hap hazard attacks QPR put together. A rare shot on Ikeme’s goal came from full back Stephen Wright qith a quarter of an hour left when he let fly with an improbable 45 yard volley that had the keeper staggering back nervously before he caught the ball reasonably easily. Coleman sent on new boy Sears to try and pep up their attacking threat midway through the second half but they still posed QPR few problems, while rarely looking in much trouble themselves.

It was QPR’s turn to curse a match official, who had infuriated both sets of players at various points of the second half, three minutes from time when they worked Faurlin and Simpson through on the edge of the penalty area only to be pulled back ten yards for a free kick they didn’t want. Lee Cook took it again, this time curling it hopelessly over the bar. When Foster interrupted QPR’s next attack for treatment to two minor head injuries, after earlier playing on when Faurlin took a boot to the face, tempers were starting to fray.

When the fourth official raised a board saying four minutes would be added some of the 600-odd QPR fans started to head for the exits, but as it turned out the best chance for Rangers to take something from the game was still to come and Coventry could have made it two in the additional time as well. A ball into the left channel of the penalty area deep into stoppage time was pushed in behind Barnett by German and the youngster then lashed a peach of a cross right across the face of goal and through the six yard box. Jay Simpson seemed certain to turn it into the empty net from a yard out at the back post but under heavy challenge from a Coventry defender failed to make contact with the ball and it sailed out. Without seeing the replay I cannot say whether the cross was behind Simpson, too fast for him, or if indeed he was fouled as it looked to me at the time.

Whatever happened, the ball didn’t go in the net and Coventry could easily have made it two when they stormed out on the break, boasting a heavy numerical advantage against the two QPR defenders who hadn’t been pushed up front looking for an equaliser. The ball was played to Eastwood, completely free and unmarked in the penalty area, and he wastefully drilled it into the side netting with many City fans around the ground celebrating what they believed was a killer second goal.

The final whistle followed a short time later at which point the QPR players, almost to a man, turned and marched straight down the tunnel with minimal handshaking and no acknowledgement of the away fans whatsoever. Lee Cook, Matt Hill, Peter Ramage and Carl Ikeme did at least come to the away end and offer applause, and were applauded back in return. Now I have never been one to get on a particularly high horse about the players clapping the fans at the end of the match, frankly why fans think they should be able to sit there and boo and slag the players off for 90 minutes and then get a clap at the end of it I have never really understood, but I thought the attitude of the players currently really shone through in that moment. Game over, money in the bank, let’s get off home. It really angered me, 600 QPR fans went to Coventry regardless of that team’s abject performances over the last three months and sat there in the bloody freezing cold while the useless sods lost again and only four of them could even be bothered to acknowledge we were there.

We just don’t seem to be able to click at the moment, even when we shade games as we did this one we still find a way to lose. Buzsaky was very good against Ipswich, pretty poor here. Gorkss and Faurlin were both terrible in the first half here, and good in the second. Taarabt was great against Ipswich, anonymous here. Simpson had a great first half against Coventry and was marked out of the second. We just don’t seem to be able to get enough players playing well all at once.

The big problem we have is that we are currently losing our easier games – Ipswich, Blackpool, Scunthorpe, Peterborough and Coventry are games you need to be taking points from in a relegation battle. We were not good on Saturday by any stretch of the imagination – but we were better than Coventry in my opinion – the stats show QPR with 63 per cent possession and ten shots to Coventry’s four to back that up. But the most important stat is the score and we contrived through bad luck, lack of ability, low confidence, low morale and, in the final 20 minutes, rank poor organisation, team shape and tactics to lose once again. It’s now 21 games without a clean sheet and one win from 17 games.

While we go on this massive losing run through this set of fixtures a frightening run of matches with Middlesbrough, West Brom, Sheffield United and Swansea looms large on the horizon. Where on earth are we going to get a win from? I just can’t pick a game at the moment. If we don’t take a victory from one of the two home games we have this week then I’d actually be surprised to see us beat anybody between now and May.

We’re League One bound at the moment make no mistake.

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Coventry: Westwood 8, Wright 5, Barnett 6, Wood 6, Cranie 6, Baker 5,Deegan 6, Clingan 5, McIndoe 6, Eastwood 4, Morrison 5 (Sears 67, 5)
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Hussey, Walker, Grandison, Jeffers
Booked: Wright (foul), Cranie (foul)
Goals: Deegan 10 (assisted Morrison)

QPR: Ikeme 5, Ramage 4, Stewart 5, Gorkss 6, Hill 5, Buzsaky 5 (Taarabt 67, 5), Connolly 6, Faurlin 5, Cook 6, Simpson 6, Priskin 5 (German 55, 6)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Vine, Quashie, Balanta, Borrowdale
Booked: Connolly (foul), Faurlin (dissent), Gorkss (foul)

QPR Star Man – Jay Simpson 6 Worked tirelessly trying to create chances for himself all afternoon with minimal support from Priskin. Caused Coventry real problems in the first half so they doubled up on him in the second lessening his impact. Whether that was a sitter at the end or not I cannot be sure without seeing a replay. Lee Cook the only other player really pushing for the award I would say.

Referee: David Foster (Tyne & Wear) 5 Absolutely excellent in the first half, absolutely dire in the second half. He lost the plot basically after the Stephen Wright yellow card, which was the correct decision. He showed four yellows in the second half when none would have been fine, he gave two QPR corners that were clearly goal kicks, he blew for fouls when they weren’t or an advantage could have been played and waved play on through blatant assaults. He just lost it basically, and he had been so good for the first 45.

Attendance: 15,247 (600 QPR approx) Barely any atmosphere at all as we have come to expect in this worst example of all the new grounds – however Coventry fans do seem to have massed their more vocal and vociferous support in the corner to the right of the away end which certainly helps. The pathetic “good afternoon Tesco stand” introduction over the public address prior to kick off was laughable. QPR are down to the die hards now, and I can barely recall a single chant in the entire game sung by more than a handful of people at the back in the entire match. Sitting there watching the overriding feeling was similar to one I’ve felt before sitting at hospital bedsides.

Photo: Action Images

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