Hooper in charge of Rovers visit - Referee
Friday, 4th Oct 2019 14:32 by Clive Whittingham
Premier League referee Simon Hooper is dropping down to the Championship this Saturday for QPR’s home game with Blackburn.
Referee >>> Simon Hooper (Wiltshire), QPR are on a seven-match winless run with this official.
Assistants >>> Daniel Leach (Oxfordshire) and James Mainwaring (Lancashire)
Fourth Official >>> Sam Purkiss (London)
Not good enough, as it turned out, for the winner, but that Smyth-Freeman combination had at least brought a richly deserved equaliser a few moments before. Derby, and Andre Wisdom in particular, had long since decided the only way to achieve brief respite from Smyth’s persistent niggle and speedy counter attacks was to whack him. Referee Simon Hooper, for some reason, had also long since decided that they would be allowed to do this without receiving a yellow card. But when Wisdom, yet again, felled Smyth tight to the byline it gave Freeman a chance to chip a cross to the near post where Massimo Luongo made the most of a defensive sleep to power in a header unmarked. Freeman moving back ahead of Wolves' duo Douglas and Jota in the division's assists chart in the process - this was his eleventh.
It may have come late, it may only have been an equaliser, but it was no more than QPR deserved. They had 60% of the ball and 21 shots to Derby’s four. Smyth set the tone early, crunching into Tom Lawrence to win the ball back in his own half, then charging forward with it at such pace and with such purpose that all Craig Forsyth could do was deliberately haul him to the ground for a yellow card so obvious even Simon Hooper had to administer it.
What seemed like a fairly blatant tug by Keogh on Matt Smith as he attacked a cross at the back post was waved away by Hooper, like so many other penalty appeals by QPR’s big target man have been this season. He does chuck himself around, he does pull and push as much as he gets pulled and pushed, but Keogh was wrong side, knew it and definitely hauled him down. I think I could name 750,000 things more likely than Matt Smith getting a penalty (QPR haven’t had a spot kick since the opening day of the season) and the impression that referees have a preconceived idea about him and judge incidents with that bias is really grating.
QPR: Smithies 6; Furlong 7 (Wszolek 74, 6), Onuoha 6, Robinson 6, Bidwell 6; Scowen 6, Luongo 6, Freeman 7; Smyth 8, Smith 5 (Lynch 86, -), Washington 4 (Eze 60, 7)
Subs not used: Cousins, Ingram, Manning, Perch
Goals: Luongo 86 (assisted Freeman)
Bookings: Scowen 90+3 (foul)
Derby: Carson 6; Wisdom 5, Keogh 6, Davies 6, Forsyth 6; Huddlestone 5, Ledley 5 (Johnson 15, 5); Weimann 7, Palmer 8 (Vydra 83, -), Lawrence 5; Nugent 6 (Jerome 71, 5)
Subs not used: Anya, Pearce, Roos, Hanson
Goals: Weimann 38 (assisted Palmer)
Bookings: Forsyth 15 (foul), Weimann 82 (foul), Lawrence 87 (foul)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 5 First and foremost, I thought he was incredibly lenient on several Derby players who, consistently stripped by Smyth for pace, resorted to fairly blatantly trying to boot him out of the match. Andre Wisdom, it seemed, would have been let off with a warning if he’d pulled a gun on the little QPR winger – no booking at all, despite several hacks at him. Secondly, I hate it when referees obviously get pre-conceived ideas in their mind and make decisions accordingly. Matt Smith pulls as much as he is pulled, and is prone to throwing himself to ground in the penalty box, so gets little sympathy from referees, but he was obviously pulled back in the second half by a defender who’d ended up on the wrong side of his man and knew it. Hooper was waving an obvious spot kick away before the incident had even happened.
Cardiff: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Ralls; Mendez-Laing, Damour (Ward 82), Hoilett (Manga 82); Zohore
Subs not used: Richards, Tomlin, Halford, Murphy, Bogle
Goals: Hoilett 22 (unassisted), Bamba 45+1 (assisted Hoilett)
QPR: Smithies 7, Furlong 7, Caulker 3 (Wszolek 72, 6), Onuoha 5, Bidwell 6, Mackie 6 (Sylla 61, 6), Luongo 7. Scowen 7, Freeman 8, Smith 6, Washington 5 (Ngbakoto 70, 5)
Subs not used: Lua Lua, Baptiste, Robinson, Ingram
Goals: Smith 15 (assisted Freeman)
Bookings: Furlong 38 (foul)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 7 Continuing a slightly disconcerting trend at the start of this season for calm, competent, assured refereeing with few cards. It’ll never last.
During the height of their first half dominance Brighton had two goals disallowed for offside – the first, from Murray, fairly clear, the second, from Hemed, tight as a mouse’s waistcoat – before they found the net with two legitimate ones. Onuoha headed wide of his own near post under pressure, Robinson headed another dangerous cross clear at the back post. The idea that QPR were struggling to hang onto the coat tails of their visitors furthered by James Perch’s latest disgusting, hideous lunge on an opponent in first half stoppage time that should have been a red card but, unbelievably, drew only a stern word from referee Simon Hooper.
There were chances for QPR. Conor Washington streaked away into space from halfway and fired over, Manning curled a shot towards the far corner and Stockdale saved, Washington had a shot blocked when a long throw fell his way, Perch also saw an effort blocked before it reached goal. Lewis Dunk - like Lynch an apparently very good Championship centre half but prone to moments of brain fart potent enough to clear a room – deflected a bouncing ball in the penalty away with his upper arm for a very decent penalty shout which Hooper ignored.
QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 5, Onuoha 5, Lynch 5 (Sylla 77, 5), Robinson 5 (Ngbakoto 66, 6); Luongo 7, Hall 6, Manning 8; Morrison 4 (Freeman 66, 8); Washington 6, Smith 7
Subs not used: Bidwell, Goss, Ingram, Wszolek
Goals: Smith 74 (assisted Freeman)
Brighton: Stockdale 6; Bruno 6, Hünemeier 6, Dunk 5, (Tomori 45, 6) Pocognoli 7; Knockaert 7 (Norwood 83, -) Stephens 8, Sidwell 6, March 7; Murray 7, Hemed 5 (Murphy 78, 6)
Subs not used: Mäenpää, Skalak, Forren, Akpom
Goals: Murray 58 (assisted Hemed), Pocognoli 64 (direct free kick, won Murray)
Bookings: Pocognoli 86 (time wasting)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 6 I really wanted to give him a high mark, simply because I much prefer this style of refereeing where cards are kept in the pocket and the game is given every chance. But Perch should have had a red card for his standard wild lunge, Onuoha certainly should have been booked for a bad tackle late on, and in the end the only yellow handed out was for time wasting and though it’s certainly nice to see that finally being punished it felt a bit wrong to see somebody booked for that when, Perch in particular, had been left off with something far worse. Throw in the QPR penalty appeal and it doesn’t sound great, but I came away initially thinking he’d done quite well.
There were other chances for the visitors too. Prolonged pressure around the midway point of the first half saw Gallagher shoot just wide, though he had been flagged. Later the target man claimed a high boot in the area – one of those you’d probably get on the halfway line, but referee Simon Hooper said no penalty.
Mide Shodipo, who surely should have been starting this game, added some actual pace, purpose, movement and tempo – previously entirely absent – to the attack and it as from his cross that Ngbakoto took a dive in the area and was awarded a generous penalty by Hooper. The days of August where Rangers got a penalty every game are long gone, as it seems are the two players who scored them so freely, so it was left to Jake Bidwell who deserves credit not only for confidently smacking it in under pressure, but also putting his hand up to have a go with it in the first place. Bidwell was ok on Saturday, which is high praise in this overall team performance.
Perch’s wild challenge on 72 minutes deserved a yellow at least, but Hooper let him off, and I’d have booked him for his left footed speculator from 30 yards as well which set off at speed towards the old Television Centre. How did he honestly think that was going to go?
QPR: Ingram 5; Perch 5, Onuoha 6, Lynch 4, Bidwell 5; Luongo 4 (Cousins 82, -), Hall 6, Eze 7 (Ngbakoto 18, 5); Gladwin 4 (Shodipo 56, 6), Wszolek 6, Mackie 6
Subs not used: El Khayati, Lumley, Manning, Hamalainen
Goals: Bidwell 61 (penalty, won Ngbakoto)
Blackburn: Raya 6; Marshall 6, Greer 6, Williams 6, Mulgrew 6; Feeney 7, Akpan 6 (Nyambe 74, 6), Lowe 6, Bennett 7; Gallagher 7 (Brown 90+3, -), Graham (Stokes 87, -)
Subs not used: Steele, Tomlinson, Mahoney, Travis
Goals: Lynch og 7 (assisted Bennett/Gallagher); Feeney 58 (assisted Gallagher)
Bookings: Marshall 90 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Jamie Mackie 6 Usual reasons.
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 6 Marshall booking correct, Perch should have had one as well, penalty was incredibly soft so marks off there, not too bad overall.
QPR flickered into life occasionally. Tjaronn Chery, who I’m also not convinced is offering enough away from home to justify his first name on the team sheet status, got into a dust up with Jonathan Hogg midway through the first half which referee Simon Hooper could have let go with a word on the run but elected to book both players for. Massimo Luongo shot wide after 26 minutes, but he was largely anonymous and the comparison between him and his fellow countryman Aaron Moy, who was on the same round the world international trip a fortnight ago but scored a winner at Leeds last week and was completely dominant here, summed up the difference between the sides.
The introduction of Sylla livened things up, Onuoha had a similar effort to his Wigan goal blocked away by the crowd, but they’d left it too late to put up resistance and Huddersfield weren’t as troubled as the scoreline suggests. Frustration started to manifest itself in yellow cards – Polter for a series of fouls, Borysiuk for deliberately interrupting a counter attack with a cynical shirt pull, Sylla very harshly for trying to retrieve the ball from Huddersfield sub Dean Whitehead who received no punishment for his obvious attempt to waste time.
Huddersfield: Ward 6; Smith 7, Hudson 6, Schindler 6, Lowe 6; Mooy 8, Hogg 6; van La Parra 7, Palmer 8 (Whitehead 86, -), Kachunga 8 (Bunn 81, -); Wells 7 (Hefele 90+1, -)
Subs not used: Scannell, Coleman, Cranie, Payne
Goals: Palmer 14 (assisted van La Parra), Kachunga 62 (assisted Smith)
Bookings: Hogg 21 (unsporting), Hudson 44 (foul)
QPR: Smithies 6; Onuoha 4, Caulker 5, Hall 5, Bidwell 4; Henry 4 (Borysiuk 46, 6), Luongo 4; Cousins 5, Chery 5, Shodipo 5 (Sylla 73, 7); Washington 4 (Polter 46, 6)
Subs not used: Lynch, Ingram, Wszolek, El Khayati
Goals: Sylla 76 (assisted Chery)
Bookings: Chery 21 (unsporting), Polter 87 (repetitive fouling), Borysiuk 90+1 (foul), Sylla 90+3 (Unsporting)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 6 Decent, if a little fussy. The booking for Sylla in injury time for trying to get the ball off Dean Whitehead and stop him running off downfield with it to waste time was a joke, particularly as Whitehead escaped punishment.
The hosts took the initiative following conceding the opening goal, and after a period of semi-sustained pressure, were rewarded with a fine equaliser ten minutes later. Middlesbrough failed to deal with a Faurlin ball into the box, and it fell to Mackie, back to goal on the edge of the box, who instinctively swivelled and thumped it goalwards with his left foot. The ball crashed down off the bar, and clearly over the line before bouncing back out again. Luckily the far side linesman had kept up with play enough to confirm to the referee, and the goal was eventually given.
QPR were showing signs of getting back into the game when the main talking point happened. Chery had previously flashed wide a volley from a lovely Polter knockdown, but on 70 minutes a lofted ball down the right from Henry was chased down, and right on the byline Hoilett centred the ball for Polter to tap in for a birthday goal from six yards. The referee had already blown for a goal kick before Polter had finished, but this was on instruction from a linesman that was nowhere near the play, and absolutely could not have seen that it was over the line and out, which it absolutely wasn’t. A goal incorrectly chalked off, and Hoilett ended up disappearing into the camera pit for his troubles.
QPR: Smithies 7; Onuoha 5, Angella 5, Hall 5, Perch 7; Faurlin 5 (Washington 79 6), Henry 7; Phillips 5 (Hoilett 62, 6), Chery 7, Mackie 7 (El Khayati 69 6); Polter 6
Subs not used: Ingram, Luongo, Petrasso, Robinson
Goals: Mackie 31 (Unassisted), Chery 86 (assisted Polter)
Bookings: Perch 77 (foul)
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos 6; Nsue 7, Kalas 6, Gibson 6, Friend 7; Clayton 7, Leadbitter 7, Adomah 8, Ramirez 7 (Forshaw 67, 6), Downing 6 (Ayala 84, 6); Rhodes 6 (Nugent 78, 6)
Subs not used: de Laet, De Pena, de Sart, Agazzi
Goals: Rhodes 18 (Assisted Leadbitter), Ramirez 51 (Assisted Leadbitter), Gibson 57 (Assisted Leadbitter)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 7 Got the penalty decision right, but was let down by the linesman for the Polter ‘goal’. Kept his cards in his pocket, let the game flow and was largely anonymous throughout, which is what you want from a referee in general.
Hill, and particularly Hall, had a superb first half together here. QPR defended deep and narrow, funneling play in towards their centre halves who lapped the challenge up. No confrontation too physical, no header too high, no tackle missed. Hill lasted only 20 minutes before he was yellow carded after a set to with Alan McCormack – referee Simon Hooper could easily have left it with a word on the run for both players but it showed a bit of backbone and needle that QPR have often been found lacking in these fixtures. Rangers weren’t coming here to roll over, they were coming to stand their ground, and stand it they did.
Brentford spent much of the second half time wasting. James Tarkowski checking the pressure of the ball before the goal kicks was something referee Simon Hooper probably should have done more than simply laugh along with, for instance. The lobotomised Uncle Fester look-a-like in the main stand holding onto the ball, baiting the QPR players and, shamelessly, delivering a volley of abuse into Clint Hill’s face as he was helped from the field in the second half injured should have been dealt with by the steward sitting directly in front of him. Hill seemed in a lot of pain, and it looked as though the physio was testing for knee ligament injuries – we await those results with bated breath.
Brentford: Button 6; Yennaris 6, Dean 7, Tarkowski 6, Bidwell 6; McCormack 6 (Vibe 82, -), Diagouraga 7; Woods 6, Swift 6, Judge 7 (Kerschbaumer 77, 6); Djuricin 7 (Hoffman 90, -)
Subs not used: Bonham, O’Connell, Gogia, Canos
Goals: Djuricin 56 (assisted Judge)
Bookings: McCormack 20 (ungentlemanly), Djuricin 86 (time wasting)
QPR: Green 6; Onuoha 5, Hall 7, Hill 6 (Perch 76, 6), Konchesky 5; Henry 6, Tozser 5; Phillips 5, Luongo 6 (Hoilett 67, 5), Chery 5 (Austin 63, 5), Emmanuel Thomas 4
Subs not used: Doughty, Faurlin, Smithies, Polter
Booked: Hill 20 (ungentlemanly), Tozser 24 (foul), Phillips 80 (foul)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshere) 7 Not a lot to referee, which says a lot for how meek QPR are on these derby occasions. Over the top to book Hill and McCormack for their early clash, and failed miserably to clamp down on the time wasting that went on in the second half from the home players and fans, but otherwise not bad at all.
Cardiff’s reserve goalkeeper Simon Moore, in for the suspended David Marshall and fresh from an Ademole Bankole against Fulham on day one, did well to adjust his body in mid air and keep out Matt Phillips’ deflected drive. His reward was scant – from the resulting corner Clint Hill punched the ball towards goal with his fist and Charlie Austin nudged it over the line with his forearm. Hooper looked at the incident and awarded the goal.
Later Jones won a header at the back post from a deep cross and caused pandemonium in the QPR area only for a free kick to be awarded to the home side and the Cardiff fans high behind the School End goal had further cause to pick up the pitch forks and flaming torches when Rob Green came for a through ball which was never his and seemed to obviously handle it outside his area. Green patted his chest, but didn’t look like even he believed it. Remarkably, Hooper bought it and waved play on.
Having invited Cardiff to attack them the home team was punished with a smashing last minute equaliser, volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards out by Scott Malone. It was the second time the left sided defender had pulled his team level in the final seconds of a game at that end of the ground having done so for Millwall here two seasons ago.
QPR surrounded referee Simon Hooper and had very good cause to believe there had been a foul on Michael Doughty in the build-up. But they had only themselves to blame - not only had they lacked the brains to hold onto a two goal lead, but they’d missed a gilt edged chance to make it 3-1 second earlier when Emmanuel-Thomas somehow rolled a sitter wide after being played through by Polter.
QPR: Green 5; Perch 5, Onuoha 7, Hill 6, Konchesky 5; Luongo 7, Henry 5; Phillips 6, Chery 7 (Doughty 55, 6), Gladwin 5 (Emmanuel-Thomas 76, 5); Austin 6 (Polter 68, 6)
Subs not used: Hall, Kpekawa, Faurlin, Lumley
Goals: Hill 33 (assisted Phillips), Austin 56 (assisted Phillips/Hill)
Cardiff: Moore 7; Peltier 5, Connolly 5, Morrison 6, Malone 7; Pilkington 6 (Ameobi 82, -), Dikgacoi 5 (Noone 68, 6), Whittingham 6, Ralls 7; Mason 8, Revell 5 (Jones 59, 7)
Subs not used: Fabio, Doyle, Gunnarsson, Wilson
Goals: Morrison 64 (assisted Whittingham), Malone 90 (assisted Ralls)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 5 Three poor decisions in the game, two in favour of QPR. The second goal should have been disallowed for handball, Rob Green could have been sampling the early bath water for handling outside his area, and Rangers should have had a free kick in the build up to the Cardiff equaliser. Not a good start to the season for the Premier League’s newest referee who last weekend incorrectly disallowed a Cameron Jerome goal at Norwich v Palace.
But as the game wore on his frustration grew. Referee Simon Hooper, superb on his last visit here for the game against Huddersfield, followed a very decent first half display with a mad half hour in the second that turned Morrison from QPR’s chief attacking threat into a red card waiting to happen. First there was a nasty tackle from McClean on Carroll that should have brought a yellow card but didn’t, then there was an obvious foul on Morrison on the edge of the Wigan area that didn’t even bring a free kick. When Powell was then awarded a free kick when he’d appeared to dive under challenge from Barton, and then a promising looking counter attack from Benayoun was hauled all the way back for a QPR free kick they didn’t want, so McArthur could be booked, frustration was audible and Morrison let the situation get the better of him.
Several times he could be seen beating the turf in frustration, and he started diving trying to win free kicks that weren’t fouls. There was a set to with Josh McEachran, who he has played with in the England Under 21s, that required intervention and another incident where he appeared to kick out at a Wigan man while on the ground. Had the referee seen that he could well have been off, but then so could Ramis who lashed out at Benayoun while trying to retrieve the ball for a late free kick. In the end Hooper settled for a yellow card for the QPR man on that occasion which would have bad consequences later on. At full time Morrison appeared to run onto the field and have words with McEachran again.
Although Redknapp did eventually send on Henry and Suk-Young – and both made valuable contributions during their brief cameos – it still wasn’t enough to stem the tide or the onset of tiredness. Benayoun, who’d been excellent all night, committed one of those deliberate trips against an attacker at full pace in injury time to earn a second yellow and a red.
Morrison got his inevitable yellow for a robust foul on Gomez with four left to play.
QPR: Green 8; Hughes 6, Onuoha 7, Dunne 6, Hill 6; Carroll 7, Barton 6; Kranjcar 5 (O’Neil 45, 6), Morrison 6, Benayoun 7; Zamora 6
Subs not used: Simpson, Keane, Hoilett, Murphy
Goals: Benayoun 16 (assisted Carroll/Hill)
Red Cards: Benayoun 90+1 (two bookings – one match ban)
Bookings: Benayoun 81 (kicking ball away), Morrison 86 (foul), Benayoun 90+1 (foul)
Wigan: Al-Habsi 6; Crainey 6 (Beausejour 61, 6), Ramis 7, Rogne 6 (Gomez 73, 6), Kiernan 6; Perch 6, McEachran 6 (Maynard 80, 5), McArthur 7, Collison 6; McClean 7, Powell 7
Subs not used: Carson, Caldwell, Fortune, Waghorn
Bookings: McArthur 71 (foul)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 6 A really excellent first half, as we’re coming to expect from this referee, gave way to an awkward second where he struggled to keep hold of things at times. Ravel Morrison’s behaviour in the second period was poor, but the frustration stemmed from not being awarded a couple of early free kicks for definite fouls – clearly the referee was sick of hearing the cry of wolf from a player who does go down too easily. I thought McClean should have been booked for his foul on Carroll, particularly when you see the incident with Benayoun’s second yellow. Overall not too bad, but a bit of a wild 20 minute spell in the second half.
On several occasions Rangers were forced to commit cynical fouls to bring threatening counter attacks to a close. Murray Wallace struck a powerful free kick straight into Andy Johnson’s face on the end of the wall after Clint Hill felled Ward on the edge of the area. Then Gary O’Neil chopped down Paul Dixon on the other side of the area with the time barely into double figures and Oliver Norwood took a turn with a direct shot that flew through the wall and was well saved by Rob Green. Later, in three minutes of first half stoppage time, Hill was rightly yellow carded by referee Simon Hooper for hauling down Hammill 20 yards from goal and Paul Dixon had a shot blocked away. And with only four minutes left for play Carroll himself was booked for a deliberate trip on Huddersfield substitute Sean Scannell as he threatened to race away into space hunting a late equaliser.
Johnson’s yellow card on the stroke of half time for a wild challenge on Adam Clayton summed up the frustration and – yet again – surgery was required on the QPR side at half time, with Matt Phillips introduced to offer an outlet wide right, and Gary O’Neil withdrawn after another ineffective display. Copying and pasting from previous weeks, it is a concern that Harry Redknapp is being required to raid his bench so early in games, so often.
QPR: Green 7; Simpson 7, Dunne 6, Hill 6, Assou-Ekotto 7; Kranjcar 6, Carroll 5, Henry 6, O’Neil 5 (Phillips 45, 7); Johnson 6 (Traore 81, 7), Austin 7
Subs not used: Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Diakite, Zamora , Murphy
Goals: Austin 55 (assisted Johnson), 79 (assisted Assou-Ekotto)
Bookings: Johnson 43 (foul), Hill 45+2 (foul), Carroll 86 (foul)
Huddersfield: Smithies 6; Wallace 6, Gerrard 6, Smith 6; Dixon 6, Hogg 7, Clayton 7, Norwood 6 (Scannell 67, 7), Hammill 7 (Gobern 78, 6); Ward 5 ( Vaughan 51, 6) Wells 7
Subs not used: Woods, Bennett, Lolley, Holmes
Goals: Wells 68 (assisted Hammill)
Referee – Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 9 No complaints with any of the bookings, allowed the game to flow well and stayed well out of the way. Easy to see why he’s so highly rated at the moment, and probably destined for the Premier League next season
The game became rather bad tempered thereafter. Kapsars Gorkss picked up the first yellow card for cracking a shot in on goal after the whistle had been blown – harsh, but in fairness to referee Simon Hooper he had let Alejandro Faurlin off with the same thing a minute or so earlier and warned both the Argentinean and Taarabt the captain. QPR were clearly motivated by a desire to prevent Swansea taking quick free kicks, which they did religiously, while players were out of position. Gary Monk quickly levelled the card count for a crude tackle from behind on Adel Taarabt just as he was in full flight approaching the Swansea penalty area.
The rising temperature of the game was not helped by the Swansea crowd’s insistence on leaping up as one and literally screaming at the referee whenever even the most meagre foul was committed by a QPR player, or Shaun Derry’s method of following the referee around and chivvying him about what he should or shouldn’t do. I actually thought, with little Football League experience behind him, Hooper did a thoroughly decent job of managing a set of poorly behaved players and over excitable fans.
The key incident of the half came five minutes before half time as Swansea launched a swift counter attack with Darren Pratley running away down the left wing. QPR seemed to have escaped from the move without too many problems when Pratley, lacking the pace of a Dyer or Sinclair, was caught and then faced up by Shaun Derry on the corner of the penalty box but having worked back so well the visitors then self destructed when Clint Hill arrived late on the scene, barged into Pratley and sent him sprawling across the ground for a penalty. Soft? Perhaps. Pratley was named by Angel Rangel as the man with the “best physique” in the Swansea squad in his programme interview before this game and yet he hit the deck here as if he was made of tissue paper. But it was a penalty all the same, a foolish challenge from Hill, and the only controversy about it was that the linesman who signalled for the foul clearly held out his flag for a free kick before then seemingly changing his mind after a couple of seconds and drawing it back across his chest for a penalty.
Ultimately it didn’t matter. David Cotterill, showing all the subtlety of a house brick in picking which side he was going to send the ball, saw his spot kick comfortably saved by Paddy Kenny diving down to his right. Kenny had dived left for Wes Hoolahan’s miss in the Norwich game on Saturday and perhaps that was in Cotterill’s mind as he placed the ball – he certainly made his intentions so obvious even the QPR fans behind the goal on the front row picked which side he was going before he kicked it. Cotterill was withdrawn at half time and replaced by Joe Allen – although it wasn’t clear whether that change would have been made regardless of the penalty miss. Allen was a brilliant addition to the game – providing a previously absent element of pace, skill and vision to the Swansea midfield allied with an admirable work rate.
Alejandro Faurlin became the latest player booked around the hour mark when he attempted to hack down Nathan Dyer during a counter attack. The Swansea player kept his feet and set off down field on a mission that eventually fizzled out into nothing but the referee kept the incident in mind and returned to book Faurlin at the first opportunity.
QPR were very lucky not to be reduced to ten men ten minutes from time and having done so much good on the night I’m afraid to say it was Taarabt letting himself down in this instance. It all started to bubble up right in front of the dugouts, with Taarabt about to be substituted for Tommy Smith. The ball went out for a throw in that the referee decreed should be taken by Swansea – Taarabt disagreed with this and picked the ball up which in turn caused a flash point with Joe Allen who tried to wrestle it back from his grasp. Taarabt did release the ball, but also lashed out. Luckily this was more Audley Harrison than David Haye and missed Allen’s face with distance to spare – had it connected Taarabt would have been sent off and I said at the time that we’d be well served to get the change made before the throw in was taken because you could just see what was coming next.
Grumpy, sulky and feeling wronged Taarabt stomped around for 30 seconds like a spoilt two year old before, wouldn’t you just know it, Allen collected the ball right on the touchline in front of him. Like a council house on Merseyside housing a pit bull and a three year old – disaster was inevitable. Taarabt needlessly launched himself into an eye watering lunge that left Allen writhing in agony on the ground and the Swansea players and bench piling in to surround the referee and QPR player. It took a long time for the fuss to die down, and Keith Curle and Shaun Derry certainly did more than their fair share of work in keeping a crowd of Swansea players out of the referee’s face and away from Taarabt. As he had done all evening Mr Hooper refereed sensibly – calming the situation and then doing everything in his power to keep 22 men on the pitch. Taarabt was booked (as was Angel Rangel who voiced his complaints too vehemently) and immediately replaced by Smith. To be honest, I thought he should have been sent off.
Swansea: De Vries 7, Williams 7, Tate 8, Monk 7, Rangel 7, Cotterill 6 (Allen 46, 8), Pratley 7, Orlandi 7 (Beattie 85, -), Dyer 5, Sinclair 6, Dobbie 7 (Nouble 65, 4)
Subs Not Used: Taylor , Serran, Ma-Kalambay, Emnes
Booked: Monk (foul), Tate (foul), Pratley (foul), Rangel (dissent)
QPR: Kenny 8, Walker 7, Gorkss 7, Connolly 8, Hill 6, Derry 7, Faurlin 7, Ephraim 5 (Clarke 88, -), Taarabt 7 (Smith 80, 7),Helguson 6 (Agyemang 80, 6), Mackie 6
Subs Not Used: Orr, Cerny, Hall, Mahon
Booked: Gorkss (kicking ball away), Faurlin (foul), Taarabt (foul)
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 7 Not an easy game for an inexperienced official, but one I thought he handled well. Of the seven bookings only Gorkss could count himself unlucky as he genuinely didn’t seem to hear the whistle, although Faurlin had done the same thing a minute or so earlier and been warned and QPR were clearly wary of quick Swansea free kicks so maybe he knew what he was doing. The rest of the bookings were correct, as was the penalty decision although the linesman did his best to bollocks that one up with mixed signals. Taarabt and Tate could count themselves lucky to stay on the field but overall I liked his sensible, calm approach to what was a very physical game and it is to his credit that it finished 11 a side.
Three Championship fixtures and one Premier League game (Everton 0-2 Sheff Utd) for Hooper so far this season, with a slim 13 yellows and no reds dished out so far. That’s in keeping with his relatively low totals from last year of 95 yellows (3.2) and four reds in 29 appointments. He topped out at six yellows and a red on two occasions – Villa 5-5 Forest and Charlton 1-1 Southend. Nine of those games, and 20 of those cards (significantly below average) came in the top flight. Two of the four red cards came in his two appointments with Blackburn – a 3-2 League Cup loss at Bournemouth where he sent off Rovers’ Derrick Williams in the last minute, and a 1-1 league draw at Boro where the hosts had Mo Besic sent off after 22 mins.
Pictures – Action Images
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