|Queens Park Rangers 0 v 4 Nottingham Forest|
Wednesday, 27th November 2019 Kick-off 19:45
F-awesome Forest set QPR on road to ruin - Report
Thursday, 28th Nov 2019 23:54 by Clive Whittingham
QPR clocked up a sixth game without a win with their worst performance of the season so far and a 4-0 loss to Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road on Wednesday night.
Here we go again then. Queens Park Rangers, a bin on fire, hurtling down a steepening slope with no bottom in sight and no ideas on how to quell the flames.
It’s the speed at which it takes hold of us that’s most disturbing. One moment the sun is shining and we’re happily running a very long, very sharp sword through Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town. Fourth in the league, with four away wins on the board, and the Championship’s hottest property dancing his way around stricken Hull City defenders. Reading at home, bit annoying but not a defeat. Brentford at home, tough to take in a derby but playing a more talented team further on in its development. Leeds away, title favourites. Middlesbrough at home, can you smell smoke? Where’s our nearest available airport? A position of ascendency blown at Fulham. And now, an old fashioned debacle against Nottingham Forest.
It doesn’t so much creep up on us as barge in through the front door and plonk itself down in the centre circle. I’m here now, what you going to do about it? Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink didn’t know, Ian Holloway didn’t know, Steve McClaren didn’t know, and now it’s Mark Warburton turn to take a broken toothpick to a burst dam. Already, inevitably, Neil Warnock’s name is doing the rounds. Gareth Ainsworth’s awesome performance at Wycombe has not gone unnoticed. Changing the manager has literally worked twice for QPR in 30 years, but the blood lust is real. We’re an odd group. As the belief visibly drains from the team, a collection of pimple-faced children have decided it would be helpful to contact goalkeeper Joe Lumley directly to tell him he’s “scum”, “shit” and should “fuck off from the club”. That’ll help.
On Wednesday night, it was Nottingham Forest pouring the petrol. A difficult opponent, sixth in the league with only one away loss all season, made to look like an all-conquering invading force. A sixth game without a win for QPR, a tenth consecutive match where at least two goals have been conceded, the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th goals shipped by Rangers in 18 league outings this season. Each was more defensively shambolic than the last. There were zero positives to take, and almost as few QPR supporters left in the ground at full time.
Rangers looked nervous, unbalanced and wide open at the back from the first whistle. It was not a winning combination. They were lucky to get away with Ryan Manning inadvertently turning a ball out from the back straight into the path of Lewis Grabban on ten minutes – he shot straight at Joe Lumley, which is about as much as Lumley can manage at the moment. Three minutes later a ball allowed to bounce between Lee Wallace and Toni Leistner was scrambled out for a corner. A mismatch that was allowed to continue and fester all night from Forest set pieces at the back post saw Figueiredo head into a net left unguarded thanks to Lumley’s slip.
The hapless keeper was able to grasp the ball on the half hour when another back post overload resulted in a scramble that Grabban could have easily turned in, but when he misjudged a ball that would have bounced harmlessly out for a goal kick and panicked a clearance straight into the Ellerslie Road stand the natives grew restless.
There were some bits and pieces to get vaguely excited about as the half drew to a close – maverick Congolose goalkeeper Brice Samba made an unorthodox save from a Manning shot when a rare QPR corner was cleared out to him, then took a more conventional approach to denying Chair high in the top corner after Ebere Eze had nutmegged his way into danger. Chair later broke clear of the defenders and hit a routine shot at the goalkeeper and there was some sense that a sparse crowd may be livening.
But, if we’re honest, Rangers were miles short of their opponent. The decision to leave out Friday’s scorer Jordan Hugill to recall Chair hadn’t worked – not through any fault of Chair’s, but more because it removed a physical presence, outlet and support man for Nahki Wells from the attack against a well-drilled side which was heading towards a ninth clean sheet of the season. Wells, isolated, was too casual chasing a rare moment of loose defending on 27 minutes and the chance passed. Luke Amos, so impressive at Fulham on Friday, was anonymous in a beaten midfield. The back three of Hall, Leistner and Wallace looked more of a danger to Rangers than the Forest forward line. Ryan Manning, player of the season elect to this point, put in a performance that suggested drink had been taken, riddled with random decision making and wild overhit crosses into the stands.
As well as the known problems with the defence and goalkeeper, you can feel the balance slipping out of the team in general. Ideally we want to play Wells and Hugill together, but it requires one of Chair, Eze or Osayi-Samuel to be left out. Ideally we want Luke Amos to be that creative link between defence and attack, but he’s struggling to perform the role, and we don’t really have anybody else that can do it either. Bright Osayi-Samuel is unfortunate not to be in the team. There are players on the bench the manager, and supporters, would like in the side, but it’s difficult to see how or where without leaving out somebody else you'd ideally want to pick. We’re deep into a footballing Rubik’s cube.
Second half, Hugill on for Amos, we’ll give this a good go. Not the first time this season we’ve trailed after an insipid first half only to come roaring back in the second stanza. That was the script, and Ian Holloway emerged at half time to rally the faithful with an unusually concise speech that featured all the dripping enthusiasm for QPR we’ve come to expect. Shit on more than once and he still loves the place. We got rid of him for Steve McClaren.
Speaking of QPR doing stupid things... Soon Joe Lumley was rolling a potentially lethal ball out from the back over the toes of Lewis Grabban. Stop it. There was the now standard shot over the bar from Ilias Chair, so desperate for a goal he’s now snatching at chances while leaning back so far he’s almost horizontal. And then, on 49 minutes, a long ball forward from Forest wasn’t dealt with first by Leistner, then by Wallace, and when the Scottish defender hauled down Joe Lolley as he ran beyond him referee Steve Martin produced a red card. Harsh, could have got away with a yellow, but a problem of Rangers’ own making like all the others.
Forest could have levelled the numbers immediately. Matty Cash clattered into Ryan Manning who made a lot of it – as he does. Referee Martin was facing the other way at the time, but somehow decided in a split second that it was to be a yellow card and not a red. Felt rather like a referee too keen not to be seen to even things up to me, even though they may have warranted it. Manning got straight up mind.
Chip pan ablaze? Pour on cold water. Everybody knows this. Josh Scowen was summoned from the bench, and booked immediately for pulling back Lolley after he’d once again burst through a broken midfield off a failed Ryan Manning free kick. That left Scowen on a tightrope and Rangers facing playing with nine men – twice in the remaining time the former Barnsley man needed to commit tactical fouls to prevent further damage but had to pull out for fear of joining Wallace in the early suds. This really wasn’t going well, and to compound matters he subsequently planted Rangers’ best chance of the night wide of the post with his head from eight yards out when it looked for all the world like a goal after enterprising wing play by Kane.
The game went scrappy for a time, which at 1-0 and down to ten men probably suited Rangers. Sabri Lamouchi sent on John Bostock to try and restore midfield dominance, but he looks like he’s been enjoying the French lifestyle a little too much – pint of foie gras s'il vou plait – and was himself immediately carded for a foul on Scowen. Rat revenge. Nahki Wells hit a half decent shot from the resulting free kick over the Forest wall, drawing another save I’m not sure you’ll have seen the likes of anywhere else before from Samba. When Hugill chased the rebound, he was very harshly punished for nudging the goalkeeper. As if the previous 75 minutes hadn’t boiled my piss enough.
Biiiiiiiiig old problems still to come though. That Figueiredo overload at the far post occurred for the ten trillionth time on the night requiring a frantic goalline clearance and then a great block by Scowen as sub Carvalho tried to smack in the rebound. Wells’ tired give away had Forest back in down the left within 60 seconds and Ameobi crossed low for Grabban to tap in at the back post – unmarked, naturally. Time still for Carvalho to amble his way in from the far touchline through a, frankly pathetic, attempted tackle from Scowen to make it three nil under an amateur-standard bit of Lumley goalkeeping. And if you thought that was bad Lumley then spilt a routine shot from Cash into the path of the offside Ameobi who squared for Semedo to make it four with no flag flying.
Zulus, thousands of them. QPR had given up, and given that the style of play and approach isn’t likely to change while Warburton remains, the way the belief drained out of the players quite so easily and dramatically is perhaps the biggest concern of all.
Talk to me about Derby away.
Match Gallery: 20 photos
QPR: Lumley 3; Hall 4, Leistner 3, Wallace 4; Kane 5, Manning 3; Amos 4 (Hugill 45, 5), Ball 5; Eze 5, Chair 5 (Scowen 53, 4), Wells 4 (Osayi-Samuel 83, -)
Subs not used: Barnes, Pugh, Mlakar, Cameron
Red Cards: Wallace 49 (professional foul)
Bookings: Scowen 57 (foul)
Forest: Samba 6; Cash 7, Figueiredo 7, Worrall 6, Robinson 7; Watson 7, Silva 7; Adomah 6 (Carvalho 60, 8), Lolley 8 (Bostock 75, 6), Ameobi 7; Grabban 8 (Semedo 85, -)
Subs not used: Mir, Dawson, Chema, Muric
Goals: Figueiredo 15 (assisted Lolley), Grabban 81 (assisted Ameobi), Carvalho 88 (unassisted), Semedo 90+1 (assisted Ameobi)
Bookings: Cash 52 (foul), Bostock 76 (foul)
QPR Star Man – N/A
Referee – Steve Martin (Staffordshire) 4 Red card looks harsh, though QPR made their own problems. Decided very quickly that the challenge on Manning wasn’t a red card, without actually having seen it. Last goal is about the most offside thing you’ll ever see.
Attendance – 12,937 (1,840 Forest) Like an abandoned morgue.
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