|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Hull City|
Sunday, 29th December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Lumley's latest howler sets Rangers on road to ruin - Report
Monday, 30th Dec 2019 14:10 by Clive Whittingham
QPR turned a 1-0 lead and dominant position in the game into a shambolic 2-1 defeat against a poor Hull City side at Loftus Road on Sunday.
For a while there, this was all going perfectly fine and well according to plan.
Queens Park Rangers, annihilated at Barnsley but so desperately unlucky to not beat both Charlton and Reading in a pair of games that somehow yielded just a solitary point, needed a win against fellow midtable dwellers Hull City at Loftus Road to calm concerns about another promising start to a season driving off the side of a cliff.
And for half an hour they barely put a foot wrong in trying to achieve that. Bright Osayi-Samuel had stand-in left back Stephen Kingsley on toast down the right, Ebere Eze was causing the Tigers the same sort of problems he did up in East Yorkshire earlier this season coming infield from the left, and Ilias Chair was back to something like his effervescent best in the ten role behind Nahki Wells. Dominic Ball was a useful injection of fresh legs into the base of the midfield, Luke Amos was linking defence and attack reasonably well alongside him, and Angel Rangel’s return from injury at right back added strength and experience to a spot we’re often defensively weak in when he doesn’t play.
It took just three minutes for Bright to strip his full back for the first time, delivering a deep cross that was nudged back to Eze who took just too long and one too many touches before getting a shot away and the chance went begging. On eight minutes Hull messed up an attempt to play out from the back and Osayi-Samuel was able to fizz one into the near post and force a desperate clearance. A tenth minute Eze free kick was headed straight at goalkeeper George Long by captain Grant Hall up from the back. A goal felt like it was coming and on 20 minutes Chair was able to collect a ball from Ryan Manning amidst a short corner routine, shift it out of his feet and bury it into the bottom corner from 20 yards on the goalkeeper’s blind side. Well, it is the time of year for the little ones.
An issue in recent games has been making periods of ascendency pay with a second and third goal – or, at Reading, with a goal at all – and Rangers looked well in the mood to right those wrongs here. Two minutes after taking the lead the move of the match, with Eze at its heart, got Nahki Wells in behind the defence and he cut a ball back for Luke Amos to stride onto and see a shot blocked. And so it continued. Twenty six minutes, Osayi-Samuel picked the ball up in a dangerous area, chopped back in field and shot over. Four minutes after that Angel Rangel blew a few cobwebs out of his knee joints with a run down the right flank and cross for Chair to head wide at the near post.
The sun was shining. Children were smiling.
And then, an absolute calamity. Josh Bowler, once of this parish, got going down the right hand side and although – as has been the case far too often this season – Rangers (Ryan Manning in this case) were far too willing to let a cross come into the area it really shouldn’t have posed any problem for Joe Lumley, unchallenged at his near post. Sadly for us, tragically for him, he did that thing he does rather too often where instead of catching the ball first time he bats it down to the floor to collect on its first bounce and Hull’s George Honeyman had read the situation well, stealing in to pinch it off his toes and poke in an equaliser.
Lumley had actually seemed to be recovering his form from the early season horrors. The first two clean sheets of the season had been achieved against Preston and Birmingham, and he was arguably QPR’s star man at Reading on Boxing Day with four good saves. But this was an aberration, and that bounced save is a tick in his game that’s been there for a while. He’s young for a goalkeeper, but he’s not a kid – 24 and 113 senior appearances. We cannot continue with a goalkeeper making so many basic mistakes so often. We’ve reached the stage now that we were at with Robert Green four seasons ago where he’s basically costing us a goal a month – a situation that also came to a head with an amateurish mistake to cost us a 2-1 defeat on this ground against Hull City. That one was solved with a long overdue run in the team for the wonderful Alex Smithies, and with Cardiff City in town on the first day of the transfer window later this week I’d be preparing a very nice bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape ready for a sit down with their execs and a long talk after the game about their grossly underused reserve goalkeeper.
The equaliser was as much of a surprise to Hull City as anybody else. It was, literally, their first attack of any note whatsoever. The first time they’d been in the QPR penalty area in more than half an hour. Without Josh Magennis (he used to be a goalkeeper you know) through injury and with their other target man Tom Eaves only on the bench, they’d started the game without a recognised striker on the field at all. Perennial scourge of QPR Jarrod Bowen was selected, initially, as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 set up and was as anonymous and ineffective as I think I’ve ever seen him as a result. Already without first choice left back Callum Elder, they then lost his replacement Stephen Kingsley who decided that half an hour of ritual humiliation at Osayi-Samuel’s hands was quite enough for him and departed early. That forced a defensive reshuffle with Eric Lichaj switching sides and Matthew Pennington coming on from the bench, and no sooner had they finished that than centre back Reece Burke also went down for a gratuitous amount of treatment and arsing around leaving the field. They looked leggy, disinterested, open defensively, toothless in attack, and almost bored by the whole thing. Going through the motions of an away defeat.
That could still have been the result – a lovely touch from Wells got Chair racing away behind the Hull defence straight after the equaliser but he shot too high and Long made a good save when he probably should have scored – but in truth the equaliser had sucked the life out of the crowd and the home team. You could just feel the air go out of the place. Bright bobbled a chance wide on the stroke of half time, but had already been flagged offside – given that the ball seemed to rebound back to him after he’d played it himself, it’s probably a good job that didn’t go in as there’d have been all manner of controversy about the flag.
The deflated atmosphere wasn’t helped by Hull switching Rangers around to attack the School End second half. One Paul Furlong play-off goal apart, I’m never that comfortable when we play that way second half, and so it proved here with preceisely zero threat posed on the Hull goal during a, frankly fairly abysmal, second 45 minutes. One overhit Ryan Manning cross that required a tip over from Long was really about it until nine minutes from time when Eze cutely played Wells into space and his drilled cross shot really should have been converted from four yards out for a late winner by Jordan Hugill. No goals in eight for the loaned West Ham striker now, none in nine for Wells.
There was some nice approach work by Rangel straight after half time that led to Eze putting a shot onto the roof of the stand, and an excellent move with Chair at its heart soon after that which petered out with a weak Amos finish. Long parried at the near post when a prolonged spell of possession ended with Chair whipping one in from a tight angle. Dominic Ball not really the man you want striding onto a presentable chance 20 yards from goal – he bobbled one wide on the hour.
But overall Rangers were poor after half time. Not intense enough, not purposeful enough, not threatening enough. Mark Warburton sent on Matt Smith for Luke Amos which made things worse – I’m still not entirely sure what Smith, weak as a piece of wet tissue paper, is meant to be or to do – and exacerbated that further by removing QPR’s outstanding player Ilias Chair to try and get Jordan Hugill on up front with Wells. Hugill repaid him not only with that latest glaring miss on 81 minutes, but with an even more costly mistake in the final moments of the game.
By then Hull had realised this was all there for them. They slung Tom Eaves on after 66 minutes and he almost scored immediately with his first touch – a header down from a right wing cross that Lumley scrambled wide of the bottom corner. Having fartarsed about with one of the weakest opponents we’ve faced at Loftus Road this season in the first hour, QPR now suddenly found themselves in a proper game with the visitors stirred into life and chasing the win. Rangers like a lazy teenager who’d half heartedly revised, now plunged into an A Level physics exam. De Wijs was booked for a bad foul and some afters on Wells, Honeyman likewise for hacking down Eze who’d almost completely disappeared from the game in the final half hour. The Tigers meant business now, looking far better with Bowen playing off a main striker, and although QPR might have thought they’d got away with it when Eaves volleyed yards wide three minutes from time they were miles off the pace by this stage and there for the taking.
A minute from the end of normal time Dominic Ball committed a silly foul on Eaves in a dangerous position. That invited Bowen to deliver a back post cross from a dead ball situation and when Hugill inexplicably failed to track Jackson Irvine at the back post the Australian was able to bundle an improvised finish past more weak goalkeeping and in for the winner. Only Wigan – 17 – have conceded as many goals from set pieces as QPR this season. Only Luton – 53 – have conceded more than our 47 overall.
QPR had only themselves to blame, wasteful in the first half, insipid in the second, and prone to moments of stupidity and basic error. Having taken only one point from games with Barnsley, Reading, Charlton and Hull, league matches here against Cardiff, Leeds and Bristol City with away trips to Brentford, Blackburn, Huddersfield and Swansea now stretch out before us. What a pisser.
QPR: Lumley 3; Rangel 7, Hall 6, Leistner 6, Manning 6; Amos 6 (Smith 66, 5), Ball 6; Osayi-Samuel 7, Chair 7 (Hugill 79, 4), Eze 6; Wells 5
Subs not used: Kane, Wallace, Pugh, Kelly
Goals: Chair 20 (assisted Manning)
Hull: Long 6; Lichaj 6, Burke 6, De Wijs 7, Kingsley 4 (Pennington 37, 6); Honeyman 6 (Batty 77, 6), Lopes 6; Bowler 6, Irvine 6, Grosicki 6 (Eaves 66, 7); Bowen 5
Subs not used: Tafazolli, Ingram, Bonds, Berry
Goals: Honeyman 32 (assisted Bowler), Irvine 89 (assisted Bowen)
Bookings: De Wijs 64 (foul), Honeyman 75 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Ilias Chair 7 Spell out of the team has done him good. Looks fresher, and more confident in front of goal, culminating in a fine first in this game from the sort of position he was blazing things over the bar from a few weeks back. Probably should have added a second soon after that though.
Referee – Gavin Ward (Surrey) 6 Not too bad, although the now weekly complaint about lousy time keeping applies again. A first half of two goals, a substitution, two big injuries and Reece Burke’s long, slow, drawn-out treatment and walk off the pitch for nothing very much brought only three added minutes, which felt like a bit of a joke. Quite generous on several occasions with Rangel.
Attendance 13,814 (775 Hull approx.) Much like the team, the life drained out of a decent sized holiday crowd with the Lumley error.
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