Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Brave Rangers beaten by ton up Toon as Ramage sees red - full match report
Brave Rangers beaten by ton up Toon as Ramage sees red - full match report
Tuesday, 4th May 2010 23:21

QPR ended the season on a low note, eventually falling to a 1-0 defeat against champions Newcastle after having Peter Ramage sent off.

QPR ended the most ridiculous football season in the club’s history with a home defeat against a side that has held a monopoly on footballing farces in recent years.

The time honoured traditions were observed faithfully once more – again we had to put up with opponents celebrating promotion triumph in front of us just as Preston, Wolves, Crewe, West Brom and others have before, again we managed to get one of our better players sent off in a dead fixture and therefore suspended for games that actually matter next season just as Martin Rowlands, Damion Stewart and Clarke Carlisle have been in years gone by, again the stewards busied themselves at full time by wrestling women and children to the ground and forcibly removing them from the ground for the heinous crime of running onto the pitch.

It would be tempting to say, as we always do at this time of year, that next season it will be our turn. The signs are positive – Warnock has polished a quite considerable turd and lifted it to a league placing unthinkably high when he took over the job from the calamitous reigns of Hart and Harford. The new manager speaks confidently about next season with his players, and the Championship is losing the strength of West Brom and Newcastle and replacing it with three clubs in varying degrees of crisis from the Premiership.

Rangers fans have grown to beware the dangers of getting carried away though. Chanting “next year we’ll be champions” is another end of season tradition but the fact it wasn’t trotted out on Saturday, when the Bhatia/Mittal takeover and appointment of Warnock gives it more justification than it’s had for years, shows just how much this ridiculous nine months at Loftus Road has taken out of a weary fan base.

Rangers lined up for the final time this season with Peter Ramage in form and in the team at centre half against the club he started his career with and continues to support. Kaspars Gorkss partnered him at centre half with Leigertwood and Tosic at full back and Cerny in goal. In idfield it was a case of last man standing as Cook and Ephraim started on the wings with Faurlin and Buzsaky in the middle. A lightweight and attack minded four to go against a physically strong Newcastle side but the bench betrayed Warnock’s lack of options for this game. Priskin and Simpson partnered each other in attack – the footballing equivalent of the French army.

The match only started at all after a late pitch inspection, and that one had to take place at all once again raises serious, serious questions about the Loftus Road playing surface that was re-laid at great expense last summer. To lose one game a season to waterlogging is to be expected, to lose two is unfortunate, to have lost three would have been unforgiveable, particularly as the games were spaced out around September, February and now May. Yes it rained heavily in the capital on Saturday night, through into Sunday morning, but this was the first substantial rain for the best part of a month. Only last week concerns about hosepipe bans were being raised after a prolonged dry spell. So why, after weeks of dry, hot weather, was our pitch suddenly waterlogged – and it was in parts – after 12 hours of rain? Having already spent more than £100 this season on travel to matches that haven’t taken place I sincerely hope that this farce is not repeated next season and whatever mistakes were made last summer are rectified pretty sharpish.

Newcastle arrived at Loftus Road with a team that has been far too good for the Championship this season. Having said that with Andy Carroll on the bench they also arrived with two strikers in Leon Best and Shola Ameobi who they’d do very well to leave behind. The pair of them lumbered around on Saturday like a couple of old trees, almost permanently offside and with first touches so abysmal even Ameobi was laughing at himself by the end. The tactic was clear and obvious, Newcastle would get the ball wide and get good service into the box for the two Devon White play-a-likes to try and get on the end of, probably accidently.

In the first ten minutes Peter Ramage twice had to deal with decent service from wide areas – first beating Barton to a Routledge cross at the back post and then stooping to get rid of a delivery from the other flank with the bridge of his nose. That cross, and an early low drive at Cerny, was as much as we saw from Routledge all afternoon – kept firmly in the pocket of Dusko Tosic for the most part and flattering to deceive as he did for much of his first six months at Loftus Road. He was booed by a sizeable minority on his return, the reasons for which were lost on me.

Rangers for their part tried to play some decent football. Wearing the new look home shirt that certainly didn’t look as dramatically different or dreadful in the flesh as it had in the Evening Standard on Thursday the R’s passed the ball through midfield and attempted to play round a very physically big Newcastle side. This wild fluctuation between attractive, slick, passing football and hoof and hope rubbish, often in the space of three days, has been a feature of Neil Warnock’s reign so far. As the more unsavoury performances have come against some of the division’s worst teams – Derby, Plymouth, Watford – and the better, slicker showings have been against the likes of Palace, Newcastle and West Brom, perhaps we can deduce from his first few months in charge that our manager likes to pick a horse for a course. That we have only lost one of those six games I’ve mentioned there probably provides him with some justification for his methods.

Sadly the R’s lacked a cutting edge up front and two hopeless long range shots from Priskin, one into the upper tier of the School End and the other comfortably wide of the post on the fifth bounce, rather summed up the problem.

Rangers probably should have taken the lead after a quarter of an hour. Akos Buzsaky took an inswinging corner from the left flank and, not for the last time on the day, swung it too far over everybody and into space on the far side of the penalty area. From there it was hooked back into the danger area by Faurlin and when the ball dropped at the back post it was Buzsaky, sprinting into the area from the corner flag, who was on hand to let rip with a half volley that sent the ball high over both tiers of the packed School End much to the delight of the travelling Geordies.

Then fine work from Lee Cook wide on the left, to battle back and twice win possession in 50/50 tussles before freeing Tosic behind Taylor, went to waste when the Serbian’s cross was miscued and toed over the bar by Simpson at the near post.

Newcastle’s strong defence, Mike Williamson was excellent, and a lack of genuine pace and form from QPR’s two wide players in the first half meant the R’s rarely got in behind their opponents and were often restricted to shots from long range in the first half. Four minutes after the Buzsaky chance he moved the ball into Faurlin’s path on the edge of the box and the Argentinean let rip with a powerful drive that Tim Krul fumbled at first despite it being hit straight into his chest, but successfully grabbed at the second attempt with Priskin hunting the rebound.

Tosic cut inside and fired straight at Krul on what is becoming a trademark marauding run from full back four minutes later as the R’s continued to enjoy the better of a game that had a definite end of season feel about it. Newcastle were stunted in attack by the presence of two awful strikers at the top end of an otherwise excellent side, Rangers huffed and puffed but never really looked like blowing the house down. The home side effectively played the last 15 minutes of the half with ten men after Akos Buzsaky picked up a heavy knock that required lengthy treatment and then saw him hobbling around completely ineffectively for the rest of the half, even pulling his leg out of one fifty fifty challenge with almost Scott Sinclair like cowardice. Presumably the lack of any central midfield cover on the bench necessitated his continued involvement.

It is worth noting at this stage that when Buzsaky went down injured the ball was actually kicked out for him to receive treatment by everybody’s favourite violet chav Joey Barton. I say it’s worthy of note firstly because I never thought I’d see the day when Joey Barton did the right and sporting thing, and secondly because when Leon Best went down in a similar way after half time QPR played, literally, around him and carried on – almost scoring a goal. Had Barton done the same thing he would have been lynched.

Newcastle had an excellent chance to take the lead on the half hour. While Ramage was coping well in the air with Ameobi, Gorkss was struggling somewhat with Best who scored a flukey headed goal at Loft End for Coventry before Christmas. It was a flick on from Best that set Ameobi up with a presentable chance but the big striker could only turn and fire high into the Loft from eight yards out.

At the other end Simpson was denied a clear sight of goal when Williamson slid in to block him with a fine challenge after a neat through ball from Ephraim – one of the few things the QPR right winger did right on an otherwise poor afternoon for him.

A punch clear from Radek Cerny under considerable pressure and an Alejandro Faurlin volley that bounced harmlessly wide wound the game down to half time. There was still time for Alejandro Faurlin to pick out a pass that was of astonishing quality, even for him, when he somehow found the right angle and pace on a 60 yard ball along the ground to play Simpson in behind Williamson but it was maybe a yard too far in front of the loaned Arsenal man and on the stretch he could only divert it meekly back to Krul in the Newcastle goal. Quite how Faurlin even saw that pass, never mind play it successfully, is beyond me. A clear and obvious player of the year.

Quite when half time was turned out to be a matter of some confusion. With the ball in centre field and time up a clear three blasts on the whistle reverberated around the ground and had everybody heading for the exits and music blaring from the public address system. The whistle had not come from referee Darren Deadman though, in fact he looked as confused as everybody and had to initiate a drop ball on halfway before playing out the remaining minute or so with one wit after another mimicking the half time whistle before the real thing sounded to relived cheers from all sides.

Within 20 seconds of the restart – disaster struck. Shola Ameobi beat Peter Ramage to a low cross on the edge of the box and flicked it round the defender before hitting the deck under heavy contact. On first sight I thought Ramage had taken the ball but the immediate whistle from the referee and the reaction of the players said differently and although Ramage delayed his fate by laying prostrate on the ground, head in hands, Darren Deadman duly produced the red card when he got up again and Ramage was left to make the long, lonely walk straight back to the dressing room from whence he came looking absolutely distraught and with the applause of all four sides of the ground ringing in his ears. We shall save the debate about whether any chance is a “clear goal scoring opportunity” when it’s Shola Ameobi on the ball for another time.

Joey Barton took the free kick, a surprise with set piece specialist Ryan Taylor on the field, and struck it straight into the wall to begin what we thought would be a 45 minute backs to the wall effort. In fact it was far from that, Rangers were well in the game in the second half – occasionally dropping too deep and inviting pressure but mostly hustling and harrying well and creating several opportunities of their own. In fact I would go so far as to say that Rangers were better with ten than they had been with eleven, although that’s certainly no reflection on Ramage who was excellent in the first half and has been the best player we’ve had in the last few matches. The decision seemed to galvanise the team and although the immediate substitution of Lee Cook for Josh Parker to cover right back didn’t meet with universal approval, Hogan Ephraim was a much more obvious candidate, Rangers could be proud of their efforts by the end of the game.

The new found steel and work rate was epitomised when first Gorkss crowded out Routledge on the edge of the box, and then Mikele Leigertwood emerged from his new centre half position to force Best wide and then ease him away from the chance when Newcastle appeared to have men over.

And on the ball the hosts looked calm and composed. An eye catching passing move that involved the best part of 15 exchanges through midfield culminated with Priskin laying the ball to Simpson on the edge of the box with his back to goal, and he in turn fed Ephraim who took a touch and fired a low shot that was blocked away when a quicker effort may have yielded greater reward. Still, Rangers were good to watch and looked confident in themselves – an attitude epitomised by the two full backs. Tosic had an immense second half and Parker, while surviving an early scare when he took too much time at the back post and nearly had the ball poked into the net off his toe, seemed very at ease with his surroundings and looks like a decent prospect.

Rangers thought they’d taken the lead on the hour when Jay Simpson finally wriggled free of the attentions, legal at first but then highly illegal and requiring a good advantage from the referee for play to continue, of Williamson before running through on goal towards Coluccini with Priskin up in support. With Simpson low on confidence and Priskin possessing a footballing brain equivalent to his muppet lookalike Beaker a goal was never likely and sure enough after getting in each other’s way a bit Simpson played the ball too late, by which time Priskin had lolloped into his natural offside habitat and although the finish was fine and beat Krul with some considerable ease the flag had long since been raised and the goal was ruled out. A very frustrating moment, because having freed himself from Williamson the goal was actually easier to score than miss but Simpson dithered, and then chose the right option but too late while Priskin failed to hold his run. The need for quality strikers has never been more obvious than it was on Saturday – two mediocre ones would have won us this game despite the sending off.

Priskin’s mood with the officials probably didn’t improve much when his speculative long range effort deflected wide off Newcastle’s impressive full back Danny Simpson and a goal kick was awarded. Deadman is what I would call a by the book referee – there’s not a lot of common sense or leeway given – and when that pernickety, annoying, picky style of referee is combined with a linesman who flags for everything constantly and another who may as well have stuck his flag up his arse for all the use he was getting out of it it’s not a good combination. I’m sure Newcastle won’t miss the standard of officiating in this league much next season.

Newcastle scored their decisive, winning goal to surpass 100 points at the top of the table twenty minutes from time, but again it was profligacy at the other end that cost Rangers. A ball into the channel from Ephraim suddenly had Simpson running free, behind the Newcastle defence into the left channel. He only needed to glance up before reaching the ball to see that Coluccini was outnumbered three to one in the penalty area by Priskin and other supporting runners and a first time cross, even a poor one, would have meant a simple tap in at the Loft End. Simpson never lifted his head once though, bumbling round by the byline with two or three attempts at controlling the ball and then ploughing headlong into the newly massed ranks of the Newcastle defence. He lost the ball, the chance was gone, and three passes later a suspiciously offside looking Peter Lovenkrands was showing what composure in front of goal is all about with a sweet chipped finish over the advancing Radek Cerny and into the back of the net.

It was not a lesson in finishing that Simpson heeded, within five minutes he had an even better chance for that elusive goal when he broke the Newcastle offside trap after a through ball deflected off Barton en route and ran clean through on goal into the Newcastle penalty area before shooting straight at Tim Krul who did little else other than make himself big and ask the striker to make a decision. It’s been a poor end to an initially promising season for Simpson. You’ve got to ask yourself has he progressed since arriving here? I would say no. Can we get better players for the money he would command in transfer fees and wages? I would say yes, there’s a man with twice the finishing ability now proven at this level and available at half the price from Scunthorpe United for a start. Depending on price, wage demands and availability of others I would still take a chance on Simpson, but it’s QPR holding all the cards in that respect now after a rank run of form towards the end of the season – I can’t imagine Simpson will do much better than us this summer if he does leave Arsenal, or trouble the Emirates Stadium selectors greatly if he doesn’t. There’s a class Championship striker in there somewhere but he has been poor for a few weeks now. I accept, of course, my fair share of responsibility for describing his finishing as “deadly” just before he went off the rails altogether.

Lovenkrands almost got his second of the afternoon five minutes from time when Wayne Routledge, for once, got the better of Dusko Tosic down the QPR left and teed the ball up for Ryan Taylor to cross and the Dane to meet at the near post with a crisp half volley that Cerny saved well and held. Cerny saved well from Barton as Rangers were outnumbered on a Newcastle counter attack and Ephraim’s poor afternoon continued when he inadvertently blocked what looked to be a goal bound shot from Buzsaky. That was Ephraim’s last action of the game, replaced by Romone Rose who always looks a bit nervous when given his fleeting chances at Loftus Road and did so again here.

Newcastle for their part sent on Vuckic for Guthrie and Carroll for Ameobi, who was jeered from the field with chants of ‘you’re getting sold in the summer’, and the former wasted no time in making an impact – curling a fine effort an inch wide of the far top corner with his left foot from just inside the corner of the box. Cerny would have got nowhere near it had it turned slightly more and nestled in the roof of the net.

Rangers had a final chance to salvage a point when a crude foul by Ryan Taylor on Rose, for which he was booked, presented Akos Buzsaky with a wide free kick that he delivered plum onto the head of the unmarked Priskin five yards out from goal but Krul made a wonderful save at point blank range, flinging an arm up to divert the ball over the bar. Naturally Priskin was only unmarked because he was offside – his technique of standing offside as soon as the free kick is awarded, remaining there as it is taken, and then attacking the ball when it comes in is absolutely crazy, infuriating, mindless, ridiculous and hare brained. What he expects to happen is quite beyond me. The linesman at the Loft End in the second half was certainly eccentric - flagging for offside when it wasn’t, playing on when he should have flagged and spasmodically thrusting his flag in the air for offences unseen by everybody but him, often miles away from his position and much closer to the referee – but even he wasn’t stupid or incompetent enough to keep his flag down during Priskin’s mindboggling routine.

I do feel the Hungarian has had some unfair stick since he has been here. In the first half on Saturday he won four of six headers attempted (yes we were sad enough to count in F Block) and a fifth one was not cleared cleanly by Coluccini under pressure from Priskin. Admittedly I will concede that one of the headers was won against Hogan Ephraim getting in the way. But still, he has served a purpose that nobody else in the squad really could have done. He’s still a very poor, very dim, footballer though and having barely served that purpose for three long, hard months I hope he never darkens out door again. Expect him to be scoring against us within six months.

After the final whistle the players stayed in the dressing room for a ridiculously long period of time, meaning that many fans had left before the traditional lap of honour took place, but the warm reception given to both sets of player by the home fans was heartening and bodes well for an improved atmosphere at Loftus Road next season which Neil Warnock called for in an end of season address over the public address system.

On the day I was impressed with Leigertwood in two positions, Tosic and later Parker at full back ad Faurlin in midfield whose passing game continues to astound and amaze. The ultimate problem with our team though, a problem that if solved could paper over all the problems we have at full back and elsewhere, remains the strike force. Neil Warnock is clearly well aware of this, and after three seasons of trying to assemble a successful front line on the cheap with cast offs like Agyemang, foreign kids like Di Carmine and begging bowl loans like Simpson and Priskin I truly hope that the one thing we do this summer is really push the boat out and get ourselves two or three good quality Championship strikers.

While Warnock is charged with that task we will be keeping LoftforWords going over the summer with the usual array of features, reflections, previews and opinion pieces. Thank you for all your support this season and who knows, maybe this time next year I’ll be writing this final match report in celebratory mood rather than again reflecting on missed opportunities, farce and another opponent toasting success in front of us after the final game of the season.

Links >>> Have Your Say >>> Interactive Player Ratings >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Cerny 7, Leigertwood 7, Ramage 6, Gorkss 6, Tosic 8, Ephraim 5 (Rose 77, 6), Faurlin 8, Buzsaky 6, Cook 6 (Parker 49, 7), Simpson 6, Priskin 6

Subs Not Used: Putnins, Balanta, Brown, Oastler, German

Sent Off: Ramage 46 (professional foul)

Newcastle: Krul 7, Simpson 7, Coloccini 7, Williamson 8, Taylor 7, Routledge 6, Barton 7, Smith 6, Guthrie 6 (Vuckic 79, 7),Best 5 (Lovenkrands 54, 8), Ameobi 5 (Carroll 79, 6)

Subs Not Used: Harper, Nolan, Pancrate, Donaldson

Booked: Williamson (foul), Taylor (foul)

Goal: Lovenkrands 71 (assisted Barton)

QPR Star Man – Dusko Tosic 8 Faurlin was excellent but for me Tosic takes the award. Defensively he kept Routledge in his pocket on a day when Wayne will have been keen to impress. Offensively he provides us with an excellent outlet going forward and is a difficult man to stop in full flight. He also has a fine left footed cross on him. Depending on wage and contract demands he could well be a decent signing to look at for next season.

Referee – Darren Deadman 5 Possibly slightly harsh on the referee, but the officiating team as a whole did not cover themselves in glory on Saturday. Deadman got a number of decisions wrong, although the sending off looked fair enough, while his two linesmen may as well have slung five or six decisions into a hat and then drawn them out at random every couple of minutes such was the haphazard and at times bizarre decision making from both of them.

Attendance: 16,819 (3100 Newcastle approx) A huge and noisy following from Newcastle as expected. Quite a few Magpies in the home stands as well and while for the most part those that decided on that course of action abided by home end etiquette – i.e. no colours, no cheering and no taking the piss – several did not and there was an unsavoury incident in South Africa Road where a QPR fan objected to a Newcastle fan getting rather too animated and slung him over a few rows of seats. I deplore football violence in all forms but to be quite honest having had to sneak into home ends at Oldham, Fulham and Spurs in my time following Rangers and done so quietly, without colours and without celebration when we scored, if you cannot do that then you deserve a slap as hard as anybody can give you. The QPR fans were quiet in the first half but responded to the fine efforts of their numerically disadvantaged team with some rousing choruses in the second.

Photo: Action Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

You need to login in order to post your comments

Queens Park Rangers Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2024