|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Cardiff City|
Saturday, 31st October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Ideas above one's station - Report
Sunday, 1st Nov 2020 19:40 by Clive Whittingham
QPR dominated, led, collapsed, blew it, and won it all over again in miraculous circumstances against Cardiff City at Loftus Road on Saturday, thanks to a late piledriver from Dominic Ball.
After a bright and breezy start, an ill-wind blew fine rain in at a right angle across Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday morning soaking hardy dog walkers and little league watchers to the skin. A queue huddled together for warmth under the awning at Proud Mary’s waiting for one more breakfast before a second lockdown bites. There were analogies to be had wherever you looked. All of them bleak.
At the town meat safe, middle managers examined spreadsheets and sucked teeth over a string of numbers all heading in the wrong direction. No wins in seven games, no goals in four outings, three wins from 18 behind closed doors, ten wins in 40 going back into last season, an insatiable desire to concede penalties. The prospects for Queens Park Rangers looked as dark as those for the society around them. Not much cop with supporters to help them, QPR have looked potentially League One bound without them.
Warbs Warburton twisted looking for answers. Bright Osayi-Samuel contract chess moved bishop to knight two, returning him to the starting line-up. Ilias Chair making what many consider a long overdue move inside to ‘ten’ behind Lyndon Dykes. Conor Masterson in for Rob Dickie, one game on the naughty step for his midweek footballing beer shit. The artist formerly known as Todd Kane making a first start of the campaign with Osman Kakay removed from the firing line after a tough week. Geoff Cameron recalled to add physicality and babysit Little Tom Carroll with a Neil Harris team in town – that rotah turned up to my cousin’s funeral wearing white jeans. Sound the alarm.
Cardiff had been beaten 6-1 at Loftus Road back when you didn’t need a government permit to pick up drill bits from Selco (it’s where the trade go). Only Osayi-Samuel remained of their torturers in chief that day – a hat trick for Nahki Wells and one for Ebere Eze highlighting once again, as if it needed highlighting, the talent that has drained out of this QPR team in a relatively short period of time. Speaking of which, Smithies in Red, dancing with me, cheek to cheek. Up front, one of the failed attempts at covering for the departures, Kieffer Moore failing to show for a summer medical once Cardiff’s terms had been put on the table for a move from Wigan. Another pre-written signing piece filed safely in the Darren Ambrose Memorial Recycling Bin. Rangers left wondering what might have been as Dykes hunted a first goal from open play for his new club against a side unbeaten in four away games, with only one goal conceded – a division leading record.
Hold up, what’s this? Red and white halves? Be still my beating bell end. One – something about 75/76. Two – element of surprise. Is it really QPR? Who can tell? Whack. Two nil up straight away. Have you not seen Pearl Harbor? Whatever happened to Josh Hartnett anyway? Three – give us your money. Look at it. LOOK AT IT.
Eyes down look in for any ball across. Albert Adomah in immediately off Lyndon Dykes’ approach work – Smithies thrusting up an arm to repel all boarders. Should have scored. The Kanemeister General following up with a long ranger, gathered at the second attempt by our former goalkeeping trojan. Corners. All the corners. Nice deep cross for Dykes to attack over the back of Morrison, deflected wide. All very good and positive, as had been the case for 20 minutes at Barnsley on Tuesday. What QPR needed now was a real live goal, a whole one, and Tom Carroll intelligently got Adomah in behind his full back on the byline to stand up a cross, the moment arrived for Ilias Chair. Not an easy chance, but one he dispatched expertly back into the far corner of the net with a clever, improvised volley that bounced once into the ground on its way in.
So began our latest exciting round of What Is A Yellow Card Anyway? And here’s your host, Chuckles Woolmer. Lifting your shirt up slightly to pay respect to a recent fallen team mate – yellow card. A crunching two footed follow through into Yoann Barbet’s shins by a frustrated Joe Ralls – yellow card, although we asked the audience on that one. Tactical foul by Geoff Cameron on halfway – yellow card. Tactical foul by Bacuna on Bright Osayi-Samuel – yellow card. Tactical foul by Todd Kane in first half injury time – yellow card. Absolutely blatant, deliberate trip by Kane on a man well clear of him at the start of the second half – not even a free kick. Horrible, deliberate, lunging tackle from Will Vaulks on Bright Osayi-Samuel as he streaked clear down the right – not a yellow card. Needless smash through the back of an opponent going nowhere immediately after this by the same Cardiff player – no yellow card. Keeps it interesting doesn’t it, when the rules are applied harshly and leniently, strenuously and lackadaisically, offishly and sloppily, often in the same minute, often in the same passage of play. I enjoy it. And the new addition to the format for 2020, allowing a designated player to be immune from punishment regardless of action, as Andre Ayew was at Swansea in February, has injected life and drama into a flagging concept. Eight out of ten, would recommend.
The repeated hacks at Bright, booked or otherwise, betrayed Cardiff’s fear of the QPR winger. He ended Jazz Richards’ professional career when last we met, and he was back to something approaching his best here, strong and purposeful runs, dangerous receptions of possession on the half turn, always looking to go forwards and make things happen. With the front three behind Dykes now finally in something like the shape we expected, the three of them thrived, with Cardiff unable to double up on Adomah, Chair or Osayi-Samuel for fear of leaving one of the others free. QPR looked very good indeed as a result, and it was no surprise when Chair retrieved Adomah’s cross on 27 minutes, flicked it back infield over his head removing Vaulks from the Greater London city limits in the process, and then crossed accurately for Todd Kane to stride onto the ball and finish into the roof of the net with a beautiful first time shot of immaculate technique. Celebrating almost as soon as it left his boot. Goal of the season that one, we can’t possibly score a better one right? Right? Is this thing on? Two nil Margaret, tell the children.
Confident, against busted opposition, Rangers hunted a third before half time, and would have had it but for Chair’s slightly errant finish on the end of a slick counter attack with Bright at its heart. Terrified of him I tell you, Bacuna in the Jazz Richards role this time. Seny Dieng’s confident, assured claim under the cross bar at the near post under pressure from Moore as Cardiff launched one of multiple Vaulks long throws into the red zone was as scary as it got on All Hallow’s Eve.
Job one was to get to half time without conceding. Job two was to kill the first ten minutes of the second half, which Cardiff would surely attack fresh from 15 minutes of being repeatedly called a mug or a slag. Junior Hoilett, once of this parish, came on for Vaulks. Lee Tomlin wasn’t far behind him, just had to finish three litres of Madagascan vanilla custard first. It took QPR seven minutes to blink, The Barbinger of Doom honing into view with another wild, needless, obviously dangerous sliding tackle on Moore in the area. A fourth penalty conceded in four games, Ralls rolled home though Dieng did at least go the right way.
Now 2-1, and a whole different complexion. QPR have shit the bed at the slightest hint of adversity this season and suddenly looked well in the mood for a complete implosion again. Barbet clattered through the back of a man needlessly on halfway – no yellow card, just as well as that would have been a red. A free header from a long throw directed, mercifully, straight at Seny Dieng. Ojo cuts in off the right, squares up, and shoots over. Masterson’s blind back header to his keeper played perilously close to Moore – Dieng brave and alert right on the edge of the box to prevent disaster. Hoilett cuts in off his flank, shoots off target. Letting it Bounce - The Yoann Barbet Story, available in all good bookshops, another senseless free kick conceded, missed by Dieng, headed over by Moore at the far post. The clock read 61, then after half an hour or so 62, then after another quarter of an hour 63, then after a small while back to 62 again. A-level maths classes have zipped by quicker than this. From in charge and looking good, now Rangers didn’t look capable of even hanging on for a point, unable to string four passes together and regain a foothold in the match.
Chris Willock replaced the tiring Adomah shortly after he’d failed with an attempted backflick finish from a Bright cross. Some sunshine poking through the cloud as Tomlin committed a thick yellow card challenge on Osayi-Samuel. Dom Ball was brought on for a what-we-have-we-hold mission and with ten minutes to go QPR players started to hit the deck with Preston cramp. Wait there, I’ve had a brilliant idea. Have you? I’m going to stick my arm up in the air. Are you? Yeh. Ok then. Penalty number two, Conor Masterson the heartbreaker, Ralls the executioner via a rebound from a Dieng save. While I stepped away a moment to regather myself emotionally, Hoilett could easily have won it. QPR were done. Too deep, too tired, incapable of holding possession, and now with nothing to protect.
Why do we put ourselves through it? There’s no pleasure in this. It's savage amusement. We’re not even there any more. Terminally emotionally invested in something destined to disappoint us, peered at through small screens for ever-mounting subscription fees. There could be so much more to life than this, and yet we piss it away, drinking ourselves to death through one instantly forgettable bucket of Championship slop after another. Let down, time after time, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation. Destined to curse the terminal incompetence of QPR until we’re dead in the ground, like our fathers and grandfathers before us. Other football clubs are available, what the hell did any of us do to deserve being saddled with these suicidal self immolation enthusiasts? I’ll stick my hand in the air indeed. Fuck me.
There was no playing out from the back now. Dieng was just happy the ball wasn’t in the back of his net again, pinging it high and long as far away from his goal as he could get it as five minutes flashed up on the stoppage time board. You sensed four minutes and 45 seconds of that at least would be spent under some sort of siege. Dykes got up and won the header well. Dom Ball peeled off the back of an opponent and controlled the ball with his right foot, moving it into a pocket of space in front of him, 25 yards out from goal.
They’re swines you know. They know when they’ve pisballed about too long. They know when they’ve pushed you as far as you can go. No wins in seven, no goals in four, now a two nil lead blown, five penalties conceded in four games… come on lads, we’ve all had a drink. Just when your bags are packed and the cab is outside and you’re heading for the exit with your door key left mournfully on the kitchen table they stir themselves, slide a conciliatory arm around your slumped and broken shoulders, and whisper into your ear, “I’m sorry, come back inside, I love you really.” We can’t help ourselves. He’s changed mum, it’ll be different this time.
Dominic Ball Ideas Above His Station No.439 In The Series – burning the barn down from 25 yards, a shot for the ages on his weaker foot, a weapon of mass destruction arrowing through the night sky, tearing the net from the posts as it arrives in the top corner like a meteor sent to kill us all. Among a scattered, disparate, lonely fan base, scenes of pandemonium. Smithies, snu-snu'd by the most beautiful women of Amazonia, then the large women, then the petite women, then the large women again. Somebody check on Andy Sinton. Has anybody called Nicky Campbell?
Woolmer advertised five minutes, and played seven. But it’s never anything other than your day when Dom Ball scores from 25 yards on his left foot in the last minute, and so it proved. If you’re still minded to focus on the bad - the penalties, the defending, the panic, the surrendering of the lead, the cracks papered over - then seek help, or find something else to do with your time, there’s something wrong with you, and this isn’t for you. That stuff is for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and all the various miseries still to come in 2020/21. There’ll be plenty of them, keep your powder dry, we can talk about Yoann chuffing Barbet after Wednesday’s defeat at Derby. For now, all that matters is that goal, that moment and this feeling. Sweet, nourishing joy, gasped as we surfaced for air from beneath the tidal wave of liquid shit that is 2020. Redemption for weeks of Shawshank. Take it, treasure it, remember it, do not let it go, bring it to mind next time you wonder why we still do this to ourselves. We do it for moments like that, made all the more intense by the sheer weight of awfulness we have to sit through to get to them, and the only shame of it was we weren’t there to see it live, grabbing random strangers and tumbling down concrete steps in unbridled, unrivalled, childish ecstasy.
The rest of it? The rest of it can wait.
QPR: Dieng 6; Kane 7, Masterson 5, Barbet 5, Hämäläinen 6; Cameron 6, Carroll 6; Adomah 7 (Willock 63, 6), Chair 8, (Ball 81, 7), Osayi-Samuel 7 (Bonne 90+5, -); Dykes 6
Subs not used: Kakay, Bettache, Kelman, Kelly
Goals: Chair 15 (assisted Adomah), Kane 27 (assisted Chair), Ball 90+1 (assisted Dykes)
Yellow Cards: Chair 15 (over celebrating), Cameron 31 (foul), Kane 45+3 (foul), Barbet 48 (foul, penalty concession)
Cardiff: Smithies 6; Bacuna 5 (Harris 90+5, -), Morrison 5, Nelson 5, Bennett 5; Pack 6, Vaulks 5 (Hoilett 46, 7); Ojo 6, Ralls 6, Murphy 6 (Tomlin 68, 7); Moore 6
Yellow Cards: Ralls 22 (foul), Bacuna 38 (foul), Tomlin 75 (foul)
Goals: Phillips, Whyte, Bamba, Bagan
Goals: Ralls 49 (penalty, won Moore, conceded Barbet), 85 (penalty rebound, won Moore, conceded Masterson)
QPR Star Man – Ilias Chair 8 Back in the position most would consider to be his strongest, and the one we expected him to play this season, central at ten with Osayi-Samuel one side and Adomah the other, he and the QPR attack produced their best performances of the season. Lovely, clever, calculated finish for goal one off great Adomah and Carroll build up, then a stylish assist for Todd Kane’s goal less than a quarter of an hour later.
Referee – Chuckles Woolmer (Northants) 5 The two penalties were blatant, and he was well positioned to award both immediately. Other than that, the usual collection of curiosities. Ilias Chair, a yellow card for lifting his shirt up (not off) celebrating a goal in an empty stadium. Todd Kane, on a yellow card from first half injury time, quite obviously and deliberately trips a Cardiff man right at the start of the second half, not even a free kick is awarded. Kane, Cameron and Bacuna all yellow carded for cynical, tactical fouls, but when Vaulks cracked through the side of Osayi-Samuel with a horrible tackle on a player that was free and bursting into the Cardiff half, not even a yellow was shown when it looked like a potential red. Vaulks, as with Andre Ayew when we played at Swansea with this referee in February, seemingly given immunity from cards and carte blanche to do as he pleased. Five minutes of time advertised at the end of the game – actually played seven.
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