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Queens Park Rangers 2 v 0 Coventry City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 28th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Swung by the subs, QPR maintain unbeaten start - Report
Sunday, 29th Aug 2021 17:22 by Clive Whittingham

QPR overcame an impressive looking Coventry team and ropey first half to win 2-0 at Loftus Road on Saturday and head into the international break unbeaten.

A thought occurred to me yesterday, as we watched our hooped chimps tossing the latest unsolved Rubik’s Cube between them – when did the Championship get all sophisticated for itself?

The answer is that it probably hasn’t. Watching a couple of QPR games in August and sleeping off a hangover with Fulham drawing against Middlesbrough on in the background then using it to make a sweeping judgement about the direction of travel of an entire league is the sort of half-arsed, token coverage of life outside The Best League In The World we like to leave to other publications and websites. Some Premier League hack given time off from his usual beat of “five things we learned from Red Monday” and vital hot take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s £480k a week deal with Manchester United that doesn’t include “abhorrent” among its word count nor any mention of why he might have trouble clearing customs on their US tour next summer, sent to point at Fulham v Stoke on August Bank Holiday weekend and go “ooooh fourth v fifth” or Tweet about Pep Guardiola’s all conquering reach and influence because he’s stumbled across a clip of some idiot scum like Rochdale stringing a dozen passes together.

When the weather turns, the pitches crumble, the players tire and the fixtures start racking up, the Championship will be the same channel-ball obsessed dirge it always has been. It already counts, among its early pace setters, Cardiff City, who have scored nine times in five games, every one of them a header. Aden Flint, part footballer, part mythical beast who lives in the woods in Roald Dahl books, is the division’s top scorer with four from centre back.

Nevertheless, with Barnsley at Loftus Road last week, and Coventry City this, we have been treated – if that’s the right word, given our allegiance – to a couple of eye-catching, attractive, innovative approaches to second tier football. QPR have remained unbeaten through both, and their first seven league and cup games of the campaign overall, but it’s been a real wrestle for them, mentally and physically, against a pair of sides that, initially at least, looked to have outsmarted Rangers.

Coventry were promoted a little over a year ago and with three wins from four games to start 2021/22 proving, like Luton and Barnsley before them, that if you can survive that first Championship season out of League One there’s serious ladder climbing that can be done in year two. They matched QPR with a back three and wing back system, and Fankaty Dabo’s impressive turn on the right side of that set up suggests that Todd Kane’s impending move to that part of the world is merely going to see him parked back on the bench behind another younger, better right wing back who he presumably also thinks he can drink under the table for football smarts. Farwell Todd, good luck Cov. The midfield was anchored by Gustavo Hamer, who I never see have a bad game and is fast replacing Alex Mowatt in the “is it just me?” stakes now somebody has finally sat up, noticed and extricated him from South Yorkshire.

Viktor Gyokeres was only afforded seven starts and 12 sub appearances on loan here from Brighton last season, and contributed three goals in that gametime, but they made the move permanent in the summer regardless and he’s already scored against Forest and Blackpool for a gain of four points. Here the movement of he and Greggs mascot Martyn Waghorn gave Rangers’ three centre backs all they wanted for the first hour. For the majority of the first half it looked like being a repeat of seven days prior, when Rangers were two down at the break and lucky to still be in touch. De Wijs was required to block a chance behind on two minutes after Willock conceded possession, Johansen and Austin both came charging back down the pitch in desperation to avert a huge counter attack from a botched QPR throw on five – Maatsen piling forward from left wing back drew a save from Dieng.

Cov could and should have scored three times in a minute a short while later. Gyokeres got the better of De Wijs, squared the ball to Waghorn, and his shot was bravely blocked by Yoann Barbet. Lines not cleared, possession recycled, Gyokeres with the shot, Barbet with a second block. Pressure still on, Hamer arriving from deep, Barbet in the way for a third time. O’Hare keen to get involved, Dieng with a comfortable save. Barbet, making a sixty fifth consecutive league appearance for Rangers, had maintained the deadlock almost single handedly. Mark Robins’ team were able to effectively go around the side of QPR either with Dabo down the right or Maatsen on the left, and then quickly work the ball into big spaces behind Johansen and in front of the back three where the dangerous Callum O’Hare was roaming with too much freedom. They looked very tidy indeed, Dickie’s excellent recovery tackle on 22 denying them once, Dieng saving from another long range Hamer strike twice, and Waghorn’s farcical dive in the area with better options available a third time. Ilias Chair’s free kick, over the wall, down out of the sky, and perfectly placed in the top corner, was the first real bit of respite for the hosts after half an hour but goalkeeper Simon Moore, finally being given a run as a number one after a lifetime spent as a reserve keeper (best career in the world), saved well with one hand.

Gentle Ben’s hospital pass got Johansen in trouble ten before half time and he had to commit a cynical foul and take a thick yellow card to stop another breakway. A corner two minutes later looked in all the way from the South Africa Road stand but somehow went wide. When a pretty obvious foul on Willock was waved away you feared this might be the moment for the Cov goal, because QPR had probably deserved to concede one all half and hadn’t but now didn’t so would. In the end, O’Hare dribbled an assist all the way through the goalmouth without a finishing touch.

Nil nil at half time was about the most positive thing the home crowd had to cling to, and the main significant difference from seven days prior, but it needed a super Dieng save to deny Waghorn in the first minute of the second half to maintain that. A flurry of corners followed, one chested back out of play by Moses Odubajo, another spectacularly cleared with his head by man of the moment Rob Dickie, but QPR were better after that: more urgency, more tempo, more effect on the game. Not many chances though, with Charlie Austin rather labouring as a lone striker against the three visiting centre backs, starved of service and lacking the pace to worry them of his own accord.

It needed QPR subs after just half an hour to turn the tide against the Tykes, and it was the benches that made the big difference here too. Coventry, presumably through fitness, replaced both Waghorn and Gyokeres on the hour. QPR’s defenders would have been glad to see the back of the pair of them, and Matt Godden and Tyler Walker were a thousand miles off the players they’d replaced. Chances and pressure at the School End wizened and evaporated entirely. When Lyndon Dykes stripped for the hosts you wondered whether Warbs Warburton was going to be brave/foolish and remove Dom Ball – so good last week, guilty of over-complicating this – to get the two up top. The presence of O’Hare, already getting too much joy between the lines, probably discouraged him, and Ilias Chair’s recovery from Covid-19 perhaps made the decision for him. Still, plenty of puzzled looks when the ten went up, though these turned to smiles within 60 seconds as Rangers maintained possession and pressure around the edge of the area from a corner and Willock cross, Ball nodded the ball to his left, and Dykes got an arcing shot away quickly with his first and second touch of the match, finding the far bottom corner from 20 yards expertly. Ten goals, four assists, 14 games.

The game took on a different feel immediately. Now it was Odubajo, rather than Dabo, making hay from right wing back, drawing a yellow card for Clarke-Salter. QPR were in the ascendency, creating the chances, playing the football, and bossing the game as they’d been bossed in the first half. Moore saved very adeptly from Dykes, late sub Osman Kakay dragged a presentable chance across the face of the goal. Yoann Barbet, who’d been the pick of the defence in the first half, was now ponsing around so far up the field the EFL has selected him in the team of the week in midfield. A ball rolling out towards him 40 yards from goal with a quarter of an hour left for play was met with an anti-Hugill, hard and low, head too far over the ball if anything, and it flew like a comet towards the bottom corner. It was all Moore could do to keep it out, even from that range, and when Austin, for all his struggles on the day, reacted quicker than Hyam to the rebound and recycled it he found Barbet had continued his forward maraud - because of course, we've got two more centre backs, we don't know where they are at the moment but you carry on - and was on hand to thump the game-sealing goal into the roof of the net. Dykes had transformed the game, but Barbet was its star man.

Though the Scotsralian, and a couple of team mates, must now embark on the new and, frankly pretty disgraceful, three-match international breaks, it’s a moment for the rest of the squad to take a breath and rest up after an August well done. Rangers have, at times, such as Hull and Middlesbrough away, the second halves of the Barnsley and Coventry games, played very well, and showed why they were many people’s dark horses to challenge this season. At others, Millwall H and the first half of the other two Loftus Road games, they’ve struggled through a combination of impressive and sometimes quite clever opposition and also the drawbacks that come with an attacking wingback system. I know I’m a fanboy, and Dom Ball impressed at Hull and against Barnsley, but I think Sam Field deeper and off Johansen would make an enormous difference. This isn’t a team that’s won three and lost three though. QPR are unbeaten in seven league and cup games to begin the campaign, unbeaten in nine going back to the end of April, only Man City (22) have won more than our 18 games in 2021 so far.

When we’re on it, we’re really on it, and when we’re not, we’re resilient. Promising signs, good traits, excellent entertainment. August successfully tucked up in bed, time for a quiet glass of wine with Newsnight.

Links >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Dieng 8; Odubajo 7, Dickie 7, De Wijs 7, Barbet 8, McCallum 6 (Kakay 85, -); Johansen 7, Ball 6, Chair 6 (Dykes 67, 8); Austin 5 (Dozzell 77, 6), Willock 7

Subs not used: Archer, Dunne, Adomah, Thomas

Goals: Dykes 68 (assisted Ball), Barbet 76 (assisted Austin)

Bookings: Johansen 35 (foul)

Coventry: Moore 7; Dabo 7, Hyam 6, McFadzean 6, Clarke-Salter 6 (Allen 72, 6), Maatsen 7; Hamer 7, Sheaf 6, O’Hare 7; Waghorn 7 (Godden 61, 5), Gyokeres 7 (Walker 61, 5)

Subs not used: Rose, Wilson, Shipley, DaCosta

Bookings: Clarke-Salter 71 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Yoann Barbet 8 Three blocks/tackles to prevent goals in the first half and then a score of his own in the second moves him just ahead of game-changer Dykes and the excellent De Wijs, who has still only lost twice for QPR and was subbed off in both those games.

Referee – Dean Whitestone (Northants) 7 Perhaps a little bit picky and fussy at times, particularly with small stuff like placement of free kicks and throw ins, but overall fine and all the significant calls were right.

Attendance – 14,774 (2,000 Coventry approx.)

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Paddyhoops added 18:15 - Aug 29
Great report. Thought Coventry were a decent side and should have been in front at half time. Dykes introduction changed the game. He's turning into the player we hoped he would.
We never looked in danger after the first goal .
Roll on September.


0

jack10qpr added 19:30 - Aug 29
Good report as ever, a couple of points I’d like to raise:

Dieng 7 WHAT?!
Moses 7 Explain.
Dickie 7 is this a joke?
De Wijs 7 I’d probably give a 6.95 but get your point of view.
Barbet 8 Only?!
McCallum 6 as in less than 7?
Johansen 7 he ran loads.
Ball 6 bit harsh
Chair 6 6?
Austin 5 got an assist so that’s wrong
Willock 7 bang on I’d say.

Apart from that, good read!
0

Northernr added 19:35 - Aug 29
If anybody needs me I'll be jumping off a very tall building.
4

GloryHunter added 19:35 - Aug 29
Nice write-up Clive, but Seny only a 7? He won the points for us, in my opinion - and in Stef's, too, who pushed him towards the Loft crowd to take a bow at the end.
0

jack10qpr added 19:37 - Aug 29
Just poking fun at the ratings situation. You write all that and mainly have to talk to people about what number you give them at the end.
0

Northernr added 19:38 - Aug 29
A 6 for this? It's worth at least 6.5. A 7 for him? This should be a 9. That should be a 4. He should be an 8. This is a 5.5.

Let's have a look at what you guys rated the players in the interactive ratings shall we?

Oh.

Seny Dieng 7.44
Moses Odubajo 6.54
Rob Dickie 6.96
Jordy de Wijs 7.13
Dominic Ball 6.48
Stefan Johansen 6.75
Yoann Barbet 7.73
Sam McCallum 6.35
Chris Willock 6.49
Ilias Chair 6.19
Charlie Austin 5.46

1

Northernr added 19:44 - Aug 29
Jack if you'd been serious I might have actually cried :-D

Dieng I've upped. I'm not sure I agree though. It's a team performance of a 6/7 so there's not meant to be too many 8s in that.
1

jack10qpr added 19:44 - Aug 29
I was only joking. I thought the “6.95 not 7” gave it away. Just see you always have to defend the ratings in the comments despite all the work put into the actual report.
0

jack10qpr added 19:45 - Aug 29
Haha. Feel bad now.
0

Northernr added 19:47 - Aug 29
Don't worry mate, I'mjust touchy about it for exactly the reason you say.
I've now got people coming up to me in the Crown to debate ratings post match :-D
0

GloryHunter added 19:51 - Aug 29
Thanks for everything, Clive. But player ratings is an interesting subject. I remember Gary Neville - in his pomp for England and Man Utd - delaying a post-match interview while he searched for his match rating in the Manchester Evening News. It means a lot to the players, as well as us.
0

jack10qpr added 19:51 - Aug 29
Maybe offer to change the rating if they buy you a peroni? Could get a lot of free beer if you make the ratings really wild!
0

Northernr added 20:10 - Aug 29
I mean it's a nonsense really, boiling 90 minutes of football down to an arbitary rating out of 10.

I end up saying something similar to this every week but for yesterday...

Team performance is a 6/7. So that's where most of the ratings will be.
We've given two or three tens in 20 years I think, so certainly none of those.
You'll be lucky to get a 9 off us as well, and certainly in a team performance of 6/7. Dickie got a 9 at Hull where we thought the team performance was 7/8, he'd kept a clean sheet, scored a goal, and performed a miraculous goalline clearance. Nobody in that category yesterday so no 9s.
I thought Barbet was obviously the star man, and he's bumped up to an 8 by a goal and those three blocks in the first half. Dieng kept a clean sheet, made a great save at the start of the second half, I guess an 8 could be argued. De Wijs was my other top performer, but he hasn't scored and blocked three goal bound shots has he? So 7s.
I think the other 7s are self explanatory.
Of the 6s, I thought McCallum (understandably) tired badly second half, though I liked what I saw before that. Ball tried to do too much complicated stuff with the ball that he's not capable of, culminating in the Johansen booking.
Charlie I thought struggled, mainly due to him not really being suited to the lone striker role, and not getting the service, so niot his fault, and he did get an assist, but still a 5.
Obviously nobody lower than that.

For them, O'Hare, Hamer, Dabo and maybe Gyokeres would all have been 8s if they'd got a result/goal.
2

Northernr added 20:14 - Aug 29
And another thing...
There is a discussion on this post match in the Crown among up to a dozen of us. Thrash it out, agree and disagree. Sometimes I end up disagreeing with my own ratings, but I take on board what other people say in the pub.
I also pay attention to the interactive ratings from you guys on here, to make sure I'm not miles off from the group think.
And I have a look at the statistical one from WhoScored, though it does seem to place big value on stuff that I don't - Dom Ball always scores signficantly higher with them than with me.
1

Paddyhoops added 20:23 - Aug 29
On the crown and sceptre. I had the weeping tiger off the Thai menu. Would highly recommend. This is not an advert!!
0

Northernr added 20:29 - Aug 29
Only slight drawback is it sets the fire alarm off.
0

062259 added 03:49 - Aug 30
Absolutely fabulous technique to strike that shot, that hard, from that far, from Barbet. Not what you expect from a centre back. If the team can just shake off the dodgy starts and stop conceding the first goal so often, they might be on to something.
0

062259 added 04:02 - Aug 30
And on the ratings, if you keep responding to comments, you will continue to get them. Why not just post the interactive ratings and be done with it? I know why, because you love it !! ;-)
0

gazza1 added 08:29 - Aug 30
Agree with most Norf - marks are always going to be a emotive thing.......but you need to watch Dom Ball a lot closer. It surprises me, it appears, that you do not think that he is a big asset to the team and that Field is going to improve the team as much as you suggest. Bringing another left footer in the midfield may unbalance things and I believe it will take a lot of much needed energy from the midfield.
0

Northernr added 08:30 - Aug 30
TBF I gave Ball MOTM last week Gazza. I thought he was trying ideas above his station on Saturday, resulting directly in the Johansen booking where he played us into the sht. Still, a 6, it's not a 4.
1

gazza1 added 09:00 - Aug 30
I look forward to the next home game Norf.....bring ear plugs!!!!!
0

francisbowles added 11:51 - Aug 30
I thought Stef's speed of thought process and virtually simultaneous execution of the foul that earned him a booking was amazing. I thought he should have scored an extra mark just for that.😁
0

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 12:57 - Aug 30
Get Len Goodman in to do the ratings and save yourself a 💩load of grief Clive.
0

Mick_S added 14:11 - Aug 30
Clive, regarding the ratings furore and tumult - do you think a colour coded scheme, rather than the very complicated 1 to 10 system that the whole world uses for other things, would be more apt?

Obviously, brown would be at the bottom - a stinker. I’d suggest a fairly inoffensive colour, like orange, could represent a decentish performance. A good half/bad half game could result in mixing colours, perhaps? I’m struggling for a colour to describe a Barbetesque performance like yesterday. Maybe blue?

I’m not sure. Hope this helps.
0

distortR added 15:28 - Aug 30
Mick, orange may offend a section of our support.......
The whole thing is riven with pitfalls.
0


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