There’s nothing like watching a team implode before your very eyes. A tad dramatic yes, but on Saturday QPR did just that and threw away a potential three points against Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road.
The game was this weekend’s early kick-off and it seemed as if the home team were all still tucked up in bed, forgetting that there was a match to be won a few hours earlier than normal. Nottingham Forest looked like they had set their alarm clocks earlier and were quickly out of the traps. Chris O’Grady, David Vaughan and Henri Lansbury troubled the QPR defence with accurate passing and tricky play.
In a fairly forgettable first half for QPR, the only real bright spot was Gabrielle Angella’s blue bandaging across his forehead following an earlier collision. Unfortunately, the blood continued to flow and the Italian centre-half had to be subbed. A shame really as Angella, making his debut following a loan move from Watford, looked like a decent bit of business.
Although Forest didn’t have one real clear-cut chance, QPR were lucky to be 0-0 at half-time. As the teams started the second half however, QPR finally woke up and got into gear.
For the first 20 minutes, Matt Phillips, Charlie Austin and Massimo Luongo started to get on the ball and take control of the match. Despite dominating, it felt like something special was needed for the Rs to score and true to form, Charlie Austin picked up a ball and fired a shot in from outside the box.
The fact that Austin and Phillips have decided to stay at QPR is a real boon for the club and its fans. However, it has also raised expectations and the top six should be the minimum for QPR now. Austin’s goal on Saturday puts him on five goals in six games. The Premier League’s loss is most certainly our gain.
With the game seemingly in control, a perfectly decent pass back by Nedum Onuoha was woefully mis-controlled by Rob Green, who then in an effort to rectify the situation chopped down the on rushing O’Grady, giving away a penalty and receiving his marching orders; poor decision making by a very experienced player.
Needing to bring on the sub goalie, Ramsey bizarrely subbed Massimo Luongo. The Australian is a tireless midfield player, who can get forward but also provides bite and doesn’t shirk defence duties, basically ideal for when you’re down to ten men. Tjaronn Chery has been stealing goalscoring headlines in recent weeks, but other than finishing, I think he’s been poor so far this season and deserved to go off at the weekend as he was having a poor game. Perhaps his bad performance was overshadowed by Daniel Tozser’s debut for the club, which was, in a word, anonymous.
Anyway, off Luongo went, on came Alex Smithies, another making his QPR debut, but Forest captain Lansbury’s coolly dispatched the penalty.
When you’re at home, down to ten men, it’s the time for the team to show some character, the leaders amongst the men to be heard. If Clint Hill had been on the pitch or Shaun Derry (who had come back to watch the game as a guest) we might have seen a bit of that. But we didn’t. Our heads went. Austin dug in, tracked back, won a few tackles, Paul Konchesky also calmly went about his work, but by and large QPR were all at sea. Smithies in goal looked nervous and very shaky, the defence providing him with little cover.
It was only a matter of time before the inevitable Forest winner, and within ten minutes of Green being sent off they did, Chris O’Grady capitalising on more poor defensive play by the Rs.
What was worrying about Saturday’s match was the lack of a plan b. It felt like QPR’s tactics were to boot it to Austin’s head, or failing that give it to Matt Phillips and he’ll come up with something. It’s still early days in the league and QPR are currently seventh after six games, but for the majority of the match we weren’t very pleasant to watch.
Another telling fact is that QPR’s midfield looked weak. Tozser, Karl Henry and Chery all had days they would rather forget. Also without Ale Faurlin in midfield there is no one with the ability to make an intelligent forward pass. For those of you that love a stat – every game we’ve started with Faurlin, we’ve won. Every game he hasn’t, we’ve lost or drawn.
A day to forget for Rs fans, but fortunately the Championship schedule is unrelenting so QPR have a chance to put that bad defeat to bed against Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night.