Rangers win despite negative ending
Today the traditional Boxing Day fixture returned to Loftus Road for the first time in quite a few years as QPR hosted Bristol City.
The Lofty Heights crew was at near full strength today as Lofty, PK, Corp, Jenson, Justin and myself gathered outside the Springbok in the blistering sunshine(we wish!) in W12. After a swift halves we made our way into the ground to grab a traditional yorkshire wrap and a pie before taking our seats.
Paul Hart made three changes from last weekend’s draw against Sheffield United, one of which was forced. Damion Stewart was forced to sit out after receiving his 5th booking of the season against United, his replacement was Fitz Hall. Adel Taarabt and Patrick Agyemang dropped to the bench as Alejandro Faurlin and Akos Buzsaky returned to the starting line up.
The opening exchanges were pretty tight and the visitors created the better chances with Gavin Williams, Danny Haynes and Skuse having efforts at goal saved by Cerny and blocked.
Having been the lesser creative of the two teams in the opening exchanges Rangers soon made the all important breakthrough. Ben Watson’s corner was cleared to the edge of the box and was picked up by Fitz Hall, his lofted ball to the back post somehow found Jay Simpson and he controlled the ball before firing across the keeper into the right hand corner.
Rangers grew in confidence from the goal and began to attack Bristol City with a little more conviction.
Tommy Williams’ run and fantastic cross from the left hand side was missing one piece of the jigsaw, a finishing touch, otherwise Rangers would’ve been 2-0 up and coasting into half time. However the R’s weren’t to be denied of the cushion.
Leigertwood picked the ball up from a throw in and beat his man before letting rip with a left foot drive that just flew into the back of the net and gave Rangers a two goal lead. To be quite honest the two goal lead kind of flattered us as in my opinion we were not that much better than them, we were just defensively better and had Hall and Gorkss playing excellently at the back.
Half time came upon us and despite us being two goals to the good the mood wasn’t as upbeat as it usually would be, maybe it was because there was a hangover or two amongst a few of us but the football on display was hardly inspiring if I’m perfectly honest. Half time seemed to fly by and before we knew it we were back in our seats hoping the second half would go by as quickly as the interval.
Rangers were on the front foot at the start of the second half and when Routledge slid Simpson through on goal with his marker putting pressure on him, he elected to shoot early and placed his effort wide when maybe one more touch to compose himself and would’ve helped more and at least worked the Bristol City keeper.
Minutes later Bristol City were back in the game and what a goal it was.
Maynard had his back to goal on the 18 yard box as he was fed the ball by one of his team mates, he held off two defenders as he flicked the ball up and turned to lash in an unstoppable shot for what will be a contender for goal of the season. Numerous Rangers fans around the ground graciously applauded the genius of the goal and it was good to see football fans appreciate something like that.
Rangers responded to the goal positively as Jay Simpson attacked the left hand side a swung over a delightful cross for the shortest man on the pitch, Wayne Routledge, and he flung himself at the ball and was unable to get a decent head on the ball and the opportunity went begging.
Further attacks on the Bristol City came in the form of substitute Patrick Agyemang when he replaced Faurlin on 63 minutes as Rangers pressed for the all important third goal.
As Rangers were pressing more and more Bristol city started to slowly take advantage of the cracks appearing in the Rangers midfield.
A last minute intervention by Fitz Hall stopped Maynard grabbing the equalizer for the Robins as they became more and more dangerous. Hall was then at fault for some casual defending letting in Clarkson would smashed his effort into the side netting when he really should’ve scored.
Then came a moment that many that bought great displeasure to the Rangers faithful. Buzsaky and Simpson came off and were replaced by Connolly and Borrowdale. Connolly took his place just in front of the back four and Borrowdale looked to be on the left wing but we effectively had 6 defenders and two defensive midfielders on the pitch for the final ten minutes of the game. Ranger’s players also seemed to be under instruction to run the ball into the corners and waste time........ with 10 minutes to go and when we were in a position where we looked more than capable of scoring a third and this tactic was employed. I’ve never known a home team to do this and I think the reaction of a fair few Rangers fans summed it up really as chants of “we’re supposed to be at home” and there was even a chorus of boos that rung out pretty loudly as the time ticked down. Rangers were inviting the pressure onto them and looking to counter attack but only into the corner and with no attacking intention, you could only fear what would’ve happened had Bristol City snatched an equalizer, as it was the 3 points stayed in W12.
Well at the end of the day we won the three points but unfortunately many of the fans will go away remembering the final 10 minutes of the game when really we should be happy that we beat a team that is going to rival us in the hunt for a play-off place. I hope what we witnessed today is not the start of a negative tactics game that we are going to employ in the final 5-10 minutes of game, especially when we are at home. My belief is that the R’s fans pay bloody good money to come through the turnstiles and to be subjected to that when really we were strong enough to hold on without doing that. We won nonetheless so my rant is over.
Today’s Man of the Match was a unanimous vote between us all and has been awarded to Kaspers Gorkss for his sterling performance at the back and has really excelled in the past three games for the R’s. Tommy Williams and Mikele Leigertwood also turned in good performances but were overshadowed by the big Latvian.
QPR: Cerny, Ramage, Hall, Leigertwood, Routledge, Buzsaky (Connolly 83), Gorkss, Watson, Faurlin (Agyemang 63), Williams, Simpson (Borrowdale 83).
Subs not used: Taylor, Pellicori, Balanta, Taarabt.
Goals: Simpson (32), Leigertwood (40)
Bristol City: Gerken, Orr, McAllister, Fontaine, Carey, Maynard, Hartley, Skuse, Williams (Sno 70), Haynes (Sproule 83), Saborio (Clarkson 71).
Subs not used: Henderson, Elliott, Edwards, Nyatanga.
Goals: Maynard (57)
Bookings: Haynes, Maynard, Sno
Attendance: 13, 534