The perfect present for Lofty and Corp.
This Saturday saw Neil Warnock take charge of his first match in charge of QPR against a West Brom side that are battling for automatic promotion and would provide a stern test for the troops, here’s how the day panned out.
Today was a day (and night) of celebrations as it was the day that the Lofty Heights crew celebrated two birthday’s, Lofty’s and Corp’s (I won’t reveal ages because you won’t believe how young they really are!). We assembled outside a cold Springbok at around 2ish for the usual meet and greet and pre match warm up beer before entering the ground. The atmosphere around the ground and in the ground was extremely positive. Since the Mittal’s have taken over and appointed Ishlan Saksena as Chairman and appointing Neil Warnock as manager, the club has a new sense of hope and excitement, I wish both parties all the best of luck for what looks to be an exciting future.
Neil Warnock’s first team selection bought four changes to last Saturday’s losing side at Middlesbrough. Peter Ramage, Akos Buzsaky and Antonio German dropped to the bench whilst Lee Cook missed out with a virus, in their places came Matt Connolly, Adel Taarabt, Hogan Ephraim and Tamas Priskin.
Prior to kick off there was a minute’s applause in memory of Mike Keen’s death a year ago and also for Macclesfield manager Keith Alexander who sadly passed away earlier this week, just hours after taking charge of their game at Notts County.
Rangers started off the game the brighter of the two teams and it looked as if Warnock had instructed the team to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, a system that worked fantastically well at the beginning of the season and bought a string of brilliant results. In this formation Adel Taarabt was playing just behind the front man and was receiving a lot of the ball and creating plenty of trouble for the West Brom defence. It was Taarabt’s cross that lead to the R’s first goal of the afternoon.
Scott Carson fumbled Taarabt’s right wing cross into the path of Hogan Ephraim, who couldn’t turn the ball home but the ball rolled into the path of Jay Simpson and he was more than happy to tuck home from six yards out and gave us the perfect start we all hoped for.
This goal helped the R’s faithful get behind the team that little bit more and once again we became that 12th man that the team had been lacking in the home fixtures this season. With the noise levels being cranked up the confidence grew and ultimately the second goal came, and what a goal it was.
The passing in the build up to the goal made this special and really set the tone of what we should expect from the players as they get used to the new man in charge. Taarabt had the ball on the left and after passing to Priskin and then Faurlin, it was the latter that played a perfectly weighted pass to Matt Connolly, he took one touch before sliding the ball under Carson and finished off a sublime piece of passing football by the Superhoops.
The two goals had really settled Rangers down and they begun to play some wonderful football.
Ikeme was soon called into action though as former R’s loanee Ben Watson drove an effort on goal after Gorkss’ weak clearance and the Wolves loanee was more than up to the challenge and tipped the effort wide for a corner.
That was the warning sign that Rangers unfortunately failed to recognise and just minutes later some poor defending lead to West Brom pulling one back.
Jerome Thomas, another former R’s loanee, sent a cross into the back post to Chris Brunt and his header looped over Ikeme, who lost his footing, into the back of the net. This goal made the R’s fans go pretty quiet for a while and lead to a nervous 10 minutes before half time.
The R’s backline managed to cope with the pressure and hung on in there and went into half time and gave Neil Warnock the chance to give his first team talk of his tenure and I’m sure there were plenty of positives to say in the dressing room but I’m sure that a slight kick up the backsides were given as well.
Downstairs on the gantry the mood was a positive one and the general feeling was that we had a good half an hour but looked to take our foot off the pedal slightly and looked very shaky after the goal. Despite this we were more than confident of a result that we didn’t think was possible until now.
We just missed the start of the second half due to having too much positive stuff to talk about and with the teams back on the pitch it was the visitors who had the first chance of the second half.
Jerome Thomas once again broke away down the Baggies left and his teasing cross was just cut out by Damion Stewart. Moments later West Brom broke down the right side with Chris Brunt and his cross was met by Simon Cox this time around and he failed to hit the target from this golden opportunity.
On the hour mark Akos Buzsaky came on for Hogan Ephraim.
Within 5 minutes of coming on Buzsaky nearly turned provider for a 3rd R’s goal of the day. His corner from the Rangers left was met by Damion Stewart from six yards out and how he never managed to score is beyond me, but Carson saved from close range.
On 67 minutes the game was sealed and in a very bizarre fashion!
Buzsaky took a free kick from the left hand side and around 40 yards out. His cross eluded everyone, bounced near the penalty spot, past Carson and hit the post before bouncing out and then spinning back in towards goal and creeping in at the opposite post, bizarre but who cares! 3-1 and we were heading towards a vital three points that no-one could’ve envisioned us getting at the start of the day.
Jay Simpson had a glorious chance to score a fourth after he was played in by a brilliant through ball by Rowan Vine, unfortunately the R’s top scorer was put off at the last minute and his shot dribbled just wide of the target.
West Brom did press in the final 10 minutes of the game but with the R’s backline holding firm for the remainder of the game the points were sealed and three precious points stayed in W12.
After the final whistle Neil Warnock instructed all the players out onto the pitch to give the fans a clap, I think this is the first time in many years that more than 4-5 players has done this and was a really nice touch at the end of a day were the club grew ever stronger and built a better platform for the players and fans of the club to move forwards together.
A really good performance from Rangers and the battling quality that you knew Neil Warnock would install into the team was there to see. Watching Warnock stand in the technical area throughout the 90 minutes waving his arms around in a wild disco inferno/air guitar type style was interesting to see and you could see that he was kicking every ball with everyone out there today. Keith Curle was also out there for the duration of the game so it’s safe to say that there were plenty of instructions being thrown around out there today.
We move onto Lofty’s Man of the Match. There are a few players that stood out for us today. Damion Stewart was a rock at the heart of the defence and nearly got himself on the scoresheet. Jay Simpson run his socks off today and was very unlucky to only have one goal to his name after a sterling performance. Today’s award however goes to someone who battled away at the heart of the midfield and is becoming a focal point of the holding midfield role, so for this Alejandro Faurlin gets the spoils today.
QPR: Ikeme, Stewart, Leigertwood, Gorkss, Connolly, Faurlin, Hill, Simpson, Ephraim (Buzsaky 59), Priskin (Vine 77), Taarabt (Ramage 69).
Subs: Cerny, Balanta, Borrowdale, German.
Scorers: Simpson (13), Connolly (18), Buzsaky (67)
Bookings: Priskin, Faurlin
West Bromwich Albion: Carson, Olsson, Cech (Miller 64), Brunt, Thomas, Mulumbu, Watson, Tamas, Morrison (Dorrans 68), Cox, Reid.
Subs: Kiely, Mattock, Koren, Moore, Meite.
Scorers: Brunt (36)
Bookings: Cech, Brunt
Referee: Mr S Attwell
Attendance: 14, 578 (2, 105)
After the game the gang once again met up at the Springbok for some birthday drinks to help Lofty and Corp celebrate their separate milestones. Amongst the group were Lofty, Corp, PK, California Hoop, Jenson, Sam, Justin, Jointy, Matt, George, Steve, Small Bladder, Ibiza (with his wife) and one or two members names that I really can’t remember as its now 3am as I’m writing this.
After a few swift halves in the Bok we moved onto Nandos that provided the base for more drinking antics for everyone (except me as I was driving). A visit to The Green was next on the agenda and we met the lovely Jill and her friend Lucy in there as another couple of hours drinking were enjoyed.
I left the group as they embarked on a trip to the Walkabout and then at my last point of contact they had moved onto Acton.
It was a great night out for everyone and I hope Lofty and Corp had a fantastic night of drinking, they were both very much on the way as I left them.
The boys even posed for a photo once enough drink had been poured down their throats so I could show all the viewers who the famous Lofty and Corp are....... Happy Birthday lads!!