Lofty Heights... 'Ohhh Bobby Zamooooora!!!'

A look at Queens Park Rangers F.C. through the eyes of the fans - follow us on twitter @loftyheights70, @LoftyQPR and @qprleeroy

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Completely Hughes-Less...

QPR 0-1 Fulham

Pavel Pogrebnyak's 7th minute strike was enough for the visitors as QPR succumbed to yet another frustrating and disappointing defeat at Loftus Road - helped in no way by debutant, Samba Diakete's red card on 32 minutes.

Due to our earlyish F.A.Cup exit, we had a free weekend last Saturday and following our many disappointing results, the QPR team were rewarded with a week in Portugal at a training camp/team bonding week - I know what I would get if I under performed at work...

From what we heard all over the internet, the week went very well. But there were also alledged stories of a player headbutting another and also suprised me somewhat that Macheda was tweeting about his triumph in the head tennis tournament? - well, that will get us out of the shit won't it? Harsh? Maybe...

So, with the players refreshed, we were eagerly awaiting the game and surely Rangers would be looking to gain revenge for the 6-0 defeat earlier this season? There was also plenty of interest from the Fulham supporters, with the Mark Hughes, Bobby Zamora thing and also their chance to continue to gloat. So much so, the A-Z's were dusted off and an extremely rare, large Fulham following were in attendance. It must have been heart warming for their players to run out to a more or less full away end. Normal service will be no doubt be resumed for their game at Villa in March...

Anyway, moving onto the game, and as mentioned in the opening paragraph, Fulham won, 1-0.

QPR: Kenny, Diakite, Hill, Taarabt, Mackie, Barton, Wright-Phillips (Buzsaky 83), Taiwo (Traore 72), Ferdinand, Onuoha, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Derry, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Smith.

Man of the Match - little discussion amongst a very disappointed gang. There were mentions of Clint Hill from Jess, Corp and Smithy respectively and PK at first mentioned Ferdinand. But as always, we go with the majority, which was from myself, Jenson, Sam(who after the match, said she would like to kick every one of those ***** in the head!), Luke, Lee and California Hoop, the award from this one is N/A.

Ok, this may be a tad controversial but I haven't dwelled too much on the match itself. But basically, when I see little heart, desire or passion from the players out there, it hardly inspires my enthusiasm either. Clint Hill, Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie were the only ones, in my opinion, that came out of today's game with any credit. What is the common denomenator with these three? They were last year's players and it seems at the moment that when at a time where the players need to stand up and be counted, it is the ones that helped get us into the Premier League in the first place, that are doing so.

Mark Hughes today, got this one wrong and playing with just one striker at home was extremely surprising, especially as Zamora is hardly a player that suits that particular role. We are looking for a leader, is Joey Barton up to the task? He certainly isn't letting his football do the talking and certainly not the in the way he talks on twitter. SWP is in my opinion, a good player, but is completely shot of confidence and his hideous miss with 8 minutes to go, to me is the result of that. Paddy Kenny is the shadow of the keeper he was last season and it is becoming more and more obvioius as weeks go by, that he just not communicate with his back four effectively, or if at all?

I come on these pages week after week, as does Lee and we do our best to not be too negative and look at the positive aspects of the performances. But sadly, with this one I just cannot defend them.

Anyway, today is done and we move on to Everton next week. Must win or must not lose? Anyone's guess but let's just hope that whatever it is, the message gets through to the players...

Come on You R'ssssssssss!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feed The Mack and He Will Score...

Today the travelling R's braved the freezing cold conditions as they took the long trip to Lancashire for the six pointer against Blackburn.

The Lofty Heights gang travelled in force with two car loads being driven north by Jenson and myself. In my car was Jess, Sam and Luke. Sam had to pass a late fitness test as she battles against a kidney infection. In with Jenson was Lofty and Smithy.

The journey started in temperates on -7 in Costa del Henley and the journey was an easy stroll up the four motorways with every passenger in my car falling asleep at somepoint. We arrived at the usual meeting point in Blackburn, The Fernhurst pub, only to find out that it was closed for a re-fit.

We sat in the car just to stay warm before Lorna and Iceman arrived as we all took the short walk around the corner to Ewood Park so that Iceman could buy his match ticket and then get in the ground for some warm refreshments. PK and Steve were next to arrive just before Jenson and his party made their way in.

Smithy was wearing a very urmmm interesting coat to say the least. It was his ex girlfriends coat which had tassles hanging from the elbow and was 'figure hugging' to say the least. Smithy was a little too much in touch with his feminine side with this I think. We all need someone to laugh at and it was definitely his turn today. We also bumped into Perry, Louis, Kempy and Chris before we took to our seats in time for kick off.

Mark Hughes made two changes from the team that lost against Wolves last week. Fitz Hall and Akos Buzsaky returned to the starting last up as Shaun Derry dropped to the bench whilst Luke Young missed out with a hamstring injury. Former R's player Bradley Orr made his debut for Blackburn today.

In a cagey opening to the game there was not a lot between the two teams as the R's looked slightly the better of the teams going forwards. As it looked like Rangers' were slowly beginning to get some rhythm, disaster struck. A long ball was played to Yakubu and the Rovers' striker turned Ferdinand so easily and smashed his shot down the centre of the goal and left Paddy Kenny wrong footed as it flew past him. Paddy should've at least done better with this.

Ten minutes later and it got even worse for the R's. Blackburn broke away with relative ease as Hoilett waltzed into the penalty area, easily cut inside Hall and laid the ball back to Nzonzi and he sidefooted past Kenny to make it 2-0. The shot again was not in the corner so you'd expect Kenny to do better with this one. This was looking hopeless and we just hoped it wouldn't get any worse, it couldn't...... could it???

Rangers' again were looking ropey at the back but were slowly beginning to create chances, however whenever we got into good wide positions, there was no-one in the box to attack any on coming crosses. Just before half time things got even worse!

A long free kick was headed on by Scott Dann and Junior Hoilett was unmarked, seemingly going no-where and he took aim at goal and with a slight deflection the ball come off the inside of the post and past Paddy Kenny at the near post. As the Rovers players were celebrating we saw Paddy Kenny watching the replay and laughing...... Furious!

At half time the group gathered on the concourse and all of us were not happy to say the least! Paddy should have done better for all three goals and was laughing at them which is a joke! Buzsaky was having his worst game in a while and just was not able to pass a ball five yards. SWP is just not performing and looks a shell of his former self. As for Joey Barton, he calls himself a captain? A captain leads the team and gears them up, after their third goal he shrugged his shoulders and walked away. It's about time some of these players actually earned their money!

The second half begun and the R's carved out a great chance as SWP crossed from the right and Zamora was beaten to the ball but only just and a corner was conceded.
Rangers' slowly began to press and press as Blackburn looked happy to play out the 3-0 lead that they had.

A ray of light finally shone on the game with 20 minutes to go. Some good passing play saw Barton play the ball out to Taiwo on the left and the Nigerian loanee drilled his cross into the centre and there was substitute Jamie Mackie on hand to slide the ball home on the ground he suffered his leg break on last year. This certainly woke the R's fans up as we finally looked like we wanted to get something out of this game.

After the goal the confusing decision of removing Mackie from playing up front with Zamora to putting him on the left wing...... did Hughes want us to salvage a point from the game?? In injury time Jamie Mackie pulled a goal back after some patient build up play found Mackie on the edge of the box and he thumped his shot into the top corner! Great goal!!!

It was all too little too late. The dismal first half cost us dearly but Jamie Mackie's contribution was invaluable and scored two good goals as a consolation. I have to highlight that Bobby Zamora had been excellent all game and his hold up play was superb. It's frustrating that its a case of what if's yet once again.

QPR: Kenny, Hall (Gabbidon 90) Taarabt, Traore, Buzsaky (Mackie 66), Barton, Wright-Phillips, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Hill, Derry, Bothroyd, Smith.

Man of the Match - was a two horse race with Nedum Onuoha claiming three votes but with five votes this weeks man of the match is Jamie Mackie.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cisse Dismissal Clatters R's....

QPR 1-2 Wolves

It seemed like it was the Norwich game all over again - Rangers leading and cruising home, a red card and defeat snatched from the claws of victory...

On another bitterly cold day, I met first with Jenson, who was lucky enough to have secured a spot in the Apex Rental box, along with Lorna and I must say, I was just a weeny it envious as they disappeared into the warmth at around 1.30pm. I then met with the rest of the gang and if any of you wondered what happened to Trevor after the Villa game, he toddled up before kick off with just minutes to spare - but on time, unlike California Hoop who made his entrance, to huge applause from us all, about 20 minutes into the game.

Onto the game and we were all eagerly anticipating the debut of Bobby Zamora and the partnership between him and Cisse. Rangers started the game brightly and Cisse had the first chance of the game - after bringing down Taarabt's long pass, he fired straight at Hennessey. Further chances were created for Zamora and Taarabt and it onlt seemed a matter of time before we broke the deadlock.

On 17 minutes, the goal finally came and a superb move involving Cisse, Taarabt and Wright-Phillips, ended with debutant Bobby Zamora drilling the ball home.

After the goal, Wolves were starting to up their tempo, but Rangers were dealing with them more than comfortably and to be honest, were in complete control... until disaster struck on 34 mins...

Cisse picked up the ball from Taarabt and Roger Johnson went straight through the R's forward with an awful tackle. Cisse angrily lept up and pulled back Johnson and if it would have stayed at that, then it would have been a yellow for both. Instead, Cisse went on to grab Johnson around the neck (as pictured above) and was quickly pulled away by Joey Barton, but it was too late. Mark Clattenburg reached straight for the red card and to be honest, he didn't have a choice although at the time, it looked a very harsh decision. Yes, Cisse should know better but after suffering two horrendous leg breaks during his career, you can kind of sypathise with his reaction and to his credit, he has come straight out and apologised to the team and the supporters. No consolation now of course but it's done now, move on...

Perhaps Clattenburg could have been a bit more generous with another card for Jamie O'Hara after he pushed his luck shortly after receiving a yellow for fouling Barton. Bassong also, possibly deserved more than a yellow after a crunching tackle on Wright-Phillips. The half then soon came to a close...

Much of the debate on the concourse at half time was of course the red card and many of the gang had seen Cisse grab the neck of Johnson and agreed he deserved to go. Nevertheless, we were all hoping we could up our game and hold Wolves at bay.

Unfortunately, it took less than a minute of the half for Wolves to draw level - Doyle's cross from the right arrived at the feet of Jarvis, who looked up and carefully placed his shot past Paddy Kenny.

Wolves had their tails up now and Taylor-Fletcher headed onto the Rangers crossbar and moments later, saw his scrappy effort cleared off the line by Anton Ferdinand. Rangers attacks now were a rarity, but Taarabt's free kick was inches wide of giving the R's the lead. But on 71 minutes, the visitors were in front - Doyle collected Jamie O'Hara's pass before turning and beating Kenny with his shot for a very neat finish.

With 15 minutes to go, the R's went for broke. Traore tried his luck from 30 yards which was saved well by Hennessey. Five minutes later, Taarabt picked the ball up, stepped over to make space and unleashed a thunderbolt that bent and whizzed it's way to the top corner, only to find Hennessey equal to the task with a superb save.

Joey Barton then went close for the R's, shooting just wide from outside the box. Shortly after, another piece of Moroccan magic saw Taarabt beat two defenders before chipping a delightful effort that went just over. In stoppage time, Taarabt again made space on the right and his low cross was drilled wide by Ferdinand, the last action of the afternoon.

QPR: Kenny, Derry (Traore 65), Taarabt, Barton, Young (Hall 65), Cisse, Wright-Phillips, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Zamora (Hulse 74).Subs: Cerny, Hill, Mackie, Smith.

Man of the Match - I think I am right in saying that this is a Lofty Heights first - a clean sweep from all of the gang for an awesome performance from Adel Taarabt.

In summary, I left this match absolutely gutted. It was a game we could, should and would have won and dare I say, comfortably until the red card incident. As mentioned, Cisse has gone public and apologised and vowed that he will make up it up to the team and the fans and I'm sure he will. Despite the defeat there were plenty of postives with the new signings seeming to settle in well, Zamora in particular was doing superbly but struggled leading the line on his own in the later stages. But the performance of Adel Taarabt, showed everyone just what an important part he could well play for the R's between now and the end of the season.

The gang are again well represented next week away at a massive game against Blackburn. We will see you there...

Come on You R'ssssssssss!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Hughes Names His 25...

Following the closure of the transfer window, 5pm today was the deadline for Premier League Managers to announce their 25 man squads for the rest of the season. QPR Manager Mark Hughes has named the following...

Full squad:

1 Kenny
2 Traore
3 Hill
4 Derry
5 Hall
6 Taarabt
7 Zamora
8 Hulse
9 Campbell
10 Bothroyd
11 Diakite
12 Mackie
13 Gabbidon
14 Buzsaky
15 Taiwo
16 Onuoha
17 Barton
18 Young
19 Smith
20 Helguson
21 Cerny
22 Murphy
23 Wright-Phillips
24 Ferdinand
25 Cisse

Rob Hulse was perhaps the surprise inclusion but has obviously shown his worth to Mark Hughes in the short time he has been here and started his first game in a year, last night away at Aston Villa. Alejandro Faurlin and Kieron Dyer, included in the previous squad, have already been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury and on-loan Manchester United forward Federico Macheda does not need to be included because he is under 21.

Notable exclusions are Hogan Ephraim, Peter Ramage, Patrick Agyemang and Danny Shittu who now become available for other clubs. Personally, we are light in the midfield department and Ephraim being left out has surprised me as it has others no doubt and he is a player I rate. But I guess at this point in time, we have to place our trust in Hughes's judgement here. But it is so very pleasing to read down that squad list and see so much quality at QPR!!

Come on You R'ssssssss!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cisse not as Bent as the Ref.

After a frantic final day in the transfer window yesterday it was back to business in the Premier League as the R's looked to carry on where they left off against Wigan and pick up points against a Villa side that has got an awful home record.
The Lofty Heights gang were there in fine voice.

Having been in a meeting with my boss this morning, who is a Villa fan, I was hoping that the trip that myself, Jess, Sam and Luke were going to take to Birmingham was going to be worth our while and hopefully give me some bragging rights when I returned to work on Friday.
In Jenson's car was Lofty, Smithy and Trevor and they arrived shortly after we did just past 6ish and headed to the Witton Arms, were they met Iceman and enjoyed a few of the beverages on offer there.
With the long day that myself and Lofty had yesterday chasing transfers and trying to keep up to date with all the transfers, it was nice to return to the football and look forward to potentially having three debutants with Onuoha, Taiwo and Cisse all signing before the cut off point of midday yesterday, we will have to wait for Zamora until Saturday and then Diakite when he returns from the African Cup of Nations along with Armand Traore and Adel Taarabt.
Having knowledge that Djibril Cisse has scored on every debut he has played in, the 8/1 price for first goalscorer was too good for most people to turn down and the bookies surely praying that he didn't otherwise they could be in for losing a lot of money by the end of the 90 minutes.
We stood on the freezing cold Villa Park concourse trying our best to keep warm in the sub zero temperatures awaiting the team news.

There were five changes to the side which played Chelsea on Saturday. Onuoha, Taiwo and Cisse all made their debuts, Derry and Hulse also stepped in. Missing out were Hill, Hall, Buzsaky, Smith and Helguson.

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The opening ten minutes started as a tense affair as both teams looked to settle into the game.
The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute as Cisse hit a right foot volley into the bottom left hand corner after Wright-Phillips had played him in despite having his initial shot blocked. Chaotic celebrations followed the goal as the R's found a new hero chanting his name and welcoming Cisse to the club. Me, Jess, Sam, Luke and Jenson all won a lot of money because of our new hero.
Referee Neil Swarbrick then decided to take matters into his own hands as he gave Aston Villa countless numbers of dodgy decisions in their favour whilst allowing the R's players to be kicked up in the air. Swarbrick controversially sent of Joey Barton against Norwich in January and once again it looked like he wanted to grab the headlines with his poor refereeing, much to the disgust of the R's travelling support. The complete boased refereeing against us against Norwich and once again in this game has earned him a new nickname, Swarprick!
Despite all this the R's went into a 2-0 lead on the half hour mark after a good passing move allowing Taiwo on the left and his far post cross was met by Stephen Warnock who expertly directed his header into the bottom left hand corner leaving Given with no chance. Cue rapturous celebrations as the R's fans were living in a Sparky wonderland.
Shortly after the second goal Kieran Clark's shot deflected off Robbie Keane and hit the corner of the post to give R's their first real scare of the half. Surely you'd have thought this would have been a wake up call.
As it was the R's fell asleep just before half time as Darren Bent poked the ball home from 6 yards out giving Villa a reprieve before half time.


At half time me and Jess went down to join the rest of the gang at the front of the stand and took our place for the second half. Lofty was sporting an unusual choice of fashion accessory on his head which certainly raised a few eyebrows within the group. His head was warm so you couldn't really critisise.

Just before half time Trevor went to the toilet and missed Bent's goal but despite being informed of this it still took him 10 minutes of the second half to realise it was 2-1. Much to the amusement of everyone.
The R's became increasingly frustrated as it became harder to carve out chances against a now resolute Villa defence.
Villa begun to press Rangers deeper into their own half whilst keeping the ball in midfield creating spaces for their more creative players. This limited the effectiveness of the R's break aways as Cisse began to drift out of the game.
Mackie had a golden oppurtunity to restore the R's two goal lead as Wright-Phillips crossed in from the right to find Mackie on the edge of the six yard box who in turn swung his right foot at it, completely missing the ball in the process, hitting his standing leg and watching the ball dribble out for a goal kick.
Mark Hughes slowly began to ring the changes as Hulse was replaced by Smith and Ephraim came on in the place of Derry. The changes had no real effect as Villa continued to press deeper into the R's half and in the 79th minute they got their reward. Petrov crossed from the right which floated over Luke Young's head and Charles N'Zogbia was there to fire home with a left foot drive and finally create some atmosphere from the home fans as the boo's turned into cheers.
Cisse was promptly replaced by Macheda in an attempt to freshen things up and give the Villa defenders something new to worry about.
Villa continued to create changes but to no avail as the game drew to a close.

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At the start of the game most fans would have taken a draw but having put in a good opening 44 minutes many were left going home frustrated having not taken all three points.
Cisse looked lively and his pace threatened the Villa defence on countless occasions and his link up play with Hulse made it look as though they'd played together a lot longer than just one day.
Onuoha had a promising debut and looked solid throughout the game showing no real weakness. He could prove to be a bargain at 3 million pounds.
Taiwo did not look defensively astute but going forward he posed a threat on more than one occasion. Hopefully once he gets a few more games under his belt and gets match fitness we'll begin to see the kinds of performances that have led to him having a great reputation like he did in France.
Tonight we were not as defensively solid as a unit as we have been in our previous games against Wigan and Chelsea, this could be down to two new signings introduced to the back four, but once they gain familiarity with eachother then we should see the kind of defence that might be able to play out more clean sheets than we've seen so far this season. Attacking wise we looked a lot more promising and with Zamora still to come into the team on Saturday we should look like more of an attacking force and scare many more defences before the end of the season.
I'll finish the summary with the referee. If this man is ever allowed to referee at this level or in any other games that involve us then I will wonder what we have done to deserve it. Cisse and Wright-Phillips were kicked up in the air on a number of occasions by the Villa defenders and its unbelievable that only THREE fouls were given against Villa during the entire game, it could've easily been treble that! Having said that he did fail to award Villa with two blatant handballs in the second half and the opportunity to equalize earlier than what they did.

Man of the Match now. The group were split between two candidates for this one. Firstly with three votes is captain Joey Barton. He put in a real shift in at the heart of the midfield, if only his set pieces and corners went further than the near post! The winner today with four votes is the debutant and money winner for many of us today Djibril Cisse. He worked tirelessly up front, his pace really scared the Villa defenders and once he is match fit he will be a massive handful and a real asset to our football club.

The gang parted company upon the exit of Villa Park and went their separate ways but missing one person..... Trevor. Trevor went to the toilet after the game and did not re-appear as the gang went their separate ways, so if anyone finds Trevor can you point him in the direction of West London!

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Petrov, Clark (Bannan 70), Ireland, Keane, N'Zogbia, Bent.

Subs: Guzan, Weimann, Baker, Lichaj, Heskey, Gardner.

Goals: Bent (45), N'Zogbia (79)

QPR: Kenny, Derry (Ephraim 73), Mackie, Barton, Young, Hulse (Smith 54), Cisse (Macheda 81), Wright-Phillips, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha.

Subs: Cerny, Hill, Hall, Ephraim, Balanta.

Goals: Cisse (12), Warnock (OG 29)

Bookings: Young (50)

Referee: Mr N Swarbrick

Attendance: 32,063