Austin Powers R's To Victory........
After an International break that seemed to last an eternity we finally returned to Loftus Road to see if the R's could continue their unbeaten start to the season. Today's visitors were a steady Birmingham side.
Jess and myself set off at 11.30 in the hope we would get parked and around the ground early, however the M25 played it's usual card and was barely moving so we took to the back roads and eventually arrived with just enough time to grab some food before meeting Lofty and Jenson outside the Loft entrance. We had the pleasure of twitters outspoken R's fan Malcolm join us for a brief chat before we made our way into the ground and met Sam and Luke having a drink with Bob and Kris.
The team news today brought us unwelcome news as Andy Johnson missed out through injury and was replaced by the useless donkey Bobby Zamora.
Tom Carroll made his full debut for the R's, whilst Junior Hoilett made a return to the starting 11. They replaced Karl Henry and SWP.
The first half saw the R's enjoy a large portion of possession yet failed to create too many great chances in front of goal.
Hoilett saw the first shot of the game flash over the bar, whilst Charlie Austin was putting in a good shift to forge a few half chances for himself but always saw a Birmingham defender in the way to put in a last gasp block as he pulled the trigger.
Despite the R's looking the more likely to break the deadlock it was Birmingham who came the closest to opening the scoring. Lee Novak hit the inside of the post following Shinnie's centre.
Birmingham also had a glorious chance on the counter attack and when the ball was squared to Shinnine it looked almost certain that the visitors would take the lead, however he somehow failed to hit the target and let the R's off the hook once again.
Rangers' were dealt with a blow just before half time as Junior Hoilett limped off and he was replaced by Matty Phillips who made his first appearance for the R's following his move from Blackpool.
We entered the half time interval disappointed by the opening 45 minutes, however you do have to give credit to Birmingham as they pressed all over the pitch and made it extremely hard for us to break them down. Birmingham also had the two best chances of the half, so on reflection despite having the lions share of possession we really needed something different that would create the visitors defence some issues, something that our beloved Zamora could not do if he really wanted to try. Zamora's lacklustre performance in the first half was a joke and really highlights that he could not give a monkeys about our team and is happy to take home his ridiculously large wage packet at the end of each and every week! The man is robbing a living!!!!!!
A rare shot of Zamora near the ball!
Thankfully the chance came at half time and Zamora was replaced with SWP and we swapped our formation to a 4-2-3-1, with SWP and Phillips providing the width and Gary O'Neil being the supporting act to Austin. For me I feel that O'Neil is more suited to the central role as he strays out of position too much when he plays out wide.
Birmingham got out of the blocks quickly in the second half and seemed unfortunate not to go a goal up as Spector was ruled offside before slotting home from close range. That'll be one to look at during the highlights tonight!!
The substitution proved to worked as the R's took the lead within three minutes of the restart.
Phillips and SWP combined well down the right and the resulting tackle on SWP gave the R's a free kick on the left side of the Birmingham penalty area.
Barton's free kick was met by Richard Dunne headed effort and it was a sliced clearance from Adeyemi saw the ball hit the underside of the bar before Charlie Austin nodded home from all of three yards to grab his first goal at Loftus Road in front of the home faithful.
This gave the R's confidence going forward but the resilient Brum defence was holding strong and was proving difficult to get the second goal.
Birmingham had a very good shout for a penalty as the game looked to be heading for a 1-0 victory. Richard Dunne seemingly tripped Spector, however Mike Jones saw Spector's foul as a dive and booked him for his efforts. The Birmingham players did not seem to appeal at all for the foul and it was only Wade Elliott that led the two man appeal along with Spector. Lofty, Jenson and myself had our hearts in our mouths for a moment as we fully expected to see the ref point to the penalty spot!
A hard fought victory for the R's and Birmingham really made us work hard for the three points. Having seen the visitors today I can safely say that they will not be in their current position at the end of the season. Once they get a few more attacking options then you will see them finish in the top half of the table.
As for the R's we looked to be lacking up front up the first half and the change of formation certainly helped our cause with SWP definitely making an impact in the second half. The change of position for Gary O'Neil also done the trick and he looked much more effective when he was playing behind Austin in the second half.
Defensively we looked sound and apart from the few scares mentioned there was not much more they could've done.
Man of the Match saw the gang split five ways and with there only being six votes we saw one player receive two votes and take the award. Luke voted for Charlie Austin, Jenson voted for Richard Dunne, Lofty voted for Tom Carroll and I voted for Nedum Onuoha. This meant that Jess and Sam's votes give Gary O'Neil this weeks award.
Queens Park Rangers
- 01 Green
- 02 Simpson
- 05 Dunne
- 06 Hill
- 15 Onuoha
- 10 Carroll (Jenas - 82' )
- 17 Barton Booked
- 23 Hoilett (Phillips - 39' )
- 36 O'Neil
- 09 Austin
- 25 Zamora (Wright-Phillips - 46' )
- 26 Murphy
- 39 Assou-Ekotto
- 07 Phillips
- 11 Wright-Phillips
- 16 Jenas
- 20 Henry
- 32 Faurlin
- 01 Randolph
- 04 Robinson Booked
- 05 Bartley
- 06 Burn Booked
- 15 Elliott
- 23 Spector Booked
- 24 Adeyemi (Lovenkrands - 82' )
- 31 Caddis
- 07 Burke
- 12 Novak
- 22 Shinnie Booked (Ferguson - 55' )
- 13 Doyle
- 27 Ferguson
- 10 Ambrose
- 17 Reilly
- 20 Lee
- 29 Brown
- 11 Lovenkrands
We will return on Wednesday night for the tough encounter against Brighton.