No Christmas Carroll's For R's This Weekend.......
R's fans returned to Loftus Road this afternoon after witnessing the biggest home win of the season on Tuesday evening. Could Rangers' gain a quick fire double of wins when Blackburn Rovers visited W12? We were all expecting..........
The gang assembled on the wall just outside the Upper Loft entrance just after two to have a catch up and were very surprised at the lack of traffic issues this afternoon, especially with the run to Christmas well and truly on and Westfield getting more shoppers walking through their doors, who knows what it will be like before the Leicester game the weekend before Xmas....... I think a train journey would be in order when it arrives.
Lofty, PK, Jenson, Sam, Luke and myself made our way in twenty minutes before the game for some refreshments (pie and drinks) ahead of the tough game ahead.
One change was made from Tuesday's win with Matt Phillips taking the place of Gary O'Neil.
Before the game started we took part in a minutes applause to celebrate the life of a great man Nelson Mandela.
There were not many action points in the first half, however it was Blackburn that were the closest to scoring as Lowe's header from Marshall's cross beat Rob Green, only to be Clint Hill on hand to head the ball over the bar from a yard out.
Rovers were out muscling the R's in midfield and were proving to be extremely hard to break down as their five man midfield found themselves with a huge amount of space against the midfield pairing of Carroll and Barton.
Junior Hoilett was having a torrid time of things and often found himself being too predictable when he always cut in from the left wing and never took on the full back and crossed for an advancing Austin or Johnson in the area.
The first half was forgettable and it's a credit to the visitors who made it a tough challenge to break them down. Jordan Rhodes was offering very little, which was a relief, however Blackburn did look dangerous on the counter attack and we had to be cautious of this.
The R's started the half a lot better than usual and started to find little sparks that were beginning to ignite the R's firing line and on the hour our best chance was created.
It all started when Hill's defensive mistake was rectified by Barton on the edge of the Rangers' penalty area. Barton then played a superb ball down the right to Johnson, who managed to wriggle free and advance to the right side of the Blackburn penalty area and drilled his cross towards the penalty spot, firstly Austin dummied so Matt Phillips could smash the ball home to the half guarded net but somehow Eastwood in the Blackburn goal made a tremendous save to deny the R's of the lead.
Moments after Phillips had has shot saved he was involved in a double substitution.
Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips were both replaced by Niko Kranjcar. It was a very confusing change as Hoilett was deserving of being hauled off against his former club yet Phillips had done nothing wrong and had the best opportunity for the home side seconds before. Redknapp completely relinquished all the pace and width we had for a creative Kranjcar and O'Neil who spends more time in the centre of midfield, exposing Danny Simpson and also forcing Simpson to play as more of a wing back as he was our only outlet on the right hand side.
Ten minutes later the R's had the best chance of the game.
Assou-Ekotto done superbly well down the left wing and drilled a superbly weighted cross into the penalty area and Austin cushioned his header to the far post and somehow saw his effort hit the inside of the post before being scrambled clear by Eastwood, only to see O'Neil follow up with a volley but Austin could not move out of the way in time and deflected the shot wide.
All in all it was a hugely frustrating game but Blackburn to their credit set themselves up with a physical and defensive plan that worked excellently for them. When Austin's header hit the post we all knew it just wasn't going to be our day at all! We have to dust ourselves down now and travel to play a weakened Blackpool side that is blighted by suspensions and pick up a vital three points ahead of four very testing games.
Our Man of the Match sees four nominations on this occasion.
Luke chose Andy Johnson, Sam voted for Danny Simpson and Jenson opted for Clint Hill. However with four votes from Jess, Lofty, PK and myself, our winner this week is Tom Carroll for an outstanding display at the heart of the R's midfield and pulled the strings when the R's attacked and also put in a huge defensive shift against a physical Blackburn side.
Lofty returns next week as we travel north to sunny Blackpool!!