A Handy Point...
QPR 1-1 LeicesterAfter missing last weeks game, I was looking forward to this one and hooking up with the gang again. Indeed, the usual suspects were at the British Queen before the game and quite suprisingly, there was some real 'intelligent' conversation going down! Corporate obviously realised this and thankfully, normal service was resumed and the normal nonsense was back in full effect.
So onto the game and as already mentioned, normal service was resumed as Rangers conceded their customary early goal - Kisnorbo heading home a free kick on 6 minutes. This is the fifth game on the spin that Rangers have conceded in the first 15 minutes and to be honest, it is becoming beyond a joke now!
So yet again, Rangers had to chase the game and despite being up against a big, physical Leicester side, Rangers created plenty of chances including Rowlands striking the Foxes post. But it wasn't until the 67th minute that Rangers made their dominance count. McAuley acted as a stand in keeper and palmed Blackstock's effort off the line - the penalty and red card were given and Martin Rowlands made no mistake.
Rangers then went all out for the 3 points and the best chance fell to Blackstock who's perfect header fell straight to the fortunate Logan in the Leicester goal. The Foxes were hanging on but nearly stole the 3 points as Fryatt somehow manage to shoot straight at Royce from 6 yards out.
QPR: Royce, Bignot, Stewart, Kanyuka (Mancienne 22), Rehman, Cook, Lomas, Smith, Rowlands (Ainsworth 74), Blackstock (Gallen 57), Nygaard. Subs: Jones, Rose.
Lofty's Man of the Match - Dexter Blackstock - an outstanding performance and just shaded it for me from Lee Cook.
To sum up, Rangers battled to back to win a valuable point, but yet again had to come from behind to do so. Gregory had shuffled the pack a bit and started with his best back four in my opinion - Bignot, Kanyuka, Stewart and Rehman. Sadly, Kanyuka's return lasted just 22 minutes and the pack was re shuffled again. However, Mancienne looked a class act when he came on! As mentioned, there was outstanding performances from Blackstock and Cook and also, the return of Gareth Ainsworth after a 10 week lay off was great to see. But the decision to start with Marc Nygaard up front amazed me - and his performance confirmed exactly why it had done so...
Sheffield with Stelling...
Sheff Weds 3-2 QPR
Rangers were yet again involved in a thrilling match, but this time were on the wrong end of a 5 goal thriller as a late penalty gave Wednesday the points.
Well, this was a game that I thought that Rangers were more than capable of getting a good result from and maybe even another away win. But then what goes and happens during the week?? Sheffield Wednesday sack Paul Sturrock which seems to virtually guarantee any team a win the next time they play!
Well work committments and trips to France, meant that none of the gang were going to make the trip to Hillsborough this afternoon. So with this is in mind and DJ mentioning that I struggle to stay awake during long trips home from away games, I also decided to give this one a miss. So come kick off time, I had the QPR world commentary on and was also in the company of the great Jeff Stelling and his cronies on Sky Sports.
As the goals were flying in elsewhere, it seemed that Rangers were doing pretty well and also, had not conceded the customary goal in the first five minutes. But it all went wrong from there and by half time, Wednesday were two up, both goals from Tudgay(13 and 45). But despite the scoreline, the reports had been generally good for Rangers and it had been our defending that had let us down badly again.
Ten minutes into the second half, and we were level, both goals coming from Dexter Blackstock(49 and 53). My phone was then red hot with texts coming and going. Sadly, the next text I had to send was to say we were 3-2 down through what was reported as a very dubious penalty on 70 minutes. From then on, the game went from end to end and despite late chances for Rangers, there were no further positive messages for me to send out.
QPR: P Jones, Lomas, Stewart, Rehman, Bignot (Gallen 85), Rowlands (Ward 66), Bircham (Mancienne 44), Smith, Cook, Blackstock, R Jones. Subs: Royce, Rose.
Lofty's Man of the Match - taken from several different reports - Lee Cook
So, all in all, more disappointment from a game we could and should have won. Yet again, I seem to be writing this after every match, but the defending again was highly criticised and must be dealt with. We are scoring well enough at the moment, but we just can't continue conceding 2/3 goals every week and making things more than difficult for ourselves.
Leicester at home next Saturday for the R's - so I guess they will be sacking their manager during the week then...
Goodbye and Good Luck Waddo!
Queens Park Rangers today announced that they have parted company with Gary Waddock.
Waddock was replaced by John Gregory in September after a poor start to the season and was kept on as Assistant Manager. But it has become more and more evident that JG wants to bring in his own people (and rightly so). So although this news is perhaps not entirely unexpected, Waddo has left the Club.
Let's not forget, that although his time at Manager wasn't the best, that he was Rangers through and through and I will always remember Gary for his performances in the Rangers midfield when I was growing up!I would like to wish Gary all the very best for the future. A true Rangers Hero and we will never forget you!
QPR 1-2 Derby
There has definitely been a more positive outlook around just lately since John Gregory has taken over. But sadly, the unbeaten run since his arrival came to an end tonight as with, what I seem to have written lots about this season - more bad defending proving costly.
In fairness, Derby have a great away record and you can see why. As Corporate pointed out, they play with an attacking 4-3-3 formation which is very rare for an away side in this day and age. Overall, Rangers struggled to get to grips with it and Derby were worthy winners in the end. But it could have been so different as Rangers dominated the majority of the first half.
We also have hit on a trend and conceded yet another early goal - as Bisgaard curled the ball home on 3 minutes, after taking advantage of some poor marking. But Rangers hit back just 3 minutes later as Jimmy Smith smashed a wonder goal into the net from 20 yards.Rangers then dominated and had chances to take the lead, but were caught napping at the back again as Howard made it 2-1 from close range, despite heroics from Paul Jones. You could really tell that the goal knocked the stuffing out of Rangers and I think it's fair to say that Derby controlled the game from then on.
It was then down to Paul Jones to steal the limelight with what was an outstanding performance! Jones was simply brilliant and produced world class save after workd class save to keep Derby at bay. In fact, if it wasn't for the Welsh International, it could have been an embarrasing scoreline!
QPR: P Jones, Lomas (Donnelly 81), Stewart, Rehman, Bignot, Rowlands, Bircham, Smith, Cook, Blackstock, R Jones (Gallen 73). Subs: Royce,Ward, Mancienne.
Lofty's Man of the Match - need you ask? Paul Jones
To sum up, you couldn't fault the effort from Rangers tonight, it was just one of those nights! Derby were well orgainised and also defended very well as Rangers threw everything at them in the 2nd half. But it is essential that Gregory must go to work on the defence as we just can't continue gifting the opposition goals like this!
Loan Ranger No 2 for Gregory...
John Gregory has again raided Chelsea by signing 18 year old defender, Michael Mancienne on a months loan. Mancienne will go straight into the Rangers squad for the home game against Derby County tomorrow night.
The young defender has captained England at Under 18 level and joins fellow teenager Jimmy Smith at Loftus Road for a loan spell.
Mancienne was part of Chelsea's pre season tour of USA and has been an unused substitute for the games against Liverpool, Man City and Blackburn this season.
Welcome and Good Luck Michael!
QPR 3-3 Norwich
After an International break and two dismal performances from the England team, it was so refreshing to get back to league action - and what a match to come back too!
This always had the makings of a good match, with Rangers coming of the back of two wins and Norwich, wanting to impress their new boss, Peter Grant who was watching from the stands. It was end to end stuff all the way and probably one of the best games of football we will see this season. The best way to report this one and probably the easiest seeing as I am writing this on Sunday morning after a great night out and more than several beers - is to simply just go through the goals:
4 mins - some neat passing saw Darren Huckerby clean through and cooly slotting home.
24 mins - Lee Cook found Jimmy Smith on the edge of the box who finished superbly.
45 mins - Blackstock was fouled on the edge of the box and Martin Rowlands fired home an unstoppable drive from the resulting free kick. Okay, I went to get the half time refreshments and missed this one and have just had to catch it on the 'Championship' - Ooops!!
72 mins - the scores are level as Dion Dublin finishes of a fine footballing move to score another customary goal against us.
84 mins - Huckerby capitalised on Rehman's mistake and was bundled over in the box by the Rangers centre back. Earnshaw stepped up to slot home his customary goal against us from the penalty spot.
90 mins - Rowlands fire home from a narrow angle to give Rangers a share of the points.
QPR: P Jones, Bignot, Rehman, Stewart, Lomas (Rose 90), Cook, Bircham, Smith, Rowlands, Blackstock, R Jones (Gallen 76). Subs: Royce, Ward, Bailey.
A draw was a fair result really as both sides contributed to a great game of football. Some of Rangers defending was disappointing yet again, despite being another re shuffled back four. But at times we were playing some superb football and you just could not fault the midfield four of Cook, Smith, Rowlands and Bircham, who were all outstanding. It was also so pleasing to see the character in the team, who twice came back from behind.
Lofty's Man of the Match - this could have been the whole Rangers midfield, but his two goals clinched it - Martin Rowlands
Croatia 2-0 England
Well, I think the title says it all!
Two second half goals, including an embarrasing own goal, gave Croatia the victory that THEY predicted, but also deserved. Steve McClaren started with an experimental 3-5-2 system and the gamble turned into a disaster. From the off, it was more than evident that the players were not comfortable with it - 4,000 England fans in Zagreb could see it, the TV audience could see it, so why did it take McClaren 72 minutes to see it?!?
Not only were we two goals down when he made all 3 substitutions, but he left a clearly injured Ashley Cole on the pitch for the remainder of the game! Although the Croatians were dominant in the first half, England stifled their lively attack and Paul Robinson made some crucial saves to keep us in the game. Surely it would change second half? Answer - NO!
Eduardo's free header gave the Croatians a deserved lead on 61 minutes before further disaster - as Neville's back pass hit a divot and spun over Robinson's leg to roll into an empty net. England broke sporadically but to be truthful, rarely threatened all evening.
Lofty's Man of the Match - is cancelled for this report!
So all in all, a forgettable 2 games for England with two extremely poor performances. The worrying thing in both games, was that it was plainly obvious all was not well... so why take so long too change things?!?
I will end tonight by not saying that this is the answer, but when your first choice right sided midfielder is suspended, why not swallow some pride and do what is best for the team?!?
Paul Hunter 1978-2006
Snooker star, Paul Hunter, has sadly lost his battle against cancer and passed away today, aged 27. A truly great sportsman, Husband and Father - My deepest condolences go to Paul's family and friends.
'The Beckham of the Baize'
England 0-0 Macedonia
Well, I suppose that after 3 wins on the bounce and some good performances to go with it, we were due a bad one... it was just a shame that is was the one that myself and DJ chose to go to!!
The day started brightly enough, and despite the M6 being it's normal, charming self, we arrived in plenty of time to take in the impressive Old Trafford! I personally, have been to the home of Manchester United several times watching Rangers, but it has changed a bit somewhat since then. Our tickets were in one of the newly opened 'Quadrant' sections and despite it being high up and about 14 flights of stairs to climb to get there, the view was maginificent!The acoustics inside the ground are perfect and the atmosphere created from the 72,000 crowd was amazing. All that was missing today was a good performance from England.
England looked inept and never really controlled the game, in fact, the better chances on the day fell to Macedonia. Wayne Rooney looked desperately low on confidence and was completely out of sorts. Stewart Downing sadly looks completely out of his depths at International level. Performances of note came from Ledley King and my personal Man of the Match - Peter Crouch. But despite not playing well, we still created enough chances to have won the game comfortably!
England: Robinson, Gary Neville, Terry, King, Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Carrick, Downing (Wright-Phillips 70), Rooney (Defoe 74), Crouch. Subs Not Used: Kirkland, Phil Neville, Carragher, Parker, Bent.
Gladly, the motorways were a bit kinder to us on the way back as we managed to get back in time to catch Dog Chewed The Handle's second set at The Cross Pub, Maple Cross - which as always, Rocked!!