QPR Clip Bluebirds Wings...
QPR 2-1 Cardiff
QPR went five points clear at the top of the Championship, with a 2-1 victory over second placed Cardiff at a packed and bitterly cold Loftus Road.
For various reasons, the gang didn't all arrive at a packed Springbok and sadly, for work committments, we were missing PK and also California Hoop, who had a bout of the old man flu. But it was nice to welome Nik and Iceman to the pub, Sophie and Lee's lady friend, Jess, along with some old friends of mine, Laura, Tony and Family (of who I won't mention that her Chelsea supporting Mum was wearing a QPR beanie) and Corinne and Mark from Basingstoke. There were certainly some mixed views amongst us all of what lied ahead and it was possibly nerves that led to them not all being overly positive. For whatever reason however, I personally was pretty confident.
But that confidence was soon in tatters on 13 minutes when an uncharacteristic slip from Gorkss let in, ahem, England's latest striker, Jay Bothroyd, who fed everyones favourite Welshman, Craig Bellamy in what certainly looked like an offside position - the TV footage certainly hasn't changed my mind either - the Cardiff striker slipped the ball past Paddy Kenny and celebrated in front of the Rangers end, much to our annoyance.
It was so frustrating after such a positive start from the R's and you could't help but feel for Kaspars, who has been a very consistant performer this season.
But the above was soon forgotten on 18 minutes when after a spell of pressure, Rangers equalised when Tommy Smith's perfect cross from the right was headed home superbly from the Big Latvian defender and Loftus Road went bananas!! Was thrilled too for Kaspars Gorkss who looked absolutely distraught following the Cardiff goal.
From there, the game went from end to end in what was turning into a cracking contest, but the R's started to turn the screw and have much more possession about 10 minutes into the second half and the chances began to come. Jamie Mackie saw his long range effort superbly saved by Tom Heaton in the Cardiff goal.
But the on-loan Manchester United keeper could to little to stop Taarabt minutes later as Cardiff failed to deal with the resulting corner and the Moroccan beat Lee Naylor, twisted and turned his way into the box before smashing the ball home from close range - Loftus Road was now absolutely rocking!!
The Bluebirds then quite understandably put the R's under a spell of pressure but the R's back line, as so many times this season, were not found wanting - there were a couple of penalty shouts also as Bothroyd seemed to be caught by Matt Connolly and fortunately, the referee wasn't to be fooled by a blatant Bellamy dive shortly after. Referee, Friend, then waved away a stonewall penalty after Leon Clarke was brought down in the box in the dying seconds - but it mattered not as the final whistle went and brought a fantastic match to an end with a fantastic R's victory.
QPR: Kenny, Hill, Derry, Taarabt (Clarke 87), Faurlin, Mackie (Agyemang 88), Gorkss, Walker, Connolly, Hulse, Smith (Hall 90). Subs: Orr, Helguson, Cerny, Ephraim.
Lofty's Man of the Match - so difficult this one as QPR, to a man, performed superbly and it would be quite easy to give this one to the whole team! But following some in depth discussion at the British Queen, it was filtered down to my own choice of Adel Taarabt and a shout for Faurlin also. But when mentioned, I had to agree with Lee's choice for a superb display of forward play - Rob Hulse!
Dave Jones's rant on the football league show did not go unnoticed as he questioned the referee's decision not to give Cardiff a penalty, but he seemed to forget the two penalty shouts for the R's and that Bellamy was offside when he gave Cardiff the lead. But end of the day, it's the result that matters and in summary - Top of the League - five points clear - nineteen unbeaten - Absolutely AWESOME!!!
Come on You R'ssssssssssssss!!!