Nothing But The Best....
Newcastle 1-0 QPR
Mark Hughes's first game in charge of QPR ended in a narrow defeat - Leon Best scoring the only goal in what was overall, a disappointing match at St James Park.
Well for the 2nd time this year, this was a different kind of football day as myself and Jenson decided to take the opportunity to fly to the North East before Christmas - something I personally had never done and wanted to do. So with flights all booked up, Jenson contacted me earlier in the week to inform me that due to a friend he knows in Newcastle, we would be joining Rob and friends in a corporate box... and why not indeed.
So, after meeting at Terminal 5 and having breakfast with Lee and Richard Butler, we boarded the plane and arrived ahead of schedule, in Newcastle at 11am. The V.I.P. treatment then continued as instead of taking a taxi, we were picked up by Rob himself in a gleaming white Bentley and whisked into St James Park shortly after.
The rest of the gang travelled by car, including Lee who passed a late fitness test and made the trip after a nasty bout of tonsilitus. We were in touch throughout via text and it seemed after an early arrival, they had managed to find their way into a bar of which strippers were the lunchtime entertainment...
After some superb hosting and a great lunch, we took our seats just outside the box for the game...
Rangers started extremely positively and looked to make their mark for their new Manager and the woodwork saved the home side on two occasions - with Jay Bothroyd's curling effort hitting the post and Shaun Wright-Phillips smashing the cross bar.
Newcastle then responded with chances of their own and Coloccini and Gutierrez both headed over from Taylor crosses, before Taylor himself fired just wide. But on 37 minutes, Leon Best provided the moment of magic that turned out to be the moment that won the game - Guthrie found best on the edge of the area, who showed very quick feet to skip inside Luke Young and shoot low into the far corner - a fine goal!
Onto the second half and Rangers should really have been on level terms - but Bothroyd blazed his effort wildly over the bar following a clever nod down from Helguson and later saw a fierce drive comfortably saved by Krul at his near post.
As Rangers pressed, Newcastle began to expolit the gaps and if anyone was going to score the next goal, it was the home side with Santon, Gutierrez and Best all seeing good chances go begging. The home side then played to close the game out with Rangers, sadly, offering little in return in the late stages.
QPR: Kenny, Hill, Derry, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Mackie, Buzsaky (Macheda 76), Young, Helguson (Smith 65), Wright-Phillips, Ferdinand. Subs: Cerny, Orr, Hall, Campbell, Ephraim.
Man of the Match - until we got back to the airport and bumped into Corporate, everyone chose different, with votes for Derry, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand and Mackie. There was even a vote from Sam for more beer and more strippers... but today's winner, voted for by Corp and Jenson, was Shaun Wright-Phillips.
In summary, it was again, quite simple. Plenty of positives from QPR but lacklustre up front and we all hope this going to be addressed during this latest transfer window.
So after the game there were a few more beers and a bit of banter with Rob and friends, who I must say, made us very welcome today despite supporting the other team. We left for the airport at approximately 4.15pm and we followed the QPR team coach, which led us to think that we were on the same flight home. They were obviously on the later one, but instead we had Ray Wilkins, who kindly described QPR's performance as sh*t! But then also offered some wise words on Premier League survival - 'if you don't score goals, you don't win games'. Obviously an absolute tactical genius....