Three-ling Game Ends In Fair Result.......
Shortly after the January Transfer Window shut we all made our way back to Loftus Road for what was a massive game against third placed Burnley.
Would Harry's transfer magic help us gain a vital three points and extend our lead over Burnley to six points?
With it being the early lunchtime kick off the gang all had the joy of having an unwelcome early alarm call in order to arrive at Loftus Road in time for the 12.15 start.
I met up with Lofty and Jenson just outside the Upper Loft at 11.30 as Jess went to meet her Dad and Brother after their train journey up. We were joined by Sam and Luke before PK made a late appearance as we made our way to our seats.
With the R's being dealt with the huge blow that Charlie Austin is out for a prolonged period his replaced was new loanee Kevin Doyle.
Other changes included Joey Barton coming in for Karl Henry and Nedum Onuoha taking the place of Tom Carroll.
Rangers' started brightly but were dealt with a blow on just five minutes. Matty Phillips looked to go over his ankle and tried struggling back to his feet before realising that he could not continue and was taken away on a stretcher. He was replaced by Junior Hoilett.
With Phillips just being taken down the touchline, Rangers won a corner which was expertly delivered by Niko Kranjcar and Kevin Doyle's front post run was brilliantly timed to meet the corner and guide the ball into the near post.
Rangers' looked to kick on and when Hoilett broke clear as fired a shot just wide of Tom Heaton's goal.
As expected Burnley were soon to test the R's defence but with their first effort on goal they drew the game level. Burnley took their throw in on the right hand side and Trippier found a small amount of space to whip in an inch perfect ball to Danny Ings who volleyed home with Rob Green having no chance what so ever!
With ten minutes of the half remaining Rangers' took the lead through another player with his first goal for the club.
Niko Kranjcar's corner was flicked on by Clint Hill who found Richard Dunne in acres of space to divert his left foot shot through several Burnley players into the back of the net! Finally after 28 games Jess' prediction of Richard Dunne to score first or anytime actually happened and her rubbing hands celebration in the Paddock was clear for us all to see at the back of The Loft.
At half time we all made our way to the concourse very happy with what we had seen and Kevin Doyle's inclusion was certainly justified as he worked his socks off and was winning a lot of headers for Johnson to attempt to run onto. We were also buoyed by Barton's return as he helped solidify proceedings in midfield after a roping evening on Tuesday against Bolton.
What the R's needed to do was start the half well and ensure they kept things tight in defence but just ten minutes into the half Burnley were level once again.
Kightly advanced down the Rangers' right virtually unchallenged by Hoilett or Onuoha and squared the ball to an unmarked Vokes who neatly disposed of the cross and set up an interesting final thirty five minutes.
Following the goal the R's started to come off the rails and the sloppy defending allowed Burnley to take a quick throw and allowed Arfield to advance into the penalty area unchallenged before pulling the ball back to Ings who uncharacteristically missed the target when we fully expected him to give Burnley the lead for the first time in the game.
As it was Burnley only had to wait several more minutes for their next golden opportunity. Assou-Ekotto dwindled around as he tried to casually shepherd the ball out of play but found himself too weak in his quest to hold off Ings as the Burnley striker robbed possession before he found his strike partner Vokes who tapped into an empty net. Absolute disaster!!
Rangers' looked as if they had lost their way and running out of ideas.
Then came the introduction of last minute loan signing Modibo Maiga on for an ineffective Andy Johnson.
With ten minutes to go Rangers' got themselves level.
Hoilett showed a rare moment of brilliance as he managed to beat Mee before drilling his cross across the six yard box and found Maiga who tapped home from close range.
Shortly after the goal the R's won a corner on the right hand side. Assou-Ekotto's inswinger found Hill who somehow managed to bundle his effort just wide of the near post.
Just as we thought the game was safely ending in a draw their was on final moment of heart stopping action. Assou-Ekotto was once again caught being too casual on the ball as he got caught out by Stanislas, who took the opportunity to attempt to chip Green, only to find his effort bounce just wide of the post.
I have to say the draw was a fair result with both sides creating good chances but Burnley were certainly the more clinical of both teams with their potent strike force.
The second half saw Burnley take control of the midfield with Barton and Kranjcar really needing some help in that area and we could find the balance between having that third midfielder and second striker one which will need to be worked upon in between the next few games.
Overall the two new additions that made an appearance today made a positive impact on the side and I'm happy to say that we at Lofty Heights are very pleased with the business conducted on Deadline Day, with some sensible deals made with all parties brought in capable of helping us achieve our goal of promotion this year before reassessing the squad in the summer if we do achieve promotion.
Credit to Burnley today they have a great work ethic amongst their squad, with two quality strikers who will always score goals in this division. They will definitely be in the mix come the end of the season.
Onto our Man of the Match. Lofty picked the returning Joey Barton, Jess picked out money winning Richard Dunne, Jenson and Michael picked out Niko Kranjcar but with four votes from Sam, Luke, PK and myself the Lofty Heights award goes to débutante Kevin Doyle for a hard working display that was awarded with an early goal.
Lofty will return with one of his always entertaining reports when he and Jenson make the trip to Derby next Monday!