A Late Show from Niko...
QPR 2-2 Stoke
A superb, late free kick from Niko Kranjcar rescued a vital point for QPR in the lunchtime clash with Stoke, where Mark Hughes made his long awaited return to Loftus Road..
Following last weeks thumping at the Manchester United Love In Show, we were all hopeful of a much improved result and indeed, performance against a Stoke team who have got good results away from home so far this season. Myself, Jenson and PK met for a spot of breakfast at the Burger Van before kick off , but were a tad too late to be in time to welcome Hughes back off the coach. In fact, the whole Hughes was a bit low key all in all as the focus was of course, more importantly on the game itself. Let's face it, the Welshman's Ego hardly needs boosting any further. We caught up briefly with Sam, Luke, Zach and later, Lorna. Lee and Jess were absent today, holidaying but watching the game from sunny Cyprus, which is why you have me for this report!
Onto the game and let's be honest, even with a different Manager, a game against Stoke is never going to be one for the purists and so it panned out here. After all, it's still practically Pulis's team that Hughes is now taking the credit for. What is also needed for this fixture is a strong referee, which sadly, was very lacking. Very much so to when Stoke went in front on 11 minutes despite a positive start from Rangers - Moses beat Isla all to easily and crossed the ball in for Peter Crouch who literally planted Rio Ferdinand two foot into the turf before heading across to Diouf who made no mistake. A certain foul which was somehow missed by the referee and his assistant..
Rangers pressed for an equaliser but Stoke were breaking very quickly at times, only the wrong decisions or final ball letting them down. Kranjcar went close from long range later in the half but 3 minutes before the break, Rangers found their way through - Mutch's corner found Caulker who got the better of Shawcross and who's header was helped over the line by former Ranger, Peter Crouch.
With some problems on the work front filtering through to me, I stayed in my seat for the half time break and was becoming confident that now we had made the breakthrough, we could go on and gain another valuable victory.
But we were dealt a second blow shortly after the break, following Joey Barton's departure through injury in the first half, fellow hamstring victim, Jordan Mutch left the field on 50 minutes. A minute later, the bad news continued when Isla was muscled off the ball again, far to easily, by Moses who pulled the ball back to Crouch, leaving Ferdinand wrong footed before blasting home against his old club.
Again, Rangers had it all to do again and despite the setbacks, pushed hard in the second half. A succession of 3 corners at the Loft End had the home fans screaming in anger as at each corner, Shawcross practically molested Steven Caulker on each occasion and on each occasion, went unpunished.
But Rangers got their reward with two minutes left when Kranjcar, who literally got kicked to bits all afternoon, was brought down on the edge of the box by Sidwell, the Croation playmaker stepped up and curled a delicious free kick into the top corner. Truly uinstoppable and a point that was just about deserved by Rangers..
Queens Park Rangers
- 01 Green
- 05 Ferdinand
- 03 Traore Booked
- 04 Caulker
- 14 Isla
- 17 Mutch (Henry - 50' )
- 19 Kranjcar
- 08 Barton (Phillips - 34' )
- 10 Fer Booked
- 24 Vargas (Zamora - 70' )
- 09 Austin
- 07 Phillips
- 12 McCarthy
- 15 Onuoha
- 20 Henry
- 22 Dunne
- 23 Hoilett
- 25 Zamora
Well, a point was pleasing today after coming back twice from behind to earn it. Pleasing also that Rangers kept battling on to the end and showed plenty of character, that was sadly lacking at Old Trafford last week.
On the downside, I have to express some disappointment in Mauricio Isla who was badly at fault for both goals today. Now, he has shown that he has plenty of pace, but he rarely ventures forward which is baffling, making the decision to sell Danny Simpson just as baffling, as he has no real direct competition for his place. Early days though...
I'm not sure if Lee is going to return the favour next week or not at this stage, but whichever way, we will be back to review Rangers visit to St Marys to take on Southampton for our first of an away double header...
Keep the Faith and Come on you R'ssssssssss!!