Lofty Heights... 'Ohhh Bobby Zamooooora!!!'

A look at Queens Park Rangers F.C. through the eyes of the fans - follow us on twitter @loftyheights70, @LoftyQPR and @qprleeroy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Austin Two Good For Villa......

Last night's Monday Night Football saw the R's make another TV appearance as two of the Premier League struggling sides came head to head in what could have almost been labelled as one of those 'must win' games early in the season. Aston Villa came to Loftus Road on the back of a four game losing streak as the R's looked to bounce back from the last minute heartbreak against Liverpool last Sunday. A tense and nervy affair lay ahead of us....

With the evening game meaning that many of us were travelling from work to get to Loftus Road, its was Jess, Sam and Luke that arrived first from their trouble free journeys before Lofty then arrived after having to cross Central London from Dartford. I managed to battle a hefty workload before conquering the M25 and M4 and getting to meet the group for a quick dinner from the fish and chip shop by the ground and a good old fashioned catch up on the wall. Michael graced us with his company for a short while before we all got ourselves in the ground ahead of kick off. Lorna was already in there waiting for us and it wasn't until five minutes before proceedings kicked off that Jenson finally made it after battling through the rush hour from Guildford and completed our line up of the evening.

Two changes were made from last Sunday's defeat against Liverpool as Alex McCarthy and Nedum Onuoha missed out through injury and they were replaced by R's number one Rob Green and Edu Vargas after his brace against Liverpool.
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Villa started the game as they always do, fast, quick to close down the midfield and rushing them into sloppy passes before trying to hit on the counter attack. Villa did not allow the R's to settle into much of a rhythm at all and meant we had to revert to playing long to Zamora in hope that he could hold the ball up and get our midfield on the ball and influence the game a lot more. However the visitors organised themselves in such a way that if we did play long to Bobby that they would have Carlos Sanchez and Ron Vlaar doubling up on Zamora and limiting the influence that he was having on the game. It was a very interesting battle that was beginning to unfold in front of us.
It was Villa who had the first effort on target when Westwood fired straight at Green early on.
Rangers' were not getting to grips with Villa's intensity in the middle of the park and continued to stray with their passing, however what was a vast improvement was how quickly our midfield pairing of Sandro and Henry were themselves closing down and limiting the attacking threat that was posed by the pacy front three of Agbonlahor, Weimann and Benteke.
Twenty minutes in we had our first goal of the game.
Dunne played a long ball to Zamora, who had lost Sanchez, chested the ball down into the path of Austin and last season's top scorer sweetly struck the ball with the outside of his foot and saw the ball fly into the bottom corner past Brad Guzan's out-stretched right arm. The Villa 'keeper could've done better it his starting position was better, however it was a cracking hit from twenty five yards by Austin!
The goal injected confidence in the team and drove them on to battle even harder to keep the advantage.
Villa did continue to press, however their lack of efforts on goal meant that the threat was limited during the half and meant the R's went into the interval with the advantage.

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We enjoyed the break as it was only the second time this season we have gone into an interval with the lead, ironically it was the R's home win against Sunderland at the end of August that this happened. Guess who scored that goal? You're right, it was that man Charlie Austin! Was history about to repeat itself?

Well if the truth be told it was the visitors who dominated possession in the opening twenty minutes of the second half yet failed to create any telling chances that troubled Rob Green's goal. Only Ciaran Clark's tame volley that bounced wide was worth any note.
With a change needed Redknapp decided to yank off Zamora (Pete's words not mine!) and replace him with Hoilett in an attempt to inject some pace to the team whilst also shoring up the midfield by putting Fer back in a more familiar centre midfield role.
Almost instantly Hoilett made an impact as he run through several Villa defenders before taking aim and curled one towards the far post only to see it hit the outside of the post and going to safety.
After being camped in their own half and being over-run in midfield it was a simple mis-placed pass from the impressive Sanchez that was intercepted by Karl Henry as he then fed Edu Vargas which allowed him to run into acres of space down the R's right before reaching the eighteen box and spotting Austin's run to the front post and putting in an inch perfect cross for the R's number nine, who managed to beat Vlaar and expertly slot home from eight yards!! If Austin gets that service throughout this year then he can easily hit fifteen or more goals this season as that is his bread and butter.
Rangers' should have made it three when Hoilett's delightful ball over the top found the impressive Vargas but the Chilean was denied by Guzan when his flick was blocked by the American stopper.
Villa had a chance to grab a consolation when Cleverley's effort was parried by Green into the path of Clark, who looked certain to score from six yards out, however Sandro's fantastic tackle partially blocked the follow up and Green was on hand to make the final save.

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Overall it was great to see the R's pick up a much needed three points, however had Villa been better in the attacking third then it may of been a different story. They certainly looked to be well out of sorts, however despite their lack of form and inability to score a strong and loud Villa following came to Loftus Road to pack out the away end, which on a Monday night TV game was quite impressive, or maybe I'm easily pleased?

There were many great performances out there tonight with Dunne taking complete care of Benteke all night, I think he's still in Dunne's back pocket. Yun was fantastic all night and did not put a foot wrong. He knew when to venture forward and put in countless interceptions throughout the evening. Austin is an obvious choice, the match winner and he works extremely hard, he got his rewards for this last night! Vargas is another one you cannot ignore. He has a great understanding with Isla and the pair work very well together down the right hand side. Vargas also has that instinct in the final third and was unlucky to not get the goal his performance deserved.

Saying all that, it's Man of the Match time.
Jenson's vote went to Green as Lofty picked out Dunne's superb showing. Jess went for Austin, I was impressed with Yun all evening. However with votes from Sam, Luke and Lorna our winner last night was Edu Vargas.

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Lofty will return on Saturday as the R's travel down the road to South-West London and Stamford Bridge to take on those scumbags who I need not mention!
Let's hope we can put in another great performance and hopefully some lady luck will be on our side!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Caulker of a Performance Un-Dunne by Lucky Liverpool....

We were the subject of more Sky camera attention as Liverpool made the trip from the North West to Loftus Road in the early Super Sunday kick off.

Jess, Sam and myself left early in order to get some lunch in before meeting Lofty and PK in the usual place outside the ground for a pre-match catch up after the two week break. Jenson chose to not come to the game today after winning tickets to see Al Murray in Bath tonight, no-one could could blame him for not wanting to attend.
We were all dreading the game as any team out of sorts, like Liverpool, always relish playing against us as we've often been an easy target. A terrible performance against West Ham before the International break has left many of the fans dreading what could potentially happen, however what was going to be more important from my perspective was the performance regardless of the result, if a decent performance was on show today then we could all start to believe more in the team and the manager going forward as the passion, belief and determination from last years 'Band of Brothers' has not been present in recent weeks.

When the team has came out at 12.30 there were a few surprises initially until we found out the reasons why they were made.
Alex McCarthy came in for Rob Green who was suffering from flu/tonsillitis. Rio Ferdinand missed out after nursing a groin injury/wrist injury from his numerous book signings this week. We also saw Karl Henry, Bobby Zamora and Yun come in as the R's looked to freshen things up after a slow start to the season.

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What was evident from the kick off that we were not playing the 3-5-2 in the image above, instead Onuoha in at right back as Isla played more advanced on the right wing and attempting to pin Enrique back and stop him charging down the left wing as he likes to do. Fer played on the left of the midfield four.
Within two minutes the R's created the first half chance as Zamora nodded the ball back to Austin before the R's number 9 blasted well over.
A Liverpool of old start the game very quickly, however they allowed us to maintain possession very easily and put very little pressure on the midfield and instead opted to rely on the pace of the counter attack with Sterling, Lallana and Ballotelli and this helped the R's settle into their stride and win the battle in the middle of the pitch.
What shocked us even more was that from the first minute we saw Redknapp on the touchline barking out orders throughout the half.
Rangers' had a huge chance to open the scoring on the ten minute mark after Austin closed down Johnson before getting a lucky ricochet off Skrtel to put him one on one with Mignolet and his finish was parried back to Austin and his follow up was put in the side netting after being off balance.
The confidence was clearly growing as the R's continued to look like the only team likely to scoreand they nearly did when another glorious chance went begging.
Isla done well to keep the ball in play on the halfway line before releasing Zamora down the right hand side who drove into the penalty area before pulling the ball back to Fer, who from 8 yards out and the whole of the left of the goal to place the ball, fired the ball onto the top of the crossbar and over! A glaring miss!!
Five minutes later that man Zamora exquisitely turned on the edge of the box before crossing to Fer, who beat Mignolet to the ball only to see his header hit the bar once again and Austin's follow up was blocked by Johnson. How were we not at least a goal or two up I never know!!
Just before the break Gerrard had a small breakaway as Caulker insisted on backing off the Liverpool captain despite not having the ball in any sort of control before sidefooting the ball just wide of McCarthy's far post.
Liverpool had one shot on target throughout the first half and McCarthy could've popped to McDonald's during the opening 45 minutes and no-one would've noticed! However we had only hit the target once but hit the bar twice!

A fantastic first half performance from the R's, the passion and determination that has been missing had come back and gave the home crowd a massive lift! It was a relief to see that effort and heart back on the pitch once again, however would we be made to pay for missing the chances we had. It was also good to see Caulker and Dunne looking like an organised unit and Dunne having Ballotelli well and truly in his back pocket.

Unfortunately Onuoha had to come off during the half time interval with what looked like a groin/hamstring injury. Matt Phillips replaced him as Isla slotting back into the familiar right back position.
Rangers' lost some of the intensity of the first half during the opening exchanges of the second half as the opening fifteen minutes were more of a stalemate, however with Gerrard dropping to a more familiar deeper role in the Liverpool midfield they did begin to get more of a foothold on the game and got more possession whilst looking more of a threat in the attacking third despite having to carry Ballotelli throughout.
On the hour mark Sandro made his customary exit through injury as he was replaced by Armand Traore.
Shortly after the change Liverpool broke away through Sterling before Lallana forced McCarthy to make a fantastic save before Ballotelli picked up the rebound with an open goal in front of him...... only to blast the ball over the bar! Let off!!
Minutes later Liverpool took the lead.
Sterling won a very cheap free kick after falling over after little contact by Traore. Liverpool were smart enough to take the free kick quickly as the R's defence fell asleep and Johnson's quick run saw him receive the pass from Sterling before John then squared it only for Dunne to turn it into his own net! This was the only way Liverpool looked like scoring in the game and just about sums our luck up!
On 77 minutes Bobby Zamora made way for Vargas after a brilliant performance leading the line and being a true leader as captain throughout the game.
Within six minutes Vargas made his impact.
Isla's free kick was cleared to Vargas who crossed for Austin, who headed the ball back across goal for Vargas who continued his run and slotted home from close range to get his first goal since joining on loan from Napoli.
Loftus Road lifted and the belief was there once again as the players again took it up a notch as they looked for the winner.
Rangers' were inches from getting that second goal after Austin and Vargas combined before Austin's cross was headed across goal by Caulker towards Vargas and if Skrtel had not got his toe on it then the Chilean would've headed home from close range.
From the resulting corner Liverpool broke away with Sterling, Henry could and should've fouled Sterling to break the play up, however with him already being on a yellow card he opted to allowed Sterling to run by before passing to Gerrard and then Coutinho, who took aim from just inside the penalty area and the shot took a deflection off Caulker, which ultimately beat McCarthy to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
Despite the set back come in the 90th minute no-one stopped believing and Rangers' almost immediately won a corner on the left side.
Fer's centre was met at the near post by Vargas and his header somehow found it's way in at the near post! What a finish to the game!!!

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Straight from the kick off Liverpool hit the attack and Ballotelli tried to cleverly back flick the ball over McCarthy but saw his effort go just wide.
The R's then won a free kick that was easily cleared by Liverpool as they broke away through Coutinho and then Sterling and as Sterling tried to square to Ballotelli, Caulker caught his feet in a tangle and saw the ball fly into the back of the net...... how's your luck??!

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A great game for the neutral to watch, however the ending is an absolute sickener! Two own goals and a deflected goal, Liverpool must feel like they've won the lottery this evening, a complete mugging!
This was easily the R's best performance of the season yet could not take the first half chance created and instead were left ruing what utter bad luck we have seen today.
There were some brilliant performances out there today with Isla having his best game by far in the first half on the right wing and Phillips just could not produce anything like that committed performance in the second half as we lost the edge on that right hand side. The midfield pair of Sandro and Henry won the midfield battle for 60 minutes and were the driving force behind a hard working performance. Austin and Zamora were immense against Lovren and Skrtel and even when Zamora departed little Edu Vargas continued that hard work and picked up his two goals in brilliant fashion.

Onto our Man of the Match. It has been quite an easy one for us today despite so many good performances out there today. Luke picked out Isla as the rest of the gang voted for our inspirational captain Bobby Zamora. He was fantastic today and lead from the front extremely well whilst also being a clear leader on the pitch, talking to the players throughout and motivating them, who'd of thought we would seen that 12 months ago?

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Next Monday we host Aston Villa in front of the Sky cameras once again! I will return with the report on Tuesday.
Here's to hoping we see a similar performance but a better result next time out!!

Keep the Faith!

Sunday, October 05, 2014


Today the R's 'enjoyed' their second London derby of the season as they took to the short trip across to East London as we visit Upton Park to take on Sam Allardyce's West Ham.

There was an early start for many of the R's faithful as they walked the 14 miles from Loftus Road to Upton Park in a support of the Tiger Cubs, a fantastic project that the QPR in the Community Trust support extremely well. A great showing and well done to all those involved in taking part for this fantastic cause.

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We had no-one in East London representing Lofty Heights this afternoon as Jenson was still sunning himself in Cyprus and the remainder of us unwilling to pay the £43 for a Sunday 4:15 kick off with a crap view, especially with the away performances we've seen this season!

Redknapp made three changes to the side that narrowly lost at Southampton last week with Onuoha, Henry and Hoilett coming in for Isla, Phillips and Vargas.

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Within four minutes the play for a 0-0 tactic was thrown out the window as the hosts opened the scoring from the first corner of the game.
Valencia seemingly handballed the cross, whilst he was being tugged by Austin, as the ball made it's way through to Sahko at the back post who was pressuring Onuoha before the Chief inadvertently bundled the ball past a static Green in the R's goal. Only Green appealed for the infringement as the rest of the team dropped their heads with a further 86 minutes of spineless effort lay in front of us.
Austin had the only shot on target mid way through the half as he done superbly well to turn Tomkins before shooting straight at Adrian.

West Ham comfortably went into half time a goal up with the R's looking clueless as to what the game plan actually was once we were a goal down, one can only assume that it was to keep the score down because that's exactly how we played.

Zamora came on for Hoilett as the second half resumed, leaving us with only Traore who can show any pace going forward as the rest casually jogged around earning their 'hard earned' weekly salary.
Zamora did make an impact in the opening ten minutes of the half, crossing for Austin who had beaten the two centre backs to the cross, only to see last seasons top scorer side foot it wide.
The spineless display continued as the R's lacked any ambition, any passion and any enthusiasm in all areas of the pitch, totally draining those who made the effort to attend of everything they had before sending us on our merry way.
West Ham did add to their tally with Sahko heading home from a yard after Tomkins mopped up a West Ham free kick, beating Ferdinand to the ball before finding Sahko totally unmarked at the far post as Caulker just stopped and watched him just nod into the empty net.

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The rest of the game was dull as West Ham cruised to a deserved victory and left us firmly at the bottom of the Premier League, the same position as Mark Hughes put us in during our last term in the Premier League and the same desire that was on show...... all too similar for us Rangers' fans.

The performance was dire and I can only pick out Traore for putting a half decent effort in today. It also says a lot when our makeshift right back has the most amount of shots for the team and actually looked the most threatening player during the final 20 minutes of the second half.
These away performances are all too similar at present, there's no ambition to take a game to a team that would struggle with the amount of pace our attacking players possess, yet we seem all too content to just sit back and allow teams to attack our fragile midfield and defence, we need to score at least two if we are going to win a game at the moment as we always look like conceding.
I think we are approaching that time when we have to question those that are in charge and whether the current management team is the right one to take us forward as the players clearly are not fighting for the manager right now and do not have a clear understanding as to what is expected of them for the 90+ minutes.
Redknapp out?? It might be the right time for it as we do not look like we could beat a sack of sh!te right now.

None of those players deserve the Man of the Match award today, instead those that completed the 14 mile walk from Loftus Road to West Ham deserve all the plaudits! It's a shame they were rewarded with such a spineless showing from Redknapp's men today.

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I will return after the International break as we have the un-enviable task of sitting through the visit of Liverpool, we all know what happened last time!!

Until then enjoy the two weeks off and having a weekend where we cannot be defeated!