Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

QPR 1 West Brom 2

I would have called this one point dropped rather than three, because I thought Albion were much the better side, but as is often the case, I'm confused after reading the QPR website which reckons the first half was "free-flowing", and quotes John Gregory as saying we would have won "comfortably" if we had gone 2-1 ahead from the spot. Confused to the point of baffled. Maybe I give the opposition too much credit sometimes but I really thought we didn't play well today and created very little.

The first half was a bit of a mess all round as a very strong wind caused problems for everyone. Kamara and Koren went very close from distance for the visitors, with Rangers keeper Lee Camp a definite spectator on the first effort if not the second as well. Lee Cook was seeing little of the ball for Rangers but that did seem to free up Gareth Ainsworth on the other wing, and the Baggies' defence had to make a couple of last-ditch clearances from his crosses.

Into the second half and when Paul Furlong scuffed a shot straight at Dean Kiely from 10 yards, the Albion keeper immediately arced a long throw to Jason Koumas in midfield. With the Rangers defence caught short, he found Kevin Phillips who made space for himself and finished expertly. 10 minutes later Marc Nygaard was hooked (and not a moment too soon) to be replaced by Dexter Blackstock, and within two minutes the Rangers sub headed home from Ainsworth's far post cross. Two minutes after that, Ainsworth sent Furlong clear and he was brought to ground by a combination of what looked like the entire Albion defence. Unfortunately Furlong's penalty was too weak and Kiely turned it around the post.

It was pretty even after that until Albion substitutes Ellington and Gera combined for the winner, Michael Manciennce allowing Ellington to cross far too easily for the Hungarian to volley in, a fine finish but a sloppy goal from Rangers' POV, and that was that. Once this relegation business is sorted out one way or the other, I can feel a rant coming on about how the Championship is following the Premiership in forming a big gap between top and bottom. In the Premiership, it's the Champions' League money that first causes the gap and then perpetuates it as the same teams use their CL money to pull further clear in the chase for next season's CL money. One league below, teams relegated from the Premiership have a huge financial advantage and this is further enhanced by the "parachute payments". When West Brom can have players of the quality of Ellington and Gera coming off the bench to win games [1], it makes a huge difference. Fair enough, Rangers had Premiership/parachute money in 1997-9 but we spunked it all off and millions more through hopeless mismanagement from top to bottom. That's no one's fault but our own. Anyway I'll save some for later because that's half the rant already.

With Hull whacking Southend 4-0 today, it looks a lot like Luton going down and pick any 2 from Leeds, Southend, Rangers and Barnsley to go with them. That's the view on Betfair which is probably the most reliable indicator. Tuesday's game in hand at home to Preston is massive for the Rs.

[1] In fact I just checked on Soccerbase. According to that, West Brom's substitutes today cost them £8.5 million in total.


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