Despite His White Boots

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

Monday, April 09, 2007

QPR 3 Luton 2

This was a really weird game. It was like a nil-nil except with five goals. Does that make any sense ? What I mean is that both teams were almost completely devoid of any creativity, Rangers because they were missing Cook, Rowlands, Idiakez and (after 20 minutes) Ainsworth, and Luton because they sucked. I have to say though, we were terrible first half, Luton had loads of the ball but their forwards were practically cardboard cut-outs and they only actually looked vaguely threatening from set-pieces, Heikkenen sending a free header wide with their best chance.

Five minutes from the break though, the visiting defence were unable to clear from a long throw and Dexter Blackstock sidefooted home from 10 yards. This was a totally undeserved lead and so it was fair enough when Luton equalised deep in injury time with what was apparently a "glancing header" although from where I was it looked like everyone missed the cross and it went straight in. Against all the laws of cause and effect, Luton then took the lead on 50 minutes. Rangers had two perfectly good opportunities to clear their lines before a third cross came in. Danny Cullip was poised to make a routine clearance when Marc Nygaard threw himself at the ball and punched it away with his hand. Either he was fouled or it was monumentally incompetent. I'm saying 5/6 each of two. Some egg (what do I care who) slotted the penalty, and with news coming in that Barnsley and Leeds were in front, the relegation fight was back on.

It was a desperate slog from here. Through a combination of injuries, Rangers were down to two defensive centre midfielders, another centre midfielder on one wing and a half-fit centre forward on the other. Everyone had a go on the wing but nothing worked until, with time running out, the "12th man" of the home crowd intervened. It never does any harm to have a good penalty appeal or two, even when it clearly isn't a pen, because then when you have a chance for a real shout, it can be very convincing. So when Paul Furlong hit the deck going for Adam Bolder's inviting cross, the entire home support screamed for the decision and the referee, being only human, obliged. Was it really a pen ? Another 5/6 each of two ... Blackstock stepped up and after some extended scummy "gamesmanship" from the visitors, converted with a minimum of fuss for 2-2.

While all the kerfuffle was going on before the kick was taken, the scary bloke behind me (who had been giving Nygaard some fearful stick) declared "if this goes in we'll win". I couldn't see it myself but I declined to argue the point. And rightly so, because with 90 minutes on the clock Rangers managed to put together the one moment of quality in the whole game. Stefan Moore's flick gave Steve Lomas some space on the left wing, and Furlong met his cross with a diving header that just had enough legs to beat the keeper. Players, coaching staff and of course fans went ballistic and despite a late scare from a Luton free kick, the points were bagged and relegation almost certainly staved off. Hooray !

Like I said we didn't play well today but basically all our most creative players were missing and in any case results are everything at this stage. Luton are of course doomed but frankly they would have been anyway even if they had won, if they score two more goals in their last four games I'll be surprised. No one in W12 will shed any tears as they go home to their cold soup ; they're a bolshy lot the Luton fans and clearly most of them have given up already, given that they only took up 25% of their allocation. Preston brought more down on a Tuesday evening. All we need is Leeds to go down with them and the Championship will be a slightly nicer place next year. And nicest of all because of the continued presence of the Super Hoops.

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