Despite His White Boots

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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

QPR 2 Doncaster Rovers 0

Rangers put in a much better performance to win this game fairly comfortably. Following last week's defensive debacle (by all accounts), Ramage and Stewart returned to the back four in place of Connolly and Gorkss. Gavin Mahon also came back into midfield to captain the side at the expense of a striker. While everyone wants to see two up front, especially at home, it appears that this 4-2-3-1 formation probably suits the players at Iain Dowie's disposal, given the surfeit of creative midfielders and lack of options further forward.

This system does put a lot of pressure on the lone striker ; fortunately Dexter Blackstock had his best game for some time, and it was his close-range finish that gave Rangers an early lead from Daniel Parejo's excellent free kick delivery. Parejo and fellow flamboyant Latin type Emmanuel Ledesma were causing the visitors all sorts of problems with their movement and close control, and after Parejo had headed narrowly over from Ramage's cross, Ledesma doubled the score on the half hour. Stewart's quick free kick caught the visiting defence napping, and while the Argentinian might have been a shade offside, his immaculate first touch took him clear of three opponents and he poked a shot into the corner. And then was promptly booked for going into the crowd to celebrate. Exuberance of youth :-).

Fitz Hall limped off to be replaced by Matthew Connolly, but if anything the home defence looked even tighter with this change, and for all Doncaster's good passing and movement, Radek Cerny wasn't troubled all afternoon in the Rangers goal. Unfortunately nor was Neil Sullivan (who must be what now, 40 ?) in the second half as the game petered out, but with Rangers 2-0 to the good that wasn't our problem !

So all in all a step forward for QPR in what a lot of people thought would be a difficult game. In the event, Rangers are probably going to struggle more against the more physical teams, and the visitors lacked a cutting edge with one (possibly two I'm not sure) main striker missing. Still, you could see them being a pain to play against if they go in front, as they did keep the ball very well at times. If Rangers can see Carlisle off on Tuesday and then take something away to Bristol City next weekend that will go down as a very satisfactory start to the season.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

QPR 2 Barnsley 1

QPR recorded an unconvincing win in their opening game, but a win nonetheless. Cerny, Gorkss, Ramage and Ledesma made their debuts for the home side, but it was Barnsley's new signing Iain Hume who sprinted through a big gap in the Rangers defence to open the scoring on five minutes. It wasn't even their first chance, Jon Macken having fluffed an excellent opportunity from 10 yards, and Rangers were seriously wobbling. Fortunately Barnsley couldn't add to their lead, and with Ledesma coming into the game, Rangers started to push forward. And it was the Argentinian's free kick that led to the equaliser ; Barnsley keeper Steele fumbled the low shot, and a whole posse of Rangers players forced the ball in via the crossbar, with Fitz Hall claiming the final touch. Within two minutes, Hall added a second, volleying from over his shoulder across the keeper after Barnsley had failed to clear Lee Cook's corner.

Rangers then had the better of the first half, but Barnsley were stronger in the second, especially after Hall of all people wasted the chance to kill the game from the penalty spot. Most people around the ground assumed that Hall was taking the penalty because he was on a hat-trick, which seemed unprofessional at 2-1, but Iain Dowie maintained after the game that Hall was the designated penalty taker, which seemed unlikely until you actually looked around the team and wondered who else would have taken it. Fortunately Martin Rowlands will be back soon to relieve him of the job.

Barnsley had several set-piece opportunities but with Gavin Mahon seeming to head almost all of them out of danger, Rangers hung on, more comfortably after Van Homoet was sent off for slashing at another debutant Dani Parejo from behind. The Spaniard showed a few neat touches in a 20-minute cameo without seeing much of the ball, as did winger Matteo Alberti. Of the starting newcomers, Ledesma was the clear pick, very skilful and a real threat. Ramage had a decent game at right-back, but Gorkss and Cerny perhaps need some time to settle in. It does seem harsh on Lee Camp to be immediately replaced in goal IMO, and he looked a lot less than happy during the half-time subs kickabout.

In the end everyone was glad to pick up 3 points even if the performance could have used a lot of improvement ; it's very important to start with some momentum, and that's one game out of the way before Rowlands comes back at least.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Once More Unto The Breach

Screw the Olympics, it's the Football League !!!1! And where to start but Loftus Road, with the hoops being as short as 11-2 ftw this season. While this is way too short, expectations are high. Dani Parejo received clearance to play today, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him. One commenter on a BBC Messageboard who lives in Spain (and is not a QPR fan) said "if this boy was playing with a broken leg he'd still be the best player in the Championship". And it must be true. Bloke on the internet said. With Lee Cook also making a welcome return and Buzsaky still recovering from injury, the forwards should have plenty of ammunition to work with. Whether they can convert this into goals is not so sure ; pre-season has not gone well, especially in terms of goalscoring, and we still look a striker short. But Agyemang and Blackstock have both had their spells of scoring a lot of goals and so deserve the chance to start IMO. If they don't fire straight away though, expect another arrival before the transfer deadline (end of August).

Whatever happens it should be exciting and I'd rather be reading predictions about how we "probably aren't good enough to go up" than "will struggle to avoid the drop". League Two is much less appealing this year, Barnet will find it difficult without Jason Puncheon (gone to Plymouth) but manager Paul Fairclough keeps finding players somewhere, and more to the point they're going to have a 30 point start on Luton (ha ha), and 17 on Rotherham and probably Bournemouth too. So this gives them plenty of room to build and develop some of the younger players. So let's have at it !