Despite His White Boots

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

QPR 1 Birmingham 0

Rangers pulled out a fine result last night after looking completely up against it at half time. The team selection had the air of Briatore's involvement once again, with Tomassi starting in midfield, Ledesma returning and Di Carmine keeping his place up front, although Parejo was on the bench and Blackstock returned to join Di Carmine. City started on the front foot and should have taken the lead within 3 minutes when Cameron Jerome was clean through on goal, but after a poor touch he had to hurry his shot and Radek Cerny saved well. Cerny also pushed away a fierce Kevin Phillips volley, and was rewarded with a first ever appreciative chant from the Loft !

Once the game settled down, City had much more possession and were able to regularly stretch the Rangers defence through the excellent McFadden. The home side tried to play the ball too quickly for the most part, but worked their way back into the game with Lee Cook providing his usual quota of dangerous crosses. Five minutes before the break, the game turned when Michele Leigertwood lost possession in midfield, chased back after it and tried to pull out of his challenge on Lee Carsley after the ball had gone. By the time he arrived, unable to check his momentum on the wet turf, he couldn't avoid making contact, but it seemed light enough, with Carsley staying on his feet and barely reacting at all. Referee Atwell, however, immediately brandished the red card, to the fury of home players and fans. This is the 25 year old "fast tracked" referee who gave the non-existent goal at Watford. I'd say fast tracking would be good for him now, providing it's in the opposite direction.

Anyway, matters looked bleak at half time, given how the visitors had controlled most of the first half before the sending off. In a bold move though, Gareth Ainsworth kept two up front and replaced Cook with Gavin Mahon. This was rewarded when a quick counter-attack seemed to have broken down, but Tomassi won the ball back and fed Di Carmine 25 yards out. The young Italian promptly belted the ball into the top corner to send Loftus Road into raptures.

City responded with a flurry of corners, from one of which Phillips' shot was cleared off the line, but after that they were absolutely hopeless. This shouldn't take away from the quality of Rangers' defending, from front to back, but even so you would have thought the league leaders should have done better. McFadden and Phillips were forced out of dangerous areas, leaving the leaden-footed Jerome and Bent, who looks to have put on about a stone and a half since I saw him at Charlton, to blunder around in the middle. Substitute Quincy was unable to either make an impact on the game or unmask the murderer from a piece of bum-fluff found at the scene of the crime. Phillips netted from an offside position in injury time, but Rangers held out, despite playing with almost nine men as Ledesma looked out on his feet.

I'd have given you at least 10-1 on a Rangers win at half time, but that's the beauty of the game, how it can surprise you. Discussion of the managerial position should wait till another day, as the team deserve all credit for last night's committed and composed defending, with a special mention for Damion Stewart who was absolutely outstanding.


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