Despite His White Boots

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

Saturday, December 06, 2008

QPR 1 Wolves 0

I was umming and ahhing about showing up for this one ; after a (rare) heavy night last night I was struggling, but the extra 2 hours made the difference and I was able to haul my ass to Loftus Road. And a good job too, as Rangers won the best game I've seen for some time.

Paulo Sousa opted for a bold selection, with Blackstock, Agyemang and Helguson all playing. Once again, Helguson had an early chance, but he fired over from 16 yards. Then Agyemang found himself clear on goal after a slip by Mancienne (of all people), but his shot was too close to Wayne Hennessey in the Wolves goal. Wolves of course are no mugs, and I was expecting Edwards' curled shot to nestle in the onion bag soon after, but it flew a fraction wide. Jones also went close from a free kick before Rangers asserted themselves once more and dominated the rest of the first half. Hennessey saved again from Helguson and Cook, the latter having come on to replace Blackstock. I'm really not sure whether Blackstock was injured or not ; he probably was, but while he is our main goal threat, he is very reliant on good service from the wings. In Sousa's favoured diamond formation, this isn't generally forthcoming, and Agyemang looks much more suited to the formation. The Ghanaian forward appeared to have the beating of both Wolves fullbacks at will, but often let himself down with the final pass or shot.

Moments after the break Helguson had yet another early chance after a long punt went all the way through to him, but Hennessey somehow managed to divert the ball wide with the inside of his foot. Wolves also showed more of a threat as the game could officially be classified as "pulsating" IMO. Radek Cerny saved brilliantly from another free kick, and then threw himself backwards to claw Ebanks-Blake's header off the line when a goal seemed certain. From the next attack, Rangers took the lead. Agyemang and Martin Rowlands appeared to get in each other's way 30 yards out, until Rowlands took control and belted a swerving shot over Hennessey and into the roof of the net.

From this point, the ebb and flow of the game turned to complete ebb towards the Rangers goal, not surprisingly. Matt Jarvis came on for Wolves and looked much more threatening than Kightly had been on the other flank, but the outstanding Stewart, Gorkss and Mahon kept the Wolves from the door (groan). Indeed, the closest we came to another goal was when late Rangers substitute Di Carmine drove narrowly wide from 20 yards in injury time.

So Mick McCarthy becomes the latest manager to talk about how hard it is to come to Loftus Road, and while this has been the case for several years, certainly this season there has been a huge difference between the performance levels at home and away this season. Rangers were completely unrecognisable from the defensively solid but otherwise insipid outfit we saw at Selhurst Park the week before. I'm not getting carried away until we improve considerably on the road, but Gorkss has taken the defence to another level IMO and we have a strong base to build on from there at least. The return of Vine and Buszaky could turn QPR into a very handy outfit, but we'll have to wait till next season for that unfortunately. For now, I said I'd be happy if we were top half by Christmas and able to push on in the New Year, and hopefully that's at least where we'll be.


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