Despite His White Boots

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

QPR 2 Ipswich 0

Rangers dug out a massive three points thanks to two late headers against a tenacious Ipswich side at Loftus Road last night. Neil Warnock sprang a surprise by replacing both centre-halves, Shittu and Hall coming in for Gorkss and Connolly. I could see the reasoning behind replacing both rather than one, as Hall and Shittu had played 3 reserve games together, but it was still quite a turn up [1]

After an initial flurry, the new defensive pairing found themselves with plenty of work to do as Ipswich dominated. Rangers' attacking midfield three of Taarabt, Routledge and Miller gave possession away constantly, whereas the visitors passed it neatly with Bullard usually in the thick of it. Having said that I think Paddy Kenny only had one save to make, but Rangers went off to nervous murmuring all around the ground at half time. Personally I couldn't see where a goal was coming from.

As often happens though, the second half was better as Rangers, perhaps with a few words of encouragement from Warnock ringing in their ears, at least played most of the game in the Ipswich half. Taarabt's set pieces looked dangerous, with Shittu getting on the end of quite a few. One knock-down fell to Heidar Helguson but his diving header flew over the bar. Shittu had an opportunity in the inside left channel but was closed down well by a defender, then Taarabt sidefooted straight at Fulop from a similar position. Akos Buzsaky came on for Miller (a substitution I called 10 minutes before) and looked very composed, but the deadlock was finally broken via another set piece. Ipswich couldn't deal with Taarabt's corner and Clint Hill nodded in from close range.

The evident relief of the crowd was clearly shared by the QPR players who immediately looked like a different side. Fulop beat away a shot from Routledge after a slick passing move, but soon after Hill managed to reach the by-line and dig out a fantastic cross which gave Helguson the easiest task to nod in.

And that was that really. A massive three points for the Rs. Other results all went unexpectedly, I thought Forest, Leeds and Norwich would all win comfortably while Cardiff and Swansea would find it difficult, so there you go. In this division I think there's hardly any point looking at games and saying "ooh, that's a tough one, should be three points there though." It's mad.

Looking at the team, I would definitely keep Shittu in, he was excellent and is a big threat on attacking set pieces. It's harsh on Gorkss who has done little wrong for 30 games, but this is no time for sentiment! Hall vs Connolly is a lot closer, I'm still not convinced by Hall although he did play well last night. Up front, people are worried that WBA will recall Miller but I don't think it would be a big loss. He's strong and quick, but also totally one-footed and lacking in vision. Buzsaky provides a better balance, at least until Smith comes back who I think is under-rated by many Rangers fans.

Finally, not for the first time, maximum respect to Shaun Derry and especially Clint Hill, two players I was very sceptical about when they signed. They have been instrumental all season and without them we'd be a long way short of where we are now.

[1] Warnock said afterwards that the main reason was "tiredness", but he has been critical of both Gorkss and Connolly in recent weeks, so make your own mind up :)

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