A QPR Report
Queen’s Park Rangers have a change of complexion now: gone are the fancy moisturisers and defoliants of the early part of the season. Neil Warnock has thrown the scrubs and cleansers out the window and resorted to good old soap and water. The Ardiles style Front Five are no more and Rangers now find themselves in the uncharacteristic position of being a team of toughs. Damion Stewart’s Thai kick boxing skills on a stooping Shane Long cost a typically aggressive Warnock side the points at Reading last night but it was an encouragingly tenacious showing from the Super Hoops.
Neither of QPR’s strikers played on the shoulder of the last defender. Jay Simpson was furthest forward, but Adel Taarabt, raiding from the left in September and October, was enjoying the most liberal of roles, and making a very impressive job of it too. My fellow blogger Lloyd cast doubt on the Moroccan’s end product in a recent heartfelt epistle and despite strong statistical evidence against this in recent matches, the man I spotted reading OK! magazine in St. Pancras station on Friday was left empty handed on this occasion, despite some terrifically tricksy tricks.
Neil Warnock’s withdrawal of the Spurs loanee for the lanky and defensively minded Peter Ramage backfired spectacularly with a quarter of an hour left on the clock including injury time. No sooner was the swap completed than Gylfi Sigurðsson put Reading ahead from twelve yards. Simpson, now isolated from his main provider, scarcely got a kick after that as Rangers tumbled to defeat. Nor were attacking reinforcements forthcoming from elsewhere in midfield. The decision to deploy Tamás Priskin in a wide right role may be a response to his dire scoring record of this season (17 matches and just the one goal for Ipswich) but he looked a carp out of the Lake Balaton waters. Hogan Ephraim, who sounds like an Appalachian hillbilly, battled well on the left in a Rangers display full of closing down and sharp tackles, but was never going to add much offensively and Warnock regular Mikele Leigertwood had by now been withdrawn to right back following Stewart’s harsh dismissal. The midfield was anchored by the calm passing of Alejandro Faurlin, but his tidy screening of a well honed Rangers defence was an operation too distant from the final third.
The reorganization brought about by Stewart’s departure was achieved seamlessly by the wily ex-Blades and Palace boss. I was especially impressed by Matthew Connolly – his denial of space of Jimmy Kébé at right back was matched by an imperious display on transferring to the centre. The aerial bombardment as the ten men tired became more intense and Connolly and Kaspars Gorkšs headed away countless high lofts. The Wolves duo of Matt Hill and Carl Ikeme both emerge from the proceedings with credit and the latter is doing splendidly to keep Radek Černý out of the picture. Rangers lie menacingly in wait for unsuspecting promotion candidates.