Since the late 19th century, scientists have pondered over the phenomenon known as ‘Murphy’s Law.’ Similarly, since the 20th century, QPR fans have had many experiences of what is known as ‘Rangers Law.’ It basically means that ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’
Neil Warnock and the current team had their first experience on Saturday at a sun drenched Glanford Park as a bottom of the table Scunthorpe inflicted a shock defeat on the run away leaders. This game ticked all the boxes to be eligible for the Rangers Law Syndrome. New manager ? Yes. Haven’t won in eight games ? Yes. Have only scored twice in those eight games ? Yes. Haven’t scored for over six hours ? Yes. Rock bottom ? Yes. Conceded three goals or more 14 times this season ? Yes. The list is endless, as is the list of QPR players having their worse game of the season. And yet it started off so well in front of nearly 2,000 travelling R’s fans who were in fine voice as the game kicked off.
Warnock made three changes to the team that beat Sheffield United at a canter on Monday. Out went the injured Taarabt and Helguson while Gorkss was dropped to the bench. In their places came Hogan Ephraim, Rob Hulse and Danny Shittu. Fitz Hall was wearing the captain’s armband, as the game wore on it was another mystery to scientists and QPR fans as to WHY ?
Although it’s well documented that we were the better side in every way, shape and form until the equaliser on 28 minutes, it was the home team who created the first chance of the game. On 3 minutes, Ramon Nunez found himself behind our two centre backs as they both decided to go AWOL. Nunez ran at Hill with Chris Dagnall to his left. The Leeds loanee took the wrong option to shoot tamely at Kenny when his team mate was in a better scoring position. It was immediately noticeable that Paddy Kenny was fuming as our captain just looked at the floor. The ball then went up the other end and reached Hulse about 15 yards out, but he snapped at the shot and it went wide.
Two minutes later, Rob Hulse was found again on halfway with a lobbed effort from Kenny. With a defender all over him, he chested the ball down excellently and fed Hogan Ephraim out wide left. With his first touch, he had sped past his marker and headed goalwards and as the keeper narrowed the angle, Ephraim hit a right-footed shot that missed the keeper’s left hand post by inches. But we took the lead within seconds as Derry won his midfield tussle and sent Routledge down the right flank with an inch perfect pass. The winger in turn picked out Hulse superbly with a cross onto the centre forward’s head and it was buried in the bottom of the goal.
On 8 minutes it was Routledge’s turn to try his luck with a cute lob, but Joe Murphy made a decent save. Two minutes later and following some good work by Derry and Faurlin the Argentinian took aim from 18 yards, but it sailed over the bar. For the next 10 minutes, the game settled down for a while as Scunthorpe decided to stop giving the ball away and made inroads into our half of the pitch, but on 25 minutes the game should have been over as a contest. Following a Scunny corner, the ball was cleared to Faurlin just outside our box. The Argentinian went for the jugular by running straight down the middle of the pitch and as the home defence retreated, he found Routledge in acres on the right. Taking a few steps, he hit the ball sweetly, but the keeper had narrowed the angle and made a great save. Little did we know, but that was the turning point in the game.
Within three minutes of that miss, the home team were level. Scunthorpe were awarded a free kick out on our left touchline and as the ball was crossed into our box, Joe Garner was found unmarked and his bullet header nearly took the net off the frame of the goal. To say that it was rank bad defending would be an understatement, but the Nottingham Forest loanee had enough time to write a ‘Greetings From Sunny Scunny’ postcard to his Forest team mates, run to the post office and put it in a big red post box ! Hill appeared to apologise to team mates while Derry tried to rally the troops. The captain said nothing and looked at the floor.
For the next sixty plus minutes, we then turned into a team who looked like relegation fodder while the home side looked like they were promotion material. Despite being the two tallest players on the pitch, both Shittu and Hall took it in turns to be beaten in the air and when the ball was on the floor, they seemed to be in competition as to who could kick the ball as near to the ozone layer ! The captain won hands down. Shittu even took up chesting the ball away on a couple of occasions when a header would have done the job properly. Passes were going astray all over the pitch and despite Kenny not being in any real danger as such, it was Scunny who were doing all the pressing and they had three decent attempts in the last 10 minutes with two going straight at Kenny and Hall putting in a decent block on one occasion. Half time: 1-1.
Warnock rang out the changes at half time with Pascal Chimbonda replacing Danny Shittu. Chimbonda then went to left-back while Hill went in the middle alongside the captain. We were then treated to another mystery that will baffle scientists and QPR fans again. For those of you who didn’t venture ‘oop north’, the weather could be described as glorious, balmy even, yet our sub decided that it was suitable to wear not only a pair of gloves with a long sleeved shirt, but long cycling type shorts under his regular shorts. I bet the home team players thought, ‘we’ve got a right Jessy here lads !’ They would have been right as well.
On 48 minutes, we went behind when following a scramble in the box, a high ball was flapped at by Paddy Kenny who neither punched or caught the ball and it ran loose in the six yard box, Derry seemed to fall over the ball leaving Garner to toe-poke over the line for his second goal of the game. Comical defending led to lots of fans deciding it was Rob Hulse’s fault even though he was nowhere near our goal at the time. Ten minutes later, it was more or less game over when we failed to clear our lines for the umpteenth time and the ball ran loose on the edge of the box where it was thumped into the back of the net via a post by Michael O’Connor as Kenny dived full length.
Again the judge and jury in the away end blamed Hulse and were singing Ishmael Miller’s name. They got their wish 2 minutes later and cheered Miller’s name and booed Hulse’s name. Yet when Derry was rightly replaced 2 minutes further on by Agyemang no one booed ? For the next 30 minutes both Miller and Agyemang took turns to fall over or stray offside. Our defending was also getting worse. On 63 minutes, Michael Nelson was found unmarked at a corner, but his 15 yard shot went straight at Kenny. Then on 72 minutes, Nunez again took the wrong option and shot well wide with a team mate screaming for the pass inside. We then created a half chance with the aid of a Scunthorpe defender who put Hall’s throw across the face of the goal to an unmarked Routledge, but the ball came to him too high and his point blank header went wide of the post.
On 75 minutes, most of the away fans noticed Miller was still on when he unceremoniously dumped Dave Mirfin on the deck with a late clumsy shoulder barge and he was rightly booked. Then our defending reached Keystone Cops level as Hill was robbed trying to run the ball out for a goal kick and Chris Dagnall rolled the ball across the face of the goal for Mark Duffy to nutmeg Chimbonda and the ball trickled over the line. Game over, or so you would’ve thought as hundreds of away fans headed for the exits. We then kept the score to 4-1 in the remaining minutes.
Team: Kenny 5, Orr 6, Hill 4, Hall 4, Shittu 4 (Chimbonda 4), Smith 6, Derry 5 (Agyemang 4), Routledge 5, Faurlin 5, Ephraim 4, Hulse 5 (Miller 4).
MOTM: Tommy Smith, but there weren’t many to choose from as they all took turns in making basic mistakes, but Smith run his socks off all game to no avail.
Referee: Mr Ilderton 6
Attendance: 6,061 (including 1,845 R’s fans, although I wished some of them had stayed away)
As with the previous ‘bad days at the office’ this season, we move on and it’s time for the fans to back EVERY player in Hoops in these remaining 6 games. This was a shock there’s no doubt, but make no mistake Scunthorpe thoroughly deserved the win and were immense. It was also a reality check for players and fans alike. We should be the 12th man and not our biggest critics. And for those who think booing Hulse is acceptable, please don’t bother turning up again, believe me, you won’t be missed.
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)