QPR recorded their second away win in three with a powerful display at Molineux. Two early goals from Joey Barton and Alejandro Faurlin and a late, late show from DJ Campbell paved the way for Rangers first win at Wolves since 1998.
Two hours before kick-off there was a danger of the game being called off due to a huge power failure in Wolverhampton. It was noticeable that Wolves play in the same colours as Duracell batteries. The similarity ended there as Rangers powered to a comfortable victory. Some Rangers fans were also in danger of missing the game as well as three motorway car crashes meant some anxious moments, but by and large the Rangers section was full up come 3 o’clock.
Neil Warnock was able to choose the same starting line-up from the team that outplayed Newcastle at Loftus Road. It was the first time that we were unchanged this season. Armand Traore had recovered from the knock he picked up on Monday sufficiently to take his place at left-back with Luke Young at right-back and Ferdinand and Gabbidon in the centre of defence. Behind them was last season’s Player of the Year, Paddy Kenny. Joey Barton was captain with Faurlin, Derry, Wright-Phillips and Taarabt playing in midfield and Jay Bothroyd holding the line up-front.
Wolves kicked off and almost immediately gave up possession. Within 40 seconds we had forced our first corner of the game. From the resultant cross from Taarabt, the ball went to the far post and was heading towards the touchline when Gabbidon lobbed the b all back into the danger area and Shaun Derry rose highest to power a header to the keeper’s top left-hand corner. That the irrepressible Derry didn’t open his account in Hoops was because of an outstanding fingertip save from Wolves keeper Hennessey.
We then won two more corners in quick succession, but they both came to nothing. We were keeping the ball superbly early on and seemed comfortable. So much so that on 7 minutes, we opened the scoring. Faurlin, looking up, saw Wright-Phillips at the far post unmarked and found him with a peach of a cross. Wright-Phillips met the ball on the volley and hit into the ground and across the face of the goal where our Captain Marvel met the ball with a slightly scuffed shot, but even so the ball nestled into the bottom left-hand corner.
Two minutes later and we had doubled the lead. Barton got the ball on the edge of the box and after attacking the right-back he got to the bye-line, looked up and crossed it into the danger area. The ball was headed clear by Stearman, but only as far as Faurlin on the edge of the box. The Argentinian hit the ball sweetly first time with his trusted left peg and once gain Hennessey was forced to watch as the ball hit the same bit of netting as before although he did get a hand to the shot this time. ‘Premiership and we’re having a laugh’ rang out from the Rangers fans.
Wolves then created a decent chance themselves on 13 minutes when following a cross into the box and a Wolves player taking a tumble, the ball fell to Henry 20 yards out and his snap shot beat Kenny all ends up, but hit the outside of the post. It was only an isolated chance though as Rangers sheer dominance saw the Hoops time and time again take the game into the Wolves half and create many more chances. There was some great play between our five-man midfield ably assisted by our two full-backs. A real old midfield battle was taking place between our captain and Wolves’ Elokobi as well.
On 16 minutes, Wright-Phillips was clean through following some great interplay between Derry and Faurlin, but he hit his shot too early and the keeper had an easy save to make. Two minutes later a Wolves corner from O’Hara was met by Ward, but the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar with cat calls coming from the home fans. Wright-Phillips seemed to be enjoying his roaming role and freedom to run at the defence at will. On 21 minutes he did so, beating two lunges, but was fouled by the third defender. From the 30-yard free kick, Bothroyd hit a powerful shot on target, but the keeper made an easy save. On 23 minutes, Wright-Phillips and Taarabt combined again and released Traore who ran and ran and ran and found himself approaching the six-yard box, but as he went to shoot a defender blocked it for yet another corner.
On the half-hour came the best piece of play and again it was the Hoops who fashioned it. A succession of one-touch passes involving Taarabt, Barton, Derry, Traore, Faurlin and then back to Taarabt and his angled shot forced the keeper into a decent save. A minute later, Ferdinand met a Taarabt corner at the far post and his downward header was blocked on the line then hastily cleared. It was now one-way traffic and two quick attacks saw Bothroyd in the first tackled and then in the second move his 20-yard shot went narrowly wide. Then Wright-Phillips was put through again with a ball over the Wolves rearguard and Hennessey made another comfortable save.
For the last 5 minutes of the half, we saw a succession of fouls on our players which saw the officials do absolutely nothing about. On 40 minutes Henry tripped Traore as he went on one of his many first half runs. The referee said nothing. The next one saw Johnson clearly and deliberately clip Taarabt’s ankles as he flew past him. A free kick was given, but again not a word from the ref. Then on 42 minutes Elokobi flew through the air and he firstly kneed Barton in the back then as he came down raked his studs down Barton’s leg. Free kick, yes, a word from the referee ? You’ve guessed it ! Then in the last seconds of the 3 minutes added on, Taarabt ran at the right-back and as he cut inside he was blatantly tripped for a free kick. Again the referee was oblivious to the laws of football. Half-time 0-2 and the score absolutely flattered the hosts.
Wolves began the second half by making two changes. Elokobi and Kightly were taken off, Elokobi because he was shocking and Kightly was struggling having been out for so long with a serious injury.
We kicked off and immediately we went forward with Bothroyd putting in an honest shoulder to shoulder challenge with Stearman. The fact that the Wolves player came out worse made the ref dish out the first yellow card of the game for what was a totally innocuous challenge. From the free kick, the ball was headed out for a corner and from the cross Johnson headed over from six yards when it looked easier to score. Wolves started the half like a team chasing the game, but we soaked up what little pressure we were put under. We were still in control with our midfield imperious. So much so that Faurlin put our first pass astray in the 57th minute.
On 62 minutes, Taarabt put a lovely ball into the box following some shocking defending and as Wright-Phillips attacked the ball, his shirt was tugged ever so slightly, but the laws state that it’s a penalty no matter how much contact there is. Not with this referee though ! We attacked again and Wright-Phillips fed Taarabt and his snap shot was blocked. Immediately the ball was up the other end and in our box, but Vokes’s header went about 18 yards wide to loud derision from both sets of fans.
The on 72 minutes, the home fans became schizophrenic as firstly they cheered as the sub Hunt warmed up then jeered as Jarvis was the player he replaced. You could’ve taken any of the eleven players off, it wouldn’t of made any difference. We also replaced Bothroyd with Campbell at the same time and our change did make a difference, but even before our third, on 77minutes Traore went on a mazy run and fed Wright-Phillips 20 yards out. His low shot beat the keeper all ends up, but hit the post then Hennessey’s face before he managed to pick up the ball.
But with 3 minutes remaining, we finally got the goal our superiority deserved. Wright-Phillips found Traore on the over-lap and he went past a few defenders before squaring the ball into the path of Campbell who tapped into an empty net. A minute later and Paddy Kenny made his first save of the game. As we entered the second minute of the four added on, Henry committed a two-footed scissor action foul on our captain yet both the linesman and referee saw nothing untoward. Yet Ferdinand was yellow carded for complaining ! Full-time: 0-3 and like the first half, the score flattered Wolves.
Team: Kenny 7, Young 7, Traore 9, Ferdinand 8, Gabbidon 7 (Hall n/a), Taarabt 7 (Smith 7), Barton 7, Wright-Phillips 8, Faurlin 8, Derry 7, Bothroyd 7 (Campbell 7).
MOTM: Traore. Faurlin ran him close though with one assist and a goal and an all-round great performance, but our new left-back was superb, in particular when going forward.
Referee: Mr A Taylor 5
Attendance: 24,189 (including 1,200 R’s fans)