Team: Kenny, Diakite, Hill, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Derry (Wright-Phillips), Taarabt (Helguson), Mackie, Barton, Taiwo (Traore), Zamora
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Young, Gabbidon, Buzsaky
Attendance: 25,521 (including approx 2,700 R’s fans)
We met up with bambam at the Target just after the two Supporter’s Club coaches had departed. Around 90 minutes later we pulled up outside ‘The Vine’. This backstreet, dead end pub is certainly deceptive with a backdrop of railway lines and a subway leading to the back and beyond. It would look well dodgy, especially the first time I went there for an evening game, unless it had been previously recommended. It’s a bit like the Tardis – as you walk through its narrow bars you eventually arrive at the back barbeque area situated underneath a canopy and the strong whiff of tandoori chicken and a variety of other welcoming odours.
It must also be a goldmine as the nan bread and tandoori chicken was handed out at speed at £4.75 a plate. However, this was briefly interrupted by Paul Finney notifying the Chef in detail about his gluten allergy ! As expected, the food was excellent as was the choice of ale and it was good to meet up with Andrew and George Benwell from Suffolk, Ray from South Harrow, Jimmy’s son, Kevin and so many others.
As for the match, I was disappointed that apart from giving the ball away far too often, we really needed to move it around quicker and with better movement. I was right behind Paddy Kenny and I really thought that he was going to save it after Graham Dorrans had found himself unmarked in plenty of space !!! We were much the better side in the second-half, but failed to make it pay. And we had chances with Bobby Zamora missing an absolute sitter. I know Adel Taarabt was guilty of giving the ball away on occasions, but he wasn’t the only one. I, for one, would still of kept him on as we all know that he’s a match winner, also Akos Buzsaky should of been involved at some stage.
This really was a missed opportunity that could well cost us.
The highlight of the day for me was my first visit to ‘The Vine’. I’d heard so much about it and loved it. Good beer and curry – who could ask for more ?
As for the match…not a great result from what I felt was a very winnable game. WBA were pretty mediocre and, apart from Dorrans’ goal, did not really threaten that much, overall, Rangers were okay in the first-half without really creating a lot and West Brom marginally looked the better team. We were definitely better in the second-half and had a lot more possession, but could not make it count and the Baggies keeper was rarely threatened.
Shaun Wright-Phillips came on as a second-half sub and as far as I’m concerned we should unload him a bit sharpish…assuming that we can find anyone to take him. I felt that Akos Buzsaky and Tommy Smith would have made a difference as subs, but they were not given the opportunity. Instead Traore and Helguson came on.
Mark Hughes’s post match assessment was spot on: “This was a missed opportunity. It was a game we needed to get something out of.” Absolutely right….and a result that we may regret very soon !
Queen’s Park Rangers, it seems, may have to rely on their form at Loftus Road, where they have won three of their past four games, if they are to avoid relegation. Unfortunate as they arguably were not to at least draw this match, the fact is that Mark Hughes’s side have now taken only two points from their past 11 matches on the road, and have trips to Manchester City and Chelsea to come.
Having admitted beforehand that Rangers regarded this game as an opportunity, Hughes was understandably disappointed with his players’ inability to raise their game to the level they achieved in beating Swansea City in midweek. “It was a marked contrast to the way we played on Wednesday and that’s the frustration,” the Welshman said. “We were off the pace, especially in the first-half, and although we were better in the second, West Brom were quite happy to sit back and hit us on the break. We can’t just wait and hope our home form will be enough. What we produced out there wasn’t good enough and we will have to address that.”
Rangers’ two remaining home games are against Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City, and the latter may be the key fixture in their season. Especially if the Potters, long since safe, are as committed and determined to gain a result as Albion were here, much to Roy Hodgson’s pleasure.
“We played some very good football in the first-half, lost our way in the second when there looked to be an element of fatigue, but we showed grit and determination to keep them at bay,” said the West Brom manager. “This was a game when the players could have been forgiven for not putting that last real lung-bursting effort to make a block, but they did so and that speaks volumes.”
Rangers could, and perhaps should, have taken the lead in the third minute, when Craig Dawson failed to clear and Bobby Zamora shrugged off Gareth McAuley, but could not beat Ben Foster as the Albion goalkeeper came out to narrow the angle. Foster’s smart reaction must have further impressed Hughes, who is reported to be as keen to sign Foster as Albion themselves when his loan to the Baggies from Birmingham expires.
Otherwise the home team dominated the first half-hour, in terms of possession at least, and Graham Dorrans made the pressure count with a superb 25-yard drive that gave Paddy Kenny no chance. The Rangers goalkeeper cannot have been impressed with the failure to close Dorrans down, and neither was Hughes.
Rangers should have been level at the break. Zamora did well to get his head to a Joey Barton cross, only to see his effort bounce just the wrong side of the post, and although Foster blocked another Zamora shot soon afterwards, the goalkeeper was wrong-footed when Jamie Mackie shot wide later. Albion nearly doubled their lead 10 minutes after the break, when a fine move began by Dorrans’s sweeping pass culminated in the full-back Billy Jones shooting against the post from a narrow angle. Rangers pressed forward in search of an equaliser but, as Hughes pointed out, they lacked the guile to break the Baggies down.
Things at Rangers are never easy are they ? When the world says: “Give up”, Hope whispers: “Try it one more time”. That is a quote that I think sums up Saturday. After the way we took Swansea apart on Wednesday, we took too long on passing at times and then not enough when we did have time. Anton Ferdinand switched off at a throw-in, turned his back as he took position and they used that to cut down the flank. Good goal, but he had too much time, Paddy Kenny got his hands to it and it seemed to take an age to hit the back of the net.
I felt that we were just one click away from turning the game and it was summed up by Bobby Zamora when he had the whole goal at his mercy, he somehow picked out Jamie Mackie’s back. Then on in I just knew that it wouldn’t be our day. I just hope that we have enough in us to get out of this and I am sure that we will, just, but not the easy way.
Thanks to bambam for the lift and apart from the game being lost it was another good day spent with QPR fans.
(Apart from the top one, the above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)