Team: Cesar, Bosingwa, Samba, Hill (Onuoha), Traore (Mackie), Jenas, Mbia, Townsend, Taarabt (Hoilett), Remy, Zamora
Subs Not Used: Green, Ben Haim, Granero, Park
Attendance: 25,117 (including over 3,000 R’s fans)
(The view from the back of the Putney End)
The way the first-half was going it looked like a repeat of last season was on the cards. Terrible defending resulted in the home side taking a 3-0 lead with Chris Samba having a nightmare !
Our midfield appeared cluttered with little movement, and our overall tempo was too slow. Why was Loic Remy playing out wide and why didn’t we start with a 4-4-2 formation from the off ? However a superb Adel Taarabt goal just before the break was to spark a Rangers revival in the second-half.
Nedum Onuoha replaced Clint Hill after the break and 3 minutes in, Rangers were awarded a penalty after Taarabt was fouled in the box. This was soon followed by gasps and looks of disbelief amongst the travelling contingent after another missed spot-kick.
However Loic Remy did score 2 minutes later after getting himself into a good position and his shot went in from what looked like the underside of the bar. Rangers smelt blood and I lost some of the contents of my jacket pockets in the celebrations. My thanks go to the gent further along the row who picked up my front door keys. Eventually my mobile phone was also located. It was most definitely game on and Fulham were rattled. Why had it taken us so long to get going ?
Junior Hoilett did come on after 74 minutes, but why didn’t he start ? Then the home side were reduced to ten men after Steve Sidwell was shown a red card following a reckless challenge on Armand Traore.
A few minutes later Jamie Mackie was introduced when Traore was taken off. Further frantic chances were created, two Fulham players were booked for time wasting, but the home side managed to hold out.
Finally, why has Jay Bothroyd been given the cold shoulder by Harry Redknapp ?
(Remy prepares to take his penalty)
Queen’s Park Rangers cannot hope to stay in the Premier League when their defending is as cringe-worthy as this. Harry Redknapp’s team showed their spirit and, in a wacky game of contrasting halves, they missed a penalty and nearly completed an outlandish comeback against a Fulham side that finished with ten men after the harsh dismissal of Steve Sidwell.
But the blood and thunder could not mask the fundamental truth. Rangers really needed to win, yet they defended like schoolboys to leave themselves with too much to do.
Redknapp lamented a “disastrous” first-half, which was scarred by “the worst goals I’ve ever seen in my life” and in the roll-call of shame, one man stood head and shoulders above the rest. At 6ft 5ins Christopher Samba has the capacity to do so, but his performance was a personal nightmare that made a mockery of his £12.5m January transfer fee and the notion that he could be the club’s survival talisman.
Redknapp even suggested that Samba had taken it upon himself to go upfront after Sidwell’s 78th minute red card for a lunge at Armand Traore, even though he wanted intelligent probing to expose the ten men rather than high balls to the big lad. It must be said that Redknapp tied himself in knots on this point and was not entirely clear as the frustration of yet more squandered points bit hard.
At full-time Redknapp shook hands with his counterpart, Martin Jol, before making his way alone to the tunnel in the corner of Craven Cottage. He has 19 points from his 18 matches at Rangers, but the club remain seven adrift of safety and have only seven matches to play. No team in Premier League history has escaped from such a position.
“We murdered them in the second-half,” Redknapp said, and there was a barnstorming quality about the Rangers revival, which had been ignited at the end of the first-half when Giorgos Karagounis’s loose back-pass led to Adel Taarabt beating Mark Schwarzer from distance.
Taarabt tricked Karagounis into nibbling at his ankles after the interval only for Loic Remy to telegraph his intentions from the spot and Schwarzer to read them and save. Yet Remy hit back with a brilliant finish from Stephane Mbia’s pass and the visitors created a clutch of presentable chances, with Remy blowing the best of them after he had beaten Brede Hangeland. Dimitar Berbatov called Fulham’s defending ”childish”.
But Rangers’ had been some way worse and Samba’s catalogue of errors proved impossible to salvage. The first aberration had him losing his bearings and hacking down Ashkan Dejagah for a penalty that Berbatov tucked away without missing a heartbeat.
The second, though, was the most grisly. Samba dwelt on the ball as the last man when under pressure from Damien Duff, and prodded the ball at Berbatov who eased into space to beat Julio Cesar. “You can see which players are nervous and you look to push and press with them, which was the case with the second goal”, Berbatov said. “He is a clever guy, Berbatov”, Redknapp said, sarcastically.
Fulham could have been further in front by then. Duff drew an early save from Julio Cesar while Hangeland fluffed a free header. Berbatov dazzled in front of the TV cameras, drawing the breath when he beat Traore with one touch from a high ball on the bye-line and Fulham’s comfort in possession was indictment enough of Rangers’ defending.
The third goal came when Hangeland’s back-heel exposed Samba in embarrassing fashion and John Arne Riise’s driven cross hit Clint Hill and flew home.
Samba tweeted a grovelling apology to Rangers’ fans afterwards. “I can’t say sorry enough,” he said, and there was the accompanying promise to fight on. But as Fulham embraced the near certainty of safety, the outlook was rather more grim for their neighbours.
David Hytner – The Guardian
(Sidwell is shown a red card)
Angry that we gave away three goals. Angry that Remy’s penalty was terrible and that no-one bothered following it up. Angry that Bosingwa can’t cross/take a corner/defend. Angry that Samba can’t defend. Angry that Traore can’t defend. Disappointed that Jenas sits far too deep to be useful……
Photos provided by Sandra Sayce and are used with permission
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