QPR succumbed to their second 1-0 defeat on the road in four days as in-form Derby County continued their rise up the table.
Despite this defeat there was a sizable difference in the performance here than at Griffin Park (plus against lowlier opposition). What was similar was the bizarre team selection and formation used against a top six side.
Chris Ramsey made three unforced changes from the Brentford game with the trio of Luongo, Chery and Emmanuel-Thomas not even on the substitutes bench, but in turn replaced by Faurlin, Yun and Austin, while Perch was a forced change with Clint Hill out injured. I have no idea as to why this trio of players were dropped when you saw both Tozser and Henry in the starting eleven?
Looking at the line up it appeared that we would be playing with five defenders in a possible 5-4-1 formation with two wing-backs complementing a three centre-back set up. How wrong was I?
As the game started we lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with a back four of Perch, Onuoha, Hall and Konchesky. In midfield Phillips was wide left with Faurlin and Tozser in the centre and get this, Henry was wide right!!! Yun seemed to have the free role behind the lone forward Austin.
Of the seven substitutes Tyler Blackwood was included, a player most QPR fans
would struggle to pick out in a room seeing as his only appearance came in the League Cup 1st Round at Yeovil back in August. I’d almost forgotten about him, as he hasn’t played in our U21’s to my knowledge and went on loan to Newport County, making a total of four appearances in August.
Before kick-off there was load of reminders from the away section of our last meeting with the Rams with Derby’s No.6 getting huge cheers when his name was read out over the tannoy.
Any stranger to the place would also think that Bobby Zamora was playing with both sets of supporters singing songs about him. Derby had five players from that game starting while we only had three.
Derby came into the match with an unbeaten nine game run with seven wins along the way. Anyway onto the game
The opening minutes were cagey with both sides cancelling each other out. Every time Derby’s No.6 got the ball he was cheered loudly from the small section in the South East corner stand.
The first-half was nothing to write home about if I’m honest with both sides missing the target with all attempts coming from distance, such was the dominance of both defences.
On 20 minutes, following some good work by Yun and Austin, the ball went out to the right to Henry. With all the time in the world he neared the edge of the box, looked up and attempted a cross that went straight out behind the goal-line without even going towards the goal posts. There are no words!
Robert Green was the only keeper called into action when Weimann hit a 20-yard shot straight at the keeper on 35 minutes. Chris Martin and Charlie Austin should’ve done better with headers but both efforts went tamely wide.
Of the QPR side, Konchesky was seeing a lot of the ball down the left channel, as was Yun who seemed to be covering every blade of grass from one side of the pitch to the other with both Hall and Onuoha getting the better of Derby’s forays into our half.
Of the Derby side, all three full-backs were impressing me including Warnock who had to replace the injured Craig Forsyth who went over on his ankle on 20 minutes. Meanwhile their captain Chris Martin was having a right old traditional battle with our Grant Hall. Half-time: 0-0.
Second-half started and immediately it was back to the walls time for QPR as Derby upped the pace and they forced two corners in 30 seconds on 50 minutes.
From the first corner, after a scramble, the ball fell to Jacob Butterfield who toe-poked the ball goalwards and it hit the post to Green’s left and was eventually put out for another corner. From that second corner, the ball fell to Cyrus Christie on the corner of the box and his first time shot took a deflection and fell to Keogh to first control then lay the ball to Weimann who finished from about 12-yards.
Rob Green was incandescent with rage and chased the referee claiming Keogh had handled the ball in the build up. Then the TV screens replayed the goal twice, which then saw both Onuoha and Green remonstrate with the official. Seeing the replay myself it did look like he handled but I would argue that the ball hit his thigh first, then hand, before he passed to Weimann. Am I the only one to see the irony?
For the next 15 minutes, Derby played some of the best football I’ve seen in the Championship this season. The fact it remained 1-0 is due to our whole team putting in a monumental effort with each player time and again blocking shots and winning defensive headers.
For the last 20 minutes the game resembled the first-half with both sides again missing the target from distance. The one time you thought we might nick something from the game came with about 30 seconds left of the six minutes added on at the end of the 90 minutes.
We won a free kick about 25 yards from goal and fairly central. Matt Phillips lined it up, ran up and curled the ball over the wall. Then the ball sailed about six yards over the bar. Only one word comes to mind. Pathetic!
In the second-half the referee racked up the card count as well with Derby finishing with four while we received six with two of those being dished out to James Perch followed by a red. The second one occurred right in front of us by the corner flag when he poleaxed Chris Martin with the ball going absolutely nowhere.
Derby fans jeered the referee from start to finish, but I thought that he got most decisions correct and had a good game. There was also an incident second-half when substitute Junior Hoilett nipped in front of the keeper Scott Carson and appeared to be tripped in the box. Even the Derby newspaper reports questioned whether the home team had got away with it.
Recent results and more importantly performances have seen our fans turn on the players and the manager. Tonight, all fans cheered the team off at the end as we saw a great effort from every player and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say ‘we were beaten by the better team’.
I’ll go as far to say that Derby are the best side I’ve seen this season, in particular the first 20 minutes of the second-half. Full-time: 1-0.
Team: Green 6, Perch 6, Hall 7, Onuoha 7, Konchesky 7, Henry 5, Faurlin 6 (Blackwood 6), Tozser 5 (Fer 6), Yun 7 (Hoilett 6), Phillips 6, Austin 6.
Unused Substitutes: Smithies, Angella, Doughty, Polter
Booked: Yun (arguing with Christie at a corner). Austin (for a foul). Perch (very late challenge on Warnock). Fer (a foul in time added on and unnecessary). Perch (again for an unnecessary challenge that poleaxed Chris Martin right at the end).
Sent off: Perch.
Referee: Keith Stroud 7. Can’t fault him for any of the cards despite the home fans protestations. They seemed to think that only away players were allowed to be booked.
MOTM: Grant Hall. Was marking Chris Martin who had a great game as well and it was a proper battle between them.
Attendance: 28,502 (and very noisy ones at that with 565 QPR fans)