Team: Cerny, Ramage, Leigertwood, Hall (Connolly), Gorkss, Routledge, Mahon, Watson, Buzsaky (Faurlin), Taarabt (Vine), Simpson.
Subs Not Used: Heaton, Alberti, Ephraim, Agyemang.
So a different back four yet again, with Ramage fitting in at left-back alongside Hall, Gorkss and Leigertwood, playing in front of Cerny. Up-front, Taarabt was playing just off Simpson, leaving Buzsaky left, Routledge right, and a Watson/Mahon central midfield.
The first 10 minutes was all Rangers, playing their one-touch passing game. It came as no surprise when we took the lead with Taarabt playing a beautiful reverse pass to Simpson in their area. He then coolly slotted home across the keeper. Worrying signs soon developed with the Rangers back-four playing a couple of suicidal passes to each other, and within 5 minutes, Hall tried an outrageous short pass from the back which was picked up by Wednesday. A quick touch put Johnson clean through on Cerny and he finished in-off the far post. An injury to Hall saw a welcome return for Matt Connolly and immediately we started looking solid again. Earlier, Hall could well have given away a penalty when he was easily turned and seemed to tug the Wednesday forward down. Another ref on another day would have pointed to the spot.
Mahon was having a super game in midfield and Watson was performing better with every passing minute. Chances in the half however, were few and far between. Routledge had a sharp one-on-one with the keeper which he failed to convert, and Watson put in a tester from 20 yards. At the other end, a combination of Mahon, Connolly and Cerny kept out Wednesday’s best close-range effort. Half time: 1-1
After the interval, Magilton switched Taarabt wide left, leaving Buzsaky in support of Simpson. The first 20 minutes were Wednesday’s best of the match, but the Connolly/Gorkss axis was rock solid, denying the home side anything clear-cut. Rangers were now adding a bit of steel to their passing game. Although Mahon seemed to fade out of the game, Simpson, Watson, Routledge and Taarabt worked tirelessly for the team. A below-par Buzsaky was subbed with about 20 minutes to go, with Faurlin the replacement. From this moment, Rangers were now passing at their best. Cross-field, close one-two’s, and give and go’s.
Possibly the best move of the match came soon after, with Routledge beating his marker down the right and delivering a superb cross which Watson failed to side-foot home. With 10 minutes to go, Faurlin took an in-swinging corner from the right which was met firmly at the near post by Gorkss to make it 2-1 QPR. The remaining 10+ minutes were played out to the chants of “Jim Magilton’s blue and white army”, with Cerny dealing well with a couple of half-chances from Wednesday.
Differing views about the Rangers performance, but I was impressed by the slightly more aggressive attitude combining well with the passing game that we have witnessed over the last month or so.
Cerny: 7 – Looked solid but just one ‘blooped’ short pass out to Leigertwood
Leigertwood: 6 – Worked hard, but this is a position we need to improve on
Hall: 5 – Just does not look comfortable
Gorkss: 8 – What can you say, top game
Connolly: 8 – Straight back in the groove, a class act
Ramage: 6 – Works his socks off, tries his best, but for me he’s still not up to it
Routledge: 7 – Terrific work rate today, combined with his pace and dribbling ability
Watson: 7 – Got better and better as the game went on
Mahon: 7 – An excellent first-half but less visible playing deeper after the interval
Buzsaky: 5/6 – It was a bit of an off day for Buz
Taarabt: 7 – Nice to see the improved work rate, combined with his outstanding natural ability
Simpson: 7 – A super well-taken goal, he never stopped running and moving
Vine/Faurlin: – (Second-half subs)
Magilton: 8 – His tactics were spot on