Queen’s Park Rangers notched up their third consecutive home win in their bid for Premier League survival with yet another accomplished display. Three goals from Joey Barton, Jamie Mackie and a 25-yard screamer from Akos Buzsaky put paid to a Swansea City that had never won at Loftus Road before and also continued the visitors’ miserable run with their fourth consecutive defeat.
Not that you would know seeing as all the press and TV pundits seem to eulogise about Brendan Rodgers’s side come win, lose or draw. But with the Education Secretary Michael Gove taking his seat just behind the Lower Loft goal at kick-off, it was the English side who taught the Welsh team a very valuable lesson in possession football and expert finishing.
Mark Hughes was partly forced into changing the side by a ridiculous decision by the FA to not overturn Shaun Derry’s red card at Old Trafford with captain Joey Barton returning in his place, while upfront, Jay Bothroyd was replaced by the fit again Bobby Zamora as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation that served us so well against Arsenal.
Both sides started well by playing football on the deck and Rangers created the first chance within three minutes of the start when QPR’s right-back Onuoha, got down the right flank. He seemed to be going nowhere, but then whipped in a cross that appeared to deflect into the path of Buzsaky, who took a touch, steadied himself before hitting a low right-footed shot that had the Swans keeper scrambling across his goal as the ball ended up about a foot wide. Q Block piped up with the evening’s first rendition of, ‘Shaun Derry My Lord’ and quickly followed with a song about Ashley Young being a bit of a ‘Berkshire Hunt’.
With Diakite taking up Derry’s job of protecting the back-four of Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill and Taiwo, our two central midfielders, Barton and Buzsaky, were playing some lovely interchange passing in among the Swansea midfield and were giving as good as they got. On eight minutes, it was Barton who found Onuoha on the overlap and once again he got his cross in, this time to the near post where Mackie was lurking and Vorm was forced into a crucial save at his near post.
Five minutes later, Swansea should have scored when Scott Sinclair missed a sitter. Diakite had timed his tackle to perfection to concede a corner when it seemed likely that Britton was about to score. From the corner, Steven Caulker met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross with a glancing header to the far post. The ball deflected off Onuoha into Sinclair’s path and as the ex-QPR loanee went to shoot, Barton put his body on the line literally and the ball squirmed wide for another corner.
We created two chances in quick succession five minutes later, first Adel Taarabt teased Joe Allen before leaving him for dead, as he headed for goal he got his 20-yard shot on target, but the shot was an easy save for the Swansea keeper. Then almost immediately Zamora was found in the box with a lovely pass from Diakite and as he held the ball up, Mackie came up in support and was found, but the Scotsman could only shoot tamely at Vorm.
Then on 25 minutes, great play by Barton and Onuoha saw Rangel concede a corner from the cross from QPR’s right-back. With most players in the Swansea penalty area, Barton waited just outside the ‘D’ and was found with a precise pass from Taarabt, but although QPR’s captain had time, he hit the ball first time and it sailed into the Upper School End to endless jeers from the away fans. He who laughs last and all that !
Ten minutes before the break, Swansea abandoned their endless passing routine football by hoofing the ball upfield into our box. The ball was knocked onto Sinclair with his back to goal some ten yards out. He managed to turn and get a shot away, but Hill was equal to it with an excellent block and the ball fell to the unmarked Routledge who leaned back and blazed the ball wildly over when it looked easier to score. Some QPR fans then started abusing him for being a ‘Rangers reject’. I suggest that they watch last years end of season DVD and see what his contribution to our promotion push was. Also noticeable was a fan in the Lower Loft who held up a banner saying: ‘Cheats@the FA.con’, with the last letter not being a typo !
On 38 minutes it was QPR’s turn to spurn a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Akos Buzsaky had created space outside the box and his shot took a deflection off Caulker for a corner. Taarabt took it and putting the ball right under the bar, Vorm flapped at the cross and the ball fell into the path of Bobby Zamora who adjusted his body to get full power behind the close range shot, but somehow he put the ball over the bar by about a yard when he should have at least hit the target. Then it was straight up the other end with Swansea winning a corner. As Sigurdsson went over to Q Block, to take the corner, home fans piped up with, ‘It’s Just Like Watching Paint Dry’. It was hard to disagree.
As the 4th official held up the electronic board to indicate one minute extra to be played, we won a free kick out wide when Zamora was fouled from behind as he shielded the ball from Neil Taylor. Taarabt took the free kick in front of the Paddocks and launched the ball into Swansea’s box. With literally every outfield player bar Taarabt inside the Swansea penalty area, the ball was deflected by Rangel to the edge of the 18-yard line. Barton trapped the ball and then hit a crisp shot that flew into the bottom left-hand corner with Vorm diving to his right, but not getting near the ball.
Half-time: 1-0. We had started well first 20 minutes, but then went a bit flat for the next 15 minutes, but then stepped up a gear and we had played some lovely stuff. The run from Diakite when he picked up the ball outside his own box and ran the length of the pitch diagonally before winning a corner summed up the effort put in by the whole team first-half.
For the start of the second-half Swansea replaced Routledge with Nathan Dyer and Alan Tate came on for Neil Taylor. Routledge was taken off as Taiwo had been keeping him hostage in his back pocket I believe. Like the last ten minutes of the first-half, we had stepped up a gear and were not letting Swansea play their passing game by getting in among their midfield from the off.
Seven minutes in, Mackie had a shot blocked by Williams and the ball fell to Diakite who tried a 20-yarder that went about two yards wide. Two minute later, Anton Ferdinand brought the ball out of defence and threaded a ball through to Mackie. The Scotsman had a lot of work to do with Williams all over him like a rash. He turned the Swansea defender inside out and went past him, and putting the ball onto his left foot, he hit a 20-yard shot that deflected slightly off Rangel’s leg and flew into the keeper’s bottom-right corner of the goal with Vorm not even bothering to move.
On the hour, Brendan Rodgers used up his substitute allocation by bringing on Luke Moore for Britton. It made no difference as Rangers dominated the remaining half-hour. On 66 minutes, the game was up for the visitors as Akos Buzsaky put Swansea to the sword with the pick of the night’s goals. Taarabt did his trade mark shuffle and played the ball to Taiwo who played it straight back to the Moroccan. Buzsaky was then found infield with a 20-yard pass and looking up some 25 yards from goal, he picked his spot with a peach of a shot to the keeper’s right as he dived full length. Game well and truly over. Barton almost doubled his tally for the night when he and Adel repeated the corner routine, whereby the captain was found on the edge of the box, but his venomous shot was saved well by Vorm who parried the shot away to safety.
With 14 minutes remaining, Mark Hughes made a double change with Zamora and Mackie being replaced by Bothroyd and Wright-Phillips respectively, a wise choice to give players a rest and those on the bench a run out with the remaining games coming up. We saw out the remaining time quite comfortably with the only time Swansea going anywhere near our goal was when Graham was fouled by Taiwo as the Nigerian fell over by the corner flag in the 72nd minute. From the free kick, Sigurdsson floated the ball into our box and Graham headed over from close range having risen above everyone.
With three minutes added on at the end of the ninety, Taiwo summed up the attitude and fighting spirit that the team had produced in our last four home games. With the points safely in the bag, Dyer tried one last time to get a consolation goal by dribbling down the right wing and getting to the bye-line. QPR’s left-back took it upon himself to sprint 30 yards and execute a perfect sliding tackle to keep our first clean sheet since we beat Chelsea on 23rd October, some 36 hours of football ago.
The final whistle then went to signal more wild celebrations among the home fans as the home run continues into its fourth unbeaten game. Ten points out of twelve at home is keeping us out of the bottom three at present. If we can pick up some points on the road then that’ll be more than a welcome bonus of course. A thoroughly deserved three points which had Brendan Rodgers apologising for his team’s performance, I don’t think he’s had to do that since their last visit to Loftus Road on Boxing Day last season.
Not that the press will mention how good we were, they’ll just hang on every word that Rodgers says and put it down to a bad day at the office, like they’ve had in their last four games. Oh well, onwards and upwards.
Team: Kenny 6, Onuoha 7, Ferdinand 7, Hill 7, Taiwo 8, Diakite 8, Mackie 7 (Wright-Phillips 5), Buzsaky 7, Barton 8, Taarabt 6 (Smith n/a), Zamora 6 (Bothroyd 5)
MOTM: Taye Taiwo. For me his 93rd minute sliding tackle showed that this team will fight to the very end of the season. He was the reason that Routledge was taken off at half-time. He also took a yellow card on the chin by fouling Graham when he had slipped over and was robbed by the Swansea forward. Diakite and Barton run him close and some of you will disagree, but it’s nice to be able to have a choice of MOTM.
Referee: L. Probert 7. It was nice to watch a game that was not ruined by a referee, long may it continue and I couldn’t argue with the yellow cards dished out to Taiwo and Diakite.
Attendance: 17,557 (including 1,322 away fans)
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)