We didn’t have much time to draw breath as November dawned and, on Bonfire Night, we faced Manchester City in yet another Sky Sports TV firecracker of a match ! City arrived full of confidence as league leaders yet QPR showed no fear and a full house witnessed City falling behind for the first time in the league this season as Jay Bothroyd scored a rare goal (with his head !) QPR fans played the City fans at their own “Poznan” game – but that gave me bruises on my knees – those seats at Loftus Road really aren’t made for jumping up and down backwards !!!
It was no surprise that a team chock-full of talent was able to draw level, through Edin Dzeko, just before half-time; nor that they took the lead through David Silva on 52 minutes. But our team were not over-awed by the team destined to become Premier League champions and Heidar Helguson pulled us level on 69 minutes. Cue another round of QPR-style “Poznaning” – and more bruises !
Yaya Toure did head home on 74 minutes for the visitors – the final goal of the game which ended 2-3; but the plaudits and compliments that followed from Mancini and members of his first team were glowing. We might not have seen us win that evening, but there was a hint of a suggestion that we might have, at last, found our feet in this new division and could have a successful season – for newcomers. We were 12th in the table still, after all.
Next up was a trip to the Britannia Stadium, on Saturday 19th November. I didn’t make the trip – I couldn’t – so I watched on my trusty computer as we set about to beat Stoke 3-2 in a gutsy away display. We didn’t start very promisingly as Jonathan Walters put the home side ahead on 8 minutes with a sweet shot into the bottom of Kenny’s net. But QPR were playing some rather lovely passing football which I was enjoying even though my internet feed was about 3 or 4 minutes slower than Amy’s over in Canada – and we therefore had to hold fire on our minute-by-minute texting ! That was because she sent me a hysterical text full of cheers long before I watched as Helguson finished a superb move with a header on 22 minutes to draw us level !
After that equaliser, there really was only one team in this match and it was no surprise when Luke Young scored just before half-time to put us 2-1 up. And just after the start of the 2nd half, Helguson scored his second and our third and another drubbing, like the one we gave to Wolves in September, looked on the cards. Trouble is, QPR like to tease and torment us ! And instead of seeing the game out comfortably, we managed to concede a goal on 64 minutes (scored by Ryan Shawcross); avoid a penalty shout as Barton clearly handled the ball inside the area; watch as Robert Huth almost pulled Stoke level with 15 minutes to go; and suffer an agonising 5 minutes of extra time before the ref blew for time and we went home 3-2 winners with a handy 3 points in our pockets.
I will not go to Norwich unless I really have to – I have never seen us win there and I have never forgiven them for beating us in spring 1976 which ultimately cost us the (then) Division One league title ! So I was back in front of my computer on Saturday, 26th November to see us – yes, lose yet again ! This season it was a 1-2 defeat at the hands of the Canaries as first Russell Martin and then Grant Holt (coming on as a sub late on in the game with the scores level at 1-1) scored for the hosts, whilst Luke Young, having had a taste of scoring at Stoke, drew us level within the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half.
What is it about the Canaries and QPR ?! Still, we finished November 11th in the league with 15 points; and we had some winnable games coming up in December – winnable, that is, on paper. And as someone once pointed out to me – football isn’t played on paper !
Sandy Lerman aka @sandyhoops (also known, on vitalQPR, as sandyl)