Team: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Onuoha (Assou-Ekotto), Hill, Phillips (Traore), Barton, Henry (Jenas), O’Neil, Wright-Phillips, Austin.
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Carroll, Faurlin, Hitchcock.
Strange atmosphere last night, a lot of frustration around that we couldn’t make our second-half possession advantage count. The fact that we are top of the league seemed to pass many R’s fans by as the final whistle went.
No it wasn’t a great game (again) and entertainment was in short supply. Both sides set up 4-5-1 initially and chances were very hard to come by. Charlie Austin worked his behind off, but looked a lonesome figure upfront. It’s becoming clear that Austin isn’t a target man and perhaps isn’t best suited to be a lone striker.
This was another Championship game all about the predominance of defences and midfields. Sadly Nedum Onuoha was injured in the first-half although Benoit Assou-Ekotto came on and quickly relaxed into the full-back role.
But the real star of the show was once again Richard Dunne. He gave us another masterclass of how to defend when pace isn’t your strongest suit. His reading of the game is excellent, and he seems to have the knack of being in the right position at the right time. For the second match running Dunne was my MOTM.
The goalless draw was probably the right result, although Harry might have thrown Tom Hitchcock on to give us a bit more bite up top. In one respect the point was fortunate. Joey Barton lost his rag in the first-half after a very harsh booking and the red mist descended. To his credit, and some soothing words from Dunne and Hill, he played on and stayed on the pitch.
Next up, the romance and quaint rustic charm of Yeovil
We miss the Gerry Francis type midfielder who has the skill to run at defences and support Charlie Austin. I lost count of the number of times that Austin either left the central position leaving nobody in the box or was the only one surrounded by four or five defenders.
Brighton’s game plan, missing several forwards, worked for them and we just got crowded out in the area. I think that Andy Johnson’s mobility was missing and I would have preferred two-up given that would at least occupy more defenders and enable midfielders more space around the area.
I think that Niko Kranjcar would give us that bit extra around the area and is someone who can unlock defences plus his ability at dead-ball situations.
I thought that Assou-Ekotto was superb and will prove an excellent signing (assuming that he doesn’t get bored of being so good!) and hopefully now he’ll be able to start. I was very worried over Onuoha’s injury, given the average age of our two remaining centre-backs and lack of reserve, plus how well he’s been playing, but we’ll have to see how serious it is.
Matty Phillips looked good, I wasn’t there on Saturday, but he certainly showed some promise. Not got a problem with the formation itself, but there was no real central-attacking midfielder to join Austin. O’Neil worked hard, but I just didn’t get the feeling that he was supporting Austin as much as was needed.
I would’ve thrown on Tom Hitchcock for Karl Henry myself, change it up a bit really. Don’t feel the change was going to make much difference, and I agree if you make a like-for-like change, put on Faurlin, especially the way Jenas has been playing recently.
Not even Joey Barton’s rainbow bootlaces could brighten up this bore draw, although Queen’s Park Rangers will take some comfort from moving top of the Championship table.
In a dull game at Loftus Road, Barton’s accessories at least brought some colour to proceedings. The QPR midfielder was throwing his weight behind a campaign by gay rights charity, Stonewall, which has sent the laces to all 92 Premier League and Football League clubs. Barton had taken to Twitter before the game to promote Stonewall, which wants players to wear the laces in games this weekend to help tackle the issue of homophobia.
The controversial midfielder was always in the midst of what action there was and had a goal ruled out for offside after seven minutes as the home side enjoyed the best of the early running. Charlie Austin then fluffed his lines when well-placed and Matt Phillips shot wide. Barton was booked, rather harshly, for a challenge on Ashley Barnes before Austin headed straight at Tomasz Kuszczak from a corner.
Brighton, who have now conceded just one goal in five unbeaten games, rarely threatened until David Lopez tested Rob Green from range just before the break.
Barton again came close to breaking the deadlock minutes after the re-start, but Kuszczak saved brilliantly from his free kick. Then from another Barton set-piece his curling effort was deflected inches wide with Kuszczak beaten. QPR’s Richard Dunne had the final effort, but it was cleared off the line as the match entered injury-time.
Brighton seemed happier with the point, but QPR, who have the best defensive record in the Football League, with just two goals conceded in seven games, will also take this result. They move a point clear of Leicester and Blackpool.
Giuseppe Muro – The Independent
Can’t believe some of the carping I’ve seen on another site moaning about ‘why didn’t Harry Redknapp play 4-4-2 last night’. Christ, don’t these guys get it that 4-2-3-1 can be just as attacking, if not more so, than 4-4-2 (especially if one of those two strikers is Bobby Zamora).
If the two holding midfielders can tackle and break up play, giving licence for the other three midfielders to get forward as much as possible, then that is a good formation in my opinion. On paper last night and with those players available I think that Harry got it right.
O’Neil (and Austin) put in God knows how many miles running around harassing the Brighton defence and it was this defending from the front that helped us win another clean sheet. The only part of our play that I was disappointed with was the tendency to play the ball across or back to our defence. If this was because of lack of options to pass upfront, then that means that the forward midfield players and striker are not making the right runs to find space and this is something I would like coaches to work on.
I also feel that Harry missed a trick when he brought on Jenas who was very ineffective. I think he should have given Faurlin a chance at that point because Ale can pick out a pass as good as most players.
As for the effort and desire, well, compared to last year we are way better and when Kranjcar and Carroll truly settle in then I believe that we will improve further. Top of the league, You R’ssss.
It was good to see Paul Curtis from New York in the Crown & Sceptre before the game and then later on I met up with Lars from Sweden, Kerrins, ESSEXURS and John from Dublin with his wife Ann.
As for the match, what a worrying sight it was when Nedum Onuoha limped off early on, fingers crossed that he’s back soon. So, as expected, Clint Hill moved across to fill in at centre-back. This did mean however, that we witnessed some superb, crisp passing from the classy Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
When Karl Henry was taken off after 74 minutes, I have to say that I would of preferred to have seen the arrival of Tom Hitchcock, or even Ale Faurlin. We had three shots on target (Brighton just the one), but this point meant that we now head the table.
I was very pleased that Steve Gallen and his squad were quite rightly honoured by the club at half-time to celebrate a number of league titles and cup wins over recent years. Well done to them.