QPR v Watford – Play-Off Place Secured

Team: Green, Simpson (Hoilett), Traore, Onuoha, Dunne, Hill, Barton, Carroll, Morrison, Doyle (Zamora), Austin (Henry).

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Hughes, Suk-Young, Keane.

Attendance: 16,951 (including 1,773 Watford fans)

Harry delivered a curved ball yet again with his system of 3-5-2. Why we have to match Watford’s system is beyond me and for 60+ minutes we were overrun and second best all-round.

The starting eleven was excellent as a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3, but our three centre-backs looked lost when defending and Traore and Simpson are not wing-backs, in fact we don’t have any in the squad!!!

When Harry did change it to 4-4-2 why did he wait so long? With Junior Hoilett providing real width and attacking intent, the tide turned. And with Bobby Zamora doing a good job again we put Watford on the back-foot and as they say the rest is history.

I thought Richard Dunne looked tired and was at fault for their goal and as for Tom Carroll, he looked like a little boy lost. Thankfully Joey Barton was on his game in the middle of the park and despite a dodgy Barnet he chipped in with a great free kick. Charlie Austin run himself into the ground and got his just reward with scoring a great goal.

Hill and Dunne in action

Harry should stop tinkering and play the shape that suits us and then impose ourselves on the opposition from the first minute to the last. I can’t remember a game this season where we have played well for 90 minutes?

The play-offs beckon and Wembley beyond, Harry, promotion is yours to lose “FOR SURE”.


Queen’s Park Rangers sealed their place in the ¬£120million lottery that is the Championship play-offs on Monday, but manager Harry Redknapp still hasn’t found his lucky numbers yet.

QPR made decidedly hard work of this victory needing a 90th minute winner from Charlie Austin to claim all three points after a Joey Barton free kick cancelled out Mathias Ranegie’s 51st minute opener for Watford.

Yet Redknapp will hope this is the timely start of a momentum shift after a poor spell that had seen QPR take just four points from a possible 15.

‘You should have stayed with the Burnley,’ chanted Watford fans before Austin scored his first goal since January 28 after suffering a shoulder injury. His old club are up already and QPR could yet follow but, despite Rangers’ embarrassment of riches you still wonder what might have been had their ¬£4million signing been fit throughout the campaign.

Austin was substituted in stoppage time, but was thought to be ‘shattered’ rather than protecting a hamstring problem. QPR assistant manager Kevin Bond said: “It was good for him to get back on the score sheet. It was a great finish. We’ve missed his goals and we’ve missed his presence. We have relied upon him and everybody’s really pleased to have him back.”

Austin’s 16th goal of the season assures QPR of a play-off place; surely the absolute minimum for a club who recorded ¬£177million debts last year and could afford to make eight changes from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Leicester and still boast young Premier League loanees of the calibre of Ravel Morrison and Tom Carroll.

Yet it was Watford who started much the brighter, profiting from the acres of space where QPR wingers might have been and pinging the ball around with pace and accuracy.

Troy Deeney drew a sharp save from Rob Green in the 10th minute and Lewis McGugan blasted a shot over the bar and saw another effort saved, while free kicks from Morrison and Carroll constituted QPR’s best first-half efforts.

Green saved well again from Deeney at the start of the second-half, but the striker was then allowed to knock down a Joel Ekstrand cross into the path of Ranegie, who spun Richard Dunne and slotted the ball into the back of the net.

It took QPR two substitutions and until 75 minutes to respond. Austin had a header cleared off the line and saw a right-foot shot saved before Watford paid for conceding a series of fouls around the box as Barton equalised with a 20-yard free kick.

Barton lines up to score the equaliser

Giuseppe Sannino’s side have won only once on the road since October, and have been liable to conceding late goals too. Their curse struck again as both sides went for a winner and Austin finished coolly from the edge of the box after a pass from Bobby Zamora.

A play-off place is still mathematically possible for Watford, but in all probability their late push for the top six is over.

Sannino praised ‘the best performance of his regime’, and added: “I’m happy because my team played a very good match, but there is a bitter taste because of the result. I’m old enough to know only the result counts.”

Laura Williamson – The Daily Mail

Eight changes from Saturday and it was soon apparent that Harry’s “system” wasn’t working. We could/should have been two/three down at half-time!

Watford got away with some cynical fouling and it was some time before the referee finally took some action. The visitors were also blatantly getting away with lining up for free kicks just seven/eight yards from the ball.

Harry Redknapp did eventually make some changes which soon had an impact. Joey Barton equalised through a superb free kick from just outside the box. Charlie Austin scored the winner in the 90th minute with a wonderful curling strike. He worked very hard and hopefully his late departure was merely a precaution.

Good to see Phil Parkes interviewed on the pitch during the interval, although I couldn’t hear everything he had to say unfortunately. However, I heard him state that the 75/76 side was the best that he’d ever played in.

Steve Russell