Wigan Athletic v QPR – Championship Play-Off Semi-Final – 1st Leg

Team: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Onuoha, Traore (Doyle), O’Neil, Barton, Hoilett (Suk-Young), Morrison (Kranjcar), Austin.

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Hughes, Henry, Carroll.

Attendance: 14,560 (including 3,059 R’s fans)

Harry’s tactics and team selection was spot on and while Wigan were there for the taking in the second-half, a clean sheet was the order of the day to take into Monday’s game.

The only niggle I have is playing the wingers on the wrong side. This narrows our shape and reduced the amount of crosses delivered which Charlie Austin thrives on.

With regards to Richard Dunne, Wigan will target him and try and isolate and expose him to pace which will cause us real problems. So will Harry drop him and play Clint Hill and Yun Suk-Young? Only time will tell.

Regarding Ravel Morrison, well he WILL step up to the plate on Monday and tear Wigan apart.

W12 Boy

At the final whistle, Joey Barton made it over to the Queen’s Park Rangers supporters, removed his shirt and threw it into the crowd, which belted out his name in recognition of a gutsy performance. Fist pumps were exchanged. Finally exiting the pitch, Barton was embraced by first-team coach Wally Downes with a big pat on the back.

Although Harry Redknapp claimed this tie is finely poised, there was a feeling QPR have an advantage. The nil-nil draw away from home provoked a triumphant reaction from the visiting team. Redknapp said afterwards that he would have accepted this outcome beforehand.

When asked whether he was happy, Uwe Rosler replied curtly: “Not really.” He then expressed his concern at Wigan’s lack of goals. This was the third time in five games where his side had failed to score. “Yet,” he warned, “the pressure is on them now.”

Rosler had previously spoken of “pressure bingo”, a process which involved both managers using their pre-match briefings to try and convince that the other was under greater stress to succeed.

Rosler? Well he has the best squad in the league, claimed Harry Redknapp; a person who according to Rosler, indeed, should be worried about the reaction of his chairman, Tony Fernandes, having only achieved a play-off position despite operating with a wage budget which is at least three times bigger than his.

It led to a tense, almost numbing, evening littered with flying elbows and scruffy fouls. Both captains were fortunate not to be sent off for separate indiscretions. QPR’s Clint Hill admitted in a post-match interview in front of the television cameras that he was lucky referee Mike Jones did not see his arm connect with Rob Kiernan’s face as he defended a corner kick early on. Hill conceded too, that if spotted, it should have resulted in a penalty.

Within a three minute period, Richard Dunne, James McArthur and Callum McManaman were all booked for separate fouls. Soon, Gary Caldwell entered the referee’s notebook for blocking a run by Junior Hoilett. The winger’s fall and subsequent writhing suggested the Wigan skipper had used unnecessary force.

When Hoilett later left the pitch at half-time, he intimated to the closest referee’s assistant that he had been struck by Caldwell’s forearm. Both managers insisted they had not seen either incident.

There were battles going on all over the pitch. Ravel Morrison tried to find space but was often hounded, with Wigan’s defence pushing high. QPR’s experienced and robust back-four dropped deeper, hacking clear anything that came near. Goalscoring opportunities were limited.

Then it was back to the bingo. Redknapp dismissed Rosler’s earlier suggestion that QPR would set out to draw. “We had two wingers,” he reasoned. “I picked a very open team. I didn’t even have a lot of supporters on my staff.”

Rosler was the last to talk. “Now they have to come out more and try and win the game,” he said. “We are looking forward to Monday’s second leg. Anything can happen.”

Si Hughes – The Telegraph

An all-round solid performance and despite my reservations I thought Gary O’Neil had a decent game. The noise levels and support generated by over 3,000 Rangers fans was amazing even by our standards.

The M6 motorway was a nightmare, road works and a nasty crash hampered our journey. It took us around 5 hours before we finally arrived at the Red Robin pub. The return trip wasn’t much better, sections of the motorway were closed off. I arrived home well after 2am.

Thanks to Aggressive Steve for the lift up and to Dec/Kel for helping me out and dropping me off home. Roll on Monday

Steve Russell