Team: Green, Traore, Caulker, Isla, Ferdinand, Kranjcar, Barton (Phillips), Fer, Mutch (Henry), Vargas (Zamora), Austin.
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Onuoha, Dunne, Hoilett.
Attendance: 16,163 (including 1,028 Stoke fans)
Stoke’s two goals were yet again down to our bad play as opposed to their good play. The first goal was down to two Rangers players allowing the cross and then yet another bad refereeing decision to allow Rodney to climb all over Rio Ferdinand!
The second was down to Isla not kicking the ball into Row Z and playing a suicidal back-heel, yes we can all debate Rio’s positioning, but Row Z and their throw should have been the outcome!!!
Until Joey Barton went off injured we were very narrow, had little or no movement and played at a snail’s pace. The introduction of Matt Phillips gave us more width and an attacking option with direct pace.
The second-half was much better with Niko Kranjcar pulling the strings and supported by Leroy Fer, we weren’t bullied in midfield like we had been in the first-half.
A word on Vargas – his running off the ball in the channels was excellent and when the midfield players get an awareness of his movement he will score plenty.
Stoke had two stand-out players, firstly Peter Crouch who was a real handful and Charlie Austin could do no worse than to watch the match DVD and study. Likewise Phillips should watch Victor Moses who was outstanding and showed how to play the wide attacking role especially on the counter.
Team selection will be an issue next Saturday with the possibility of no Barton, Mutch and Sandro, so making more changes across the back 4/5 needs careful consideration because player continuity and team shape is essential going forward.
So Harry and Glenn, back to defensive basics please, stop crosses and make Row Z a must! Play with width, move the ball quickly and put Southampton on the back-foot from the off.
If there is a Niko Kranjcar fan club, chances are Harry Redknapp is its founder, president and lifetime member. Here the Croat showed why the QPR manager admires him so much. Kranjcar sparkled before rescuing a point with an exquisite free kick two minutes from time, leaving the home crowd grateful that Redknapp persuaded the player to come here on transfer deadline day, the fourth time he has signed Kranjcar.
The fondness seems to be mutual, as Kranjcar apparently turned his back on a fortune in order to join QPR from Dynamo Kyiv, the conflict in Ukraine perhaps a push factor to complement the pull of Redknapp.
“We pay a third of what he was being paid in Ukraine and (Kyiv) don’t pay any of it. So he took a massive cut to come here, that’s how much he wanted to come back.”
Kranjcar’s goal was the ideal way for him to avenge the fouls that he suffered at the boots of Ryan Shawcross and Steve Sidwell towards the end of the match. Until then it looked like Mark Hughes would be the man gaining retribution.
The Welshman was booed by a smattering of home fans on his first return to Loftus Road since being sacked as QPR manager nearly two years ago, but most locals seemed to confine themselves to hoping that their current team would provide comment on Hughes’s reign by demonstrating that the club is now much better off than when he left.
That should not have been hard given that QPR were bottom of the Premier League back then with four points from 12 matches, but Redknapp’s men have made an unconvincing start to this season and were woeful for long periods here.
Stoke helped themselves to the lead in the 11th minute, when Victor Moses ambled down the left and lobbed the ball towards the unmissable Peter Crouch, who headed down for Mame Biram Diouf to nod in from close range.
Moses could have scored again one minute later but fired straight at Rob Green from the edge of the area. QPR were looking stodgy in midfield, dodgy at the back and devoid of ideas going forward. There seemed little prospect of them being able to pick a way through a defence that had shut out Manchester City on their last away trip.
Diouf twice dallied when given chances to increase his team’s tally on the counter-attack, before Crouch slashed wide from 18 yards in the 31st minute. Kranjcar went close with a swirling long range shot before playing a key role as the home side got the break they badly needed.
He swung a corner towards the back post, Steven Caulker met it and Crouch and Charlie Adam confused each other as they tried to clear and ended up helping the ball across the line.
The hosts were soon behind again, and once more it was all too easy for Stoke. Moses shrugged off Mauricio Isla down the left and sent a low cross into the area. Somehow it ran past Caulker and Ferdinand and all the way to Crouch, who smashed it into the net from 10 yards.
Erik Pieters and Steven N’Zonzi missed further chances to deepen QPR’s problems. Stoke did not look in jeopardy until Sidwell clattered Kranjcar and the Croat curled the free kick into the net.
“QPR looked a beaten side but unfortunately we encouraged them somewhat,” said Hughes. “When you give a player of that ability a chance centrally there’s always a danger he will score.”
Paul Doyle – The Observer
Barton going off was a blessing as it meant that someone else would take the set-pieces. Jordon Mutch took a corner and we equalised then Niko Kranjcar showed how you take a thirty yard free kick. Pick that one out!
The right-back Mauricio Isla worries me as Moses beat him every single time and he was at fault for both goals. It was strange that in a game of four goals neither keeper made a save of note.
We could easily have been two down before that all important first equaliser. There had been nothing else of note on target as we continued to give the ball away far too often and generally our build-up play was far too slow and predictable. One of my favourite moments of the first-half was a wonderful cross-field pass from Niko Kranjcar, but it ended up wasted.
The likes of Ryan Shawcross were getting away with all sorts in the box and in full view of the referee! Rangers were enjoying a lot more possession after the break and we had to wait until the 88th minute for that outstanding second equaliser courtesy of Niko Kranjcar’s curling free kick.
I was obviously relieved that we had managed to secure a point but much of what I witnessed on Saturday concerned me!