Team: Smithies, Perch, Onuoha, Hall, Bidwell, Henry, Luongo, Cousins, Chery (Borysiuk), Ngbakoto, Polter
Subs Not Used: Ingram, Kakay, Paul, El Khayati, Shodipo, Washington
Attendance: 10,606 (including 768 R’s fans)
It was a very pleasant and eventful day out for myself at the Wigan v QPR fixture last Saturday.
Rangers triumphed 1-0 which was nice, in addition prior to kick-off, outside the stadium, I saw Iain Dowie on Sky TV duty and Stan Bowles with a group of his chums. Also I managed to meet up with a few of my fellow Manchester R’s.
The first-half of this encounter was stalemate. In fact you could go further and describe the first 45 minutes (plus!) as stale in the extreme. The number of proper attempts/shots on goal from both teams combined could easily be counted on one hand even if you had fingers missing!
QPR though did appear comfortable, although obviously there was a complete absence of a cutting edge and thrust. When the half-time whistle blew the match seemed to have 0-0 written all over it.
Events changed considerably in the second-half. Rangers got into their stride straight away and Nedum Onuoha scored with a smart strike. Wigan and the R’s both upped their game and the quality/pace and general standard of football vastly improved.
Rangers were the better side in the second-half but none the less Wigan still posed a danger and a 1-0 lead in the circumstances was slender indeed. We might have wrapped it up when Polter, clean through, was smashed to the turf inside the box but amazingly no penalty was awarded!
There was a massive amount of time added on mainly because of first-half injuries and the game was still in progress at 4.56 pm (was this a midnight finish?) around which point Wigan had two great chances to equalise.
Thankfully they missed and I was very relieved when the bloody Fat Lady stopped singing and finally departed from the stage!
In a goalless first-half, Yeni Ngbakoto shot straight at Adam Bogdan for QPR, while Wigan had Craig Morgan’s far-post header disallowed for offside.
The winning goal came just minutes into the second-half, when Nedum Onuoha lashed in after Jake Bidwell’s free kick was only half-cleared. Max Power fired wide and Will Grigg headed over for Wigan as QPR held on.
The first five minutes saw Ngbakoto almost put the visitors ahead, but his shot failed to trouble Bogdan in the Wigan goal, while Morgan’s header was the best chance for the hosts in the opening period.
QPR went into the game on the back of defeats by Barnsley and Preston, but showed great resilience once they had taken the lead, epitomised by Alex Smithies’ save at full stretch to deny Luke Garbutt.
Wigan had found the net at least once in their past 16 league outings, but despite those late efforts by Power and Grigg, it was QPR who took all three points.
QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: “For us it was important we came here and made sure our platform and organisation was right.”
“We also had to make sure we didn’t give a lot away, and made it difficult for them. We knew how they wanted to play, and how dominant they can be.”
“I think we pushed them all over the pitch, and at times we could have been better with the ball and calmer with the ball.”
“Overall it was a very solid performance, it was a grinder, and at times a little bit nervous. That is normal away from home. We stayed together as a team and we ground out a good win.”
Wigan manager Gary Caldwell: “It’s frustrating again. I thought we created opportunities, even more so towards the end of the game.”
“We could have switched play better, we could have played in wide areas better, we know they’re a team that plays narrow.”
“Again we conceded a poor goal, and we have to learn that clean sheets are going to be the bedrock of our success this season. We have to stop conceding poor goals.”
“There were a few positives, we created opportunities, the players gave me everything, they kept going. We just have to work hard and make sure we get the little things right that become big things in the game.”