A SPIRITED half an hour was not enough to spare the blushes as Queens Park Rangers were put to the sword in a disastrous first half.
Matt Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te were afforded two incredibly soft goals to compound a thoroughly miserable opening half in which the players were jeered from the field.
An overdue substitution saw Adel Taarabt come on and breathe life into the side. A frankly ludicrous Taarabt special saw him halve the arrears and rejuvenate Rangers.
Diakite was permitted two challenges before being given his marching orders, while Kevin Nolan was allowed the freedom of Loftus Road to maim at will.
Refereeing indecision and cynical tactics cannot help disguise a disastrous defeat for QPR, who now must go back to the drawing board in a bid to defeat West Brom.
Mark Hughes made three changes from the side that were defeated at home by Reading in the Capital One Cup. Keiron Dyer, Jamie Mackie and Junior Hoilett dropped out while Ryan Nelsen, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Bobby Zamora slotted into a 4-4-2 formation.
Julio Cesar started behind a defence of Nedum Onouha, Stephane M’Bia, Nelsen and Clint Hill. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alejandro Faurlín, Esteban Granero and Park Ji Sung started across midfield with Zamora partnering Djibril Cissé.
West Ham started with Jussi Jaaskelainen behind a back four of Guy Demel, Winston Reid, James Collins and Joey O’Brien. Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan started in the middle with Mohamed Diamé and Matt Jarvis, with Ricardo Vaz Te in behind Carlton Cole.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v WEST HAM UNITED
The vibe in and around Loftus Road pre-match was tempered expectation, many saw this as the opportunity that QPR required to gain their first maximum of the campaign. Surprise therefore at Mark Hughes’ somewhat conservative tactics.
Junior Hoilett not handed a starting berth despite a positive set of performances, but Park Ji Sung was afforded a spot in the starting eleven despite his performances being at the opposite end of the spectrum – it cried conservative, and it lifted West Ham.
The Hammers were bullish from the off, putting on tough tackles and making their mark on a QPR side that were looking a tad shell-shocked by the scenario of a London derby – shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering this is already the third of the campaign.
It was to the home side’s detriment as West Ham United took a deserved early lead. Ricardo Vaz Te baffled a forlorn Clint Hill to square to Kevin Nolan. The midfielder’s effort, albeit miscued, fell kindly for MATT JARVIS who steered his header home unmarked.
It was frankly scandalous how much space the former Wolverhampton Wanderers wide-man had at his disposal as he squeezed his header beyond defenders and Cesar to hand the Hammers an advantage that knocked the stuffing out of QPR.
Rangers were attempting to create attacking impetus only to be stifled by a well-drilled Sam Allardyce unit. Granero and Faurlín looked harried in midfield as Diame, Nolan and Noble ruled the roost in the middle of the park, with effortless ease.
Carlton Cole took on the mantra as striking bully, as Andy Carroll was brought back only to the bench. He pulled M’Bia and Nelsen to pillar and post before bringing other more creative players into play.
Diame himself carved out a useful opportunity only for a flying block by Nelsen to deflect the ball over the bar with Cesar all at sea. The ball drifted narrowly wide of the target and forced a corner for the Hammers.
Rangers meanwhile could only muster a half chance when Wright-Phillips lashed high, wide and handsome after being fed by an out of sorts Esteban Granero. Park meanwhile, continued to cut an anonymous figure on the left flank.
Spaniard Granero sparked a defensive melee in the heart of the West Han defence when his deflected free-kick was only partially cleared by James Collins. Anarchy ensued as Winston Reid ended up the casualty of a game of park football pinball in the heart of the area.
He had to be withdrawn at the expense of James Tomkins who slotted seamlessly into a stubborn back-line. Rangers were lacklustre, bereft of ideas and lacking the shape that their visitors possessed – the Hammers were a continued danger on the counter-attack.
Joey O’Brien was another walking wounded for West Ham, when his hamstring appeared to give out on the left-flank, natural left-footed full-back George McCartney took his place after trading Sunderland for Upton Park for the 50th time in his career – it seems.
Then out of nothing, the Hammers doubled their lead. Tomkins had the pace of the game in an instant lurching forward on the right before sending a deep cross into RICARDO VAZ TE – the forward was once again allowed the freedom of the far post to nonchalantly clip home with the outside of his right boot.
It sparked anger from the home crowd who once again saw their side fall further into the mire with another in a succession of soft goals. Disastrous in their making, the goals were self-inflicted wounds that continued to surface.
You could count the chances for QPR on one hand, as Cissé’s sharp effort from a Granero free-kick forced a smart save from Jaaskelainen. It was all too rare however as Rangers went into the break with the boos ringing out and tail firmly between their legs.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-2 WEST HAM UNITED
On a side note, it has always given me great amusement that no matter how poor a first half may be, you’ll always get a second chance in the second half. Fans applauded the side onto the field but the body language was frankly frightening.
Park lead the side out and it was almost as if someone had shot a treasured family pet in front of him. Head down and sauntering onto the field – it was hardly an advert for a team about to make any kind of comeback.
It was borne out on the field of play as the Hammers continued to dominate. Only a stunning Cesar save denied Mohamed Diamé a well-taken goal – stunning reactions from the Brazilian stopper – and while Rob Green sat on the bench looking like a wet Wednesday – his colleague was putting in a blinding display.
While Cesar was doing his best to patch up a crumbling rearguard, Hughes decided to gamble. He threw on Adel Taarabt and Samba Diakité at the expense of Wright-Phillips and the desperately disappointing captain Park Ji Sung.
Park hauled off for the second match in succession after an anonymous display, there is a striking resemblance between his and Joey Barton’s situation last year. Instant captain, poor in central midfield, accommodated elsewhere – while I don’t expect Park to try and take down a team single-handedly – I would hope that Hughes spots another lifeless performance.
It was a change that yielded the desired results. ADEL TAARABT is without question a genius on the ball and he coasted inside three challenges before unleashing a stunning right-footed curler beyond Jaaskelainen, sparking delirium among the home support.
A foot back in the game in a build up that owed much to the tenacity of Samba Diakité. He and Taarabt were both booked in quick succession following their introduction. A tad harsh considering Kevin Nolan was allowed to pick players off without so much as a whimper.
Both sides were now trading blows with M’Bia getting a convincing block on Carlton Cole’s effort while Granero – growing in influence – forced a smart reaction stop from Jaaskelainen as the Fin was now being worked hard.
So much so his persistent attempts to take the sting out the game were finally noted by Mr Clattenberg, receiving a booking that was long overdue. Taarabt once again played the architect and key tormentor.
The Moroccan played a scything through ball for Cissé, only for Jaaskelainen to thwart the Frenchman at his near post. Rangers were rampant and West Ham were content to soak up the pressure – a dangerous game that nearly paid immediate dividends.
Carlton Cole then did his goalscoring reputation more damage when he costed into a position through on goal before delivered a poor shot beyond Cesar and beyond the right-hand upright – much to the chagrin of the away support.
The inconsistency among the referee’s decisions were baffling – none more so than when Diakité was dismissed for a second yellow – his second tackle. This would be fine as an isolated issue – but Hammers players such as Nolan and Diamé were being afforded more leniency in their offences.
It is the inconsistency that drives supporters crazy and Hughes’ protest on the touchline rather epitomised the mood in the ground. Bitter disappointment at the foolishness of the challenge but moreover the inconsistency.
Andy Carroll took to the field at the expense of Cole – to predictable jeers from the home crowd. His brand of hurtling his body towards everything was proving troublesome but nevertheless impotent.
The ‘keepers were kept busy in a highly-fraught final few moments. Junior Hoilett came onto the pitch and Rangers became instantly more attacking. Efforts from Cissé and Faurlín tested Jaaskelainen but it wasn’t enough as Rangers headed for defeat.
The players rather disappointingly did not hang around to applaud a near capacity crowd, the disappointment was palpable around the stadium and this certainly had transferred to the field. The players must now pick themselves up for a crucial fixture at West Bromwich Albion.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-2 WEST HAM UNITED