VITAL QPR regular Sandydl brings you the incidents that mattered in a keenly contested affair at Ashton Gate, here is how Sandydl saw it.
A hard-earned but very well-deserved point from a QPR team reduced to ten men with Ledesma`s second-half sending off.
After capitulating against Sheffield United, Rs fans were looking for a marked improvement this afternoon against Bristol City at Ashton Gate, and we were not disappointed. We started very brightly and were easily the better team for the first twenty to twenty-five minutes, resulting in us taking a deserved lead after good work and perseverance earned Dexter Blackstock his third goal of the new campaign.
A lapse in concentration in defence, however, let Bristol City back into a game they hadn`t even really been in up till then; and after that QPR couldn`t quite recapture their previous excellent form.
In the second half, matters were decided by a second bookable offence which saw Ledesma taking an early shower. After that, QPR regrouped and were outstanding in holding off a Bristol City team intent on taking full advantage of their extra man. City dominated proceedings and Rangers` attacks were few and far between; but City`s efforts were, for the most part, speculative long-range efforts. And when they did penetrate into the box, the defence and Cerny were equal to anything that was thrown at them.
It would be unfair and unreasonable to criticise any team member, although Ledesma must certainly learn to curb the theatrics which led to his first, unnecessary booking as he appeared to throw the ball away instead of handing it over to the opposition for their throw on. His antics could have cost us a great deal more; although, in the end, our defensive display suggests that we can, in fact, go on to build from this very important point.
Dowie started with the same 4-5-1 formation of the previous two home games, bringing Blackstock in for Di Carmine, after missing the Carlisle game through illness. Delaney also recovered from illness to retain his place in the back four. There was no place in the starting XI for Martin Rowlands, who dropped to the bench after Tuesday`s Carling Cup game, and was replaced by Mikele Leigertwood. Patrick Agyemang made a welcome return to the bench after missing the last few games through injury.
Bristol City included their new striker Nicky Maynard as partner to Dele Adebola, leaving new boys, Gavin Williams and Andy Webster on the bench.
Kick Off: Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers
QPR started very brightly and it was not long before Ledesma was demonstrating his skills down the right wing, crossing for Daniel Parejo who saw his volleyed shot fly wide of Basso`s goal. More efforts off target followed, until on about 18 minutes, Leigertwood robbed McIndoe in midfield and lofted the ball across the pitch to Blackstock. He got to the ball ahead of Carey and then beat both Carey and Fontaine, who were in retreat, and never giving up, stuck out a leg sending the ball into the left-hand side of the goal.
Bristol City 0 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
Within seven minutes, however, Bristol City were level. As the Rangers defence seemed to wait for the ball to go out of play, Wilson picked up the loose ball and sent in a curling delivery which was met by the head of Dele Adebola. He made no mistake from 5 yards out.
Bristol City 1 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
After that, neither side really had any chances of note, the best, however, falling to Lee Cook very late in the half. Blackstock ran down the right and crossed for Cook, who had stolen in from the left. Unfortunately, however, he could only manage to poke the ball towards the goal and Basso was easily able to deal with the potential danger.
Half Time: Bristol City 1 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
QPR were a little slow to get started in the second half, although Bristol City could not make any of their forays into our penalty area count.
Then, suddenly, all hell broke loose! Ledesma was late in to a challenge on Jamie McAllister for which he received a second yellow card and an early bath for his pains. Dowie immediately brought Martin Rowlands on at the expense of Lee Cook; but he kept the basic formation with Blackstock the loan striker.
Not surprisingly, City tried to press home their numerical advantage; but the Rangers defence stood up to everything thrown their way. When they did manage to break through our defence, however, City found Cerny equal to anything they had to offer. Cerny had an excellent game in goal today! Rangers did not have many chances once Ledesma walked and after 76 minutes Dowie brought Agyemang on for Parejo, who once again had played an important role in our midfield and received a deserved standing ovation.
In the final moments, Cerny made probably his most important save so far this season! Gavin Williams crossed from the right and Adebola, who was City`s most dangerous player in front of goal, rose to head what he must have thought was the winner towards the bottom left-hand corner of the goal. Cerny had other ideas and produced a brilliant one-handed save, tipping the ball safely away round the post for a corner. He received a standing ovation from the travelling fans for his efforts and, most peculiarly, from the referee!
There were to be no more goals in this game and after four minutes of extra time the final whistle blew and Rangers were loudly and ecstatically applauded off the pitch.
Full time: Bristol City 1 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Matt Connolly, Damien Delaney, Emmanuel Ledesma, Mikele Leigertwood, Gavin Mahon, Lee Cook (Martin Rowlands 54), Daniel Parejo (Patrick Agyemang 76), Dexter Blackstock.
Iain Dowie: 7/10 – Ian Dowie stuck with the system and players which had worked so well in the previous two home games and he was nearly rewarded with a first away win of the season – until our defence went to sleep momentarily and then Ledesma lost his head. After that, Dowie`s hands were pretty much tied and I think that he did all that he could in bringing on Rowlands for Cook (we didn`t need a winger from then on but a hard-grafter) and Agyemang (Parejo had run his socks off but was tiring and a more experienced head with fresh legs ensured we kept our heads as a team)
Gary Johnson: 5/10 – I will pass this one over to the City fans who were leaving the ground with us. City tried to press home their advantage when we went down to 10 men, but were, for the most part, toothless. However, Gary Johnson`s second half substitutions left many City fans baffled, according to the chatter as we were leaving the ground.
It is equally unfair to rate the players individual, after today`s performance. If we had played the full 90 minutes with eleven men, then I would be more critical of each player. But it feels unreasonable to find fault or criticise any single player as they all worked so hard together to grind out the draw.
I would like, however, to draw attention, to young Mr Ledesma. He is undoubtedly a player of immense talent and ability; and his goals in both the Doncaster and Carlisle game were taken with a maturity and grace that belies his young years. However, the adulation he has received this week must be tempered. He could have cost us dearly today – perhaps, if he had stayed on the pitch we may have won the game. We certainly had the ability and motivation today to do so. He must learn to walk away from situations he cannot possibly influence and let his talent do the talking, and nothing else.
Darren Deadman: I refuse to comment on the referee, whose performance today was, quite frankly, appalling and left many of us angry. There were even chants from the home fans of “you don`t know what you`re doing”. Better I step back, like a lady, than tell you all what I think of Darren Deadman!
But I want to give a special mention to our fans today. We did not stop signing from the start of the game until the very end. We easily out-sang, out-cheered and out-supported the City fans and, as the players faced the inevitable onslaught from City in the second half, with us behind the goal Cerny was guarding, they could not have failed to have been inspired. And, I learnt many new songs today, too. So thanks to all my fellow Rs fans for a great away day – and to my companions who travel with me to all the away games we go to! We did our club proud today and they did us. 10/10