QUEENS Park Rangers will be playing Championship football next season if this drab, lifeless performance is anything to go by.
In a poor game of few chances Barnsley showed that grit and determination counted for more than style and flair as they dug in and pulled out a deserved win at Oakwell.
It appeared that Jekyll and Hyde Rangers were about to have another bad day at the office in the early stages when Maltese forward Daniel Bogdanovic glanced his header home.
Rangers struck back when marauding full back Damien Delaney claimed his second of the season nodding home from the near post, but it was to no avail as Anderson De Silva dispatched his scrappy effort at the second attempt.
Paulo Sousa`s Rangers cannot appear to buy a win at this present time, with the away support while visibly behind their side they were let down by a tired, lacklustre performance and will all have a Championship side to support next season.
Paulo Sousa decided to take a more positive approach to proceedings by bringing in an extra frontman to accompany Heidar Helguson. Dexter Blackstock got the nod in a solo role with Helguson sitting just behind. Gavin Mahon dropped to the bench, while Lee Cook dropped out the line-up.
Rangers lined up with their familiar back four of Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Matthew Connolly, with Matteo Alberti joining Wayne Routledge, Liam Miller and skipper Mikele Leigertwood in the midfield.
The hosts selected skipper Stephen Foster despite nursing an injury complaint, in order to replace the suspended Darren Moore. Jamal Campbell-Ryce was also missing which prompted Simon Davey to hand Liverpool loanee Adam Hammill his home debut.
Michael Mifsud lined-up as the solo striker with his Maltese compatriot Daniel Bogdanovic having a virtual free role in behind. Rob Kozluk started at left back in preference to Marciano Van Homoet as the Tykes looking to nullify the threat of Wayne Routledge.
Kick Off: Barnsley v Queens Park Rangers
The hosts as expected came out and attacked the R`s with a renewed vigour and determination after they had stemmed the tide of a woeful run of defeats. Andranik Teymourian and Anderson de Silva were the engine room with Hugo Colace screening the back four.
Mifsud was proving a handful for the Rangers rearguard as Barnsley rather predictably but effectively searched for the pint-sized Maltese forward on the break. A couple of snap shots early on reminded Rangers players and fans alike of the danger this man possessed.
Dexter Blackstock had spurned a decent effort in the six yard box moments previous after good work from Wayne Routledge. It almost felt like déjà vu when the former Tottenham Hotspur man drifted down the right and picked out Blackstock whose weak effort failed to threaten the stopper Heinz Muller between the sticks.
Liverpool loanee Adam Hammill was proving effective on the left flank in place of Campbell-Ryce and grew in stature as the game progressed. His free kick was fired hard and low into the box with Michael Mifsud snatching at his effort on the far post to send it wide.
Blackstock went a little closer with his third chance of the fixture when a classy long pass from Liam Miller was headed into his path by Heidar Helguson. The former Southampton man put his close range effort wide of the right hand upright with an indifferent effort.
The game was stagnating with the atmosphere so silent you could hear a pin drop. Even sections of the Rangers support couldn`t seem to raise their game in a wholly disappointing fixture. Hammill`s free kick from the left epitomised the game at the time drifting beyond everyone and out of play.
Just when both sets of supporters were distinctly losing interest the hosts had the lead out of nowhere, a goal carved out by the masterful Michael Mifsud. Hammill fed the pint-size dangerman down the left and his pin-point cross for Bogdanovic was dispatched with aplomb.
Daniel Bodganovic fended off the impressive Kaspars Gorkss in the air to plant his header firmly beyond Radek Cerny in the Rangers goal to the delight of the home fans who finally had something to cheer about after a long spell without a win at home.
GOAL: Barnsley 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were struggling to make an impact, with Wayne Routledge not being used to his creative best down the right and Matteo Alberti a virtual spectator on the left. On such a wide surface the R`s seemed to be on the defensive rather than using it for their creative advantage.
Passes were going astray and Barnsley were clearly working hard for their boss forcing the R`s players into sloppy errors and moments of madness. Rangers were simply unable to break down the Tykes and put together a meaningful passage of play.
Much like the first goal however Rangers struck back and it was an unlikely scorer to mark an equally surprising goal – started and finished by left back Damien Delaney.
The full back fed the ineffectual Matteo Alberti down the left and he beat his man to the ball and found sight of a cross. His delivery was expert and the marauding run of Damien Delaney was rewarded with a headed goal at the near post despite the best efforts of stopper Heinz Muller.
GOAL: Barnsley 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were now beginning to play with a new found confidence exerting some pressure on the opposition rearguard, but never fully testing them to breaking point with Dennis Souza and Stephen Foster ably coping with the aerial threat that the R`s forwards were providing.
No substantial clear cut efforts on goal ensued as the Barnsley defensive unit was holding strong in the face of some attacking Rangers play. But it was the hosts who ended the half in the ascendancy pushing forward to create chances of their own.
Radek Cerny was beginning to wobble in familiar fashion after a decent early showing – he gifted a chance to Fulham loanee Andranik Teymourian following his weak punch from a Bobby Hassell throw. The midfielder however couldn`t capitalise as he placed wide infront of the travelling support.
Eventually the pressure told and the Tykes went in to the break with the lead courtesy of some more dismal goalkeeping from the Rangers first choice. A teasing cross came in and with Cerny flying off his line for the ball, he neither claimed nor punched and the ball rolled free for Anderson de Silva to slam home at the second attempt to hand the home side the advantage.
GOAL: Barnsley 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
A crushing blow for a Rangers side that were clearly fragile in confidence, but a lot counts for effort and the hosts had that in abundance. The jinking runs Hammill and Mifsud were stretching the defence with a gritty midfield unwilling to surrender the ball.
One more talking point before the break as Rangers prepared to put in a corner from the right a Barnsley player was flattened by something in the middle. The referee called several players together but seemed oddly enough to be speaking to the home players before letting them disband, something that Simon Davey took exception to haranguing the official both before and after the break.
The half time whistle was blown by a pernickety Mr Shoebridge as a game devoid of atmosphere and passion had Barnsley a goal to the good as they went into the break.
Half Time: Barnsley 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Walking off down the tunnel in front of the Rangers supporters a goal down should have been enough alone for the side to buck up their ideas after the break, as they were a shadow of the side that had been unlucky to draw in Cardiff on Wednesday night.
It appeared however that the hosts would pick up where they left off as sprightly Iranian midfielder Andranik Teymourian flashed his right footed effort wide of the left hand upright, but more was to come as Barnsley picked up their game.
Adam Hammill had been at the centre of the majority of their play, and his tremendous solo effort nearly gave Barnsley a two-goal advantage, but he was denied at the last by the feet of the R`s stopper Radek Cerny.
Sousa was evidently as frustrated as many Rangers supporters at the performance of former Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller. He was withdrawn once again after another disappointing display at the heart of midfield. His replacement made his league debut as youth product Romone Rose took to the field.
The move shifted the similarly disappointing Matteo Alberti into the middle as Rose took up the left midfield berth. His introduction was intended to spark some life into an otherwise limp Rangers display which was void of the creativity or guile of that in the Welsh capital only three days previous.
Jon Macken took to the field in place of Daniel Bogdanovic who left the pitch to the adulation of the home crowd, but the flagrant time-wasting was beginning to annoy not only Paulo Sousa and the R`s travelling fans, but also the fourth official who encouraged him to hurry himself.
Macken was quick to get stuck into the Rangers rearguard and shake things up for his side, unfairly on occasions as the referee Mr Shoebridge persistently fell for his backing in antics on Damion Stewart with the Jamaican unfairly cited for climbing a couple of times.
At utterly forgettable period of play ensued with Alberti himself withdrawn after giving the ball away countless times in the heart of midfield. His replacement was also making his league debut as Jordi López took up his place alongside Mikele Leigertwood. He impressed in his brief spell finding two passes immediately, more than some players had done the entire game.
Mifsud was still looking lively in his forward`s role and latched onto a classy ball from Hugo Colace, only to be thwarted by R`s colossus Damion Stewart, with he and Kaspars Gorkss at odds to explain how their side had conceded two goals on the day.
It was all getting rather desperate for the R`s who threw on Samuel Di Carmine at the expense of Heidar Helguson who had also had a thoroughly forgetful afternoon where he yielded little for the visitors alongside Dexter Blackstock.
With ten minutes remaining it would take something special to break the deadlock and the red wall that had appeared infront of the target, with Foster and Souza in prime form to deny the R`s. Passes continued to go astray with Leigertwood twice guilty of asking too much of Damien Delaney, who appeared to be treading water at times in his endeavour to keep it in.
An incident which certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth occurred a few moments before the end as Stewart and Teymourian challenged for the ball down the left flank. They went shoulder to shoulder before Teymourian threw himself onto the ball in what was a distasteful display of diving. I was the first to be disgusted by the antics of Emmanuel Ledesma earlier this campaign, but this really disappointed me and I hope some of the Barnsley support.
Routledge and Rose crossed flanks in a tactical shake up, but Routledge failed to see enough the ball to make a positive impact on proceedings. Delaney fired a left footed cross shot across the target in the R`s first real chance of the second half.
Moments from the end López nearly made himself a debut hero as he picked up the ball from his short corner to Routledge to find himself in shooting distance just outside the area. However his effort flew high and wide of the right hand upright to epitomise the Rangers display on the day.
Just over 700 travelling fans had made the journey to south Yorkshire, but were given nothing to come away with, in an advert that will hardly have people clambering to renew their season tickets in W12.
Final Whistle: Barnsley 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Barnsley: Heinz Muller, Bobby Hassell, Stephen Foster, Dennis Souza, Rob Kozluk, Hugo Colace, Anderson de Silva, Andranik Teymourian, Adam Hammill (Martin Devaney 83), Daniel Bodganovic (Jon Macken 65), Michael Mifsud.
Queens Park Rangers Radek Cerny, Matthew Connolly, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Damien Delaney, Wayne Routledge, Liam Miller (Romone Rose 55), Mikele Leigertwood, Matteo Alberti (Jordi López 69), Dexter Blackstock, Heidar Helguson (Samuel Di Carmine 80).
Radek Cerny – 5/10
Cost Rangers a point with his indecision in the heart of the area. It wasn`t an isolated incident either with his defenders at odds to protect their stopper who was coming and not claiming, or making any visible contact with his crosses.
It seems a little strange that Sousa or whoever it may be has shot the confidence of two goalkeepers by not only bringing back Cerny when he clearly isn`t prepared. In turn his dropping a perfectly good keeper in Camp means that the former Derby man must be ready to blow his brains out seeing what the Czech stopper has done today.
Matthew Connolly – 6/10
He had a tough game today against Adam Hammill but dealt with him in decent fashion at times with all the loanee`s fancy tricks not fooling the former Arsenal man. He was solid by and large against tough opposition.
His tackling was classy at times in the second period when he alleviated the pressure on the Rangers rearguard by sliding in and dispossessing his man before kick starting a counter attack. His possession going forward was useful but wasn`t too confident in using Rose when he switched over.
Damion Stewart – 7/10
An absolute rock once again at the centre of defence as he and Kaspars Gorkss were rarely at fault all afternoon. His strength was a key asset as he fended off the livewire forward Michael Mifsud on several occasions.
His aerial dominance was once again on display, and it`s a shame he didn`t get more protection from the officials when Macken was backing in and fouling him in the second period. A useful display that will see him selected against Norwich.
Kaspars Gorkss – 8/10
Rangers man of the match once again for my money as he not only was comfortable in the air and on the floor but he used the men around him and was not keen on playing the ball long. Every touch was thought through and rationalised before making the sharp, methodical pass.
He seems to be improving game on game, and it`s doing his confidence the world of good. It is coming to a point whereby I feel we`re going to struggle to hold onto him in the summer. Just sums up Dowie`s tenure that he wouldn`t pick him.
Damien Delaney – 6/10
Not quite as impressive as the performance at Cardiff but you cannot deny the effort that this chap put in down the left flank on the day, doing enough work for two players as Alberti couldn`t seem to prove effective.
He was huffing and puffing, showing signs of weariness towards the end, not helped by some errant passing from Mikele Leigertwood. Nevertheless a decent game in which he was never dominated in defence.
Wayne Routledge – 7/10
When he got the ball he was useful and creative, however these incidents were few and far between as he wasn`t used as often as he could have been. Rangers had an infatuation of plugging away at a dead end down the left, leaving Routledge thoroughly frustrated.
He showed some neat touches and tricks and got himself into some key areas in the first half, but we lost a great deal of that when he was switching flanks and he couldn`t get settled in a position. The final ball was lacking from Wayne and we`ll be hoping he has enough steam for Tuesday night.
Liam Miller – 5/10
A poor game from Miller, distinctly average from a player that was being touted as one of the better deals of the window. He couldn`t pick a pass to his own man and to be frank looked disinterested alongside Mikele Leigertwood who was working for two.
He has grown progressively worse in recent fixtures and today`s signs showed that he is in need of dropping or a rest at the very least. I don`t expect him to be picked for Tuesday night.
Mikele Leigertwood – 6/10
Leigertwood played well in periods but was far too inconsistent once again with his passing. His effort was satisfactory as he battled with an excellent Barnsley midfield unit but his quality was lacking at times where it most mattered.
He drove from midfield on a couple of occasions in the second half and picked out an errant shot which flew wide of the left hand upright. Hardly a mentionable chance but nevertheless he should have hit the target or set Blackstock free.
Matteo Alberti – 5/10
Matteo was quite poor today I felt and he stifled Rangers creativity rather than helping it. I am fully aware that he created the goal with a decent cross, but that cannot hide what I thought was a poor display on the flank.
Every time Rangers would counter-attack the sticking point would be with Matteo, having to come back inside and slow play down, giving Barnsley the chance to get men behind the ball and eventually clear. When he went into the middle he lost the ball several times and was withdrawn.
Heidar Helguson – 6/10
Fairly ineffective in his role just behind the striker, although he did set Blackstock up for a good chance which he duly spurned. I have some pity with Helguson who is primarily a six yard box player and not a player who should be creating in and around the edge of the area.
His basic abilities evaded him today such as trapping the ball and passing, and not too many flick ons were won against the sizeable figures of Souza and Foster who were thoroughly dominant in the air. He will be looking for a vast improvement but more importantly a goal against Norwich.
Dexter Blackstock – 5/10
Dexter missed three very good opportunities in the first period to put Rangers in front and we were duly punished at the other end. Despite being the top goalscorer Dexter always needs a host of chances just to hit the target let alone bag a goal.
He went missing for large parts of the second period and didn`t compete with his opposition defenders in the aerial battle. He will be devastated, I hope, that he hasn`t made an impression infront of the boss who hasn`t fancied him thus far.
SUB: Romone Rose – 6/10
Replaced Liam Miller (55)
I felt sorry for Romone as he appeared what he is, a young lad being thrown into the fire as Rangers were a losing side. He was billed as the unknown quantity from the bench, but he certainly didn`t make the desired impression on the game.
Romone will come again though, he looks to be a very good prospect and a good player for the future, and I for one hope they continue to blood him in further games this season.
SUB: Jordi López – 6/10
Replaced Matteo Alberti (69)
One thing that became immediately apparent from López`s initial touches was that he could pick a pass, more so than he team-mates for over an hour. He managed two successful passes in five seconds, which raised a rare smile from me.
Hopefully he can get some fitness under his belt because he looks a decent player who can take set pieces, something which we have been crying out for since Buzsaky`s injury.
Replaced Heidar Helguson (80)
Paulo Sousa: 6/10 – Paulo keeps trying to tinker with the squad and thinks he can get results by dropping key players such as Cook and Stewart. At this level you have to pick the best players available to you despite the gruelling schedule.
Today he was given another lesson in sticking to your best players as Rangers created nothing down the left flank and had a very soft centre without their midfield general Gavin Mahon with Barnsley flooding through the midfield at will and able to get at the back four.
Norwich in midweek is a much win game as QPR need to pick up the points if they are at all serious at finishing in the top half of the table.
Simon Davey: 8/10 – He got his tactics spot on and his side`s work rate was top notch as he took a home victory. His brand of kick and rush football may grate on sections of the home support but it proved very effective on the day.
He picked the right formation with the right players, and the Tykes can look forward to a good future when they welcome back Campbell-Ryce and Moore to their line-up. An impressive display from his side; full of effort and commitment.
Mr R Shoebridge: 5/10 – Far too officious and pernickety for my liking with his linesmen seemingly unable to trust him in his decision making, with their decisions conflicting on numerous occasions. However with the majority of officials coming from South Yorkshire I`d expect nothing less.
When he let the game flow he impressed a tad more and he seldom used his book unless it was necessary. Not as good as his display last time out against Norwich earlier this season.
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