QUEENS Park Rangers can once look to a disappointing performance as they were held by newly-promoted Peterborough United at Loftus Road.
The visitors had the lead courtesy of a pin-point Aaron McLean header during a rare spell of possession in the first period.
Rangers responded with a Wayne Routledge effort from close range, following some useful hold up play by loanee Jay Simpson.
A forgettable second half saw Rangers profligacy come back to haunt them as chances for Simpson among others went begging, while Posh saw a great deal of the ball in a nervy second period.
Rangers were booed off by a minority, but nevertheless the voices of discontent continue to grow louder as the R’s fail to pick up their first home win of the season.
Rangers made two changes from the side that were triumphant at Glanford Park prior to the international break. Loanee Ben Watson lined-up for his debut alongside Alejandro Faurlín in a move which saw Mikele Leigertwood drop to full back.
Kaspars Gorkss was incredibly overlooked once more despite his heroics for Latvia, with Damion Stewart partnering Matthew Connolly with Fitz Hall sidelined with a thigh tear. Radek Cerny sat behind the defence with Gary Borrowdale retaining his left-back berth.
Wayne Routledge and Hogan Ephraim started on the flanks with Adel Taarabt looking to add to his growing tally, sat behind lone striker Jay Simpson – the Arsenal loanee looking to get off the mark in a Rangers shirt after a positive display against Scunthorpe.
Darren Ferguson named a strong side with Joe Lewis lining-up behind a defence consisting of Russell Martin, Gabriel Zakuani, Craig Morgan and former QPR loanee Tommy Williams. Chris Whelpdale returned on the right in place of Shaun Batt, with Lee Frecklington, Toumani Diagouraga and the highly-rated George Boyd taking his place on the right.
The strike force of Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith have helped to lift the Posh to successive promotions, but with their impetus somewhat stifled stepping into the Championship could they have a bigger say as the Posh searched for their first win.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Peterborough United
Rangers started in positive fashion at a sun-bathed Loftus Road, with debutante Ben Watson looking commanding at the heart of midfield. The Wigan Athletic loanee didn’t once look out of place as he sprayed the ball wide to the attacking threat of Routledge and Ephraim.
The trickery of another loanee Adel Taarabt was another delight in the early stages as his creative flair earned Rangers a free-kick on the edge of the area – somewhat fortuitously but nevertheless the pressure was consistent.
Watson has hit many memorable free-kicks in his time for Tuesday’s opponents Crystal Palace, and as he strode up to the ball 25-yards out their was an air of expectancy filling Loftus Road. His powerful, swerving effort buried straight into the midriff of keeper Joe Lewis.
The game wasn’t without the spell of pressure from the visitors with Aaron McLean looking particularly lively in attack. The sizeable striker was thoroughly dominant in the aerial battle over both Matthew Connolly and Gary Borrowdale with Mackail-Smith foraging in behind for scraps.
George Boyd was also looking sprightly in the early stages, but it appeared that Rangers showed him far too much respect with Mikele Leigertwood dropping into a three at the heart of defence whenever he held possession and Wayne Routledge expected to snuff out the attacks of the former Stevenage man.
Rangers continued to push forward in search for the opener with Tottenham Hotspur loanee Taarabt instrumental in unlocking a stubborn Posh rearguard. His direct running was a powerful tool as he unleashed a right-footed effort, unfortunately for the hosts it was straight at a comfortable Lewis.
Posh were never out of the fixture as they came back at Rangers with Tommy Williams providing great width on the left alongside George Boyd. The engine room was fighting hard with Rangers’ new look combination and by and large looked more dangerous on the counter-attack.
Diagouraga and Frecklington started together for the second game in succession after impressing against Crystal Palace, despite Paul Coutts good form on the international scene. Despite Rangers possessional dominance the visitors were never truly out of the fixture.
QPR bustled forward once more as they had the impetus to force the game to the visitors. Taarabt and Faurlín linked up well before the Argentinean released a tame effort once again proving comfortably for the wholly under-worked Lewis.
A succession of half-chances for QPR didn’t really reflect their relative dominance in the early stages with Peterborough, despite playing well on the counter-attack, never threatening on a consistent basis to trouble the new-look back four.
Nevertheless, as is the case with many Rangers games of late, the visitors took the lead, in a goal carved by the educated left-foot of Tommy Williams. A poor throw out by Radek Cerny was given away cheaply by debutante Ben Watson.
The former QPR loanee, Williams, forayed forward down the left flank before delivering a teasing cross into the heart of the area.
The inch-perfect centre was met by an excellent header from Aaron McLean. The striker rose above his marker to glance a pin-point header into the far corner and past the despairing dive of Radek Cerny.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Peterborough United
The visitors were galvanised by the goal and the home crowd was doing little to help their team recover from the set-back. Loftus Road fell silent as Peterborough charged forward in search of doubling their advantage.
It nearly came courtesy of a Ferguson masterstroke as Chris Whelpdale, recalled to the side after an impressive display in the reserves, hit a deflected effort which Radek Cerny fumbled wide of his right hand upright.
Loftus Road was growing in frustration and sections of supporters were growing disgruntled as the visitors continued their spell of useful possession. Every misplaced pass was met with a sigh or worse still shouting, as Rangers looked nervous in front of their baying home crowd.
A positive was the performance of Jay Simpson in the lone striker’s role as his fantastic ground strength enabled others to get into the game. The poor movement of Rangers’ midfield didn’t yield the best result from his play as Taarabt lashed over the bar from the edge of the area.
The upper tier in the School End took a distinct battering throughout the game as wayward finishing and disappointing play resulted in an ultimately fruitless conclusion for the majority of chances.
It took one moment of magic from Simpson to light up the Rangers attack and it brought a goal for Rangers’ top scorer. Taarabt kept the ball in possession once more and despite an easy pass on for Hogan Ephraim, he opted to find Simpson on the edge of the six-yard box.
The Arsenal loanee showed great strength against the former Fulham man Zakuani with his back to goal, before laying off the ball for Wayne Routledge. The winger struck the ball hard past keeper Lewis, through Craig Morgan’s legs into the centre of the goal to hand Rangers the leveller.
On the overall balance of play it was deserved but those attacks and chances in the six-yard box were few and far between as Rangers looked to haul the game once again in their favour.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Peterborough United
It was a case of holding out until half time as the Posh were dominant in the latter stages of the first period. It could hardly be said that the goal spurred Rangers on, as McLean and Mackail-Smith continued to be the thorn in the side they had proved to be from the off.
From the visitors’ perspective the game was anything but dull as they put Rangers under persistent pressure. A couple of late corners were dealt with well by Ben Watson who fired the ball away from the near post.
A half that was ultimately shared in terms of possession and chances, QPR were struggling to get to grips with the positive nature of Peterborough United. Barry Fry was jeered as he walked past the Springbok at the start of the game, but he had the widest smile in the directors box as the sides went in level.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Peterborough United
Despite QPR coming out bright once again in the opening stages of the second period, it was Peterborough who once again carved out the meaningful chances with Aaron McLean once again winning the ball in the air for Mackail-Smith to test Cerny from close range.
Connolly looked a shadow of the player that had played well against Scunthorpe United as McLean had the beating of the former Arsenal man, time and time again in the aerial battle.
A smattering of attacking threat from Rangers saw a Watson effort deflected wide before his corner was lofted over the bar from the aforementioned Connolly. It appeared that for all Rangers’ ball-play around the centre circle they couldn’t find the telling pass that mattered most.
Fans were put on the edge of their seat by some frankly kamikaze passing along the back four, a tactic that didn’t prove all too smart with the consistent pressure of the visiting front-line. The ball was either thumped into touch or lost as Rangers were forced to rebuild in front of an uninspired home crowd.
Magilton made a double chance before the hour mark, which saw the withdrawal of Alejandro Faurlín and arguably Rangers’ most creative outlet, Adel Taarabt. Martin Rowlands came in alongside Watson with Vine sitting in behind Simpson with little change to a system that wasn’t proving successful.
Peterborough responded with a substitution of their own with former Stockport County starlet Tommy Rowe coming on for George Boyd, whose second half performance couldn’t match the effectiveness of the first.
Heads were in hands moments later as a venomous right footed effort from former Watford midfielder Diagouraga found Cerny completely wrong-footed. Thankfully his swerving effort was fielded with the feet of the Czech stopper, but the signs of Rangers’ shaky nature were in evidence.
The Loftus Road crowd didn’t respond well with silence making the voices of discontent grow ever-louder and Ferguson’s men continuing to grow in confidence with every poor touch and every misplaced pass.
There was a Keystone Cops moment when Routledge and Ephraim effectively ran into each other down the left-wing with the former Aston Villa man drifting over from the right. Seconds later Jim freshened up the attack with Routledge switching wings and Akos Buzsaky replacing Ephraim.
Despite a great deal of the ball as the clock ticked down and Rangers fans on the edge of their seats it was plain to see that the cutting edge eluded the hosts. Buzsaky seemed content to run inside , as Routledge on the other flank to condense possession and make space hard to come by.
Buzsaky’s pass from the right found Jay Simpson, with three men ready to pounce on the lone striker. He managed to swivel and get his shot away early, but it ended disappointingly with the ball nestling in the lower tier.
It was almost desperation at times with both sets of sides throwing their all into their attack. Mackail-Smith narrowly missed a flick-on my McLean as Cerny resembled a ballerina in the six-yard box, helpless as the ball drifted inches wide of the right hand upright.
It was fair to say that the visitors finished by far the stronger with ten minutes still on the clock, as wave after wave of attack saw more of the depleted home crowd leave their seats and head for the exit.
They wouldn’t have caught what was a big moment in the game when Mackail-Smith had a goal chalked off in the dying stages of the game, saving the blushes of an appalling effort by Radek Cerny.
An effort from the edge of the area was struck at a comfortable height for the Czech stopper, but for an unfathomable reason he decided to parry the ball straight into the path of the former Dagenham striker. Mackail-Smith finished off sending the away end into delirium.
A ripple effect appeared in the away crowd as fans slowly realised that the linesman held his flag aloft for offside. Even the players were slow to realise as Rangers searched for the winner on the counter-attack.
Predictably enough it ended in very little as QPR struggled to get the most of Simpson’s excellent ball retention skills, and Magilton’s tactics require significant tweaking if they are to get the better of Crystal Palace come Tuesday night.
A thoroughly underwhelming display, met in kind by a drab home support – the visitors will be devastated they didn’t get more out of a game that was there for the taking for large portions. Magilton has some way to go in convincing a section of supporters after what was a disappointing performance.
Full Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Peterborough United
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Mikele Leigertwood, Damion Stewart, Matthew Connolly, Gary Borrowdale, Wayne Routledge, Ben Watson, Alejandro Damián Faurlín (Martin Rowlands 58), Hogan Ephraim (Akos Buzsaky 69), Adel Taarabt (Rowan Vine 58), Jay Simpson.
Joe Lewis, Russell Martin, Gabriel Zakuani, Craig Morgan, Tommy Williams, Chris Whelpdale (Shaun Batt 71), Toumani Diagouraga, Lee Frecklington, George Boyd (Tommy Rowe 65), Aaron McLean, Craig Mackail-Smith.
Radek Cerny – 4/10
Radek Cerny was very poor on the day today and he had one of those games where little he did was correct and contributed heavily to conceding the opening goal.
His hospital pass to Ben Watson was seized upon and ultimately ended in McLean glancing home. His command of the area was negligible, and nearly handed Posh a second goal at the death – luckily for him it was offside.
Mikele Leigertwood – 6/10
Mikele reverted to full-back today in order to accommodate Ben Watson, and has an indifferent display in place of Peter Ramage.
It seemed more of a case of having to play Leigertwood and fitting him wherever possible, as he made a couple of isolated errors in defence. That is not to detract from some useful play going forward, but the sure head of Ramage was missed today.
Damion Stewart – 5/10
Damion was picked in order to nullify the threat of Aaron McLean and instead had to contend with the sprightly running of Craig Mackail-Smith. In truth Stewart got nowhere near McLean who was closely marked by Matthew Connolly.
Stewart made no glaring errors but never inspired confidence when attempting to pass the ball along the back four. The rating is almost out of disappointment that Kaspars Gorkss once again fails to make the 18.
Matthew Connolly – 5/10
A shadow of the player that appeared at Scunthorpe last week as he was firmly in the back pocket of Aaron McLean today, who won nearly every aerial battle that came his way.
Connolly was also scythed open too easily by the running of Mackail-Smith who lost the former Arsenal man on two occasions, both leading to great chances for the former Dagenham man.
Gary Borrowdale – 5/10
Borrowdale attempted to get forward in order to help Hogan Ephraim but in turn was only leaving spaces for Whelpdale to exploit in behind. McLean persistently came across to get the beating of the former Coventry City man in the air.
Although proving a more viable option than Damien Delaney of last season he should still be viewed as merely a stop-gap if Rangers are to improve their defensive options.
Wayne Routledge – 6/10
Routledge had a dip in form today and failed to re-produce the calibre of performance that he has shown throughout the majority of this season.
The winger failed to beat Tommy Williams on numerous occasions, and despite the former QPR man pushing forward, Wayne couldn’t exploit the vast space in behind as the defence adapted to their inferior numbers.
Alejandro Damián Faurlín – 6/10
Faurlín looked reasonably assured at the centre of midfield and despite a couple of misplaced passes looked comfortable in his role alongside Watson.
The Argentinean midfielder rarely handed the ball to the opposition and used his team-mates well whenever their movement was sufficient. He will be disappointed not to have lasted the 90.
Ben Watson – 6/10
An indifferent debut from Watson after a long period of waiting from the Rangers faithful. As the months grew on it seemingly became more important that he signed, and today despite showing glimpses of his ability he was as underwhelming as QPR.
He used the width well to play the ball to Ephraim and Routledge but like many fell to pieces on the edge of the area as Rangers searched for their goals. His mistake contributed to Peterborough’s goal.
Hogan Ephraim – 6/10
The wide-man didn’t impress as much as he did against Scunthorpe last weekend as Martin kept him firmly in his pocket for the majority of the game, notably the second half.
His trickery was useful at times but that final ball or pass eluded him and QPR all too much at times. He needs to find some consistency if he is to keep his place on the left.
Adel Taarabt – 7/10
Taarabt did the basics rather well today, playing a relatively simple game running at the opposition and opening gaps for players to run into.
While it was a simple game that won’t work against the better sides, it proved to be effective at times today as he got several shots away and help lay on the equaliser.
Jay Simpson – 7/10
The lone/loan striker didn’t put in his best performance today by any stretch of the imagination but I’m not sure the role in which he currently plays suits him and the side.
He held the ball up very well, showing fantastic ground strength to barge away Zakuani and lay the ball off to his colleagues. He had all too much to do on his own however and will require the support of his team-mates if he is to bag some crucial goals.
SUB: Martin Rowlands – 5/10
Replaced Alejandro Damián Faurlín 58
Rowlands looked completely out of his depth coming into the fixture and never truly got hold of the pace of the game once he took to the field.
His attempted passing at times was disappointing, and Magilton was incredulous when Rowlands had time as space at his disposal and flashed it into-touch. He will need to step up to get near the pitch against Crystal Palace.
SUB: Rowan Vine – 5/10
Replaced Adel Taarabt 58
Adel Taarabt was withdrawn to a section of boos from the crowd, more for his withdrawal than Vine’s introduction, but Vine played a very similar game in behind the striker, slightly less effectively.
He was charged with coming on and contributing to the attacking edge and to bag himself a goal. He never really came close or had any notable period of time on the ball as a disappointing half an hour slipped him by.
Replaced Hogan Ephraim 69
Buzsaky showed some positivity from the bench, but his style of play focused possession moving towards the box and condensed the game – much to Posh’s advantage.
He didn’t display the credentials of a man who was desperate to regain his place, but he did manage to lay on a late chance for Simpson. Akos’ main problem seems to be not knowing his best position, and with a plethora of central midfielders already at Jim’s disposal his game tim in the middle of the park will be limited.
Jim Magilton: 5/10 – Jim will be disappointed with that performance today, with one of the few positives coming with Wayne Routledge adding to his growing tally.
Why Kaspars Gorkss was omitted once more is a mystery as McLean had a great period of dominance over the central defensive pairing. He will be looking for an improvement on Tuesday night.
Darren Ferguson: 6/10 – I was slightly surprised at a negative approach from Ferguson in spells, and while they did their fair share of attacking, there was a great deal of time-wasting from Lewis and Zakuani to name a couple.
Their wait for a first win won’t be long if they continue to play this way, but how long they can continue without strengthening thier forward line in terms of depth remains to be seen.
Mr Oliver Langford: 7/10 – One of the best refereeing performances of the season. Referees are all too easily pilloried for their displays but on the day he didn’t get a great deal wrong.
McLean was running into defenders expecting to win free-kicks and thankfully we had a referee who didn’t fall for such antics, with the travelling crowd baying for blood after two fleeting penalty appeals.
Some of the more experienced referees (Mr D’Urso) could learn a lot from what was a lenient yet firm display from an official in his second full season, in his first Championship game.
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