Saturday, 19th January 2013
It was a bitterly cold day for this one. A couple of years ago you might recall that we had a match against Wolves postponed due to the fact that there had been a bit of snow about and, “hey, who knows, there might be a bit more.” The fact that we had a few injuries that day didn’t (apparently) enter into the discussions, and the fact that by kick-off time the pitch was perfect and the streets were clear of both paying customers and of snow was purely down to an over-cautious interpretation of the weather forecast.
The weather was much worse this time and we were not short of a few injuries either but, much to the relief of the visiting Maltese Hammer, the game was always going to go ahead barring a major dumping of snow. There were changes from the midweek cup match, which saw returns for O’Brien, Cole (J) and Noble. Chamakh was given a first start in place of Cole (C), who was dropped to the bench. Starting XI: JJ, Demel, O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Diame, Cole (J), Jarvis, Nolan, Chamakh.
The early exchanges were notable for the fact that we were keeping them penned in with their main source of out ball being the attempted through ball from Taarabt to new signing Remy. This was attempted on three occasions with Remy being offside each time. We looked likeliest to score though. Diame managed to smuggle the ball from a corner down to the byline, his square ball squirming off a combination of Reid and defender to roll agonisingly across the face of goal before going out for a corner. Redi got on the end of Cole’s delivery and headed down for Nolan to shoot straight at Cesar. Ought to have scored really.
So, with us dominating and looking good to push on, you can guess what happened. Tomkins and Reid, having not heeded earlier warnings tried to catch Remy offside again. Remy had timed his run and was onside from Taarabt’s ball and, without taking a touch, slotted home from the edge of the box. 14 minutes gone and that was virtually QPR’s last contribution to the game.
Much was made in midweek of the refereeing. Mr Allardyce now faces a fine from the authorities for pointing out that penalties to the away side at Old Trafford are so rare that the video of most of them is on Betamax. He had cause to feel further hard done by when Reid played the ball into the box. The ball was awkward for Chamakh to deal with but when he did turn eventually Hill hauled him to the floor. Chamakh got up only to have his feet taken away from him by Wright-Phillips. Two definite penalties, (cast-iron or stone-wall depending on your cliché of choice) and neither given by Webb. Allardyce later suggested Webb might have been unsighted. I’d put that down to pre-hearing diplomacy myself.
We were turning the screw. Diama latched on to a loose ball at the edge of the box, wriggled a bit and delayed his shot just a tiny bit too much allowing a last ditch clearance to save the day for the visitors.
The visitors had been playing for time from about 28 minutes, such was the pressure that they had been under, so a mere minute of stoppage was a bit baffling. Still referees are perfect and officially beyond criticism so it must have been right.
Half time saw a return to the Boleyn for Dean Ashton. Sad case that one. What a player for us he could have been or, as someone more accurately put it, what a player he could have been for us for a season before being sold on to clear some debts a season or so later. We did speculate whether Ashton had somehow manage to bump into Shaun Wright-Phillips but since the QPR player appeared for the second half without any obvious signs of having been beaten up we assumed that the two paths had not crossed.
The second half was one-way traffic. It was as if someone had picked up the pitch and tilted it down towards the Bobby Moore stand. We were getting the crosses in but the accuracy wasn’t what it needed to be. Too many were too close to Cesar. We looked more dangerous from balls played to feet at this point. As if to prove the theory, a ball played through the midfield found Cole (J) in good space and Cesar had to get down smartly to keep out his low drive.
We were then treated to s goalmouth scramble, the correct adjective for which the editor of Four Four Two magazine will be pleased to confirm if you ask him, is “almighty”. O’Brien went down the inside left channel and fed Jarvis. Nolan nodded Jarvis’ cross on, a defender headed up into the air. Chamakh headed goalwards, Cesar saved. Diame’s shot from the rebound was blocked. Diame’s follow-up was heading wide but Nolan got his head on it failing to find the target by a matter of feet.
We had a spot more timewasting and gamesmanship. In the midst of another goalmouth scramble – almighty but not quite as almighty as the previous one had been – Mbila went down. It was clearly not a head injury and the suspicion that whatever knock the player had taken wasn’t that serious was confirmed when the player, who had remained motionless on the floor until the whistle had been blown to stop play, got up to complain about being booed for his troubles. Another Webb misjudgement.
On the hour Diame and Jarvis combined well on the left. Jarvis got the cross in and Chamakh got his header away forcing Cesar into another save down by the post. That was about it for Chamakh who left to be replaced by Cole, much to the displeasure of the crowd who, presumably, would have preferred to have seen two strikers on the pitch at this point.
With the phrase “one of those days” beginning to make worrying appearances in my mental match report at this point, we finally got the equaliser on 68 minutes. This followed a number of “comedy of error” crosses. Cole (J)’s effort from the left was over hit and seemed to be drifting out of play but stayed in and was kept alive by Demel. Demel over-hit his own cross and it went back outside the box. O’Brien kept that one alive and fed Jarvis. Jarvis over-hit his cross (this is beginning to sound repetitive isn’t it?) which came back to Demel on the edge of the box. Demel found Noble who ran at the defence before playing the ball out to Jarvis. This time Jarvis found Cole (C) whose header was well saved by Cesar before falling to Cole (J) to tap in from a matter of feet. I suppose when you score your first goal for a proper football club for ten years you can be excused a celebration that involves kicking the bejesus out of the corner flag, but I expect the groundsman might want advance warning should you intend on scoring a hat-trick any time soon Joe.
So it was time to really go for it. QPR did getthe ball out of their half for a moment or two – Taarabt winning a free-kick off O’Brien. Sub Bothroyd put the free-kick into the wall and the rebound out for a goal kick. Tomkins then picked up a deserved yellow for a late one on Traore, but by and large it was all up the other end.
We then won a free-kick in promising position outside the Rangers box. With the wall being lined up we noticed that nobody had picked up Jarvis loitering with intent and, with everyone looking for a shot from Cole (J) Noble played the ball out wide. It was a great move right up to the point Jarvis hit his cross whereupon the ball was sliced high and horribly wide. Shame.
Still the chances came. Diame teed himself up for a shot which was pulled wide. J Cole’s corner caused another scramble which carried a similar degree of almightiness to the previous ones, the ball falling to Reid whose thunderbolt was goalbound before hitting Mbila. Cole (J) had another opportunity when played in by Nolan. It had all the look of a penalty waiting to happen as Cesar came rushing out of his goal. Cole took the ball round the keeper but failed to beat the defender his follow-up cross was once more too close to Cesar.
With 3 minutes left Vaz Te Replaced Nolan, the latter having as much effect as the former. Four minutes of added time were an insult to the intelligence. We’d had Mbila’s “injury” which saw off two minutes. We’d seen QPR take forever over every substitution – which Webb made great show of “noting” without apparently thinking to add any time on. The match finished as it had been for most of the time, with Jarvis putting another cross in.
Very frustrating this one. To be so on top and not win is galling though I suppose a point is better than nothing. I would have one bit of advice for anyone who QPR are playing over the next few weeks though. If this cold spell continues make sure your ‘keeper has thermal underwear.
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The ref touched the ball more than he did. He should have thawed out in time for the Arsenal match.
Not really tested but got forward well.
Joey O Brien
Same as Demel – not the hardest of afternoons at the back and he got forward to keep things ticking over.
A cold afternoon – warmed himself up by clattering Traore later on. Failed to heed the warnings that Remy might beat the offside trap early on.
Played Remy onside for the goal despite the aforementioned warnings.
A busy game but still seems to be easing his way back.
Seemed more worried about Taarabt than he ought to have been in the early stages of the game. Didn’t dominate the match.
Nice bit of poaching for the goal. Beginning to influence matches but it’s still early days.
Saw a lot of the ball and sometimes looked dangerous. Sometimes not.
Should have scored in the first half but rarely looked like doing so otherwise.
Some good touches but lacked the physical presence that might have seen him cause more of a threat.
(Replaced Chamakh, 62)
Caused a bigger threat and it was his header that led to the goal.
Ricardo Vaz Te
(Replaced Nolan, 89)
Three minutes was hardly enough time to make an impression.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Howard Webb.
Man of the Match: Joe Cole.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel , Joey O Brien, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Momo Diame, Mark Noble, Joe Cole, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, Marouane Chamakh.
Goals: Joe Cole 68 .
Booked: James Tomkins 73 .
Sent off: None.
Queens Park Rangers
Julio Cesar, Nedum Onuoha, Ryan Nelsen, Clint Hill, Fabio Da Silva, Shaun Derry, Stephane Mbia, Jamie Mackie, Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Loic Remy.
Substitutes: Traore (Wright-Phillips 58), Bothroyd (Mackie 67), Park (Taarabt 82).
Subs not used: Robert Green, Anton Ferdinand, Junior Hoilett, Alejandro Faurlin.
Goals: Loic Remy (14).
Sent Off: None.