Saturday, 25th April 2015
I can't see it. As Burnley have discovered to their cost in losing to the Foxes this weekend, if you can't even score your penalties, you've got precious little chance of fighting your way out of the relegation. Poor old Mattie Taylor hit the outside of the post; Leicester promptly went up the other end, scored the only goal in that game, and are now above the line for the moment.
In this game, it was Charlie Austin who fluffed his lines. What Ginger was doing with both arms in the air is anyone's guess. There was no doubt that it was a penalty. Up stepped Austin... Up stepped Adrian!
Finally, after years of complaining about the way practically every keeper commits himself early, we've got one who seems to have worked out that not doing so gives you at least as much chance of making a save. Adrian did move a little to his right, but neither too soon or too far. When Austin tried for power up the middle, the result was a comfortable save with the legs. Adrian even managed to snaffle up the rebound.
He'd had to make a reasonable stop at his near post in the first minute, from Sandro. Precious little else happened at either end before the penalty. Our first decent chance came a few minutes later, when Valencia shot from a narrow angle, having out-muscled Dunne. It was greed, really; a pass was probably the better option, but you can't blame a striker for trying!
In fact, precious little else happened all half. There were a few shots from both sides, but those that weren't off target, such as Nolan's in the 38th minute, were easy saves.
The second half was livelier, starting with a half-chance for Zamora. Downing then had a little run, but shot wide from 20 yards. Then Rob Green got a chance to show that he is still a fine keeper, tipping a wicked Cresswell free-kick over the bar. Another foot to the left, surely it would have been the opener!
Again on 56 minutes, he saved the Hoops. This time he came screaming out of his box to nick the ball away from Downing, then got to his feet to hit the ball out for a throw, foiling the follow up. Downing, whose form continues to be as patchy as the rest of the team, was guilty of rather bottling the challenge.
With a little over a quarter of an hour to go, QPR did manage to get the ball into our net, but the whistle had gone before Dunne bundled it in. Referee Mike Jones, who had a fairly quiet game (the best sort of game for a ref to have!), adjudged that Caulker had jumped into Adrian; correctly, in my opinion. It was a soft foul, and Chris Ramsey wasn't too happy afterwards, but in the modern game, it's practically impossible to fairly challenge a keeper when his arms are in the air.
On 81 came our best chance of pinching all 3 points. Valencia played Kouyate in in the centre of the QPR box. The big Senegalese leant back as he shot, though, and belted it well off target.
There was still time for Henry to have a snapshot from 20 yards or so. It was well struck, but at a nice height and not too far away from Adrian, who beat it away quite comfortably. We then broke well 2 minutes before time, but Jenk's cross was just in front of sub Cole.
The final action, at the end of regulation time, was another QPR snapshot, this time from Phillips from the edge of the box. Adrian had to react quickly and move well to tip it over the bar.
A draw was about right, though both sides had chances to win it. QPR presumably have had no form all season, otherwise they wouldn't be where they are. We continue to look out of form this calendar year.
There have been accusations that the players aren't trying, that they're already in flip-flops and on the beach. I think that's unfair; every game I've watched, they're trying. We are, simply, woefully out of form. There can surely be no argument that the uncertainty over the future of Allardyce is affecting things, and thus we drift, rather listlessly, into a disappointing end to the season.
The one definite bright spot on the day was the Premier debut of Reece Burke. One has to add a caveat of "finally" to that sentence, though. I'm not quite soppy enough to award him Man of the Match; that has to be Adrian; but he put in a very calm and assured, although not faultless, performance.
He was caught out a few times, but in general was very solid and unfussy in defence. He even showed himself useful in the opposition box, with a header on target from a 2nd minute corner. Why, though, has it taken Sam so long to play him? On the evidence of this game, it is ridiculous that Kouyate was pulled out of centre mid when we had our centre defence crisis!
We've four games left as we meander towards the season's end. Next up, we host Burnley. I hoped they'd stay up, but losing to Leicester makes it very tough for them now. Five adrift at the bottom, and the worst goal difference in the division. QPR are scarcely better off, and I can't honestly see either club turning things round.
Out of form though we are, we aren't likely to make things any easier for our claret and blue cousins. At the moment, our defence looks in reasonable nick. Cresswell, more than Jenkinson, is a contender for Hammer of the Year. The gods only know who will partner the dependable Collins (except that it won't be Tomkins), but we do now have at least 4 senior centre backs, going by today's showing.
Burnley, on the other hand, can't buy a goal at the moment. They can't even score a penalty. They'll try all game, bless 'em, but they need wins and I can't see them leaving the Boleyn with one.
Whether we'll win is another matter. Right at the moment, another 0-0 doesn't look the least likely result in the world. Still, it could be worse. At least we're not Villa, eh? Or are we...
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
One save in the first minute, one in the last, the penalty in between, and a couple of other decent stops too. It's tempting to give Burke MotM but... Naaah!
Another good defensive display.
Nearly whipped in the perfect free kick; did well in defense too.
Not perfect, but a Prem debut to be proud of!
I wonder, does even he know why he had his hands in the air? That aside, he had a good game; importantly, he seemed to take on the mantle of 'senior pro' quite naturally, and seemed to do a good job of talking to Burke throughout.
Energetic, but not terribly effective in an out-of-sorts team, although his set-pieces were decent.
Oh, what a horrible miss! On the other hand, he got there in the first place. Rather sums his game up.
Industrious as always.
In and out of the game again, unfortunately.
I know he was out there, and I know he put the effort in, but what did he actually do?
Had his moments, but Sam's typical "one-up" does not suit him. Especially since Nolan, who in theory is supposed to join him, isn't quick enough most of the time.
(Replaced Jarvis) Worked hard, showed a few nice touches too, but didn't get a huge amount of service.
Did not play.
Joey O Brien
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Reece Burke, James Collins, Matt Jarvis, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Enner Valencia.
Booked: n/a. .
Sent Off: n/a. .
Queens Park Rangers
Rob Green, Nedum Onuoha, Richard Dunne, Steven Caulker, Clint Hill, Joey Barton, Karl Henry, Sandro, Matt Phillips, Charlie Austin, Bobby Zamora .
Substitutes: Suk-Young Yun (Clint Hill, 64), Leroy Fer (Bobby Zamora, 67).
Subs not used: Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alex McCarthy, Mauricio Isla, Niko Kranjcar, Adel Taarabt.
Booked: Charlie Austin (77).
Sent Off: n/a.