Sunday, 7 August 2016
QPR v Leeds United. Sunday 7th Aug 2016
The early morning sunshine lit up York station as the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and yours truly climbed aboard the London bound train ready for our season opener against QPR. After another close season laced with rampant speculation as to who was coming and who was leaving Elland Road we arrived at the first game of the season with just the one casualty, Lewis Cook, and for once some rather tantalising signings in Roofe, Bartley, Hernandez, Sacho, Grimes and Green in goal. Add the emergence of Vieira from the academy to the mix and it wasnt surprising that the pre season optimism on the train was high, well a bit higher than usual maybe as long as Charlie Taylor’s potential departure wasn’t mentioned too much.
With the pre match optimism at it’s highest we tumbled out of the pub into the West London sunshine heading for the ground with Garry Monk’s first team selection as the topic of conversation. Green in goal with Berardi, Bamba, Bartley and Taylor along the back. Diagouraga sat in front of the defence with Vieira and Grimes in front, Roofe and Dallas out wide and Wood up front. With a packed out away end and the rest of the ground more or less full the scene was set for a High Noon showdown between two teams who both have aspirations of bettering last year’s average performance. It took just a miserly 4 minutes to bring the massed ranks of away fans down to earth with an almighty bump.
QPR immediately took the game by the scruff of the neck. Caulker and Gladwin both had shots as the R’s caught Leeds distinctly cold and on the back foot. Gladwin’s thumping shot deflected for a corner. What happened next sent a cold shudder of reality through the veins of the baying fans behind Green’s goal. The corner has half cleared but as the ball ballooned into the air in the six yard box Green flapped at the ball like a camp one winged Seagull allowing Onuoha to bundle the ball home from 2 yards. One Nil to QPR and the season was just 4 minutes old. Not the start we wanted.
Leeds struggled to get any sort of grip on the game although Roofe did have a header go well wide as the home side dominated midfield possession at will. Jimmy Floyd’s high pressing tactics seemed to be totally bamboozling the visitors as they tried unsuccessfully to play the ball out from the back. On twenty minutes Onuoha had a chance to double the lead but his half volley thankfully went over the bar. Shortly after Beradi went off presumably injured to be replaced by Coyle. Gladwin picked up a booking for an ill timed tackle on Taylor as the Leeds prize asset tried to inject some urgency into proceedings. It wasn’t Leeds day.
Leeds were hanging on for dear life as QPR revelled in the possession they were gleaning from the young and niaive Leeds midfield. They rattled the Leeds post twice, once from Polter and once from a rebounded clearance. Dallas wasted the only decent chance of the half just before half time as he drilled Talor’s cross high into the stand. Half time 1.0 QPR as I sank into my seat with my head in my hands. That was awful. The urinal philosophers were in vitriolic form as Charlie Taylor took a hammering “sell the lazy Tw** he’s not interested” one fan announced whilst another thought “he’s saving himself and doesn’t want to get injured” Wow with support like that who needs opposing fans to get on our player’s backs.
Amazingly there was only one goal bewteen the teams after 45 minutes so just maybe Leeds might be able to get back into the game in the 2nd 45?
Hopes were lifted as first Grimes and then Wood took free kicks from dangerous positions and then Coyle drove in towards the box from the right and saw his shot deflect for a corner. A flicker of hope was stirring in my mind but it wasn’t long before QPR regained control of the game and restricted Leeds to some very sterile sideways and backwards passing moves. Just after the hour Antonsson replaced Grimes as Monk changed Leeds to a 4-4-2.
Once again it was QPR looking the more likely and on 69 minutes Chery brought out a terrific save from Green low down to his left. It was difficult to see Leeds breaching the home side’s defence especially after Vieira brought down Cousins in the penalty area with just 15 minutes left. Chery despatched the spot kick with ease. 2.0 QPR and Leeds were looking down and out. Sacko came on for Roofe and added some much needed pace and trickery on the right. As the game entered the last ten minutes Antonsson beat the QPR offside trap but screwed his shot wide of Smithies post. If that had gone in……………………..Sacko had the ball in the net minutes later but it was chalked off for handball. 4 minutes added time was enough for Antonsson to blast over a half chance before Polter gave the score a realistic touch with a third goal on 94 minutes. Full time 3.0 QPR.
Overall positives from this game were about as hard to find as it is a Pork Pie at a Barmitzvah. Sacko looked bright when he came on as did Coyle but that was it. You could see Leeds were trying to play the ball out from the back but the midfield three just didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength. At times Vieira was picking the ball up at right back, Grimes found it difficult to impose himself and Diagouraga looked paniced when he got the ball. All in all very disappointing to say the least.
The long journey home had that oh so familiar feeling of frustration, disappointment and recrimination. Still just the 45 league games to go and whatever the cup throws at us starting with the mighty Fleetwood on Wednesday. Hopefully we might get a shot on goal then?