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Inside 'R' Season: A fan's view - February & March

R'S fan Sam Taylor concludes his review of the 2019/20 campaign from a supporter's perspective ...

After an eventful January drew to a close, a busy February lay ahead starting back at W12 with a rather familiar face, making a rather unexpected return.

FEBRUARY

QPR 0-1 Bristol City

Getting this out of the way, Nahki Wells made a late January move to fellow Championship side Bristol City. Unfortunately for us Bristol City at home was how we were going to start off the month, so Nahki would not have to wait more than a day before making his return back to the KPFS!

I saw something funny at the time that said in the end it turned out that we rested Nahki for the Sheffield Wednesday Cup game, so that he could be fit to play against us in our next league game!

Unfortunate but true as it turned out.

Anyway, the game itself was rather uneventful. Quite frankly, a lovely early header from Bristol City’s Diedhou put them in the lead, and they successfully saw the match out.

It was a game of few chances, which was a disappointing way to start the month off considering how we started the previous month.

Bristol City were a quality side on the day and there was quite a gap as I can remember, which was a shame, but not necessarily the biggest cause for concern.

However, to truly be worthy of those top six places, I do think QPR need to be at a stage where we can fully compete in those types of games, especially at that time of the season, and especially on our own turf.

Huddersfield 2-0 QPR

Looking to get back on track, QPR made the journey north to low-lying Huddersfield. After a slow start, QPR grew into the game and went into the second half most definitely the happier side.

Unfortunately, Huddersfield took their few chances and within the first few minutes of the second half found themselves ahead. A few minutes later, Lee Wallace was judged to have brought down a Huddersfield forward and the referee gave a penalty.

The spot-kick was tucked away and the previously-dominant QPR found themselves two behind.

Despite some half-decent chances, QPR couldn’t find a way back into the game. A very disappointing result.

Swansea City 0-0 QPR

In pursuit of an upwards run of form, QPR travelled to Wales to face Swansea City. Looking to replicate our cup triumph against Steve Cooper’s men we were in desperate need of a positive result.

The game was incredibly even. Swansea play very similar football to us so possession was a key part of this game. Both teams contained each other and it turned out to be a match of very few chances.

However, QPR were very good in this fixture. We held our own, didn’t slip up and we gave a really positive showing of ourselves. Clean sheets have not exactly been our forte this season, so to get a clean sheet, even if it does only come with a single point rather than three, away from home, is a big success.

This was our second clean sheet of the calendar year and it was a very impressive display from the R’s. A midweek tie, against a top Championship side, away from home is a very difficult scenario to have to deal with.

I, along with most of our fanbase, thought we seemed very composed and mature to pull off this sort of result, at this sort of time in the season.

It was also an important result because it could have been dangerous to lose another game at this stage.

We had lost a few games on the bat and it would have been a massive shame if we had added another to that negative tally of results.

The Championship is a very flexible league so a few losses can throw you in danger, just as easily as a few wins can throw you up top.

QPR 4-2 Stoke City

We went into this game knowing a win was very important. We had been in, around and out of the top half of the table this season and a home fixture against a mid-table side, should be a winnable match, especially for the quality of side we know we truly can be.

Unfortunately, we started this game off horrendously. We squandered a couple of really good chances and then conceded twice within the rest of the first half, two nil down after half an hour.

Rangers needed a response and they needed it quick. Luckily, Jordan Hugill exists. Three minutes after Stoke’s second went in, Jordan Hugill scored a lovely goal on the end of another lovely Ryan Manning cross.

Building on our habit of spirited comebacks, Marc Pugh played through a lovely ball for Ebere Eze to get himself on the end of, slotting home to bring the R’s back to level terms before the break. An astounding response.

A few chances opened the second half, but finally, after 71 minutes had gone, Bright Osayi-Samuel decided to score from the acutest of angles. After a long ball found him in possession in the box, Brighty cut back and sent the Swansea defender flying off the pitch, before slotting the ball past the keeper at his near post to complete a truly beautiful goal.

It seemed an impossible angle, but impossible isn’t really a word that Bright Osayi-Samuel is aware of.

QPR were now ahead with half an hour remaining. It’s incredibly important in these situations not to let your heads drop, or your guard down, when you have the lead. It was only one goal and we needed to keep it up in order to keep the momentum swinging in our favour.

As time ticked on and we were looking to finish off this game, step up Ilias Chair. The young Moroccan smashed home to make the scoreline 4-2 and complete a top-quality comeback in W12.

QPR were back in form.

QPR 0-0 Nottingham Forest

Looking to keep up our impressive form over the past couple of weeks, we travelled to Nottingham in pursuit of redemption for the disappointing defeat at the hands of this side earlier this season.

The highlight of this game would probably be the ball being blown a few centimetres off the corner spot when Forest whipped it in and headed home.

We had a poor first half and nature seemed to be on our side, as did the linesman, as Forest had a decent Joe Worrall header disallowed at the hands of mother nature herself.

Despite this, QPR put in another really solid defensive performance and managed to secure yet another clean sheet on the road.

Chances were limited in this game and Forest looked like the dominant side but we really did hold our own and see the game out earning another point on the board. That made it three games unbeaten and once again the R’s were on the up.

QPR 2-1 Derby County

Midweek rolled around and QPR were welcoming Derby County to the KPFS.

Our goalscoring centre-half Grant Hall netted with a sensational strike after half an hour and QPR were really playing well.
Grant Hall has been really important this season, leading from the back he has held his own in defence as well as getting himself forward and bagging quite a few goals for himself.

I’ve been really impressed with him this season. Unfortunately, Waghorn headed one home for the visitors just before the break and the R’s still had work to do in the second half.

Step up Wayne Rooney.

The central midfielder who never misplaces a pass decided to missplace a pass and, even worse for the Rams, misplaced that pass to the rather dangerous Ebere Eze.

Ebs ran on for a bit, as he does, before playing substitute Ilias Chair through on goal who did not disappoint.
He smashed the ball home and put Rangers ahead.

Normally QPR going ahead so late on in a match like this would result in a truly shaky last few minutes sending anxiety levels sky high. Luckily, QPR weren’t normal QPR this season.

We stayed solid and despite a pretty decent attempt from Rooney with a free-kick late on, the R’s were not really troubled that much and saw the game out to secure a fourth match unbeaten and a massive three points.

QPR 2-2 Birmingham City

Hungry to keep up our good form we welcomed Birmingham to Shepherds Bush.

It finished 2-2 after we were one-down, then took the lead, and then threw it away. Birmingham took the lead. Fair enough. But, we very easily fought our way back in and got the scores level through Mark Pugh and my man Jordan Hugill.

The thing is, this proved, against very decent opposition, who were unbeaten in like 145 games, that we had the quality, we were a very good side waiting to happen.

Coming back from half time, charging out from behind and taking the lead within the first ten minutes. Many times this season QPR have come from behind and stolen the points. And rightly so.

And this really should've been another one of those. This really could’ve been another three points on the board for QPR and it could prove to be exceptionally important as the end of the season grows nearer and the points between the top half teams get narrower and tighter.

However, we still managed a point from this difficult tie and although we didn’t end Birmingham’s seemingly infinite unbeaten run, we were starting a little unbeaten run for ourselves.

MARCH

Preston 1-3 QPR

Despite the fact there was only one game in March, it would probably prove to still be one of the more exciting months of the season.

This was a truly magnificent performance and although the premature end to the season was unforeseen, if we had to finish off on any note, we could not have ended in a more positive manner.

After going behind pretty poorly via an avoidable penalty given away just 19 minutes in, the game started to slip away from QPR - Preston were incredibly impressive and were bothering our defence a substantial amount.

The first half fizzled out in favour of the hosts and a response would be required after the break.

Two half-time substitutions saw the introduction of Ilias Chair and Luke Amos injecting some much needed energy into a failing QPR side.

Sixteen minutes into the second half Grant Hall added an equaliser for the R’s with his fifth goal of the season and the game was most definitely turning in QPR’s favour. On 67 minutes however, disaster struck. A challenge from Geoff Cameron resulted in his dismissal.

The R’s were down to ten men and it was incredibly worrying, against a top side, away from home, near-ish the end of the season, that the R’s were now smaller in numbers.

A normal QPR side may feel defeated by this event and sit back and hope for the best but, as I’ve mentioned previously, QPR this season were a new sort of team. This sending off seemed to be the fuel required to kickstart a magnificent response from the R’s.

We contained Preston comfortably and got the ball forward succinctly and precisely. On the 78th minute, the ball fell to Ryan Manning on the edge of the box. Ryan put his foot right through the ball and curled it over the Preston goalkeeper and into the back of the net. A sensational strike.

Rangers were now ahead despite having less players. A massive last 12 minutes lay ahead. The ball was being thrown back and forth between both sides as Preston looked to break down the Rangers side.

We very much needed to finish off this game as best we could, and finish off the game we did. With only a few minutes remaining, QPR’s Ebere Eze received the ball just outside the box. He took his time, weighed out his options and put a beautiful curling effort round the right side of the Preston defence and tucking it astonishingly into the Preston net.

From one-nil down, and with ten men remaining, the R’s pulled off a remarkable comeback and finished off one of our best performances of the season with three points on the road against a top six side. A fantastic result for Warburton’s men.

It was unfortunately at this point in the season, just as QPR were building some momentum, that the news was received of the premature suspension of the campaign indefinitely due to the Great Plague of 2020.

It was a real shame considering the form QPR found themselves in in these few weeks leading up to this.

However, I’m certain that whenever the league starts up again, QPR will not forget where they left off and will most definitely put both feet forward toward moving as high up that table as possible.

It has been an astounding season in my opinion. Sure there have been some lows, as there always are in football, but when there have been highs, they have been very high. I always say that the highs are higher when the lows are lower and this season we have met 4-0 losses with 6-1 victories, come back from one, and even two goal deficits and proved ourselves as one of the most threatening sides in the division.

QPR have reinvented themselves this season under the influence of Mark Warburton and we have undoubtably over-achieved. I’ve loved watching this QPR side play football and when (and if) the season resumes, I will be there, watching from wherever we are permitted to watch from, in my blue and white hoops, cheering on the R’s, screaming at the TV and blaming the referees.

What a season, and let’s continue where we left off. Come on you R’s!