QPR attacker David Wheeler returns with his fortnightly column on the R's official website.
Arriving at The Macron or more familiarly The Reebok, I was immediately struck by how impressive a theatre for football it is. A lot of thought would have been put in by skilled architects to conceive such an eye-catching stadium. Not to mention the many millions that would have gone into funding such a project.
The only obvious oversight, and in Lancashire this is a big oversight, is the lack of a roof on the dugouts. The only explanations for this that I can think of is that a) they ran out of money or b) they didn’t want their players being too comfortable on the bench. Whilst you should never get too comfortable being a sub, getting drowned might be going a bit overboard!
Our game against Bolton was similar to the Sunderland game in many ways. Both teams fought desperately for a home win but we were left feeling disappointed at not picking up wins against both sides. It was another gritty performance with very few chances conceded but we were undone early on from a corner headed in by Darren Pratley. The lads showed great character to get back into the game with Sylla getting on the scoresheet. I had half a chance at the end but my blocked shot proved a simple save in the end, meaning we’d have to settle for another away draw.
The arrival of a high-flying Wolves team on Saturday, who had recently impressed in a 0-0 draw away to Man City, would be a tough test considering our seven game run without a win. But the season so far has suggested we are a team that likes their home comforts!
We started the game with a very high intensity, which eventually led to our opening goal. The relentless pressing led to Mass making a vital interception, delivering the ball to Conor whose persistence was rewarded with the goal.
With barely a chance to enjoy the opener we were pegged back immediately. A lung busting run, followed by a composed cross from the impressive Diogo Jota, provided a simple finish for Leo Bonatini. The second half included chances for both teams with Bonatini spurning a good opportunity and Luke Freeman smacking the bar with a rasping solo effort. However, it was left to Matt Smith to come on clinch a vital win with a trademark header from a perfectly whipped Joel Lynch cross.
With Lynchy picking up a suspension for his fifth booking I was given my home debut for the club, which started in bizarre circumstances. Our early pressure obviously caused confusion between their goalkeeper and defender who transpired to turn a hopeful long ball and routine catch, into a tap in for Sylla. He looked as surprised as anyone to find the ball at his feet for possibly the easiest goal of his career!
The game never settled in truth, with both teams pressing ferociously throughout, and whilst a few chances were created for each side it was that crazy goal that would prove the difference.
Beating two teams who were both top at the time of playing them will give us a big boost and with only two points now separating us from the playoffs, we look forward to hunting down those top spots on Saturday.