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Wheeler on Wednesday: Villa, Derby & Brentford

QPR's David Wheeler returns with his fortnightly column on the R's official website.

Aston Villa

The game against Villa began much like the previous game at Loftus Road, by going a goal up in the early stages. A corner which Villa failed to clear was eventually bundled in by Jamie Mackie.

For the most part the game was relatively even, with the visitors perhaps slightly edging it on chances created from teenagers Josh Onomah and Keinan Davis. Both demonstrating why they are already being tipped for international success.

But it was down to a penalty decision to level things up. A goal bound shot hitting Jack Robinson on the hand, unfortunately illuminated by bandage, was deemed worthy of a penalty. The hand ball rules are still an awkwardly vague and confusing aspect of the game. Was it deliberate? Was the hand in an unnatural position? It was arguably neither, but making a split-second decision on seeing a goal bound shot fly off a protruding, giant, mummified hand, you can’t help but empathise with the decision.

Grabbing narrow wins without dominating has been a characteristic of successful teams throughout football’s history. It would not be surprising for Villa to be challenging for the title come the end of the year.

Derby County

Our following match against Derby will not be a fond memory for our supporters for obvious reasons - not least due to the lack of attempts on goal - however the first half went largely to plan.

Our defensive set-up was frustrating the home side and the home crowd. The first-half brought little to cheer about for either side and we knew that the longer this went on the more it played in our favour.

Conceding a goal seconds before half-time in the manner that we did was immensely disappointing. A feeling that was compiled by not threatening their goal enough in the second half to warrant anything from the game.


With three losses in a row the mood in the camp was understandably low. The prospect of losing against rivals Brentford was unbearable.

To play a derby game in such circumstances can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It can be viewed as a chance to kick start a run of form and ‘stop the rot’ or it can be viewed as added and unwanted pressure in an already pressurised situation.

The first-half was a fairly cagey affair with few clear-cut chances being created, however it took a brilliant full stretch save from Smithies to deny a fierce effort from Canos and keep things level at the break.

Brentford took the lead in the second half with a well taken solo finish, prompting the introduction of Matt Smith from the bench. In customary fashion Matt caused chaos at the heart of the Bees defence, bringing about a penalty appeal which was almost a carbon copy of the penalty we conceded against Villa. Frustratingly we weren’t granted the spot kick and soon after the visitors doubled their lead with a breakaway goal.

Off the back of losing three games in a row and going two goals down in a local derby with only ten minutes left, anyone could be forgiven for doubting our chances. Thankfully the players on the pitch persisted until the end and their belief was rewarded by rescuing a point in the dying moments.

Again, Matt Smith proved the difference by nodding home the first and flicking on a cross for Luke Freeman to dispatch and spark rapturous celebrations.

Hopefully we can use this now as a catalyst for an improved run of form, with more success both home and away, starting on Saturday at Preston.