QPR 1 V Leicester City 1
This game at Loftus Road in Shepherds Bush has been full of incident and last minute goals in recent seasons, so Foxes supporters anxiously wondered what fate had in store for us as 3pm neared. With a patched up squad and McCarthy & Fryatt appearing on the subs bench (even though they had only trained for 1 day in 3 weeks), it appeared as if Rob Kelly was struggling to put out 16 fit players. No doubt Eddie Blount would have been pleased to see there was no room for Josh Low on Saturday!
After a swift incursion into opposition territory by Tiatto, the ball was transferred to Cook on Rangers left wing. Cook proceeded to waltz past Kenton with ease and put a superb cross into the near post. Blackstock (later to be nicknamed "Laughing stock" for his inept display) got to the ball first and saw his flick just shave the angle of bar and post. Cue music, Rangers obviously thought they had scored!!
City weathered a brief flurry of attacks with Cook posing a major threat. Neither Kenton nor Stearman getting close enough to him to either intercept the ball on its way to him nor harry him before bringing it under control. Consequently Cook ran our right hand side ragged throughout the 90 minutes, very often leaving two City players trailing in his wake. Josh Low were you watching?
It needed Kisnorbo, McAuley and Johansson to be at their best against the tall Nygaard and Blackstock as a constant supply of crosses were pumped into the heart of our defence. Logan had a few anxious moments as corners were gained by Rangers and Rowlands impeded him every time without the referee, Mr Stroud, taking any cognisance.
After 10 minutes we had weathered the storm and started to put together some neat attacking moves of our own. Wesolowski and Tiatto were winning the midfield battle and Welsh was making his presence increasingly felt on City's left. Hume and Hammond were posing a threat on the ground, twisting and turning the Rangers tall, clumsy central defenders, Stewart and Kanyuka inside out at times….
A free kick was won on the right by City and Tiatto crossed a superb free kick into the box. Kisnorbo rose and met the ball cleanly with his head, despite the close attentions of Stewart and nodded the ball past ex City stopper Simon Royce. The players WAGS sitting in front of me were taking short video clips with expensive digital cameras and had some excellent clips very early in the game.
Shortly after the goal referee Stroud showed how out of tune he is with the "mans game" when he awarded a free kick to Rangers just outside the box. Lomas "diving" when Wesolowski got to within a yard of him. From the resultant free kick, Rowlands again impeded Logan, who could only shovel the ball out to Kanyuka who's shot was then acrobatically saved by Logan.
The game then seesawed from one end to the other. Hume and Hammond both creating half chances that were either saved or went harmlessly past the goal. Apart from Cook the major threat was the referee's ability to be constantly conned into free kicks around City's penalty area by the crafty Rowlands and Lomas.
Half time seemed to take forever and I'm sure it took longer than 15 minutes. However City fans didn't mind because it gave the players, the majority of whom had played for 120 minutes against Villa earlier in the week, the opportunity to get their second/third wind.
Maybury appeared in the second half for Wesolowski. Mancienne had replaced Kanyuka in the heart of Rangers defence midway through the first half. Stearman moved into central midfield, where he seems more comfortable and Maybury assisted Kenton in the handling of Cook. Neither City player was able to contain him, though. From a throw on the left Rowlands shot from just outside the area and a scrambling Logan was relieved to see it strike a post and rebound to Kisnorbo whose clearance was despatched with alacrity. Laughingstock had a clear cut opening after good work from Cook, who else, and Smith. Thankfully he shot tamely straight into Logan's grateful hands.
City were finding it increasingly difficult to retain the ball for any length of time and were missing Wesolowski's determination. Rangers piled on the pressure and after a series of blocked shots McAuley threw himself across the line and pushed the ball clear with his hand. I thought he had headed the ball, along with a lot of Foxes supporters, the Referee, though had clearly seen the offence and awarded the penalty. McAuley was summarily dismissed and we were down to 10 men again at Loftus Road. Memories of David Connolly's dismissal two seasons ago and City's capitulation of a two goal lead came flooding back. Rowlands sent Logan the wrong way and it was backs to the wall at 1 – 1.
We feared needlessly as Rob Kelly's Foxes are made of sterner stuff than Mickey Adam's side were. A masked McCarthy came on to replace Hammond and took McAuley's place alongside Kisnorbo. The Aussie immediately offering the Captain's armband to Paddy who, rightly declined. Kisnorbo was leading by example at the heart of City's resolute defence and deserved to remain skipper for the rest of the game.
Paddy Mac played in a mask "a la Phantom of the Opera" and seemed to carry on where he had left off at the Walkers a few weeks ago. There was constant pressure upon City from then on, although no clear cut chances were made by Rangers as City doggedly held on.
With 15 minutes left Fryatt replaced Welsh who had run out of steam, Ainsworth replacing Rowlands. As Gallen had come on for Nygaard shortly before Rangers scored, both sides had now used their full quota of subs. Fryatt harried alongside the tireless Hume up front, but City were penned into their own half. Just before the end Logan punted a long ball upfield. Mancienne, instead of letting the ball go through to his keeper tried to control it. His first touch was woeful and the ball popped up to Hume standing just outside the area. He unleashed a ferocious volley that Royce parried out straight to Fryatt. The ball seemed to take forever to come down and Matty, with Royce scampering towards him tried to take his shot early and just spooned the ball into Royces waiting arms. That was our gilt edged chance to win the game gone.
Gregory said afterwards that Rangers didn't deserve to lose, but I've seen City lose often enough when we didn't deserve to and I would have loved the three points. Nevertheless this was more a case of a point hard won as opposed to two points lost. A tired looking City were grateful when the referee finally ended the game.
Teams City Logan, Kenton, Kisnorbo, McCauley, Johansson, Stearman, Wesolowski, Tiatto, Welsh, Hammond, Hume. Subs Maybury (45 Wesolowski), McCarthy (70 Hammond), Fryatt (75 Welsh), Henderson, Sylla.
QPR Royce, Rehman, Kanyuka, Stewart, Bignot, Rowlands,Lomas, Smith, Cook, Blackstock, Nygaard. Subs Mancienne (25 Kanyuka), Gallen (60 Nygaard), Ainsworth (75 Rowlands), Rose, Jones.
Man of the match for City Kisnorbo.
Attendance 12,430, Referee Mr K Stroud
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation