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Town 1-3 QPR
Saturday, 11th Jan 2014 16:58

Second-half goals from Niko Kranjcar, Gary O’Neil and Armand Traore saw QPR to a 3-1 victory at Portman Road, Tommy Smith volleying a spectacular injury time consolation for the Blues. Town had been the better side before the break with visitors’ keeper Rob Green making an important stop to deny skipper Luke Chambers.

Mick McCarthy returned to his 4-3-3 formation with Paul Anderson starting on the left of the three-man attack alongside David McGoldrick and Paul Taylor, although with the trip regularly switching around throughout the half.

Yossi Benayoun headed an early Tom Carroll cross well wide for the visitors, but it was the Blues who enjoyed most of the possession in a cagey and uneventful opening.

Chances were rare in the opening quarter of an hour but with Rangers getting on top and forcing two corners, although Joey Barton was unable to create any threat from either. From the second, McGoldrick broke for the Blues but was unable to find Anderson on the left of the area.

On 17 the Town top scorer shot over from 25 yards as the momentum swung back towards the Blues, whose support was boosted by 120 Fortuna Dusseldorf fans in the lower tier of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

A minute later, Taylor saw a shot blocked after good work from Luke Hyam on the left, then in the 22nd minute Aaron Cresswell’s effort was blocked after Anderson had twice crossed from the right. Soon after Hyam was booked for a foul on Barton.

Town repeatedly went close to going in front in the 25th minute in a goalmouth scramble from which QPR were fortunate to escape. Chambers exchanged passes with Anderson, who stabbed the ball back into his path inside the area on the right.

The Blues right-back’s shot was superbly saved by Rob Green and Hyam was just prevented from touching home the rebound by one-time Town loanee Danny Simpson's challenge. Chambers cut the loose ball back across the box and it was half-cleared by Barton.

But Rangers were unable to get the ball completely away from goal and Hyam ran in from the left and found Chambers, who turned his shot over from eight yards. The Blues were somewhat unfortunate not to be in front.

After Anderson had failed to make the most of a break down the right when Clint Hill was caught in possession, Gary O’Neil sent a dangerous ball across the Blues’ six-yard box, Ryan Tunnicliffe diverting it behind at the back post.

But overall Town were still on top with McGoldrick hitting a 31st minute shot which was deflected wide.

Town keeper Dean Gerken was forced into serious action for the first time in the 34th minute when O’Neil chipped a cross in from the right. One-time Town target Charlie Austin headed goalwards but Gerken tipped over.

Almost immediately the action moved to the other end, Taylor breaking away on the right at pace but his shot was blocked. McGoldrick subsequently volleyed the dropping ball not far wide from 25 yards.

There was a scare for the Blues in the 37th minute when, after a mix-up between Smith and Skuse, Austin found himself through on goal. However, Berra got back to make a superb saving challenge.

The game had developed into an exciting end to end affair and the visitors threatened again a minute later when Chambers cleared ahead of Austin after a freekick had fallen to the striker off Skuse. Moments later, Barton was replaced by Karl Henry having suffered what looked like a groin injury.

A minute before the end of normal time, Anderson hit a powerful 25-yard strike which Green couldn’t hold onto but reclaimed ahead of McGoldrick. Second later, Skuse played in Taylor, the striker losing his footing as he looked to take the ball past Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

A thoroughly entertaining half came to an end with the stalemate yet to be broken. After a very quiet opening, the Blues had gradually take control and had most of the better chances, although with the visitors also having threatened.

Taylor struck a low shot which Green claimed soon after the restart with Blues continuing where they had left off before the break in the early stages.

But it was the visitors who went ahead in the 52nd minute. Niko Kranjcar brought the ball in from the left across the edge of the area before hitting a low shot which Gerken appeared to get a hand to but was unable to prevent from crossing the line.

On 58 QPR skipper Hill got his name in referee Phil Dowd’s book for wasting time at a freekick after Assou-Ekotto had fouled Taylor.

Rangers increased their lead in the 66th minute. Austin hit a low 25-yard shot which Gerken saved down to his left but palmed back into the path of the on-rushing O’Neil, who followed up to tap home. The Town keeper, so impressive in recent matches, will be disappointed not to have pushed his save away from the danger zone.

The Blues had been less of a threat having gone behind but hadn’t been put under particular pressure by the West Londoners prior to their second goal.

Manager McCarthy switched Hyam and Anderson for Stephen Hunt and Frank Nouble for the final 18 minutes. Soon after, Taylor scraped a shot wide.

QPR’s victory was sealed in the 74th minute when Tommy Smith miscontrolled Hill’s ball over the top allowing sub Armand Traore to nip in behind him and slip the ball past Gerken to make it 3-0.

Taylor twisted and turned before shooting over in the 79th minute then, following good work from McGoldrick, Skuse hit a low effort which looked goalbound until striking Hunt.

Mings took over from Chambers for the final four minutes, hitting a low shot which was blocked moments after coming on. As the game moved into its final scheduled minute, Austin shot low to Gerken, who claimed.

The Blues pulled a goal back soon after the fourth official had raised his board. Sub Hunt whipped over a corner from the left and Smith spectacularly volleyed home his third goal of the season.

Town continued to push for an unlikely comeback, Hunt scuffing well wide, but referee Dowd’s whistle signalled the end of the Blues’ nine-game unbeaten run.

The home side had been the better team before the break but once QPR had got in front there was only going to be one winner.

Keeper Gerken will be disappointed not to have pushed Austin’s shot away from goal rather than into O’Neil’s path for QPR’s second and may think he might have got more on Kranjcar’s opener, although the Croatian international should have been closed down before hitting his strike, while Smith will hold his hand up for the error on Rangers’ third. His superbly taken late goal is likely to be scant consolation.

The travelling Fortuna fans continued to sing in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand long after the final whistle.

The result sees the Blues drop out of the play-off zone and into ninth ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup replay at Preston and next Saturday's visit to fourth-bottom Millwall.

Town: Gerken, Chambers (Mings 86), Smith, Berra, Cresswell, Hyam (Hunt 72), Skuse, Tunnicliffe, Anderson (Nouble 72), McGoldrick, Taylor. Unused: Loach, Edwards, Tabb, Hunt, Lee, Nouble.

QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, Barton (Henry 40), Carroll, Benayoun (Traore 68), O'Neil, Kranjcar (Phillips 85), Austin. Unused: Murphy, Onuoha, Wright-Phillips, Johnson. Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire). Att: 18,369 (QPR: 1,534).

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StuartBrett8 added 17:05 - Jan 11
Played well today, no scapegoats for our side at all....

bushbaby7 added 17:09 - Jan 11
Flattering result for QPR today. We were all over them first half, just need to take our chances like they did!! Taylor fantastic today! Only downside is that Mick made the changes to late.

oscarwhiting added 17:10 - Jan 11
dissapointing result, heard we played well though. the unbeaten run wasnt going to last for ever and id rather lose it to a team like this than to a team below us. this will test the players atttitudes coming back from the result today. lets hope we can bounce back against preston so that were ready for a tough test against milwall. COYB

christiand added 17:12 - Jan 11
Quite agree result disappointing, performance wasn't. For the players that they have in their squad they should be far superior. I thought there wasn't much between the two sides, the first goal was always going to be vital.

TractorCam added 17:12 - Jan 11
I can't make us out, that is the best we have played in quite a few weeks and yet we come out with a loss and down to 9th place. First half we were very good with our passing and some good counter attacks, second half wasn't too bad up until they scored and then we lacked the fight to get back into it.

EssexTractor added 17:12 - Jan 11
Funny game football. Have come away from games we haven't lost feeling more unhappy than today. Obviously to lose is not the desire but for much of the match we played as a unit throughout the team.
Hyam much improved, Anderson tried hard, Tunnicliffes attempting to push forward. Best of all the emergence of Paul Taylor. No blame should be attached to anyone today, but please Mick there must be a better alternative to Frank. Again a lost bewildered soul when he came on.

EssexTractor added 17:13 - Jan 11
Funny game football. Have come away from games we haven't lost feeling more unhappy than today. Obviously to lose is not the desire but for much of the match we played as a unit throughout the team.
Hyam much improved, Anderson tried hard, Tunnicliffes attempting to push forward. Best of all the emergence of Paul Taylor. No blame should be attached to anyone today, but please Mick there must be a better alternative to Frank. Again a lost bewildered soul when he came on.

IP3 added 17:16 - Jan 11
Disappointing to lose maybe, but when remembering the differences in financial investment in the two playing squads it's hardly surprising QPR have won, and we've done very well to give them a good run for the money. Onwards, COYB

battyblue added 17:17 - Jan 11
Changers needed in midfield for us to progress Tunnicliff poor Hyam to lightweight Nouble may as well stopped on the bench he is so bad its unreal..good points Taylor tried his heart out Macgoldrick as well Hunt should start and a little more midfield class needed to reach the play-offs without doubt

ashm1989 added 17:19 - Jan 11
Thank god no tabb!! Frank is useless,, Taylor has gotta play more think him and Murphy would be good, Anderson was great today, chambers solid and creswell very tidy player

Gingerblues added 17:21 - Jan 11
A good first half where we passed the ball really well at times was eclipsed by yet another poor 2nd half. It wasn't a terrible performance but the 2nd goal was a sloppy mistake by Gerken and the 3rd a bad error by Tommy(although he made up for it!). No coincidence we have lost to all the top teams at home. We work hard and as a team but just can't match their quality.

essexboy added 17:21 - Jan 11
Great first half.Midfield outstanding,if only we could take our chances.The score flattered QPR.never mind things still look good.Roll on Tuesday.Taylor MOM for me.

ChrisMakin2012 added 17:24 - Jan 11
Nouble is the worst player to play for ITFC,

TimmyH added 17:25 - Jan 11
Looking at the bigger picture it's not a coincidence that we seem to perform better against the bigger sides as we know we have to raise our game if we are to get anything out of these type matches. Unfortunately what we don't have is a creative enough midfield/attack to unlock these teams defenses. We've lost against Burnley, Leicester and now QPR at home and ALL the relegated teams away which overall shows we're probably not play-off material.
Just find it strange we can't put the effort in that showed today against teams like Charlton and Watford. One things for sure home results Have to improve!

Jimmy86 added 17:29 - Jan 11
it's a disappointing feeling to lose, having not tasted defeat in 9 games, however loosing to QPR, all be it at home and having not been in the best form of late themselves is no disgrace, especially with the squad they have. was unable to go today due to work, what was taylor like?? and what sort of abuse did our "friend" green get?? really hope that evans gets the cheque book out and backs mick in the transfer window. Without a bit more quality and strength in depth I fear this is where we may well end up come the end of the season. Yes a top 10 finish would certainly signal progression from previous seasons, but having done well of late i'd love to get into the play offs. we go again. COYB

AbujaBlue added 17:32 - Jan 11
ChrisMakin, do you ever write anything positive or is it always to bash Nouble?

The first half was the best I've seen us play for a while, but once the first goal went in the second half just went flat and we were like the Ipswich of previous games - not bad in itself but lacking anything special.

Isn't it just typical that we are scheduled to be the top game on FLS? Anything which involves TV camera always ends badly at Town.

blueboy1981 added 17:37 - Jan 11
...... not surprised - writing was on the wall against Preston (who became a very ordinary side again today) and lost!

blueboy1981 added 17:41 - Jan 11
AbujaBlue - points are not won for 'not being bad' or 'best we've played' - accept the fact that we are not good enough to be in the play off places - as was proved today. No excuses (sorry reasons) other than these please.

bluelodgeblue added 17:50 - Jan 11
Our recent form (including the fa cup) is on the decline. We need to bolster the squad with more quality and IF the right player(s) become available ME has to respond, even if it is a stepping stone to next season. This time next year if we are in the same situation I fear even the real loyal blue supporters may start walking!!!! C,mon ME show all supporters you believe in Mick!

mow_the_lawn added 17:55 - Jan 11
No shame in losing to a wealthy team like QPR, but annoying to have dropped 6 points to them this season despite playing well (in parts) in both games. I'd like to see us play with wingers more rather than a 3 pronged strike force. Nouble must be brilliant in training because I don't see why he keeps getting time on the pitch. His awareness, reactions and energy levels are appalling. He doesn't seem to have that drive to want to be a better player, he always looks content. I'd like to see some passion from him.

Cloddyseedbed added 17:58 - Jan 11
Well played the players who were picked today, they all gave 100%. I agree that is the best we've played for a while, but lost. It was not good to loose but QPR just had better players than us. We did get chances to score but couldn't. Overall good performance but not surprised at the result with our current team. I think it shows up our weaknesses if we have no stronger players than Nouble to come on and change the game. We really need to find 1 or 2 stronger players if we want to finish higher in the table.

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 18:00 - Jan 11
Played very well first half with Hyam and Taylor outstanding. Unusually poor defending and QPR's quality told for the goals. No need to be too downbeat and we need to now start another unbeaten run. Think 6th place is wide open but MM will need some 're-reinforcements if we a're going to mount a serious challenge for it

riley26 added 18:00 - Jan 11
Strange game, one of two halves and all that...played some neat stuff in the first half and made QPR look fairly ordinary. Just didn't happen for us in the second and were made to pay.

No need to hit the panic button, I think this game somewhat sums up where we are at this season, improving but not enough cutting edge to threaten a strong top 5, only that 6th spot really looks up for grabs.

January's games and transfer window will decide whether we are really in the mix or not.

AbujaBlue added 18:05 - Jan 11
Blueboy - Any reason why you directed that post at me? Totally random but I'll reply anyway. I would like you to find a post from me (or anyone) which says 'we are good enough to be in the playoffs'? What I would say is that we're just as good as a number of upper mid table teams who are aiming to gate crash the playoffs. Why not?

Credit should be given where credit is due. There's no reason to be dour and miserable the whole time.

Pip50 added 18:13 - Jan 11
Blah blah investment blah how far we have come blah blah we played well blah blah Micks the man
1. Tactically inept.
2. Consistently out managed.
3. Can't win when it really matters Preston will prove this again.
4. Quality of football over last two months has been dismal.
Please go now while we still have a window and are in sight of 6th or mid table also ran beckons.
On the plus side might be seeing Norwich ar Portman road next year they are managed worse than us

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