It promised to be another cold day and I wasn’t to be disavowed of that fact early on when I took my neighbour’s little Cairn terrier, Bentley, out for his walk. My neighbour has been very poorly and she has been unable to exercise the little lad and Mrs Bazza and I are always willing to help as walking with a dog since our Welshie, Dilys, died eighteen months ago, is something we miss greatly.
Time waits for no man and despite my very early start it was soon time to get away to Farnborough Main station for the train to London. I arrived at White City tube at about 13.45 and went in search of a suitable watering hole prior to the game. All the pubs near the ground were home fans only and there was a notice at the entrance that no alcohol was to be served in the ground. I eventually managed to get a pre-match drink in The Pocket Watch on the Uxbridge Road before walking back towards Loftus Road with a couple of Rangers fans who were convinced we were going to win. They needed not to have had such reservations in the end, so poorly did we play.
I wondered whether Gary Rowett would make some changes to the team following the Bolton match. I did go on Tuesday and like many I’m sure was relieved that we managed to prevail 1-0 despite not playing particularly well. I was hoping for a Fulham or Derby performance but that would need a considerable improvement on what had been dished up the last four games. Still, we were keeping clean sheets of late and as long as that continued we were always in with a chance of winning. Unfortunately, no such improvement or performance was forthcoming. Mind you, I along with a load of others didn’t get in for over 15 minutes after the start of the game as we were held up by mounted police. The organisation was chaotic and it didn’t take long for the visiting natives to get very restless. I am sure all this had come about because there was nowhere close that our fans could go to get a drink and it was inevitable with the restricted access at Loftus Road that a hold up would occur with a large away contingent anxious to get in for kick off. Surely, this scenario could have been foreseen by the authorities knowing that such a large following was coming to town?
I’m not going to dwell too long on the game itself, at least the bit I actually saw of it. This was the worst away performance I’ve personally witnessed this campaign. There was actually not much in it until Shotton on 35 minutes, for reasons known only to himself, decided to take a touch out on the right touch line instead of a row Z clearance with a view to form up, regroup and defend the throw in. He was robbed by James Perch who raced to the by line and pulled the ball back to Tjaronn Chery who controlled, turned and shot across Kuzczak into the far corner; a lovely finish but what a soft goal to concede! It got worse four minutes later as QPR exploited our obvious weakness down our flanks and another superb ball through to the impressive Sebastian Polter put the forward in for a clear opportunity until Morrison tripped him for a stonewall penalty.
It seems that some idiot threw a coin at the QPR players at this point though this needs to be fully established as fact. A bloke next to me was whinging about the award but it was a clear foul and I felt Morrison was lucky to escape with a yellow. Mr East gave him the benefit of the doubt but Morrison was lucky. Junior Hoilett dispatched the kick and the home side were deservedly 2-0 up at the break. Blues were woeful although they did improve in the second half but judging by the first half performance that wasn’t difficult. QPR just controlled the game and played the percentages and looked the most likely to add to their lead on the break. Yes, Blues had their moments but they were few and far between and went close a couple of times with shots from range that were just wide or blocked from Grounds, Cotterill and Robinson and there was an excellent save by Smithies midway through the half from Donaldson but in truth I was never convinced we were going to score and the Rs ran out deserved winners.
If you look at the stats, we had a similar number of shots, the majority of the possession and despite our four bookings to their none we conceded only 11 fouls to their 17. A man just behind me made the comment that there was nothing between the sides apart from a defensive howler for the first and the penalty. However, stats are misleading and this is where they don’t tell the full story. Blues lost because QPR wanted the points more than we did. They looked more structured, full of energy, appeared to have a cohesive game plan and took full advantage of our shortcomings of which there were a number, particularly in defence. We weren’t much better going forward and as good as QPR played this was a meek and feeble performance in front of a large Bluenose contingent who deserved better.
There has been much talk of play off ambitions but frankly after this it looks a pipe dream. We have table topping Hull City next at home (on a Thursday night for heaven’s sake!) and I’m afraid to say I don’t fancy us to get anything from that game not only because Hull are arguably the best team in the league and much better than us but given our form over the last five games or so which has been indifferent to say the least. What I do know is that if Blues dish up this sort of tripe against them we could be in for a right pasting.
Gary Rowett reckons we need about 72 points to make the play offs which may be somewhat optimistic given the way things are shaping up but let’s assume he’s right, that total is 21 points from our remaining 13 games which include matches against Hull, Brighton, Burnley, Middlesbrough and Cardiff. We have also got to play improving sides like Reading and Preston. Frankly, we need a minimum of six wins and three draws and I can’t see where the points are coming from at this stage. Still as Jimmy Greaves always used to say “It’s a funny old game ain’t it Saintsy?” It will need to be in my view!
The Good: The game management by QPR. They weren’t particularly great but they didn’t have to be; they accepted the gifts bestowed upon them, got into a comfortable position and kept us at arm’s length for the rest of the game – job done!
The Bad: Being kept outside the ground for 15 minutes; the policing was over the top and one bloke next to me was searched three times in twenty yards! Is this really necessary? The turnstile control leaves much to be desired, the fact that we couldn’t get a beer in the ground and the catering is simply not fit for purpose in this old dilapidated ground. I am going to think twice and some before attending Loftus Road in the future. This was not an enjoyable experience and not just because of the result.
The Ugly: It started to kick off further up the road with mounted police holding back our fans who were even further away from getting in than I was. This was the pent up frustration I suppose and so avoidable I suspect. Having read the newspapers this morning about the throwing of coins at QPR players and supporters during the game, I am appalled. If it proves to be true may the full force of law be brought down on these idiots who shame our club, our fans and themselves. I was hoping there would not be copycat behaviour following the unsavoury incident at the Baggies cup tie but no; there always has to be another cretin waiting in the wings doesn’t there? I am so ashamed that it has to be associated with the good name of Birmingham City. This sort of behaviour makes the actual football irrelevant and frankly I no longer care if we make the playoffs or not just now.
Queens Park Rangers: Alex Smithies 6, Nedum Onuoha 6, Grant Hall 6, Gabriele Angella 6, James Perch 7, Matt Phillips 6 (Conor Washington 82, N/A), Massimo Luongo 6, Karl Henry 6, Tjaronn Chery 7 (Daniel Tozser 76, 6), Junior Hoilett 7 (Abdenasser El-Khayati 90 + 3, N/A), Sebastian Polter 7.
Subs not used: Matt Ingram, Paul Konchesky, Alejandro Faurlin, Michael Petrasso.
Goals: Chery, Hoilett (pen)
Yellow cards: None
Birmingham City: Tomas Kuczcak 6, Ryan Shotton 4, Michael Morrison 5, Paul Robinson 6, Jonathan Grounds 5, David Cotterill 5, Stephen Gleeson 6, Maikel Kieftenbeld 5 (James Vaughan 71, 5), Diego Fabbrini 5 (Jon Toral 63, 5), Jacques Maghoma 6 (Will Buckley 79, 5), Clayton Donaldson 6.
Subs not used: Adam Lezgdins, Paul Caddis, David Davis, Jonathan Spector.
Yellow cards: Morrison, Fabbrini, Donaldson, Toral.
Referee: Roger East 7: I have no complaints about the officials. They got the major calls correct and officiated the match efficiently and competently in my opinion.
Attendance: 17,110 (3,190 noses)