POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- QPR

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- QPR

Following our outstanding showing at home to Birmingham at the weekend, the chances of repeating that performance against a Queens Park Rangers side that has somewhat under-performed this season – despite their fourth-place standing – looked pretty slim.

‘Arry’s men hadn’t been on the best of form recently, picking up just two wins in their previous eight games, resulting in a 10-point void between them and second placed Burnley, meaning that the likelihood of automatic promotion was rapidly waning.

And our London visitors certainly knew from our earlier meeting in the Championship curtain-raiser back in the August sunshine that we’re no pushovers.

The Owls took the lead against all odds through an Atdhe Nuhiu strike and were unlucky not to be rewarded a penalty either side of two quickfire QPR goals just before the interval. That secured Rangers their maiden three points of the campaign – and the start of our torrid early season form.

Since that game at Loftus Road, where the blue and white wizards were roared on by around 3,000 travelling Wednesdayites, both sides have literally gone their separate ways.

QPR, as expected, have pushed towards the top two while the Owls have spent most of the season languishing around the relegation trapdoor.

However, since the installation of Stuart Gray as manager in December, we can all agree that we’re just now a couple of wins off Championship safety, with even a mid-table finish looking increasingly achievable.

The Owls have gone on a remarkable run under Stuart Gray

The Owls have gone on a remarkable run under Stuart Gray

There was one change made by Wednesday for our clash with the R’s on Tuesday night, with Liam Palmer stepping in for Sam Hutchinson, which was more than likely a precaution due to the Chelsea loanee’s history with injuries.

It was nice to see Palmer given the opportunity to slot into the midfield following his impressive displays at right-back through the majority of the season, due to Lewis Buxton’s lengthy spell in the treatment room.

The fact that the academy product was starting alongside Kieran Lee in that middle two not only highlighted Gray’s belief in our youngsters but that we weren’t just going to sit back against QPR all night. We were looking to create our own chances and dictate play, and as the night wore on this was certainly evident.

The visiting line-up featured several ex-Premier League faces,including Nedum Onuoha, Richard Dunne and, of course, the forever controversial and all-round football villain that is Joey Barton. The aforementioned trio helped Redknapp’s side to settle early on into their slow passing football.

The early exchanges did see the promotion-chasing outfit control much of the possession with Ravel Morrison and David Hoilett both looking lively with and without the ball. Rangers’ pass-and-move style looked pleasant on the eye but largely came to no avail. Clint Hill came closest for the Hoops with a header from a quick Barton free kick that went wide off Damien Martinez’s far post.

Chris Maguire fires Wednesday ahead from the spot

Chris Maguire fires Wednesday ahead from the spot

Despite having less of the ball, the compact Owls looked solid and tight enough to keep QPR at bay as well as having the ability to break quickly on the counter.

Nuhiu’s superb hold-up play allowed this tactic in the first third of game to come to fruition effectively for Stuart Gray’s side.

It was the turning point in this fixture that was a result of another Wednesday counter attack as Leon Best raced into the penalty area, before being tripped by Dunne just as he was about to shoot towards goal.

Referee Paul Tierney had no option but to send off the QPR skipper and award the penalty kick in our favour – finally, a referee that had the capability of recognising a goal-scoring opportunity and he took the appropriate action!

Even though chants of ‘Here’s to you Atdhe Nuhiu’ were echoing on the Kop, it was regular taker Chris Maguire who stepped up to the spot instead and sent debutant ‘keeper, Brian Murphy, the wrong way to put the Owls 1-0 ahead in front of the 18,000 Hillsborough crowd.

From there on in, we dominated possession and showed great desire and energy going forward.

Maguire almost got his second as a ball in from the right was perfect for the Scotsman who headed just wide of the far post from close range. It was a chance I was hoping we wouldn’t rue going into the interval.

But we almost atoned for that miss just minutes later as Nuhiu’s header was blocked by Murphy from a corner, with replays suggesting that the ball did cross the goal line. However it would’ve been a tough call for Mr Tierney to make without the benefit of the technology used so effectively in the Premier League since its introduction in August.

Leon Best made it 2-0 after a dazzling run by Oguchi Onyewu

Leon Best made it 2-0 after a dazzling run by Oguchi Onyewu

Some of our passing sequences were enough to just make you sit back and watch in awe as Lee and Palmer did an excellent job of getting the ball out wide to Caolan Lavery and Maguire.

They had the extra support from Buxton and Jeremy Helan who both persistently bombed forward due to the man advantage we boasted.

Dominating going into the break, it was more of the same from the home side in the second half and our dominance paid off just five minutes after the interval.

Oguchi Onyewu, who was overlooked by Redknapp earlier in the season, burst forward out of defence before shrugging off the challenge of Bobby Zamora and slipping a perfect ball through for Leon Best.

He expertly beat Onuoha and fired into the bottom corner to not only increase the advantage but also the jubilant mood inside three sides of S6.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a man more than our opposition but we made a playoff-placed side look bang average.

Time after time we overran Rangers’ two banks of four with chance after chance being created.

Lewis Buxton's magnificent effort put the icing on the cake

Lewis Buxton’s magnificent effort put the icing on the cake

It was a real joy to watch I must say.

A third was later added through the unlikeliest of sources.

The impressive Buxton picked up the bouncing ball with his back to goal in the left side of the box. After seeing off Barton with a lovely flick, the former Stoke City defender fired into the far corner to condemn the visitors to their largest league defeat of the season.

Substitute Jermaine Johnson later stung the palms of Murphy with a venomous long range drive before a tame Niko Krancjar effort in the final minute of time was met by ironic cheers from the poor 200 cockney souls in the away end, who were forced to endure a dismal display from their side.

When the full-time whistle sounded, every Wednesdayite in attendance rose to their feet to applaud the superb and somewhat electric performance they had just been entertained with.

FULL TIME: Wednesday 3-0 Queens Park Rangers

The players and fans alike enjoyed a terrific win against a side with a phenomenal budget

The players and fans alike enjoyed a terrific win against a side with a phenomenal budget

Credit must go to the players and staff for being able to put in two near enough faultless displays on home territory in the space of four days.

With only two of the starting XI being loanees (Martinez and Best), there were even more positives to take away from the result as it was our own contracted players – such as Nuhiu, Lee and Helan to name but a few –  who were the spine of a hugely impressive display.

That’s three home league wins in a row now for the Owls as well as the added bonus that the league table now sees us above Leeds and Huddersfield to just make the success that bit sweeter.

Backed by 4, 000 Wednesdayites at Donny on Saturday, who’s to say we won’t be able to kick start from here and secure a comfortable mid-table finish?

That would have been unthinkable back in early December…

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE
Jonathan
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @JonOwlzz and @OwlsAlive


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