RAMBLE: QPR 1-2 Wednesday
A 7am start on a Bank Holiday Monday is a confusing situation for your tired, bit hungover head to find itself in.
Not sure what day is… it’s probably Monday, feels like a Sunday but do I have to go to work?
Why am I up?
Loftus Road is a stadium I’ve been longing to tick off the 92 for a while.
I always see it as a charming little ground on the telly and from a little research, it looked like one of those London stadiums in the heart of the action.
A little snapshot of a borough of our nation’s capital in football stadium form. So despite the early start, I was well up for the trip south.
As we settle in aboard the excellently named Wilfreda Beehive Wednesdayite bus, in search of a juicy satsuma in my bag, I instead find a yoghurt disaster. In my haste for juicy goodness, I pierced the lid of mi yog and made a right yoghurty mess.
N’mind, I forgot to bring a spoon for it anyway.
Clean sheet kings… again
The hotly anticipated coach quiz followed before our stop at Northampton with the promise of a round of Football Bingo later. ‘Lee Briscoe’s Left Peg’ scored a very respectable 32 out of 43 in a tough test.
The final question was ‘We’ve had 15 clean sheets this season against 12 teams – name them.’ We got all of them apart from today’s opponents. We put Bristol. “Go on, try it yourself!” as Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan would say.
After an eventful stop in Northampton services which included a trampolining and netball squad from Edgehill University (I’ll leave it there) we were on our way again and ready to kick off the 2nd leg of the trip with Football Bingo.
After a line was called, we only needed Leicester City for the full house £40 jackpot. Alas, someone else just needed Newport County and that was called out first. Still, what a day so far.
We made it to Laandan in good time, passing Wembley on our way as the radio was turned off in favour of one of those Dad Rock CD’s to get us all in the mood. Queen was followed by Led Zep and a bit later we had ZZ Top.
There was also what I’m pretty sure was some ‘Special Oasis’ doing the rounds on the back seats, which prompted the unintentionally hilarious comment “Eee, it’s first time I’ve come here since last time I’ve been” leaving most of us in stitches.
Once we parked up, we like most of us left our cave of a bus, ugg ugging out into London to hunt down some grub. First though, we got our first glance of Loftus Road in all it’s tatty glory. The outside looks like a typical 80’s office building with a flash sign on. I loved it.
Welcome to Loftus Road
While we were taking in the surroundings, the Wednesday team bus pulled up.Out popped a beaming Carlos and his entourage followed by the players clutching their make-up bags.
Fessi got the biggest cheer when he eventually emerged followed closely by Big Atty. We also spied Gerry Francis across the road being mobbed by the QPR fans.
I especially enjoyed seeing Gerry’s 80’s hair in person. Indeed, it’s probably the same haircut the QPR fans remember him adorning back when he played for them.
Anyway – food. I’d been told Uxbridge Road towards Shepherd’s Bush was the place to be and they weren’t wrong. It truly was a treat for senses. Smells from around the world lined the street and the hustle and bustle of daily life went on around us as we tried to decide what we wanted.We settled on one of the most random options – a Syrian takeaway/restaurant ‘Ayam Zaman’ serving authentic Damascus cuisine. I know what you’re thinking but it was bloody brilliant. Chicken Shwarma, chips and a French 7up for £3.99. Lovely stuff.
I know it’s a cliché to say it’s a ‘proper stadium’ but that’s just what it is. Set against the backdrop of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ beating out of the PA system 4 stands are all sealed up with a smart royal blue paint job.
Standing room only
And wow are you close to the pitch!? It’s reet pokey.
So pokey, in fact, it feels like you’re on top of the pitch as one poor lady found out as she caught a Wildsmith miss-hit right in the chops. She was a crumpled heap between the seats bless her but the Wednesday staff and all our ‘keepers came over to make sure she was okay. Westwood gave her his gloves as an apology. We were just hoping he had another pair… and that she was okay of course.
If you’re a claustrophobic football supporter, this isn’t the ground for you. Hi Ho had to be performed in a cautious and courteous manner as there was next to no arm extension room. Being this tightly squeezed in didn’t half make for loud noise mind. Damn we sounded good.
Rhodes and Hooper started for the first time together and Carlos chose to stick with the big lads, Fletch and Atty, on the bench, omitting Barnsley’s public enemy #1 from the squad once again. A fit-again Loovens was in for Sasso and Palmer came in for Hunt who had a calf issue.
We started brightly, as did a packed away end.
The fans were in fine voice and the players responded well on the pitch.
We were spreading the ball about nicely and, as a bonus, the QPR players didn’t really look arsed and neither did their fans aside from one interesting chap in a Sombrero to the left of the Wednesdayites.
He was a good laugh and responded well to jibes coming his way usually with a one-man Mexican wave and a toot on his vuvuzela.
I don’t think QPR had even ventured into our half when we took a deserved lead.
The rejuvenated Pudil sent the ball in the box towards Reach and after a couple of ricochets; the floppy haired Hugh Grant wannabe rifled the ball into the bottom corner with a smart finish.
Cue bedlam… of sorts. It was almost careful bedlam if that’s possible what with the person in front being on your lap to start with.
Imagine a very happy tin of sardines jumping about having a nice time.
Hooper continued his good form, controlling everything up top, linking the play well. We really have missed him more than I thought. We continued our dominance and nice time until the ‘Super’ Hoops scored with their first bloody attack.
It was such a strange and rubbish goal to concede as well.
Time almost stood still as they put together a good move through our box. It looked like we were about to give away a penalty, our two defenders backed off and in nips Sylla to Surprise Surprise us all with a dink over Westwood.
QPR fans didn’t know what to do because something didn’t quite add up.
There were even a few befuddled desperate cries for a penalty against us from the Wednesday fans which has to be a first. “C’mon ref, bring it back for a pen!!”
Bottom line is we were somehow drawing a game we were fully in charge of. Balls.
Sylla notched the equaliser
That seemed to stir them up a little and they started chasing the ball down a bit more.
It was a good game but suddenly we were panicking.
Loovens was dilly-dallying and dallying once more, the Mexican hat man produced a wind-up rattle from somewhere, the away end was quiet, someone said Fulham were winning… our nerves in the stand were being reflected on the pitch.
We still just about had the upper hand though and a brilliant kick forward from Westwood towards Hooper on the wing led to a free-kick in a great position.
It was yet another brilliant delivery from Wallace onto the head of Rhodes who should’ve scored but Smithies someone stopped his effort with his feet. Luckily, everyone’s favourite Czech, Daniel Pudil was in the right place at the right time to carefully head over the helpless ‘keeper.
2-1. Careful sardine bedlam.
“We’re on our way” started up again, loud and proud and in unison.
Pudil is congratulated by his teammates
This stand was certainly a-rockin.
A couple of minutes later Rangers unleashed a secret weapon in the form of a huge throw into the box that was flicked on and was heading in until Westwood brilliantly tipped it over. 2-2 would’ve been ridiculous.
We made it to half time with a few more scares and a few more half chances for us but, importantly, we deserved the lead and we went into the break knowing we should create more chances in the second. Everyone was in agreement we needed another goal for that big fluffy safety cushion.
At half time we were treated to more Gerry Francis hair as he was interviewed on the pitch. “I was gonna get mooy Hoops shirt on!” I’d love to see him fight to get a modern day football jersey on – it’d be like a walrus trying to open a choc-ice.
HALF TIME: Rangers 1-2 Wednesday
QPR were out early for the second half.
They were doing that cone running thing that teams do that want to look prepared. To be fair they did start the second half better and got in our faces much earlier.
‘Olly brought on Lua Lua to close us down at the back giving Loovens less dilly-dally time.
In the space of a couple of minutes, both teams had reasonable penalty shouts.
First up Wallace found himself in space on the right wing. He fired in a cross and the ball clearly struck the QPR player’s hands, which he had out in front of him in an ‘unnatural position’.
It definitely fell into the ‘seen um given’ category and the ref took a long look at his assistant before deciding to play it safe and not give it. The resulting corner saw the completely unmarked Pudil head over.
It was Rhodes’ knockdown that was headed in by Pudil
Rangers’ penalty claim was also a ‘seen um given’ contender.
Westwood looked unsure of bouncing ball heading his way from the moment he left his line. He got himself in a bit of mess with Pudil and ended up poleaxing Jamie Mackie, the aforementioned Czech and possibly a steward – it was hard to see from where we were but it weren’t pretty.
We all held our breath but the ref saw it only as a corner.
We needed another half-time just to break up the play and to break up QPR’s dominance on the ball.
The clock continued to tick by and as it did the tension ramped up. It was awful. We weren’t clinging on ‘as such’ (aww Stuart Gray memories) but we were making it difficult for ourselves.
The key was, however, that we were making it more difficult for them. We barely saw the ball up our end in the second half but we defended like Mark Beevers as the Wednesday players ignored our pleas to “Get out!!”. They knew what they were doing – we didn’t.
It began to feel very much like the Barnsley game. They were getting half chances all over’t’shop but nothing to really write about. We had a golden chance after a poor clearance when Nuhiu played in Fessi, only for him to blast it at a defender’s leg when he really should’ve given it back to Big Atty to seal it.
Didn’t result in a goal this time
My legs were jelly, people had their hands on their head, arms out in desperation, head between their legs… it looked like a terrified ‘Heads shoulders knees and toes’ meeting in that pokey pokey stand.
82 minutes and Dad can’t take it anymore – he conveniently needs a trip to the Gents.I’m jealous. It was around this time that QPR had their best chance to
I’m jealous. It was around this time that QPR had their best chance to level of the half.
They brought on a big bugger in Matt Smith who’s marginally bigger than our biggest bugger, Atty. A cross came in almost in slow motion and I watched in horror as Loovens completely ignored his run across him and rise.
Noooooooooo! It looked a certain goal only for him to somehow put it wide. Brilliant. Thank you Matt Smith; you big useless tree.
No one enjoyed that second half apart maybe Nuhiu who for the second game running, played an absolute blinder, winning everything and dictating the pace of the game from up top.
Stoppage time now and I can barely look. Instead, I look over to the Sombrero man for some comedic relief. Annoyingly, he’s sat down. Rangers fire a shot over the bar. Weyyyyyyyy!
It’s still stoppage time… 92nd minute now. That Chicken Shwarma is starting to make my downstairs twitch.
We’re heading every ball. We’re kicking every ball. 3000 Wednesdayites are desperately trying to suck the ball towards the goal we’re attacking.
93rd minute. Some results are going our way, some aren’t. For the first time in history, someone actually made it past Semedo. Grown men are making noises akin to a heavily pregnant cow…
94th minute. There’s a few more heart in mouth snap shots before finally, mercifully, the referee gives 3 peeps on his whistle to send the sardines delirious.
FULL TIME: Rangers 1-2 Wednesday
Well done lads, this was a big one.
We dug in. We did what we needed to do.
A few of the players looked dead on their feet and have definitely earned a few days off and an Easter egg. There were great scenes at the end. The sense of relief was so loud as we showed our appreciation. It was the loudest ‘on our way’ had been all game and Nuhiu led Fessi and Bazza in that European hand waving thing. Great stuff.
On our way
Three games left and there’s clearly still a few twists and turns to be had.
Everyone knows everyone else’s run-in but it almost doesn’t matter as today’s stand out result shows at Elland Road. We’re quietly and confidently ticking the games off.
As a team and as a unit, we seem more assured this year. Disciplined would be the best way of describing us. That and ‘gritty’. It ain’t pretty but I’ll take gritty instead of pretty all day if it means getting to the top tier. Need Hillsborough rocking on Saturday once again to get them over the line.
Cracking away day. A full ‘day-out’ away day to the nation’s capital made all the sweeter by 3 beautiful nerve-shredding points… and a cheery opposition supporter in a Sombrero leading a one-man Mexican wave. Not a bad Easter at all.
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @tjchitt86