RAMBLE | QPR 3 – 0 Wednesday

RAMBLE | QPR 3 – 0 Wednesday

Watching the game on Friday night was hard work. Middlesbrough and their twelve men (the twelfth was the bloke in blue and white stripes who kept giving them the ball to them with such precision and regularity) were bigger than us, more organised than us and taught us a lesson. Yes we rallied towards the end and had a few decent chances in the first half, but they beat us without ever getting out of first gear. Hopefully this is served as much as a wakeup call for us as much as the Brentford debacle did in August. However, we move on to a trip to QPR.

 

I always look forward to my trips to Loftus Road. A tight ground, some decent boozers and one of my best mates is a QPR fan so it is a good chance to catch up with him. I have been to this ground many times but haven’t seen anything better than a draw. I missed the 2-1 win here a few years ago due to work commitments. Last year here was a disaster. Three gifted goals in eight minutes early in the first half and one of the most blatant penalties you will ever see gave the home side a four-goal lead. Cue horrific goal music again and again and again. Despite a late push, it was a pretty dire night and hopefully the players remember that this time around.

Don’t look!

One of the most hilarious photographs of all time took place in this ground. Picture the scene; Wednesday are two up and cruising on Easter Monday 2009. Our players are more or less on the beach. Cue the capitulation. QPR pull two goals back and throw the kitchen sink at us. A late corner comes in from the right and big Damion Stewart climbs high to head home past Lee Grant at the far post. Needless to say, we were not happy about this. As we trudged out of the ground, I was enraged how bad we played. Looking back at the post-match reports, a photographer caught the moment when Stewart headed home the winner. However, my eyes were drawn towards the top left-hand corner. Seriously, WTF?????  I now look back at that game and think just of this ridiculous image and thankfully not the result.

 

On to the game. Just before I left from work, I got a call from Matt who said it’s probably best to meet in Shepherd’s Bush instead of central London. Remembering there’s no westbound train available at my stop, I jump on a bus to Chancery Lane and head towards deepest, darkest west London. I see another mate, Chris, emerging from the tube escalator. Behind him is Matt and his mate Matt (I guess like the Two Ronnies, but without the hysterical comedic chemistry) literally straight behind him. I greeted Chris and immediately introduced him to the two Matts. We waltzed on down to the Brewdog pub where I’d reserved a table.

 

Boozer

We started supping. In came Maurits, the Dutch Owl, who has a look of Joost Van Aken, as far as height and his blond barnet goes – in fairness, he’s probably fitter than his countryman although this this isn’t exactly hard. He’d been at Bristol to break his Wednesday winning virginity and was in good spirits. More beers flowed. And the odd buffalo chicken burger too. In came more Owls. Another Chris, Craig, Phil… Beastie arrived after a day of looking at paint splats in the Tate Modern with some fella I wasn’t introduced to and some other bloke with his young lad. It was a good laugh and we all got on royally. A third Matt couldn’t get in because he was wearing colours and vanished into the night, never to be seen again. In came the teamsheeet and there was a bit of discussion with the omissions of Matt Penney and Tom Lees. I, in fact, was delighted they were missing, both were diabolical against ‘Boro. I got laughed at for saying I’d rather have Fox and Pudil in but what can you do? I like how Jos will take out underperformers. But the manager should have dropped Joao too who was at his lethargic best on Friday. I’m not a huge Lees fan at the best of times – I find him a bit too meek while Penney was perhaps believing his own hype on Friday and he got found out big time. Hopefully the social media trolls and keyboard warriors would have egg on their faces. Won’t be the first time…

 

We leave the comfy surrounds of the pub and walked down the backstreets to get to the ground. In hindsight, we should have stayed put.

 

THE MATCH

 

We got in just after kick off. There wasn’t a great atmosphere in the Wednesday end and something I’ve noticed a lot since Luhukay’s arrival. We were situated right on the touchline, with a brilliant view of the pitch in this cosy ground.

Great view

First few minutes were pretty even with nothing to separate the sides but on 15 minutes, Bannan gave it away to Ebere Eze but Dawson saved comfortably. Things were starting to heat up, with both teams trying to turn the screw. Pudil made a great tackle on Tomer Hemed after 20 which could have resulted in the Brighton loanee giving the home side the lead.

 

Wednesday then had a great spell of possession where Baker had a chance to feed captain Bannan from the edge of the area but the Scot fired wide. A loose pass also found its way to Joao, who played it to Nuhiu but Lumley saved comfortably to his right.

 

Then things started to go stagnant. Bannan was running around in circles and his distribution seemed to get worse and worse. Mistakes in possession were creeping in again. Out of the blue on 35 minutes, Hector couldn’t clear, QPR got into the area and Pawel Wszolek fired towards goal. Dawson parries and Hemed has the easiest goal he will score who stooped low to head home. Cue annoying goal music. Cue Wednesday fans moaning about static defending. And damn right they do. A gift. With hindsight, Dawson could have dealt with the initial shot better but the way we gave it away in the build-up was criminal.

 

Shortly after, the QPR version of the much-mangled Wednesday band starts piping up. He’s there with his horns, his Moroccan flag and his sombrero hat giving the Owls fans everything. The fella started to chant about Middlesbrough and Derby while looking at the travelling fans with a sarcastic, sometimes smiley face. The bloke was an irritant despite meaning no harm. Fortunately for him, there’s a long way to go until he displaces Boris Johnson, Paul Hewson and Jeremy Clarkson on my punch list.

 

It was a poor first half with about five minutes of positives. Bannan was giving the ball away way too often, Joao wasn’t holding it up and I think I had more touches than Reach even by sitting in the upper tier. Let’s get a pee and a beer in the world’s most compact concourse. No pies were available. This left the towering Maurits hungry and a tad confused.

 

A slow start to the second half was brought into life ten minutes after the restart when Joao hit the outside of the post with a header – this was a turning point.

 

Soon after this near miss, a simple bit of slight pressure from QPR on 57 resulted in a pass to the right-hand side of the box, in came the cross from Wszolek and Luke Freeman, with the freedom of Loftus Road, headed back beyond Dawson into the top left-hand corner to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Absolutely gifted, again. Sunday league defending, again. Yet more fucking annoying goal music, again.

No penalty?!

Wednesday had a reaction when the impressive Onomah played it across but Nuhiu was too slow to react – corner. Which came to squat.

 

Fans were getting frustrated. Rightly so. Some were even crying for someone called Neweh to win the ball, although I haven’t got a clue who said player is. In fairness, Nuhiu was having a poor game, as was his partner in crime Joao. One of the Two Matts and myself were calling Nuhiu ‘David’, as I am sure his mother only called him that when he was naughty, or disappointed her in some way.

 

Wednesday had a penalty shout as Pudil went down and there was blood streaming from his face but nothing was given. It looked like he was gearing up for Halloween. I don’t know if it was a pen or not to be honest. Jordan Thorniley came on for him. Not Tom Lees.

 

At 2-0 down, we sprung to life for a few brief minutes. Good work from Joao, finally on 67 minutes, gave the ball to Reach and with his first telling contribution of the game, he shot just wide. QPR responded with some good football and Dawson made a smart save.

 

Substitution time. Joao and Pelupessy left the field for Penney and Fletcher on 74. Lucas looked like he’d taken a knock. He didn’t exactly get a rapturous reception as he walked off the pitch via the scenic route along the touchline. Fletcher forced Lumley into a decent save low down to his right soon after his arrival but it was all academic.

QPR fans had a good night

As the game was drawing to a close and what little fight we had left had vanquished, after a series of disallowed fouls, Hector again was too elaborate, got easily dispossessed and Nahki Wells, on as a late sub, was there to fire confidently past Dawson for obviously his first goal in about 18 months. We left on 88. I’m sure all we missed was more misplaced passing and players not giving options off the ball. The movement throughout the game was best described as statuesque. I thought last season was bad. This was worse.

 

After the game we trudged back to White City in order to make our way back to central London. The discussion was trying to unpick what just happened. Was the manager at fault? Were the players at fault? At the end of the day, we were dire and everyone takes blame from the coaching staff to the players. According to my QPR mate, he said it’s the best they’ve played all season. I told him that you couldn’t play us every week, as much as he’d like to.

 

We venture to the Argyle Arms, a lovely boozer near Oxford Circus, to discuss the game and drink ourselves silly to forget about it. The Two Matts are there, as is Maurits, Craig, Chris as well as Beastie and his art-loving friend. After piecing apart the match, we talked about how we came to love this great club of ours. Stories of fathers talking a child to a game; how one found us after a stint of radio reporting, one reminiscing how they randomly went to a game during the snooker championships. We talked about our highs, lows and amusing moments. Screw the result, this club has brilliant folk who follow it and come together though all walks of life. This made me cheer up no end. The performance and result may not have been what we wanted, but the companionship was great and that’s all you need. A win for your football team is just an added bonus. Never forget that.

Andy

Owls Alive

Email: owlsalive@gmail.com

Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @andymcelwaine

Images: swfc.co.uk or personal unless stated otherwise


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