An away point masks a woeful Rangers display !
21/10/08 @ 7.45pm
A good defensive display by QPR cannot hide the fact that the team were bereft of ideas in midfield and failed to create any chances of note. After Swansea City lost their goalkeeper to a Martin Rowlands challenge midway through the first half, Rangers failed to test the Swans` stand-in goalkeeper, defender Alan Tate. The only real chance came from a Buzsaky free kick midway through the second half, but there was little creativity from a midfield dubbed the best midfield in the world by Rs` fans earlier in the season.
Although the official statistics suggest that the Swans had 51% of possession to Rangers` 49%, it would be more accurate to say that Swansea had at leaset 80% of the attacking play! However, they failed to make anything of their superior advantage as their midfield created opportunity after opportunity only to come up against a solid Rangers` back four. On the occasions they breached the defence, the Swans failed to keep their shots on target or they were easily dealt with by Radek Cerny.
Dowie made one change from the team which beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Balanta made way for Mahon as Dowie reverted to 4-5-1, with Blackstock playing in the lone striker role once again. Mahon resumed his role as defensive midfielder whilst Balanta reverted to the bench. Pre-match worries about Fitz Hall`s state of health proved unfounded as he resumed his partnership with Stewart in central defence, at the expense of Matt Connolly, who also reverted to the bench. Parejo came back into the squad, as a substitute; but, once again, there was no place for Patrick Agyemang. The most noticeable change was the presence of Jake Cole as substitute goalkeeper - following the departure of Lee Camp to Nottingham Forest on loan.
Martinez made one change to the Swans` side that drew at Ipswich on Saturday with Jason Scotland replacing Gorka Pintado in attack. Thomas Butler passed a late fitness test and kept his place amongst the substitutes. Orlandi failed to overcome the thigh injury which kept him out of the Swan`s side that drew with Ipswich.
Kick off: Swansea City v Queens Park Rangers
The real talking point of the first half has to be the injury to Swansea City`s goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, following a heavy challenge by Martin Rowlands. Rowlands had the right to go for what was effectively a 50-50 ball, but his efforts resulted in De Vries being stretchered off. Rowlands received a yellow card for unsporting behaviour. To make matters worse for the home side, they didn`t have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench and had to rely on defender Alan Tate to step up and put on the goalie`s jersey.
His sojourn in goal, in the first half, was not too difficult however, as Rangers` attacks failed to materialise. Rather, it was the home side who had the better of the first half, both in terms of possession and shots on goal.
Blackstock had an early chance after about five minutes, connecting with a Buzsaky cross but he placed his header wide of the goal. Within a couple of minutes, however, Swansea City had had their own chance. Gomez won a free-kick about 20-yards out, after good work by Mark Gower down the left; but Gomez`s shot went over the cross-bar.
That seemed to be the pattern of the first half, with the Swans having the majority of the possession but failing to make anything of it. Most of their shots were either high and wide, or deflected away from goal by a solid QPR defence. Towards the end of the half, Bodde had a good chance from a Marcos Painter cross; but in the pattern of the half, his shot was just wide of Cerny`s goal.
QPR went in at the break 0 - 0 but having had two other players join Rowlands in the referee`s book. Both Delaney and Buzsaky received yellow cards for heavy challenges in what seemed a rather physical half. Jordi Gomez seemed to be the player who had been identified by the players as the "one to watch'!!
Half time: Swansea City 0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Within the first minute of the 2nd half it was clear that the pattern of the first half was set to be repeated as the Swans won an early free kick. It was taken by Bodde but he sent it straight to Cerny.
Soon after, Leigertwood was booked for unsporting behaviour as he squared up to Gomez. That made four QPR players now in the referee`s book!
As in the first half, Rangers` defence continued to hold firm in the face of constant Swansea pressure. Despite early shots by Gomez and Pratley, which were well caught by Radek Cerny, the Swans still couldn`t make anything of their superior possession.
For all the good work of the Rs` defence, the midfield and attack were having a very quiet time. In the first twenty minutes of the second half, QPR had not tested Tate in the Swans` goal once. Dowie recognised the lack of offence and brought Daniel Parejo on after 15 minutes for Martin Rowlands. This was followed, after 20 minutes, with Emmanuel Ledesma coming on for Lee Cook.
After about 20 minutes, the Rs fans started singing loudly as Buzsaky took a free-kick following a foul on Parejo by Ferrie Bodde. However, Tate was equal to the task and cleared the ball with relative ease. Parejo himself may have given the Rs fans something to really cheer about a few moments later, when he volleyed a shot towards goal. However, a deflection killed the velocity on the ball and it ended up trickling wide of the goal. Soon after that, Stewart became the fifth Ranger`s player to receive a yellow card!
With a little over 10 minutes left, Scotland let fly a shot which hit the post, after Ramage had unwittingly fed him the ball in the area. Cerny didn`t know too much about the shot, although he did dive for it. Shortly afterwards, Dowie made his third change, swapping Peter Ramage for Matthew Connolly. Dowie was clearly worried that Mark Gower was making too many inroads down the right.
Within a couple of minutes of coming on, though, Connolly found himself in the referee`s book for a challenge on Leon Britton - the sixth player in what was not really a bad-tempered match! Certainly, there were some niggledy fouls committed throughout by the Rangers` players, some of which were unnecessary. And there were, in fairness, a few tasty fouls on midfielder Jordi Gomez, who was replaced by Thomas Butler in the 90 minute.
A rare foray into the Swans` goal area saw Blackstock stretching for the ball but Tate easily came to claim it. And, on 89 minutes, Delaney had a faint chance from 35 yards out, but his shot flew over the bar. The game then petered out in similar fashion to the rest of the 90 minutes, as Swansea huffed and puffed but could not find a way to blow the Rangers` defence down. They thought they might be in with a shout for a last minute penalty as the ball hit Delaney`s arm but the referee said no and awarded a corner instead. Rangel skyed the incoming corner over the cross-bar and that was that!
It was a very good defensive display by QPR but the same cannot be said about the forward play. We rarely ventured very far into the Swans` half and failed to win much possession off Swansea. Swansea seemed to have as much as 80% of possession (if not more) and certainly had the territorial advantage, but couldn`t translate that advantage into goals.
QPR will definitely have come away from the game the happier having taken a point from a side who remain unbeaten at home, but this good away point should not detract from what was another poor performance from the team as a whole. Swansea will leave wondering what they had to do to score!
As a final thought, Rowlands` first half challenge on Dorus De Vries left the goalkeeper with a fractured cheekbone.
Final whistle: Swansea City 0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City:De Vries (Tate 28), Williams, Painter, Monk, Rangel, Bodde, Britton, Pratley, Gower, Gomez (Butler 90), Scotland
Rangers:Radek Cerny, Damian Delaney, Damion Stewart, Gavin Mahon, Fitz Hall, Mikele Leigertwood, Dexter Blackstock, Akos Buzsaky, Martin Rowlands (Daniel Parejo 59), Peter Ramage (Matthew Connolly 80), Lee Cook (Emmanuel Ledesma 65)
Radek Cerny - 6/10
Damian Delaney - 6/10
Damion Stewart - 6/10
Fitz Hall - 6/10
Peter Ramage - 5/10
Gavin Mahon - 6/10
Martin Rowlands - 3/10
Akos Buzsaky - 6/10
Mikele Leigertwood - 4/10
Lee Cook - 5/10
Dexter Blackstock - 4/10
Daniel Parejo - 5/10
Tried to change things round when he came on, although his first act was to conceded a free kick. He did manage one shot that trickled past the post, but otherwise didn't make the hoped-for impact on the game.
Emmanuel Ledesma - 4/10
Was largely anonymous in a midfield woefully short on ideas.
Matthew Connolly - 4/10
Didn't have much time on the pitch although managed to get himself booked with virtually his first touch of the ball.
I think I am being generous. Whatever game plan Dowie had prepared it clearly did not include attacking, although, on paper the team should've been able to carve out good chances. He failed to take advantage of a rookie defender in goal from midway through the first half, by sticking to the same game plan and not adapting it to the changed circumstances. Does this suggest he is incapable of being spontaneous or able to respond to altering circumstances?
He cannot be faulted for his side's inability to score on a night when his team did everything right - except put the ball in the net! Martinez clearly sent out a side he believed could pick up all three points - and but for a lack of cutting edge up front, they certainly would have.
Although the game didn't appear to be a nasty or bad-tempered affair, he managed to book six Rangers' players. Although some of the fouls may have been unnecessary he appeared rather fond of his whistle, seeming to blow up for every little thing. Perhaps he was a little too fussy but we've had worse!