A result that feels like a sucker punch to me and probably to many other fellow Rangers fans. It’s never a nice place to go for us is Ewood Park. We never seem to get a result and Saturday was unfortunately no different.
The team selection for today’s game was dominated by news that Bright had apparently picked up an injury against derby and therefore was unavailable for selection, certainly isn’t the news that you want to wake up to on a miserable Saturday morning! One change from Derby and of course it was the forced one. However seeing Dom Ball coming into the side to replace BOS was certainly a strange one. Many fans found it slightly puzzling with why Chris Willock, who had shown plenty of promise midweek wasn’t brought in as a direct swap for BOS. A question that I mirrored also, I am very much a fan of Ilias Chairs ability, but definitely not as a winger. His lack of pace and strength just isn’t suited to playing wide and his ability to link midfield and attack is wasted out wide.
The first half started with pace and intent form the hosts, young Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott proved a very tough task for young Nico and he got on the ball early and looked dangerous for rovers. The form player in the league Adam Armstrong also stared with confidence and Blackburn certainly looked the better of the sides in the first 15 minutes. Nothing clear-cut for either side however, which was one positive that we could take form an otherwise slow start to the game. Although back to the negatives of the half, Todd Kane found himself in the referees book early in the piece for a slight brush on Armstrong when he was beginning to break, and then that man Armstrong pulled off a lovely nutmeg on Dickie who then brought him down for another yellow. The first chance of the half fell to Blackburn as another lapse in concentration from a corner led to a Darragh Lenihan free header which was put just over the bar. A let off and maybe the kick up the Rrrs that we needed! Or maybe it wasn’t. An inability to feed Dykes with any sort of service was another common theme and the game had quickly settled into a pattern of one-way traffic. Then came a personal highlight of the game for me. Another piece of sleepy set piece defending and surprise, surprise another Lenihan free header. Just as you think its 1-0 to Blackburn in comes Super Seny Dieng with a stupendous save. I honestly think it’s one of the best I’ve seen for Qpr. A super save and somehow its still 0-0. The waves of attack didn’t let up from rovers and the rest of the half was spent defending and not defending very well in truth. Hamalainen was beaten too easily on a couple of occasions down the left and that lead to a few more chances for Armstrong, none of which were taken. Going forward Adomah again seemed our only bright spark and when he gets full match fitness I look forward to seeing him produce. As the half time whistle blew I certainly breathed a huge sigh of relief, how we weren’t losing the game I don’t know, well actually I do, A Dieng masterclass and Blackburn forgetting how to finish. Bar a couple of decent individual first half performances from the aforementioned Dieng and Adomah, as well as an honourable mention to Geoff Cameron who I thought played pretty well in the first half, we were awful. But it was 0-0, we had something to build on and we hadn’t been punished for it.
Two changes were made by Warbs at half time, one of which can only be attributed to Adomahs match fitness as he made way for Chris Willock and a change of system was evident when Ozzy Kakay replaced Dom Ball. Again I slightly feel for Dom as he flogs his pan every time he sees grass for us, however I just feel like a midfield of him and Geoff Cameron really does lack forward thinking quality and guile to feed Dykes with adequate service. The second half started brightly as our best chance from open play fell to Todd Kane, who really should have hit the target when Chair picked him out. He hit the post and then 3 minutes later we were made to pay for it, a short corner was nodded down and volleyed home by Brereton. A smart finish but again we switched off from a set piece and found ourselves paying the price for it. At 1-0 down we have usually dropped our heads and let games pass us by however, we seemed to actually use said goal as motivation for the first time. For the next 10 minutes the one way traffic had totally reversed and we were all of a sudden dominant in the game, a well worked short corner led to a top corner bound barbet strike being blocked wide and Chris Willock drove us forward with his Eze like dribbling. A goal looked inevitable and shockingly it was form the penalty spot. WE GOT A PENALTY, HOW IRONIC. A closeline from rovers’ gk Kaminsky to the face of Dickie was something out of the wwe. Dykes thundered home and we were level. We all of a sudden looked favourites to win the game. A great drive and shot from Willock forced Kaminsky into action and we camped inside rovers’ half. But as many Qpr fans know it’s the hope that kills you. A swift perfectly executed counter attack from Blackburn and its 2-1 out of nothing. That man Armstrong who couldn’t find a way past Dieng in the first half had on this occasion. That really did seem to take all the wind out of our sails, Mac Bonne, who had replaced Dykes, then spent the next 20 minutes on a desert island without a rangers player in sight as we lacked cutting edge, that is apart from Chris Willock, who in his best performance for rangers was agonisingly wide with a speculative curling effort. But overall in the last 15 minutes we never looked like equalising. And when Armstrong ran through to seal the game for Blackburn it was all over.
Overall a strange game, one which the first half performance was in no way deserving of being level at half time, however in the half that we actually conceded the goals we played much better, I’m not saying that we deserved to win the game or that we were unlucky, it just feels that way due to the way it ended. Overall the harsh reality that we need to wake up to is that we are a lower mid table side and we will turn in poor performances on occasion, hopefully we can grow as a squad and look to find abit more consistency after the international break. COYRS
Written by Tom Ward