QPR had a successful night under the lights at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, to come back from a goal down to win 2-1 against local rivals Brentford.
At half time you would be forgiven (if you are a QPR fan) that we would experience yet another loss to Brentford. The signs were all there, Brentford had taken the lead with an almost identical goal to the one scored by Toney from the previous fixture. Dom Ball was charging around the pitch doing his best to be sent off after being carded in the 33rd minute. Simply put they were in control and we weren’t really doing anything. At half time our only chance of note was a good shot from Barbet which in the end was dealt with by Raya.
It seemed for all the world that they would comfortably grind out the win without themselves being fantastic. When Sam Field smashed the ball home I must admit to not really paying attention, I just didn’t see us getting something. Not because on the day we were so poor or because Brentford were so good, but more because neither side seemed interested in actually playing any sort of football that can be described as entertaining.
Regardless debutant Sam Field announced himself in the perfect way, coming on for Ball and providing much more quality and a steady hand in midfield. Again Chris Willock also came off the bench and massively influenced the game, especially for the first goal with a fine run to turn defence into attack. Which was swiftly followed by Ilias Chair’s second assist for the season, despite having a ludicrously high expected assist score.
For what it’s worth I thought at their place earlier in the season that the Brentford centre backs in the first half were all over the place until the introduction of Pontus Jansson. There was more evidence of this last night. This time however new signing Winston Reid played instead of Ethan Pinnock, a decision that split opinion amongst Brentford fans on Twitter. Regardless Brentford didn’t clear their lines when given multiple opportunities to do so for both goals. There would then be a ruthless side shown by this QPR side that I don’t think we’ve seen at all this year. Both Field and Austin capitalised on poor defending and a lack of conviction in the attempted Brentford clearances. These were two goals that were similar to the ones we were conceding earlier in the season, weak clearing headers, letting the ball bounce in the box and just generally not being aware of what’s happening.
Whilst there was poor defending on show from Brentford our build up for both goals was fantastic. Todd Kane continued his resurgence as first choice right back with a beautiful cross field Hollywood pass for Lee Wallace to run onto and pick out of the air in a wonderfully unexpected nonchalant fashion and then cut it back just in time for Austin’s to slot home. Wallace also managed to do that whilst being sandwiched by two Brentford players, he is one of many players who has improved massively over recent weeks.
After the second goal, I was expecting wave after wave of Brentford attack which surprisingly ended up not coming. Let’s not forget they were trying to prove that the defeat to Barnsley was a slight blip and come the end of the season something to be forgotten. This just didn’t seem to be the case with no real urgency from Brentford all evening, apart from maybe the very early exchanges. It was like they just expected to win and at some point QPR would gift them a chance.
Instead no real chance came until the very last minutes which was effectively dealt with. There was no bombardment of Seny Dieng’s goal and actually what I witnessed was a QPR side use game management successfully. It was 15-20 minutes where everything seemingly went our way, we won dubious fouls to halt their advances and time wasted to levels that Preston would be proud of. It was brilliant to see this team finally have a bit of awareness. This is obviously something that the new signings have brought in. Austin again last night was in the right place at the right time to score, but he was also our most vocal player he was really gobby, something we really lack. Stefan Johansen too a player who I’ve been frustrated with when he played against us because of all these little tricks he does getting in the referee’s ear, professional fouls and just beating a general nuisance. Reading about the things said after the game by our players regarding Brentford falling at the final hurdle last season and Cameron’s comments about red wine, I can’t help but be really happy with it. Brentford may get very holier-than-thou but they get dirty when they want to. Consistently they have been more interested in winning these games recently, and if last night something clicked in our lads heads that made them just a little bit more nasty then that’s brilliant.
So following this great win there will be debates to be had over who should start against Bournemouth and just how far we can climb up the table. But for me I just want to enjoy the result and not think about these other issues till about 1:59pm this coming Saturday. I saw a Brentford fan tweet a few weeks back that Brentford were saving his mental health, I’m definitely not taking the piss out of this I think all fans feel a bit like that now. Football can act as a distraction from the horrible realities that are entrenched in our everyday lives. I certainly needed that win last night, to see us not play excellent yet pick up another win against a top side was amazing. For us to be resilient and get this immensely satisfying win in a London derby truly made my day. This I’m sure will be a game we remember for quite some time, maybe we should stop showing that Bircham goal now?