A disappointing week for United continued with a lacklustre performance which barely merited a point against an enterprising QPR side. As expected, Rafa changed almost the entire starting line up from the Oxford debacle, with only Perez and Hayden remaining and we came flying out of the blocks with a goal inside the opening 40 seconds.
Gouffran saw played a nice ball inside the box to Murphy and he held off his man to get a shot away with the rebound falling perfectly on the half volley for Shelvey to hammer home just inside the area. Had the goal come any later in the half, then you’d have to say it was against the run of play because Rangers went on to completely dominate the half as we put in a lethargic display. Shortly after the goal, there was a nasty clash of heads that saw Clark and Mackie both bleeding and requiring attention but both could continue. We barely got a look in as the visitors poured forwards. Darlow saw a shot go just wide before Wszolek got in behind the back line. Had he squared the ball along the floor, Washington would have had a tap in but he inexplicably lifted his ball across the box and we were able to scramble clear.
Darlow was then called into action again, making a smart stop which thankfully fell to a R’s player in an offside position with the goal gaping and time and time again, we gave the ball away to the opposition with sloppy, almost lackadaisical play. Lascelles in particular had an absolute shocker and I don’t know whether it is lack of focus or nerves with the lad, but he just didn’t look switched on at all. We looked like we were going to ride our luck to half time but conceded just before the interval. Again we switched off in defence and a daisy cutter from outside the box was seized upon by Washington, who stabbed home despite a desperate lunge from Clark.
The second half started no better, as Dummett spooned a long ball in the air straight into the path of Wszolek, forcing Darlow to make a good stop with his legs. This time it very much was against the run of play when we took the lead again with ten minutes of the half gone. Yedlin nipped into the box to feed Hayden and he stood up a ball to the back post for Matt Ritchie to leap up and head back across the goal and past the keeper. I though Ritchie tried very hard tonight and was our best player. Of a poor bunch mind. Shortly after the goal, Shelvey got involved in a tangle with the bandaged Mackie near the centre circle, which incensed the striker, who seemed to intimate that he’d been stamped on. Whether or not the tackle inflicted any damage, Shelvey needs to wise up in these situations, although all evidence suggests he’s not going to.
The goal finally roused us though and we had by far our best passage of play over the next twenty minutes and should have wrapped the match up. Perez, who looks shot to bits was the culprit twice and on each occasion he made completely the wrong decision. Firstly, he was played in on goal but chose to fire at the keeper’s legs rather than square to Ritchie for a tap in and then minutes later in a similar position, chose to balloon a pass to no-one when a shot would have been much the better option. He needs a rest from the team, badly. Gouffran came close and was only denied by a fine stop from the keeper after being teed up by Hayden but just when it looked like we’d ground out a win, calamity struck and Rangers equalised on the 90th minute.
A returning Lua Lua the Junior played a nondescript ball into the box but a breakdown in communication saw Clark glance a backwards header straight over the onrushing Darlow into the net at the Leazes. Terrible goal to concede but in all honesty, QPR would have felt extremely hard done by to come away with nowt. They almost did though with nearly the final kick of the game but Gouffran’s effort was turned just wide by Diame in front of goal and both teams had to settle for a point.
Something doesn’t feel quite right. Rafa’s post match Press conference hinted at misgivings of the club’s effort in the transfer window and on the pitch, the team certainly don’t look themselves. Derby on Saturday is a massive game for us – they’re on a roll, McLaren will want to stick one up us after a (mutually) unhappy time up here and for all that we’ve still got a bit of breathing space, the chasing pack which includes our visitors this weekend are all gaining ground. I’ll not be sad to see the back of the last few days, for fucks sake let’s get it right this weekend eh lads?
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow 6, Yedlin 6, Lascelles 3, Clark 6, Dummett 6, RITCHIE 7, Hayden 5, Shelvey 6, Gouffran 4, Perez 3 (Diame n/a), Murphy 4 (Ameobi 5)
Ref – Robinson – 7 – Thought he reffed it sensibly on the whole and certainly wasn’t helped by his linesmen, who were both absolutely shite.
Our Fans – 5 – Decent in patches but groaning with every misplaced pass and the boos at the end..well, where do you start?
Their Fans – 5 – Hardly any in at the start but filled up a bit and they were alright for a midweek trip
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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