It was a most enjoyable brunch in Legends, many thanks to CND for the organisation. On the way back we couldn’t agree on the quickest way to walk back to Blackheath; I was adamant that going straight up Charlton Church Lane and turning right at the top was the best option, while the others were in favour of cutting across via the back streets, emerging on Charlton Road closer to The Standard.
We’re not going to agree and it’s difficult to work it out for sure without some sort of pedometer. One advantage of the direct route is that if a 54 comes along you can jump on it; if not you just keep going. The train is quickest, of course, but getting on the first one out isn’t easy and you can end up waiting for more than half an hour.
In between there was a football match. If you were there I wouldn’t bother to read on; you saw it. If you weren’t I still wouldn’t bother unless you want to ruin your Saturday. Best just look away and get on with something else. One team was determined, committed, missed several good chances (including a penalty), defended well (especially against an over-used long ball up the middle), and could have won more easily. It wasn’t us.
The line-up was not controversial. Grant Basey came in for his debut at the expense of Moutaouakil, Sodje got his start and Bougherra was the one to drop out. With no Todorov Varney moved back inside.
The first half was disappointing but not a disaster. For the first 10 minutes we hoofed it up at every available opportunity, QPR looked lively. But as the match progressed we started to stretch them, with Zhi and Sam starting to feature. Varney blazed over from a good position and then instead of shooting tried to play in Iwelumo. QPR had their moments too, but the feeling was that we should prove too good for them. The complaint was a lack of movement and the impression that only occasionally did we play at the tempo necessary to disrupt their defence.
At half-time Pardew made a change, with Thomas coming on for Semedo, with Reid moving inside. It was an aggressive move and I remember saying it looks like sh*t or bust.
If we needed a demonstration of what Semedo contributes to the team it came with a vengeance. Suddenly every ball they played forward saw us stretched; all the time it seemed to be one-on-one. We were being overrun and the back four couldn’t cope. It became near farcical as QPR missed glorious opportunities, not just the penalty. And each time we thought we might have weathered the storm something else went wrong. Finally it was a Weaver flap.
As on Tuesday night the game degenerated (from our perspective). Iwelumo had had a frustrating time against their centre-backs, in part due to the poor quality of endless balls pumped in his direction, and gave way for McLeod. Late on Sam, who had picked up a yellow card but had looked likeliest to get us back on level terms, went off for Racon. But by this stage QPR were fighting for every ball and running down the clock, while the agitated and frustrated crowd contributed to a draining of confidence on the part of players like Varney.
The positives? Basey looked accomplished and didn’t get fazed after being beaten once by their winger in the first half. He got forward to good effect and I thought looked the part. Sam was lively, although too many crosses were easy pickings for their goalkeeper. Semedo shone by showing what happens when he’s not on the pitch.
That’s it. Just about everyone else contributed to a lousy afternoon. Player ratings:
Weaver – 5. He was set to get close to man-of-the-match, keeping us in the game in the second half. Then he goes and flaps at a cross.
Mills – 5. Looked excellent (again) in the first half but went to pieces in the second. Was at fault for the penalty in getting caught out of position and not getting back, leaving Fortune exposed. Then almost gifted a goal trying to turn out of trouble in his own box. After that he looked tired and was regularly beaten.
Basey – 7. Put under pressure in the first half and generally came through well. Didn’t look nervous and went looking for the ball. Promising debut.
Sodje – 6. Didn’t seem to do anything wrong. But we lost and I’m not feeling generous.
Fortune – 5. Gave away the penalty.
Reid – 5. Not one of his better games. Didn’t penetrate in the first half and his move inside saw us overrun in the second.
Semedo – 7. Thought he was having a disappointing game, but what a difference when he went off!
Zhi – 6. Some good runs, a couple of shots. But no decisive contribution.
Sam – 7. Lively and looked our best bet during an awful second half.
Iwelumo – 5. Felt sorry for him given the quality of the service, but was well marshalled by their defence.
Varney – 5. Tried hard, but his miss in the first half (on his left foot) cost us dear.
What next? Don’t know. Maybe with two away games coming up it’s time for 4-5-1. It’s not as if we have three or four players clamouring for a start. And my glass is empty. There’s a whole week ahead for perspective. At least all I had to do was walk home.