Just Back On The Island… Boro

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Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by SM » Sun Sep 03, 2023 10:55 pm

Due to circumstances, I’ve not had a chance to sit down and write up a match report this season, so with the upcoming international break and buoyant mood heading back from the Riverside… I thought today was a good day to start.

Like many, I’ve been pretty scathing over much of what I’ve seen over the last few months, with QPR feeling more like a chore, a thing of duty, than anything resembling a sensible way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

For the most part, it’s been a hard, long, miserable slog.

Granted, we had our fleeting moments in the sun, the coupon-busting win against Burnley with us barely touching the ball - the gritty performance against Watford in W12 with 57 year old Chris Martin running the channels - but the over riding feeling on both was unadulterated relief, not enjoyment. And even then, we were soon bought hurtling back to earth by getting pulverised by the likes of Blackpool - my counsellor says it’s good to talk about it…

There was some heavy mitigation, 22/23 was a true ‘needs must’ situation with what I believed was an unmanageable, toxic dressing room, but you could only pray that we could show a more progressive brand of football whilst trying to survive this season.

The maulings at Oxford and Vicarage Road didn’t exactly whet the appetite for what we had ahead of us, but they always say it’s the hope that kills you, and we had a heavy dose injected straight into the veins at Cardiff - and the upturn since that glorious day in South Wales has been startling. For the first time in what seems forever, even in defeat, QPR have been playing some really decent football, and dare I say it, actually look a very capable side.

For me, we were good money for at least a point against both Ipswich and Southampton - and could easily have taken all six. That against two teams vying for promotion this season.

What lied in store against winless Boro was anyone’s guess, but we all know how these things usually play out against a side craving their first win and bang out of form… Roll up, roll up.

The early signs were fairly encouraging, with the blistering Paul Smyth carving out the first opening. After working the ball from the left hand side, Smyth was fed by Kakay with oceans of space to run into against the covering full-back. As Smyth skipped down the line, his body feint left the defender for dead and as Smyth darted forwards his cross come shot narrowly avoided Armstrong at the back post.

We weren’t going to have it all out own way though, and after closing high up the pitch, Boro worked an opening that saw the ball fed in behind Cook, their number 9, Latte Lath, was clear through with just Begovic to beat… his powerful drive cannoned off of Begovic’s outstretched leg and was eventually booted clear by Fox before any Boro player could follow-up on the rebound into the empty net.

With Boro growing in confidence, they again created an opportunity in near identical fashion. Again, the through ball was played in behind Cook’s right hand side, and this time Latte Lath opened his body up, but was again be beaten by Begovic who did brilliantly to not only save a near certain goal, but also retain possession by smothering the ball.

Next up, after Fox came out on the right side of a 50/50, the ball fell to Chair in the middle of the pitch, he took one touch and then floated a gorgeous cross field pass to Smyth who turned on the afterburners… His first touch was perfect, and he cut inside to see a combination of the covering defender and Dieng hook the ball clear of danger before he could follow-up.

What followed next… my goodness… just close the ‘goal of the season’ competition now. It’s over.

Chair was pinned around 35 yards from goal, he hopped left and right with two defenders covering him and knocked the ball to Colback whilst advancing into the area… Colback simply cushioned the ball into Dozzell’s path, who took one touch to set himself before launching an absolute ‘Grade A’ missile into the top left hand corner… Truly one for the ages, an absolute humdinger in every sense of the word(!!!).

The ball blasted off what remained of the crossbar and nestled beautifully into the back of the net. Ex-QPR Dieng reduced to his knees, Ainsworth chest-bumping everyone in sight… Some moment.

Boro 0 - 1 QPR

There was one final scare just before the end of the half… Howson had a free kick on the edge of the area, and his flighted cross was met by a Boro head… Begovic nervously parried the ball, which Kakay prodded clear just ahead of his oncoming man.

HALF TIME.

Latte Lath continued his man-to-man duel with Begovic a matter of minutes into the second half… But again, same result, with Begovic blocking the effort and keeping the score at 1-0.

We had a huge scare shortly after, and again had star-man Andre Dozzell to thank. From our own corner, the excellent Colback misjudged the ball, which saw two Boro players break at pace with only Dozzell to beat. The recovering Colback channeled his inner Gary O’Neil but his desperate swipe was unsuccessful… Leaving 3 Boro players to QPR’s 1 in Dozzell… After holding his position, Dozzell launched himself into a mammoth sliding tackle that hooked the ball clear of danger for what would doubtless have resulted in them drawing the score level.

In the same move, we went straight up the other end and played the ball in behind for Armstrong… He powered away from his marker, but the angle was too acute and his low drive was comfortably saved by Dieng in the Boro goal. It remained 1-0.

Smyth had been a constant threat on that right wing, and some terrific play from him effectively killed the game. He had no less than 3 men camped by him near that corner flag, but a combination of his pace and low centre of gravity somehow saw him wriggle his way through them all… His low driven cross was hooked clear by a flurry of recovering Boro defenders… It fell to Chair, who took a touch and then saw his near range effort rebound off the Boro CB… which only teed it up perfectly for Colback to blast home past the helpless Dieng.

2-0… Game over.

“Seny Seny give us a wave” immediately followed, but was completely ignored… So he was instead serenaded to “Seny Seny what’s the score” for a pre-longed spell as the clock ticked down.

Aside from one long-range effort comfortably tipped over the bar, Boro didn’t really lay a glove on us from here, and it was, for once, a comfortable end to a great day on the road.

PLAYER RATINGS

Begovic - Absolutely outstanding. Being harsh, his distribution was at times quite suspect, but the shot stopping was second to none. Way, way to good for this level when he performs like this. Played a huge part in getting the clean sheet.

Paal - You can eulogise about so many performances yesterday, and Paal was magnificent on the left. Rarely beaten defensively, and always an option on the overlap going forwards. Won a couple of crucial headers too. Back to his best here.

Fox - Have to say, had a big let off after one dreadfully poor touch gifted Boro possession. But was generally very comfortable alongside Cook/JCS.

Cook - The difference that he makes to the spine of this side behind Colback can’t be overstated. Reads the game superbly well and dominated in the air. Hoping his injury isn’t too serious.

Kakay - Will never be the greatest player in the world, but far more suited to one of a back 3 rather than FB or RB where he gets exploited. Battled really hard and generally decent in possession.

Smyth - I was delighted when we re-signed him, and he returns as a far far better player than the one that left a couple of years back. You need some serious legs to play this role in this side, and boy does he have them. He ran, and ran, and ran. Clearly getting fitter and fitter, and quality on the ball both with his direct running and final ball. It was really poor business releasing him, but outstanding business bringing him back. Absolutely puzzled how nobody else took a punt on him, especially at this age. Proving to be a key player in this side. A constant outlet.

Field - Will be relieved to finally have some decent cover and competition alongside him in Jack Colback. Defensively, we’ve been a one man midfield for far too long, but early signs of a really nice partnership building here. One typically crunching tackle in the second half. Didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon.

Colback - The Forest fans loved him, and it’s not hard to see why. He finished his goal brilliantly, but he got through so much unseen work, winning cheeky fouls and breaking up possession. An outstanding footballer. Takes a lot of heat off of Field as already mentioned.

Dozzell - Humble pie time. A lot of fans say he’s been ‘living off that pass’ against Cardiff for too long, but he can dine out on that goal for the remainder of his contract for all I care. What a hit. Whilst he gets the obvious plaudits for that moment of class, his work-rate and defensive work was impeccable. That goal saving lunge in the second half was game changing. He’s always looked such a light-weight player to me, but he came off looking like he had just completed a bout with Tyson Fury. Not expecting goals like this every week, but so refreshing to see him actually look like he was up for the fight rather than the casual style we’ve become accustomed to. MOTM. Well done Andre.

Chair - All eyes on him following the deadline day speculation, but absolutely no signs at all of having his head turned. He worked tirelessly throughout, and showed his quality on the ball on numerous occasions. Boro couldn’t touch him when in full flow. Revelled in the win.

Armstrong - Really stretched the back-line with his raw pace. You can see he’s being managed during the game so we can get maximum minutes of out of him at the moment. Would like to see a slightly more feral version once Dykes is back. Really doesn’t look at all out of place playing regularly at this level. You can see he’s enjoying his football, it’s written all over him.

Substitutes

JCS - As always, when you actually get him on the pitch he’s arguably our best CB. He was simply flawless yesterday. Strong, quick, supremely confident on the ball. Very good.

Kolli - A little dynamo upfront. I agree with Ainsworth when he talks about players ‘emptying the tank’ and Kolli just adds that youthful energy and desire when they naturally tire. Deceptively good in the air too.

Willock - A couple of very nice touches, but no time to make any real impact. Instructed by Ainsworth to come over and acknowledge the away fans, only a small thing but doubtless he’ll be leaving on a free in Jan / next summer.

Duke-McKenna / Larkeche - No time to make an impact.
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by WA Hoop » Mon Sep 04, 2023 12:50 am

Thanks SM, your 'Just Back On The Island' reports have been sorely missed.
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by BiscuitRanger » Mon Sep 04, 2023 5:01 am

Great to see you back on the board SM, and as always, an engrossing read.

You have a style that brings the game to life inside my old head. Vivid.
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by StevenageRanger » Mon Sep 04, 2023 7:00 am

Cheers SM. Thanks for the write up.

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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by 222gers » Mon Sep 04, 2023 8:24 am

Thanks a bunch SM. I was encouraged by your comments on JCS. I've been as scathing about him as any on here but it looks like he could be an asset.
D'you know, I'm not even sure if I've ever seen him play !

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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by Libertine » Mon Sep 04, 2023 9:34 am

That’s joyous reading SM, thanks matey.
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by SM » Mon Sep 04, 2023 2:41 pm

Thanks for the comments, I'm a bit rusty but will try and get round to it more after the International break! :oops: :lol:
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by SM » Mon Sep 04, 2023 2:47 pm

222gers wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2023 8:24 am
Thanks a bunch SM. I was encouraged by your comments on JCS. I've been as scathing about him as any on here but it looks like he could be an asset.
D'you know, I'm not even sure if I've ever seen him play !
You and me both 222gers.

I would always balance any good performances by him alongside the fact that he's never more than 5 minutes away from breaking down, but there's no question that he is absolute quality when fit.

Beale went on record as saying he's the best CB in the division on his day, I don't disagree with him.
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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by RogP » Mon Sep 04, 2023 6:12 pm

Hi SM
Have you though about combining you reports ilfrom a season nto a self-published pdf e.g on Amazon? I'd certainly buy a copy. Just a thought.
All the best Roger

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Re: Just Back On The Island… Boro

Post by SM » Mon Sep 04, 2023 9:34 pm

RogP wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2023 6:12 pm
Hi SM
Have you though about combining you reports ilfrom a season nto a self-published pdf e.g on Amazon? I'd certainly buy a copy. Just a thought.
All the best Roger
Thanks so much Roger, I’m glad you enjoy reading them!

Who knows… maybe if we ever got promoted again? :lol: :wink:
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