Queens Park Rangers 1 (Wells 20)
Leeds United 0
Where do we start? Well, that’s two cup finals played and two lost! Eighteen to go. I was convinced that the only acceptable result today was a Leeds win – and it didn’t really matter how it came about. We had to put a good result on the board to end a poor and wasteful run of six league games during which, well as we’ve usually played, the results just have not been good enough and it was killing our momentum. We needed the win to show that all was well and to boost confidence. We needed the win to maintain that gap to 3rd which, whatever anyone says, will play on the minds of players and fans alike - the more that gap shrinks the greater the pressure to get a decent result and the more doubts are in the head. We needed that win to get this ridiculous ‘games in London’ monkey off our backs. We messed up. No two ways about it and we messed up due to issues that we’ve known about all season and which, I for one, am getting tired of writing about.
There is nothing anyone can do about a referee and liner missing such obvious handballs that under the new rules should have meant the Nahki Wells goal was struck off. That is one for the EFL to look at again and send us another apology and get referee Bankes on a refresher or an eyesight test. Oh, and for anyone still opposed to VAR…. No nothing we could do about that.
But that ‘illegal’ goal being allowed is not the reason we lost this game. This was another game that we did more than enough groundwork in to win comfortably, even with the ever present likelihood of a ridiculous refereeing decision. We outshot the home team by 17 to 9, forced 11 corners to their 4 and, as always, bossed the possession to the tune of 65%. It is worth noting though that the referees performance was absolute pants – and we’ve seen some poor ones again this season! How, for example, is it that the QPR keeper did not at least get booked for the felling of Bamford? Some around me were of the opinion he should have been sent off never mind yellow carded. There was the goal of course and then there were examples where almost identical infringements were treated in completely different ways – sometimes a booking, sometimes not! And what happened when Bankes appeared to order a Ranger’s sub to leave the pitch by the shortest route and then merely shrugged as the player ignored him and trooped off towards the half-way line. The referee was weak and inconsistent.
But, as I say, the referee was not the reason we lost the game. We lost because Patrick Bamford yet again failed to convert a one on one situation in the first half and a penalty in the second half. I’ve lost count of the number of times Bamford has messed up one on one chances like this; I know there have been four or five, mainly early in the season and of course he’s also missed a penalty already this season. This has been going on too long and it is now costing us dearly. What it must be doing for the players’ confidence goodness only knows. I appreciate that, at this moment, he is the only striker Bielsa feels able to put in his match day squad but surely this cannot be allowed to carry on. Forget all the ‘he works hard closing down’ rubbish, the man is a number ‘9’ he’s supposed to be a goal scorer. He is not. I can only think that his own confidence is now rock bottom and , for me, he does not play against Millwall, whether or not we have brought in a new face by then. Quite why the club allows a man so obviously short of confidence and goals to take a penalty again, I can only wonder… and yes, I know Pablo and Klich have missed this season as well.
So, where does all that leave us? Well, daft as it sounds, still in a great position – 4 points ahead of our nearest automatic promotion rivals. OK, if Forest win their two games in hand that cushion may only be 2 points but even that leaves it in our hands with a trip to Forest looming on 8th Feb. So, all is not lost, poor as these recent results have been, and remember, we are still playing most aspects of the game well and generally look strong in games. The answer has to lie in getting in some reinforcements! We need a goal scorer and we need him in the side for that Millwall game, with or without Bamford alongside him. It is the one thing threatening to destroy our season and with it possibly any chance of promotion for the foreseeable future as we all know it will be a case of starting from scratch again if we miss out this time. In the meantime, we are hopefully spending all of our waking hours on target practise and maybe getting more out of those corners. We can still do this Leeds, but not if we don’t change something. Plan A is not working and these players are not capable of doing Plan A any better than they are…crikey, Bielsa told us they couldn’t last Summer! Over to you Victor.
Q.P.R. Leeds Utd
Possession 35% 65%
Shots 9 17
On Target 2 3
Corners 4 11
Fouls Committed 17 11