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It's Character Forming

ICF's QPR match report

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Another ticket and another train journey to London - 5th of the season so far for me and another yet to come with our final trip down to the capital at Arsenal. It''s that time of the season when you''re suddenly starting the final run in, and I realised that after today''s game there are only 6 away games left. Also the next time we play away from FCR is the trip to old Trafford at the start of March.

On the train I couldn''t help musing that if life were directed by Stephen Spielberg, this game would see their overpaid mercenaries take the lead against our side, which has clawed its way up the leagues by honest effort rather than splashing the cash, but one of their mercenaries would lose his head and get sent off, leading to an epic fight back by City to win. But we got that script last year so it would be greedy to expect a repeat.

Anyway, the team was our strongest 11 with Ruddy & Whittaker injured, IMO :

Defence - Bunn, Garrido, Bassong, Turner, R Martin

Midfield - BJ, Tettey, Snoddy, Pilks, Hoolahan,

And of course Holt up front.

New signings Becchio and Camp were on the bench.

City started brightly with good passing and a few minutes in a cross by Snoddy was nearly met by Hoolahan with a near post flick but it was well over. Then Qpr came back as taraabt was able to come away with the ball in midfield twice when City should have won it and got shots away both time, the first just wide of the far post. As the half wore on Tettey was closing him down much better and qQPR''s threat was much reduced accordingly.

A concern for the City fans now was that Pilks was struggling with a thigh problem and you have to question why he started as he did very little before going off around 20 minutes for Elliott Bennett.

As the half wore on Xity were the better side but could only manage a few tame headers whichCesar didn''t

have to stretch for. The QPR threat was mainly set pieces and the odd breakaway but this was a real threat as the ref gave them free kicks at every opportunity.

Samba is a massive guy but was almost painfully immobile,definitely a bit chunky around the waist - a bit like a heavyweight boxer who has been retired for a year or two. He strolled through the game but Holt soon worked out (after bouncing off him early on) that as long as he was at least 5 yards away Samba wouldn''t cause a problem. Wes came tantalisingly close to nicking the ball off him at least once. On this showing, he will need a month or two to get fit at least, until then any Prem team with reasonably flexible players will be able to work around him.

QPR found they could deal with Holt in the air by sandwiching him between 2 players to stop him having any real chance of jumping on most occasions. The ref was happy that this was done without fouling even once that I can remember, surely a testament to the defenders'' exceptional skill(not).

The second Half started with QPR looking brighter and they earned another couple of set pieces in very threatening positions but neither came close.

City then resumed their ascendancy and put some real pressure on Cesar who produced a couple of fine saves. Snoddy fizzed one cross from the left after a corner which no one could touch and a similar chance had a city player and a defender both stretching, the defender managed to spoon it over the bar for a superb clearance( the ref gave a goal kick).

Then on a QPR bearkaway Garrido made an interception but passed back unwisely. Bunn came but it was one of those positions where if the GK touches the attacker and doesn''t get the ball first, it''s a pen. Maybe he could have stayed on his feet and tried to shepherd him away from goal, as it was well down the side of the box, but it would still have been very dangerous. Of course he didn''t, making contact and I expected the ref to give a pen, as he did.

Fortunately we know Bunn is quality with pens so there was cautious optimism among the City fans as the pen was taken. From the far end it looked well placed but lacking power and Bunn made a superb saved down to his left.

The game now opened up. When City went forward there were plenty of openings and Johnson put in a fine shot from distance, but at the other end some of the QPR players were showing individual skills and Bunn had to make some more good saves.

Around 75 mins QPR had used all their subs and were starting to look on top for the first time as City were falling deeper. The ref helped by giving them a series of questionable fouls - I''ve never seen so many free kicks given just outside the box. Fortunately a combination of solid defending, poor strikes and a great save from Bunn kept them out. If Snoddy played for Qpr they''d surely have got a goal or two but we got few free kick up the other end and none in a good place for Snoddy. The City fans were calling for Becchio to be brought on which I think would given us fresh impetus.

At about 82 minutes with Becchio finally warming up City rediscovered some energy and looked likelier to score at the end. Becchio finally got his chance, replacing Hoolahan who had a good game but was fading. Instantly Becchio added some energy up front and we were putting decent pressure on their goal but couldn''t create a clear chance. Around 90 minutes a cross was aimed at Becchio and a defender gave him a solid push with both hands to stop him jumping, the ref of course saw nothing. It was a much clearer pen than the one we gave away at West Ham.

QPR had the odd breakaway but through the 5 minutes added City looked more likely to get the winner but in the end not very surprising that neither side could get a winner.

In the end an away point after conceding a pen is not bad but I did come away with the disappointed feeling that had Becchio come on 10 minutes earlier we''d probably have been able to get a winner.

Generally good performances from the City players, a good team effort and a promising start from Becchio. The big thing we''re missing is quality finishing and a good final ball from good positions. MOTM probably Bunn for me but hard really to single anyone out.

The ref was as solid a homer as I can remember. People who read my reports will know I''m not one to criticise the ref every game, but I can''t remember a game this season when the ref was so biased in favour of the home team.

So a month off from travelling now, very much looking forward to the trip to OT next.

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