Reds hold QPR, or do QPR hold Reds?..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Queens Park Rangers – 0

Whilst they came to the City Ground as table-toppers which jangled nerves regarding our unbeaten home run, Neil Warnock had a real injury headache which means the side that took to the field at the City Ground was fairly weakened.  Having said that, they have a decent squad and plenty of proven Championship players, so always going to prove a challenge.

In the first half the Reds looked to pass crisply and quickly but often too much so, missing out on the final ball – so it was, despite the Reds probably edging on possession, Camp who was the busier keeper prior to half-time.  The second half was much more positive for Forest – and Billy made some good substitutions that threatened to tip the game in our favour.

Ultimately a stalemate that John McGovern summed up quite well post-match by saying it was ‘satisfactory if not delightful’ – that’s about right, some real good moments, but there is a niggling feeling that we could’ve nicked it against a weakend Rangers side.  That said, they had chances to nick it too – I think a draw was fair.

Billy reshuffled the pack to give midfield more bodies, giving us a side something like this:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Anderson    McGugan    McKenna    Majewski    Cohen

The opening was quite open and end-to-end, but it wasn’t until ten minutes in that an actual chance was fashioned.  A decent corner from Lewis was met by Dex in the area, but his header flashed across goal and just over.  At the other end a header from Walker saw Camp do a ‘save for the cameras’ at the expense of a corner.

Lewis threatened with another spectacular effort, picking up the ball inside our half before advancing and taking the opportunity to have a dig from around 25 yards.  We know what he’s capable from that range but unfortunately on this occasion he put it over and into the QPR fans, who travelled in great numbers but made hardly any noise – the quietest away fans of that number we’ve seen for a while!

Shortly after this a penalty shout went up – hard to tell from my seat what occurred in the area – Tommy Smith hit the deck with Lewis in close attendance but I couldn’t tell whether or not there was anything untoward.  The QPR players and fans certainly thought there were – it will be interesting to check out the highlights later (obviously Warnock thinks it was a penalty and has been moaning about it, predictably).

Half an hour on the clock and Rangers came close again – Forest were giving the ball away in midfield terribly easily, Cohen and Gunts were particular culprits – and one of the last people you want to do that with is Adel Taarabt 30 yards from goal.  Fortunately Camp was equal to the decent strike he unleashed and made another decent save, again at the expense of another corner.

It’s fair to say that the visitors had the upper-hand for the remainder of the half – although didn’t fashion any direct chances.  Whilst there had been early indications of positivity from the Reds there hadn’t been a save to make for Paddy Kenny in goal for the Hoops, which is pretty shoddy when you’re at home.

At the start of the second half it should be noted that Lee Camp got a great reception from the visiting QPR fans as he jogged into position.  Always nice to see, not like the dogs abuse that Paddy Kenny got from the Reds fans throughout the game – from the residual dislike of him from his Sheffield United days.  He never looks bothered though!

QPR started the half on the up as they had finished the first.  Smith put in a dangerous cross that Smith couldn’t get to, but it went out the other end for a goalkick.  Mackie too should’ve done better after a good run down the right, beating McGugan, saw him cut inside at a tight angle and shoot into the side-netting.

At the other end Dex looked to have got himself clear with a great run but was forced to shoot from range as the defenders were catching up with him and it wasn’t really a difficult save for Kenny to make.  Just about on the hour mark Billy made a double change – Dex and Raddy were withdrawn for Dele and Earnie in quite a bold attacking move by Billy.

It was a game-changer too – both players integral to moments of excitement to follow, Dele was winning flicks and holding up the ball well (when D’Urso wasn’t randomly punishing him for the heinous crime of being clambered all over by a Rangers player!).  It certainly seemed to give us more attacking impetus and lifted the crowd into making a bit more noise.

One Adebola flick found Anderson, whose cross to McGugan saw Kenny make an excellent save, the ball fell to Earnshaw who looked to be bundled over by Faurlin.  Similarly to the first half incident my view wasn’t great, certainly the fans in the Trent End called for it as did our players – so we had a shout for a penalty too, the referee didn’t give it.  In the same article linked above Billy reckons it was a peno, but more magnanimously agrees with Warnock on the QPR one… I don’t recall a handball in the area though, I saw one just outside that D’Urso ignored.

QPR were dangerous on the break – Agyemang was doing a similar job to Dele for Rangers, and he did well to keep the ball and tuck it back to Taarabt who spotted Camp no more than two yards off his line, but still almost caught him out with a very deft lob that had our ‘keeper backpedalling to tip over well.

The Reds finished strongest, a corner looked to have been cleared off the line at one point – but ultimately the curse that’s blighted us all season continued which is that we just don’t get enough shots on goal, or the final ball just lets us down a little bit.  As added time ran out the final whistle went and the mood of the ground was generally contentment I think, probably from both sides.

As I noted at the start, we could have nicked this – but equally we could easily have lost had Camp not been on his toes.  Some signs of promise though, which will need to grow to something more if we are to get anything out of the trip to Cardiff next week, who now top the table thanks to QPR dropping two points against us…