Tag: Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers had to wait for this moment. Their previous appearance in the FA Cup fifth round had come at Wimbledon in 1997 and it is doubtful whether any club has since endured a more dismal record in the competition. The London club had won only four ties – each of them in the third round – before this season.
Watford were similarly shot shy, with their best moment coming eight minutes after the interval when Troy Deeney and Diego Fabbrini combined neatly but the latter’s tame shot was dropped on by Robert Green in the Rangers goal. Three minutes earlier the visitors had also gone as close as they would all afternoon, with Matt Phillips drawing a fine save from Manuel Almunia.
Nil-nil draws come in a variety of flavours. There are the ones where a draw suits at least one of the two sides down to the ground, often the away side, such that if it hasn’t quite been the aim at the outset it’s deemed a more than acceptable eventuality. There are those where a lack of quality is the dominant characteristic, a nil-nil by default. There are those much more open games which are nil-nil in name only, by virtue of neither side quite getting around to scoring. And there are, as my co-editor would wish me to recognise in his continuing absence, occasional total aberrations where even a goalless scoreline flatters an encounter so devoid of anything as to sap the collective will to live of those present – Scarborough (A, 1995) the example most frequently cited in textbooks.
Goals from Adel Taarabt and Tommy Smith secured victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday, meaning Rangers cannot be caught by third-placed Cardiff and should have booked their place in the top flight as well as clinching the league crown. Neil Warnock and his coaching staff all embraced on the touchline, but the celebrations will be slightly muted with the club now nervously awaiting the outcome of next week’s FA hearing into the transfer of Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.
The independent commission sits on Tuesday with a decision due four days later, and Rangers could be punished sufficiently to drop into the play-off positions. Indeed Watford fans taunted the champions with cries of ‘You’re gonna lose in the play-offs’.
Uncertainly, then, remains, but all their players, staff and fans could feel yesterday was joy. Emotions became unruly after the final whistle when some of the 2,171 away supporters swarmed on to the pitch and despite repeated warnings from Watford’s public address announcer, refused to leave promptly. Neil Warnock, the QPR manager, also become embroiled in the chaos, telling the man with the microphone to keep his orders to himself. Ignoring instructions from stewards, Warnock then refused to leave the pitch until he had saluted the QPR fans himself.
Should Rangers suffer a points penalty you won’t find many tears shed in Hertfordshire, I suspect. It wasn’t the unseemly scuffles with interlopers in the Rookery, these have happened pretty much whenever visiting supporters have made significant incursion; I’m sure there were far more Rangers fans in the home end keeping a respectably low profile than there were causing trouble. It’s not even the pitch invasion, tedious as that was; those of us on the pitch at Craven Cottage thirteen years ago (ulp) would hardly be in a position to criticise on that score. It was the utterly needless and moronic charge towards the home end, the provocation of a situation that was only ever going to be diffused by a heavyweight police presence, ultimately on horseback. Celebrate by all means, but why a stand-off? Fuckwits. A situation not remotely placated by the reliably provocative Neil Warnock, as ever displaying all the restraint and judgment of a four year old with a sugar rush in gesticulating towards the Rookery end.
The commission found QPR guilty of just two of the seven charges relating to the signing of Alejandro Faurlin and were fined £875,000 but did not receive a points deduction and therefore were promoted as champions.
“We threw everything we had at them in the second half,” was the manager Malky MacKay’s verdict afterwards, but on this evidence that doesn’t amount to a great deal. Watford are now two points above the relegation places and without an away win in 16 matches.