QPR’s boss Holloway: My most disappointing result ever
Ian Holloway described it as ‘probably my most disappointing result ever - and performance’ after QPR failed to beat a Bristol City side reduced to 10 men for an hour.
It was far from that, given the quality of the opposition - Carabao Cup semi-finalists who had managed to push Man City all the way in two games, and who currently reside in the top six.
But the Rangers boss was right to lament his side’s inability to cause greater discomfort to the home side, and slipping rather meekly to yet another defeat on the road.
The signs looked good for Rangers when a lunging challenge on Josh Scowen from City’s Nathan Baker resulted in a red card, with the game barely 30 minutes old.
The challenge on half way was rash rather than dangerous, but was bad enough for referee Keith Stroud to decide he should go.
That should have been the cue for Rangers to seize control, but they were the ones falling behind before half time when City striker Famara Diedhiou was allowed to glance in a corner at the near post.
Holloway re-jigged his side at the interval, with former Bristol City man Matt Smith adding ballast to the attack and Massimo Luongo upping his game to pin City back for a spell.
But the R’s failed to create the clear openings they needed and their hopes fizzled out altogether when the home side doubled their lead on 66 minutes.
Korey Smith, who had forced Alex Smithies into a superb low save moments earlier, released Diedhiou for a run on goal. Smithies was again equal to the task, keeping out the goalbound shot with his legs, but the rebound fell invitingly for Joe Bryan to find the net via a post.
After that there were a few Smith headers to trouble his old team, but for all their industry, neither Conor Washington nor Aramide Oteh impressed up front and there was not much devil in the Hoops’ play.
Luke Freeman, so lively and influential when the side drew 1-1 at Loftus Road before Christmas, was simply not in the match against his old club and all the optimism generated by the recent win at Burton seems to have eroded already.
“They had a game on Tuesday [against Man City] when they ran their legs off. What we needed to do was make them work and keep the ball and move it,” Holloway said.
“We had people working in the week in the right positions. Today, we didn’t get in those positions, so they could close us and press us and we stopped doing what we’d practised.
“That’s probably the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve felt ‘Urgh’.
“When they get a man sent off it, that seemed to galvanise them and I think we got worse. Two weeks in a row now, a goal from a set piece, we’ve crumbled a bit mentally.
“They got into a state where you want your team, where they looked like they could run and outrun and out-tackle you. For me, that didn’t look like my team.
“Some of my lads have been absolutely outstanding this season and looked as though it was a game too much for them. It’s been a very, very difficult day for me to take.”
QPR (3-1-4-2): Smithies - Baptiste (Smith h/t), Onuoha, Robinson – Luongo – Furlong (Osayi-Samuel 74), Scowen, Freeman, Bidwell – Washington, Oteh (Eze 74). Subs not used: Ingram, Lynch, Manning, Perch.