No case for the defence as QPR squeak to Bolton victory


Queens Park Rangers came from 2-0 down to snatch a 94th-minute winner against Bolton Wanderers in one of the most exciting but lowest quality games of football you are likely to see this season.

Goals from Gary Madine and Liam Feeney put the visitors in total command, it seemed, until Jay Emmanuel-Thomas reduced the arrears, finishing off a magnificent cross from Tjaronn Chery and heading past Ben Amos. Rangers equalised through Leroy Fer, who bundled the ball into the net after Chery was thwarted by the Wanderers goalkeeper. Chery then curled home a spectacular goal that looked like being the winner from the edge of the box, looping his shot sumptuously into the top corner.

When Matt Phillips went clean through minutes later, the Bolton fans could almost be heard preparing to leave the stadium en masse, but he somehow shot wide and Wellington Silva, the subject of a number of name-based jeers from the home fans, beat Nedum Onuoha and fired past Green. Now it was the turn of the QPR fans to plot their escape, but moments before the final whistle was due to blow, Emmanuel-Thomas turned Dorian Dervite and found the bottom right-hand corner, signalling pandemonium in the stands and a sigh of relief from the Rangers manager, Chris Ramsey.

It will not be enough to buy him love, but the goal will give him some time over the international break to sort out the shambles that is the Rs defence. After being humiliated, along with the other 10 players on the pitch, against Fulham, Onuoha put in another abject display, showing exactly why Green is so rickety, namely that he cannot trust the players in front of him not to leave him exposed.

The problems at the back are twofold, and certainly not as simple as some Rangers supporters might like to imagine. Firstly, Paul Konchesky and James Perch are not good enough for QPR, based on the evidence thus far, with the latter having been responsible for a number of goals already. Second, Ramsey clearly has no idea how to sort out his leaky defence, which could render all the Rs’ attacking firepower redundant and torpedo any hopes of promotion. Yet he does not sign the players; Les Ferdinand, in his role as the director of football, has this responsibility, and it is debatable as to whether a different manager could make the full backs any more effective.

Gabriele Angella should help shore things up eventually, but even he is succumbing to the general sense of panic whenever a ball is lofted, or played on the ground, into the area. Two abject defensive displays in a matter of weeks are a serious concern, because Kevin Keegan “we’ll score four if you score three” football is completely unsustainable.

As for the positives, Chery continues to live up to his billing, by some, as one of the best playmakers in the division. Having set up two goals, and scored one, it was remarkable that he failed to make the Championship team of the week, but a bit of anonymous success might be the best thing for him as he continues to adjust to English football. His attitude was called into question by Ramsey when he chose to walk in front of the Rangers fans after he was substituted in the 4-0 car crash at Fulham, but hopefully the manager has now learnt that there are benefits to keeping him on the pitch.

With Sebastian Polter not seen as an adequate replacement for Charlie Austin, who is out for four weeks with an acute muscle injury, Emmanuel-Thomas is now the club’s great goalscoring hope, and his physicality should serve the Rs well away from home. It is a particular misfortune that Jamie Mackie is now unavailable until Christmas after suffering a tear at Craven Cottage, as it forces QPR to rely on Phillips, whose performances of late have hinted at a certain complacency and a general unwillingness to involve himself in proceedings too much.

All this means there is plenty for Ramsey to work on over the next couple of weeks ahead of a tough trip to in-form Birmingham City, who have taken 14 points from a possible 24 – the same as the Superhoops, incidentally – but conceded less than half as many goals in that period. In a league of fine margins, being unable to keep a clean sheet could be a fatal disadvantage.

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