As the monotony of the international break came to an end, the R's played host to our visitors from the blue half of the Merseyside capital in the shape of high flying Everton. The Toffeemen, in stark contrast to the R's, are enjoying their best ever start to a Premier league season and a packed Loftus Road paid host to the Sky cameras as we waited in anticipation to see if we could pick up our first three point haul of the season.
The international break, normally unpopular with fans and disruptive to the clubs came at the right time for QPR as Mark Hughes and his "Taffia" coaching team were given an extra opportunity to work on our pitiful defence and the players fitness, all be it at the expense of QPR shoring up the table for another week. It would seem the break also gave Hughes the chance to do a little bit of thinking as he finally dropped Wright-Phillips from the starting eleven along the unreliable Ferdinand, opting instead to partner Mbia with Nelson. Hoilett, Diakite and Traore got starts as Hughes team selection took a step in the direction of what most R's fans have been crying out for.
QPR had a dream start, taking the lead within 3 minutes as Hoilett won a half clearance from an Everton corner deep in the R's half and ran the length of the pitch before unleashing a shot from the edge of the area that took a fortuitous deflection sending Howard the wrong way. This took a little pressure off the R's and enabled them to settle early, whist blowing Everton's game plan out of the window. The R's were steady without being spectacular for the next 30 minutes until Everton were awarded a free kick outside the R's area. Zamora was busy barking orders at his team mates to mark their men only to do the opposite and let Distin, the man he was supposed to be marking, have a free header that hit the post only to rebound off the back of the unfortunate Cesar for the Everton equaliser. The next 5 minutes saw Everton come very close to getting a 2nd goal, hitting the bar as Rangers began to panic. The back four until then had been pretty solid and we only looked under threat from set pieces and when the defence needed support from elsewhere in the team. Neslon was again solid at the back and Mbia didn't put a foot wrong.
QPR continued to labour in the second half with Diakite lively and creating chances whilst the majestic Granero was in control in midfield, distributing the ball accurately and intelligently always keeping the ball moving and not afraid to compete with his Everton counterparts. Taarabt played well for periods and worked very hard again without making the spectacular impact he had done in his previous two outings. Sadly Park was disappointing again, although he worked hard he wasn't really effective and has yet to demonstrate the leadership qualities that are required to be skipper, personally I would have made Nelson captain. Zamora was poor (again) today and I have grave doubts about him. Yes he is good at holding the ball up but when we attack at pace and inter pass, the move always breaks down and the fluency is lost when it gets to him. His touch is awful and he can't lay the ball off at higher tempos and panics. He is much better as the last man in the move, as in the goal he got at Spurs. I really don't think he's the answer up front and think Hughes was very lazy signing him when looking for a striker. Hoilett did more than enough to prove he should start next game and should have had a penalty but was denied by the ref who also failed to give Everton a penalty in the first half.
Hughes was forced into two defencive substitutions late in the game with Nelson (Ferdinand) coming off with tight calf's and Traore (Onuoha) not up to 90 minutes yet. Zamora eventually came off for an enthusiastic Cisse who still doesn't seem to have mastered the rule of off side. Everton had Pinaar sent off for two yellows with around a quarter of the game left but QPR failed to capitalise as Everton put two resilient banks of four in front of the R's and QPR didn't want to take any risks although both teams had good chances to increase the scoring but on reflection a draw was a fair result.
It was a decent performance from QPR but we have played better this year and lost. We did show a few more glimpses of what we can achieve this year and it was disappointing not to win the game but at least we've stopped the rot. We can go to the Emirates next week with something to build on and are capable of taking a point at least. Remember this is still a work in progress, all be it a slow progress. We are still bottom but still in touch with the pack. Just one or two wins can make a big difference to the table, our confidence and the perception of our club. Time is not running out for QPR yet, still 30 games to go and a winnable run of three games after Arsenal. But is time running out for Mark Hughes? No doubt the drama will unfold in the next 4 games. I'm still sure we'll be fine.
Come on you R's
The Bush Ranger