Queens Park Rangers 0 - West Bromwich Albion 2

Date: Saturday 28th September 2019 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(3-5-2) Lumley, Cameron, Leistner, Barbet, Kane, Eze (Osayi-Samuel, 70), Manning, Ball (Smith, 85), Chair, Hugill, Wells (Pugh, 77)
Unused subs: Kelly, Wallace, Scowen, Masterson
Sent off: Barbet (82, Professional Foul)
(4-2-3-1) Johnstone 6.7, Furlong 7.3, Ajayi 7.7, Bartley 7.6, Ferguson 8.6, Sawyers 7.3, Livermore 7.2, Phillips 6.3 (Edwards, 71 6.8), Pereira 7.8 (Krovinovic, 87 6.4), Diangana 7.3, Austin 6.1 (Robson-Kanu, 61 7.1)
Unused subs: Bond, Gibbs, Zohore, O'Shea
Manager: Slaven Bilic 8.3
Scorers: Ferguson (54), Pereira (83)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham 6.9
Attendance: 13,959   Home Fans 4.6   Away Fans 8.2
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 18


When two of the highest scoring and worst defending sides in the division meet at Loftus Road (sorry, the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium) the last thing you'd expect is for Albion to keep their first clean sheet of the season. Right?

Wrong, because that's exactly what they did as they won thanks to two first goals. Academy product Nathan Ferguson carried on his superb season with a mazy second half run and a relatively soft strike from distance that QPR keeper Joe Lumley probably feels that he really should have saved.

Then with six minutes of full time remaining, defender Yoann Barbet received a red card for pushing substitute Hal Robson-Kanu down just outside the area, the resulting free kick and the gap he presumably would have filled in the wall making way for Pereira's strike to double the lead.

Overall, a superb performance - Albion had fifteen shots with seven on target while Rangers could only manage five and none. The win took Albion to the top of the table - although it felt like it would probably only be for a few hours, none of the teams that kicked off later managed to depose them and they end the day a point ahead of second placed Swansea.

Brendan Clegg:

That was a really impressive performance and problem our most assured of the seaosn in terms of controlling the game.

Bilic went with probably the best available options with Diangana back on the wing and Pereira in the centre. We started very brightly and pushed right up on QPR to the point where they barely got a touch at all in the first ten minutes.

Our back four looked so strong and fast and the squeezed high enabling Livermore and Sawyers to control a compacted pitch and we bossed it for long periods of the first half.

It might be being slightly harsh but it felt like we snatched a little bit at some really good situations we got into and I thought Phillips failed to make to the most of the best of them - firstly one where he was played in at full pace to a 60/40 against the last man in his favour and he bottled it a bit to only win the corner and then right at the end of the half when we won it high and rather than taking the long ball up to him with a clear run on goal (albeit half a pitch) he dummied the ball to let it run through for the much slower Austin and the defender intercepted.

There was lots of nice play in that opening half and we should have done more - I thought probably Austin stood out as the player not on the same level as the rest of them for touch, pace and fitness.

Second half was much of the same but it took a speculative effort from Ferguson, who had been excellent again, who ran up the pitch and when he wasn't closed down took a swing. I think the keeper, the opposition and his team mates all expected him to cut back in onto his right foot and pass inside as he'd done all game but he kept going.

Apart from a 5 minute spell where Ferguson's goal caused him to lose all composure, we continued to totally control the game, suffocating QPR whenever they got the goal and exploiting the gaps when we won it high.

The introduction of HRK and Edwards for Phillips and Austin swung the game even further in our favour.

HRK's strengths - to hold the ball up, roll away and play short passes - were the perfect foil for Edwards, Diagana and Pereira and after they arrived it looked like we might score every time we went forward.

We peppered the goal and really should have notched a couple of goals before HRK drew the red card and our man from Brazil tucked away the free kick through a pathetic QPR wall - I thought his 'The Undertaker' finisher celebration was a bit graphic for the favelas of post-gentrification White City and this along with the silliness when he got subbed shows that he probably needs to mature a bit, but what a player.

The points took us to the top of the league and given that QPR would've done the same with a victory and the apparent gulf in class of this game, you have to think that without getting carried away this might turn into a special season for us. Tuesday night will help us further measure that.

A couple of other interesting tactical adjustments that I think genuinely contributed to the clean sheet:

  • Most of the corners we took only had a single player over them and we got balls into the box, but also didn't have 2 players out of the game if we lost the first ball, and it helped us control the game more.
  • At a number of critical points in the game (one example was in that period right before half time), when Johnstone went to play the ball short Bartley tapped his temple and instructed him to go long and as a result we didn't have too many moments where we were guilty of over playing - in fact I think it was only Ferguson who was guilty of this immediately after his goal. Credit should go to Bartley for leading on this and giving the instructions.

Bring on dirty Leeds!

  • SJ - 6 Didn't have much to do but was sound.
  • Furlong - 7 Solid defensively and was always an option although the early booking was daft and restricted him a bit.
  • Ajayi - 8 Another really great performance and he's so quick when he goes through the gears.
  • Bartley - 8 Playing this way and to his strengths he's worth what we paid for him. Had a fine game and although Hegazi has to come back in eventually he's going to have to be at his top level to justify leaving either of the other 2 out.
  • Ferguson - 8 He's dangerously close to being better than Gibbs here. Despite being on his wrong foot he is so quick, strong and has feet nimbler than a midfielder. Excellent.
  • Livermore - 7 Not always the right choice of pass but physically bossed it and got all over the pitch.
  • Swayers - 7 Some great one-touch play and took control of the match. Show some blood and thunder though eh?!
  • Phillips - 6 Can always do damage but still seems to be playing within himself and playing for explosive moments.
  • Pereira - 7 Some of the things he did with the ball were incredible and hurt them in the right areas. Why were we messing about to get him? Sign him up.
  • Diagana - 7 Erratic and unpredictable but a constant threat.
  • Austin - 6 Not happening and no matter how fit he gets he's not going to gain pace from anywhere. Doing okay but I'd still give Edwards a try in this role, and HRK is staking a real claim to start with all the pace we have around him.
  • HRK - 7 A really good cameo of all his strengths and won loads of free kicks.
  • Edwards - 7 Looked a real threat but should've scored a couple of goals.
  • Krovinovic - 6 Scampered about and kept it well.

Steve Fereday:

Haven't contacted for a while. Listened on Talksport 2 radio with Shaun Derry. So funny. Bit like Don Goodman bias on Sky TV.

A very close mate of mine passed away recently who I attended so many matches with when we were young in the 70's. Sadly I was ill myself, so could not get to his funeral.

The way we played today took me back to the way we played in the 70's. Johnny Giles led the way. Me and my mate were at Leeds when we first got promoted again in the 70's and it finished 2-2. The Albion support at Elland Road that day was amazing.

Same again on Tuesday lads. My mate will be watching. Somewhere.

Slaven Bilic is the new Johnny Giles. An amazing bloke.