I said before the game at Loftus Road that I would have been happy for a draw, despite the 1-pointers growing old, and I stick by that.
Of course it was disappointing to concede an injury time goal but it was one that the hosts deserved in the main after an absolutely woeful first half showing from Villa.
Whetever, McLeish said at half time seemed to work which is encouraging, as it did at Everton, but the XI that take the field need to display the intent they showed in the second half throughout the 90 minutes if we are to win games rather than draw.
There were plenty of talking points in the game, with the main one in the first half being just how bad are Villa? As much as Villa were awful, QPR failed to capitalise and by the end of the half Villa had equalled the shots on target tally with 1! A superb Barry Bannan free-kick was matched by an excellent save from Paddy Kenny. The home side only really came close through a great curling effort from the otherwise quiet Taarabt which clipped Given’s post.
By half time Villa had managed just 39% of possession and completed an awful 62% of their passes to the hosts 73%. Something had to be changed and it did, and all without a switch in personnel. Stephen Ireland and Charles N’Zogbia started to look a little more lively, albeit briefly in the latter’s case, and when Stephen Warnock’s centre alluded Gabby Agbonlahor it seemed that a decent attack had fizzled out.
However, the referee somehow adjudged that a slight tug on the striker’s shirt from Armand Traore, who would still have a part to play, was worthy of a penalty. The lifeline for Villa was expertly dispatched by Barry Bannan and one would hope that his first league goal will give the youngster the confidence to push on as Albrighton did last term.
The next incident of a match devoid of any real chances saw Alan Hutton handle in the box following a QPR corner and get away with it, much to Neil Warnock’s rage. A slight movement of the Scot’s arm suggests he did deliberately prevent the ball from getting to goal but he kept his arms by his sides and in a crowded box at real time it proved too tough of a decision to give for the referee, with Villa again profiting. Another ball than struck the same player’s hand moments later but this time from point blank range and despite Warnock’s protests, that was never a penalty, despite being easier to spot.
Armand Traore than picked up a second yellow for a desperate lunge on Albrighton, leading his manager to label him a ‘disgrace’, ‘stupid and naive’ after the match. With the extra man Villa should have seen the game out and ensured 3 points to take them 5th, but this is Villa we’re talking about, and nothing is ever that simple.
Villa seemed to have the match sewn up with Dunne and Collins comfortable at the back in the most part until the 93rd minute. A mistake from Collins saw substitute Helguson latch on to a tame backward header and centre for the onrushing Luke Young. It seemed like the former Villa-man would settle the score with his old club before a superb intervention from Warnock hit the knee of the faultless Richard Dunne who undeservedly notched a 9th Premier League own goal.
What Neil Warnock failed to mention in his post-post-match interview having gone back to moan and steal some limelight is that the equaliser came from the linesman’s decision to give a goal-kick rather than an obvious corner to Villa but that seems to have been forgotten.
A Villa fan would say a 1-1 draw was a fair result while a QPR fan would suggest they should have had all three but a lack of real cutting edge from the promoted side saw them fail to make their dominance pay.
Another pretty poor performance from Charles N’Zogbia remains a worry and Delph and Petrov struggled once more to get a foothold in midfield, particularly in the first half. Changes should be made with Clark, Jenas and Albrighton all likely to be available next time out but I doubt more than 1 would start against Wigan. Ireland, on his second half showing, should keep his place, while Barry Bannan looks to be staking a claim for a regular berth in the starting XI.
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