Last Time We Met...QPR (Part 2)
Burnley last played QPR earlier this season at Loftus Road. The game was played on Saturday 30th October 2010. The Clarets got a well-earned point after drawing 1-1 to the club who were league leaders before this game and had not conceded a goal at home. You would certainly have taken a point before this game but with a bit more luck and less panic in front of goal we could have easily won this match. We certainly held our own against them and at times looked by far the better team especially in the first half.
A mystery stomach bug hit the Burnley camp before this game and Brian Laws was forced to make a number of changes. It would appear up to six players were doubtful ahead of the match.
Leon Cort returned from a one-match suspension after sitting out the previous game against Aston Villa match in the midweek Carling Cup clash. He had to be content however with a place on the bench. Andre Bikey too found himself on the bench with Michael Duff getting the nod in the centre of defence partnering Clarke Carlisle. Captain, Graham Alexander also retained his place in the team after a good, solid performance against Villa. He took over his traditional holding midfield role with perhaps surprisingly Jack Cork not even in the starting eleven.
Brian Jensen was also on the bench with Lee Grant given his first chance to shine in a Championship game after only featuring in Carling Cup games until now.
Chris Eagles also returned to the starting eleven after being rested for the Carling Cup clash.
In summary then we lined up as follows:
Subs: Jensen, Cort, Bikey, Cork, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
Berkshire referee got the match underway on a showery day in Shepherd`s Bush and it was the Clarets who came storming out of the blocks first in these early stages taking the game to the league leaders. The early pressure led to a couple of corners for the Clarets but both of them came to nothing.
QPR did not have their first real chance until the 16th minute. The Rs top scorer this season, Jamie Mackie latched onto a mishit shot from Derry and looked certain to score until Duff came from nowhere to rob the striker and rescue the situation.
Paddy Kenny then had to come to the Rs rescue at the other end midway through the first half. The keeper got a glove to Elliott`s curled attempt pushing the ball round the post. It was Kenny again a minute later who this time denied Jay Rodriguez after spilling a shot from Eagles from the edge of the area. Jay Rod latched onto the loose ball to shoot before Kenny blocked the shot to save his blushes.
Eagles looked like he might have earned the Clarets a penalty after 30 minutes after steaming into the box and being brought down under pressure from a challenge by Clint Hill. The ref though decided he had dived and Eagles earned a yellow card instead!
Three minutes later though and very much against the run of play QPR took the lead. Adel Taarabt created some space for himself before drilling home his unstoppable curled shot from 25 yards into the top corner of the net.
Neil Warnock`s men must have thought they would now have an easy ride to victory but they did not account for Burnley`s resilience and determination to get back into this game.
Eagles tried a long-distance daisy-cutter but it didn`t cause too much problem for Kenny who easily snuffed out the danger at his near post.
Just one minute before half-time though, the Clarets equalised at the best possible time after being awarded a penalty. Fox got in a deep cross to find Iwelumo in the box. He headed down for Dean Marney to pounce. Connolly though clumsily bundled Marney over in the area giving the referee this time no option but to award the spot kick.
Clarets fans were wondering who would now take the penalty. Chris Eagles had been taking them in the absence of Alexander and had a 100% record but Grezza was now back. There was an element of doubt though about Grezza taking it remembering he had missed his first one for the Clarets in the Bristol City game at Turf Moor recently before losing his place in the team.
It was Grezza though who elected to take the penalty and thankfully he had no psychological hang ups thumping the home into the top corner of the net in convincing style to make the scores level at half time.
Ross Wallace perhaps surprisingly replaced Chris Eagles for the start of the second half but Laws probably had some concern over Eagles yellow card and the fact the ref had also spoken to him a couple of times since. The Clarets could not afford to have him sent off so the change made logical sense.
The Clarets started the second half brightly just like the first. Rodriguez was certainly in the thick of things and he seemed to be able to do anything but score. He spun to shoot from 25 yards out but the ball flew wide of target. Jay Rod then saw another shot cannon off the bar but it would not have counted anyway with the ref indicating offside.
With fifteen minutes to go Iwelumo nearly put the Clarets ahead with a shot after Wallace had cut back the ball to him. The ball though went agonisingly over the angle from ten yards out.
On 80 minutes, it was Rodriguez again who came close after picking up a deflected ball from Elliott in the box. His shinned attempt to score though bobbled wide of Kenny`s right post.
QPR though now came back into it and gave Clarets fans an agonising time as the clock ticked down and five minutes of added time were announced. Gorkss first of all thumped a ball miles over the bar from 12 yards out and with two minutes of normal time to go Jamie Mackie nearly stole it for the Rs. Grant was at full stretch but his shot was screwed wide of target and the Clarets could once again breathe a sigh of relief.
Half way through added time, Rs substitute, Tommy Smith gave the Clarets some more jitters. He curled a magnificent attempt just wide of Grant`s far post but somehow we held on after sweating under the pressure in these last few minutes of the game.
It was a blessed relief when the final whistle blew but in the end it was a job well down as we once again came away with something from Loftus Road.
Back in our promotion season of 2008/9 we actually faced up to QPR on four occasions twice in the League and twice in the FA Cup.
The Rs would have been sick and tired of seeing the Clarets since we had the upper hand in all of the games. We got the double over them that season in the Championship beating them 2-1 at Loftus Road back in November 2008 and then winning 1-0 at Turf Moor towards the end of the season in April 2009 when we were fighting for a play-offs spot.
In between the two league games we played them twice in the FA Cup. A dull 0-0 draw at Loftus Road on the 3rd January 2009 forced a replay at Turf Moor ten days later, a game we won 2-1 in extra time with the scores level after ninety minutes. The victory propelled us into the fourth round. We best West Brom 3-1 at home in the next round but our cup run came to an end with a fifth round defeat away to Arsenal after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 at the Emirates.
You need to understand the background going into the first game we played against QPR that season, the league game at Loftus Road played on Saturday 15th November.
Burnley were flush with success after beating the Nation`s top football club, Chelsea in London on the previous Wednesday night knocking the Blues out of the Carling Cup. We had enjoyed a few days well earned rest down South before travelling a few miles across West London to face Chelsea`s neighbours, Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
The match against the Rs might not have been surrounded by all the glamour and media attention of playing and beating Chelsea but the outcome of this game would be far more important in the long term if the Clarets were to maintain a Top 6 spot and their push for promotion that season.
Owen Coyle was concerned that this match could be an anti-climax as did many Clarets fans. The expression, 'After the Lord Mayor`s Show' was coined by Coyle in a pre-match interview and echoed by the fans.
At the start of this match, QPR were just one point behind the Clarets in 7th place hoping to climb above Burnley in 5th place but any concerns the Clarets fans had about this match were dispelled by the time of the final whistle with the Clarets coming out victors in a 2-1 win.
The Burnley line up that day was a follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan, Elliott, McCann, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Thompson.
Subs: Penny, K McDonald, Akinbiyi, Paterson, Mahon
Our captain Steven Caldwell had to sit this game out after picking up an automatic one match suspension for the double-yellow sending off in the previous match at Stamford Bridge. Clarke Carlisle replaced him in the centre of defence and the captain`s armband was given to Graham Alexander at right back. Yep, it is difficult to remember these days that Grezza used to be our full back until the holding midfield role was invented for him.
The Clarets started the brighter of the two teams and dominated the first ten minutes of the game. It was disappointing therefore that QPR took the lead on 14 minutes after they suddenly found their feet.
An attack down the right flank led to the ball being fed inside to Dexter Blackstock.
Jensen desperately diving to the bottom corner could not prevent Blackstock`s curling shot crossing the line and giving QPR first blood. QPR now scented more blood and put the Clarets under pressure looking to double their lead. The Clarets resilience held though and with 34 minutes on the clock, Burnley got their deserved equaliser in classic Blake fashion!
Robbie Blake looked ready to pounce on the edge of the box, and pounce he did after Gudjonsson spotted him there and threaded the ball to him. In characteristic fashion, he collected the ball, spun and wellied the ball into the top left hand corner of the net with Rs keeper, Cerny wondering what had happened.
The Clarets now piled on the pressure but it remained 1-1 at half-time with the prospect of a thrilling second half ahead.
With the second half underway Burnley again started the brighter but then QPR suddenly stepped up a gear. It was certainly end-to-end stuff and a pulsating game for the neutral. In the 56th minute, Alan Mahon came on to replace the injured Eagles who had been stretchered off with a twisted ankle and four minutes later became the hero after giving Burnley the lead.
Alexander linked with Elliott to find Blake on the right wing who crossed over to the far side of the area. Mahon picked up the dropping ball to score with a superb left foot shot and put the Clarets 2-1 up.
The match continued to excite with both sides going hell for leather providing plenty of scoring opportunities but Burnley held on to win despite having to play out a nervous five minutes of added time. The victory saw the Clarets move into 4th spot whilst putting some clear blue water between them and the chasing pack.
If that match was thrilling and exciting, the next time these two sides met would be in complete contrast. With the Clarets having one eye on promotion and going well in the Carling Cup, the FA Cup third round tie that pitched QPR and Burnley together at Loftus Road seemed an anti-climax for both sides and it was difficult for both sets of fans to whip up any enthusiasm. This game looked a poor, unexciting fixture as soon as it came out the hat and it seemed both sets of fans were not excited by the prospect of this tie with only 8,896 fans turning up to watch it.
The match was played on Saturday 3rd January and the Clarets probably got the worst possible result playing out a goalless draw and having to endure a replay at Turf Moor that nobody wanted! It was a dire game too and one that both sets of fans would want to instantly forget.
Suspensions and injuries ahead of this FA Cup tie caused a headache for Owen Coyle who even struggled to make up the eighteen with only six substitutes named. In the end we went for the following line-up:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Kalvenes, Eagles, Gudjonsson, Elliott, Blake, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Akinbiyi, Kay, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Mahon
Scoring opportunities were few and far between in this game. The Clarets best chance in the first half came after 21 minutes when a corner was only half-cleared by the Rs defence. Elliott kept his eye on the ball and as it dropped he let rip with a 25-yard volley. It hit the woodwork with QPR having the crossbar to thank. Burnley probably had the edge in the first half and Owen Coyle would no doubt have been the happier of the two managers although both sets of fans had been struggling to stay awake.
It did not get much more thrilling in the second half although this time it was QPR who looked more determined to break the deadlock. Alan Mahon who had replaced Blake after 72 minutes once again nearly got the winner following his goal in our Championship victory at Loftus Road back in November.
This time though his left-footed shot flew just inches over the angle.
It was almost a relief when the referee brought this dull game to an end but both teams would now have it all to do again in a replay at Turf Moor. This was played on the night of Tuesday 13th January and again the fans snubbed the match in their numbers with only a paltry 3760 bothering to turn up!
At least this time there was more action and some goals but with the match going into extra time many Clarets fans were wondering what effect these games would be having on our promotion and Carling Cup chances. We were already wobbling in our promotion campaign and had suffered a 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane against Spurs in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final earlier in January with the second leg coming up at Turf Moor on the 21st January just eight days after the QPR FA Cup replay. We also knew on the night that even victory against QPR would mean yet another uninspiring FA Cup game against West Brom in the next round but ces`t la vie better to win than lose I suppose and win we did.
The 2-1 victory after extra time at least gave the Clarets their first win of 2009 so that lifted spirits a little. Owen Coyle had intended to play Paterson upfront with Thompson on the night and he was named in the starting eleven. Our top goal scorer with 15 goals so far that season however picked up a leg injury during the warm-up session and had to be replaced by Robbie Blake. Adam Kay was therefore drafted onto the bench replacing Blake. During the match the injury concerns grew with Chris McCann limping off after 19 minutes to be replaced by Alan Mahon.
With Duff suspended following a straight red-card against Swansea in the previous game, it was no surprise to see Clarke Carlisle return to the centre of defence partnering the skipper, Steven Caldwell.
The full line up was as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, McCann Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Thompson.
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Kay, Mahon, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Akinbiyi
The first half seemed to be following the same dull pattern of the first FA Cup clash at Loftus Road with both sides wondering, not to mention the fans, whether the deadlock was ever going to be broken. It was still 0-0 at half-time.
In the second half though QPR took the lead after Di Carmine scored on 54 minutes but the Clarets quickly equalised six minutes later after a shot by Gudjonsson was blocked on the line. The ball fell to Thompson, who skipping past a defender shot on target to see the ball go over the line via the underside of the bar.
The game entered extra time and with one minute remaining Jay Rodriguez scored to ensure the Clarets had their first win of the year following a poor run of form that had seen them go five games without a win in all competitions over the festive season. No change there then!
The young striker stole the ball off Stewart and running towards the box beat Cerny putting the ball just inside the post.
So it was a victory but at what cost? Paterson injured before kick-off and even worse captain, Steven Caldwell had picked up a fifth yellow in the game and would now miss the vital second leg match against Spurs in the Carling Cup. Oh well at least we now know what happened but at the time we certainly had quite a few worries.
There was still one game to play against QPR though and that was the Championship match at Turf Moor on Saturday 11th April. The Carling Cup defeat to Spurs and the emotions of that night were by now a distant memory and with no further interest now in any of the domestic cup competitions we could now focus on our one main aim, to reach the play-offs!
There was also a bit of drama ahead of the game. Sensationally it was announced on the Friday before the match that Queens Park Rangers had sacked Portuguese manager Paulo Sousa after just 26 games in charge, claiming he divulged sensitive information.
In a club statement, QPR said they took legal advice before acting to 'protect their position'
Sousa, had taken charge in November 2008, but won only seven games with the Rs stalling just below the play-off places. They were in 10th spot by the time they came to Turf Moor in April and looked to have blown their play-offs hopes already being nine points behind Burnley in 6th going into this clash.
Burnley fans already knew just before the kick-off against QPR at Turf Moor that a win would ensure we would be a massive seven points ahead of the 7th placed club.
The club had announced over the tannoy that Blackpool had defeated 7th placed Preston in the local derby at Deepdale, a game that had kicked off earlier at 1pm so all we now needed to do was beat QPR and things would look very rosy indeed for our play-offs hopes.
That is exactly what we did too, beating the Rs 1-0 to stay in 6th place on 69 points, now seven points clear ahead Preston who dropped to 8th and Swansea who replaced our local rivals in 7th place on the same number of points. We now just had to hold our nerve with four matches remaining and we would be in the play-offs.
The result certainly made our Easter and we certainly EGGed on the lads to make sure we got the right result. The attendance this time was 15.058.
Coyle decided to put Pato on the bench and give young Jay Rodriguez his first start up front. This was the one change to the sixteen compared to the last three games so we lined-up as follows:
Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Elliott, Blake, Rodriguez
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Paterson.
The Clarets in truth had a nervy game especially in the last ten minutes but manager-less QPR looked a very average side and the rare Rs attacks seemed to come to nothing with Jensen dealing with anything looking a little more dangerous. The one goal in the 49th minute was in the end enough to secure all three points and make it a very rewarding day for all Clarets fans. The goal came from a Blake corner. As the ball came over, Carlisle got in a strong header that got a touch by Eagles to beat Cerny. Carlisle though was credited with the goal.
You can read more about all four of these games by dropping into our Match Archive and clicking these links:
Another Capitol Win for Clarets
FA Cup Replay After No Goals in Dull Rs Game!
FA Cup Victory but at What Cost?
Easter Eggs-tacy for Clarets Fans