“Adomah at the double” – QPR 1 Aston Villa 2 Match Report

Villa came, saw and conquered. Albert Adomah’s two goals either side of the half time break ultimately won his team the match which, on the balance of play and chances created, they just about deserved.

QPR supporters have perennial nightmares about playing matches against teams managed by the current Villa manager, Steve Bruce. Indeed he has become something of “Bruce the Bogeyman”, such has been his level of success against Rangers over the years. Indeed, the last time he lost to QPR was back in 1999 when he was manager of Huddersfield Town. A different age. A different era. The portents certainly did not look good for Rangers.

Bruce is building a decent side. Even without first choice strikers Jonathan Kodjia and Scott Hogan, as well as the increasingly influential presence of John Terry, who would certainly not have received a particularly warm or polite welcome from the Rangers’ faithful after the Anton Ferdinand affair a few years back, they were well done served by those who were wearing the shirt today, especially their emerging youngsters.

Gareth Southgate has successfully introduced his youth policy to the England team in their last two games and Bruce has done the same with Villa.  Nineteen year old Keinan Davis led the line effectively, with pace and purpose, and Josh Onomah, still only twenty, was arguably the game’s most influential player. He is certainly benefitting from increased game time which Bruce is able to give him during this loan spell and which was becoming something of a rarity for him last season at Spurs.

The game was really decided by a spell just before and just after half time when Villa scored their two goals.

Rangers had taken the lead after 17 minutes, Jamie Mackie bundling home from very close range from a corner and, in what was a very entertaining first half,  his side could quite easily have doubled their advantage.

However, Villa fought back strongly, forcing Rangers’ keeper Alex Smithies into making a couple of excellent saves. The pressure was building. Davis, Onomah, Adomah and Snodgrass all had good chances which were wasted through a combination of poor finishing and desperate Rangers defence. They also stuck the bar and just as the half time whistle was about to blow, they got their reward in arguably somewhat fortuitous circumstances, through the awarding of a penalty for a handball by Robinson. Rangers were not happy. Adomah calmly slotted it into the roof of the net  with the final kick of the half. It felt at the time that this was going to be a pivotal moment and so it turned out.

It certainly took the wind out of the Rangers’ sails, as did the half time replacement of arguably their best player, the Australian Massimo Luongo, who had just returned a day before from the World Cup playoff matches against Honduras. Mile Jedinak, his fellow countryman and now national hero, after scoring a hat trick in the decisive playoff match, had to be content with a place on the Villa bench. It was a wonder he was even able to do that at all after his new found cult hero status back in his homeland.

Rangers came out after the break seemingly far less sure of themselves. The confidence and aggressive intent of the their first half performance was suddenly lacking and Villa sensed their opportunity. Adomah found himself in space, was freed down the left and his precise low skidding left foot shot into the far corner was just reward for his team’s continued attacking approach.

Even more galling perhaps for the Rangers’ fans was that Adomah is a self confessed Rangers’ supporter having been brought up close to Loftus Road. Indeed, in the match programme, he was specifically referred to as “One to Watch”. Alas on this occasion the Rangers’ defence had been negligent and they can hardly complain that they had not been warned.

Villa could quite easily have extended their lead on a couple of occasions but were profligate in front of goal. Rangers huffed and puffed but seemed to lose their way Washington and Sylla entered the fray to little effect, Luke Freeman seemed to be marginalised somewhat as he was moved towards the left flank and Rangers never seriously looked like scoring, a couple of excellent Matt Smith efforts apart.

This was a blow for Rangers. Two defeats now on the spin and the mini euphoria created a couple of weeks ago by two consecutive home wins over the then league leaders, Wolves and Sheffield United, seem a distant memory. For Villa, this was another significant victory on the road in their quest for promotion.  ‘Bruce the Bogeyman’ will sleep well tonight. For Rangers’ players and supporters, the Bruce nightmare lives on.

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