Incredible. Unbelievable. Crazy. Words really cannot describe what happened in injury time at Loftus Road in this West London derby as QPR came back from 0-2 down after 90 minutes to draw 2-2 just four minutes later with Brentford, their bitter local rivals.
For Sheringham and Solskjaer read Smith and Freeman. Never before has a QPR goal been celebrated less than Matt Smith’s ‘supposed’ consolation header in the 93rd minute, yet never before has a QPR goal at Loftus Road been celebrated more than Luke Freeman’s equalising goal just one minute later. Well, maybe that is stretching it slightly when considering critical goals scored at this famous old ground over the years by the likes of Paul Furlong, Jamie Mackie, Heidar Helguson and Charlie Austin, but all the same this was quite something.
However, when Freeman did scramble in the dramatic late equaliser, the Rangers sections of the ground seemed half empty as many fans had decided that enough was enough and that the match was already lost. As the Rangers’ manager Ian Holloway quite rightly pointed out after the match, at least his players showed character, never gave up but kept fighting and kept believing, unlike many of their supporters.
Let this be another lesson for all supporters of all clubs. Stay to the end, the bitter end, as one day such bitterness may well turn to sweetness and light. The lights most certainly shone on Rangers at the end of the match tonight and after three defeats in their previous matches, they really did need something from this match.
Brentford will be gutted. Having enjoyed the game’s better chances and scored two very good goals, which were expertly taken by Lasse Vibe, as well as having numerous other efforts either blocked, saved or struck just wide, it is a wonder that the game was not all over by the time the drama began in stoppage time. However, to be fair to them, they could not possibly have anticipated what was going to happen next.
For the vast majority of the match, Brentford played the better football and their slick crisp passing was very pleasing on the eye, notably the build up to Vibe’s second goal. Until he was replaced, Sergi Canos proved a real handful on the right hand side of their attack and both he, Nico Yennaris and Ollie Watkins all could arguably have done better with chances that they had created. But it was not to be. Their central defence, which had kept Rangers largely in check for the most part over ninety minutes, suddenly switched off at the most critical time.
Rangers argued that they were on the wrong end of a few penalty decisions that, on other day, might have gone in their favour. Similarly, Dean Smith, the Brentford Head Coach, has subsequently suggested that one of his players was fouled in the lead up to both of Rangers’ goals. However, these things often have a habit of evening themselves out and both managers may well be trying to deflect attention away from inadequacies in their own team’s performances.
Rangers were missing a number of defenders and were literally down to their last bones, with midfielder Jordan Cousins having to fill in a right back role for the majority of the match. Their creative midfielders were also a little subdued, more than likely a result of this poor run of form that they are on, which does have the effect of sapping confidence. They were far less able to impose their creative talents on the match as in previous matches at Loftus Road.
Furthermore, as Holloway tweaked his formation as the match went on in an attempt to salvage the match, he ended up shuffling his midfielders to new positions, which seemed to unsettle them slightly and they created few clear cut opportunities. In the end they had no option other than to resort to trying to find the head of the big man, the substitute Matt Smith. He more than delivered and, with both a goal and an assist, he proved his worth once more for his team.
Honours even, bragging rights shared. Relieved Rangers. Bemused ‘Bees’. Just another normal London derby.