|Queens Park Rangers v Derby County|
Tuesday, 7th March 2017 Kick-off 19:45
What I.Saw: McClaren Sounds Like A Man Adrift... Completely Lost
Wednesday, 8th Mar 2017 13:31 by I.Saw
Tuesday 7th March, Derby County versus Preston North End, it didn't feel like a football match. No excitement, no anticipation. It was flatter than the fens. Outside that was.
Inside Pride Park conventions of mice would make more noise, it was quiet in the concourse.
On the pitch we changed De Sart for Butterfield and Preston kicked off.
Two minutes in we should have scored, Cyrus Christie whipped in a cross and Matej Vydra rose but not by enough as his header flashed over the bar. Behind, David Nugent, perfectly placed cursed the ball not reaching him.
By such margins games are won and lost. Poor communication between teammates.
Between teammates Derby moved the ball slowly and laboriously. A touch, control, another touch then a pass, we were predictable. Preston had a man to the ball at all times, quick to close. We couldn't settle, we lacked time on the ball. We gave Preston space.
The Lilywhites nearly led, a flashed header from Jordan Hugill just over the bar. Only four minutes gone.
Preston were playing one touch football, fast passing they were the better team.
Scott Carson flew like Superman to drag a cross off Auden McGeay’s head, like scooping up a kitten about to be run over.
On the half hour Callum Robinson headed home, a raised orange and yellow chequered flag raised wiped the goal out. One of those occasions when you gladly believe the officials.
Unlike the clocks, the video screen that counts the minutes gone and the one above the South Stand which shows the time remaining, were a good ten seconds out of synch in the first half.
Yes, it was that sort of football match. You sought interest wherever you could find it. Half time, time for a wake up call.
We found one. Second forty five we commenced moving the ball quickly one touch football, we gave the ball away frequently. Yet we were more fluid. We had urgency. We had threat.
Butterfield in the centre circle, a low diagonal ball, Nugent behind the defence. A cut inside. A shot blocked. It falls kindly to Vydra who turns the ball home. One nil to the Rams five minutes gone in the second half.
We nearly add a second Christie's cross narrowly evading the boot of Nugent at the far post.
We stop doing what works. We go back to two and three touches, we stand off.
All apart from Bradley Johnson, who after being caught by McGeay’s high foot had his game of the season. Johnson was here, there and everywhere, fired up like a bull in a china shop, you kept out of his way if you had any sense. My man of the match by a country 1.609 kilometres, well whilst we are still in Europe might as well make use of their measurements whilst we can.
Elsewhere we retreated, invited Preston on. Vydra, Nugent & Johnson gave way to Abdoul Camara, Darren Bent and Craig Bryson.
Fresh legs didn't help. Five minutes of injury time signalled. We manage most of it.
With seconds remaining, Preston a long punt upfield, a flick on, an extended toe connects with the ball moments before Carson and the ball trickles embarrassingly into the net. The scoreboard tells us Tom Barkhuizen was the scorer.
Barely time to kick off and the game ends honours even at one all.
We slip from eighth to tenth. Surely our season is over.
Over the airwaves, after the match, manager Steve McClaren sounds like a man adrift on a raft in the ocean. He has a paddle, but which way to row.
He's lost. Completely lost.
The only things now to look forward to, is beating Forest in just under a fortnight and the International break which will at least save one weekend of abject mediocrity.
If we can find something to do of course.
Post Match Reaction – Gaffer & Players
Photo: Action Images
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