Nottingham Forest 4-0 Queens Park Rangers Six Things: creative freedom

Dowell nets the second –

Queens Park Rangers broke an unwanted EFL record in unwanted circumstances – a 4-0 defeat to a free-flowing Forest side. Here’s six talking points from the game.

QPR’s lack of pace

The visitors started the brighter: quick to second balls with a grip on central areas, but when they got into good positions, they lacked pace in the final third. Idrissa Sylla is not the type to run in behind, Conor Washington wasn’t on his game while Luke Freeman is a more comfortable sender of a final ball than he is a recipient. This chronic lack of pace would become increasing problematic for the Rs as the first half wore on.

First goal the turning point

It took one quality breakaway for Forest to take the lead on nine minutes, when Daryl Murphy, returning to the starting line-up, teed up Tyler Walker for an unerring finish. From that moment on, the youthful hosts lost their early nerves and began playing with freedom and confidence. Ben Osborn, Barrie McKay and Kieran Dowell interchanged with seamless fluidity, the latter rounding Alex Smithies to tap home a second on 44 minutes.

QPR’s torn midfield

The audacity of Forest’s tricks and flicks bamboozled a Hoops midfield that looked caught between a rock and a hard place. Massimo Luongo and Josh Scowen knew that Mackie and Sylla needed support, but they also knew that if they pushed too far up, gaps would be exploited. In trying to offer both defensive protection and attacking support, the duo ended up doing neither, leaving the gap between units far too big. Forest took advantage at the start of the second half, when McKay drifted in from the left to volley home a right-sided cross in at the back-post.

Worrell high-ground

For the next 25 minutes, the hosts dropped their intensity, allowing QPR to play on the edge of the final third but the imperious Joe Worrell headed clear anything that came his way. The arrival of Mustapha Carayol and Andreas Bouchalakis led to one final spurt and Walker, an academy graduate with a strong family connection to the club, completed a special afternoon. He fired Osborn’s left-wing cross into the roof of the net, setting up a free-for-all during which Carayol could have added a fifth.

QPR’s City Ground curse continues

Not only were the West Londoners thrashed, in doing so they set a new unwanted record. They have failed to win in their last 34 visits to the banks of the river Trent since 1934: no team in the EFL has played more away matches at one club without winning. Given that they had beaten promotion contenders Wolves and Sheffield United in the week prior to this match, albeit both were at Loftus Road, Rs fans must be thinking a curse has hit them in West Bridgford. Then again, defensively, they didn’t help themselves.

Warbs walking on water

While it might seem ludicrous to compare Mark Warburton to Brian Clough after one nice win, there are certain stylistic parallels between the two men that are difficult to ignore. Warburton is a footballing purist who allows his players high-levels of creative freedom, without worrying unduly about the opposition. It is not a great surprise therefore that, after watching some dreary, ill-fated regimes, fans of the Tricky Trees have taken the ex-Rangers boss to their hearts. It remains to be seen whether they can reach the play-offs this season, but one thing is for certain: Warburton has re-connected Forest with the core values that brought the club their finest hour.