QPR 1-2 Fulham Six Things: chances galore

Fredericks nets the opener – bbc.co.uk

Had QPR and Fulham been more ruthless in front of goal, we could potentially be talking about one of the second tier’s highest-scoring matches ever, rather than what looked on paper like a run-of-the-mill 2-1 win for the visitors. That came thanks to goals from Ryan Fredericks and Stefan Johansen, though Conor Washington’s injury-time strike sparked a late scare. Here’s six talking points from the match.

QPR’s bright start

The hosts’ football involved using Idrissa Sylla’s physicality by getting him involved early, before bringing midfielders into play. That plan worked well early on with the well-liked Luke Freeman unsurprisingly the Rs’ liveliest performer. He saw a seventh minute shot from the edge of the box deflected wide, then seven minutes later, the ex-Bristol City man combined with Massimo Luongo to find Pawel Wszolek in the area, but the Pole dragged his shot wide.

Fulham’s midfield

The match represented a clash of QPR’s power and passion against Fulham’s possession and panache. As midfielders Johansen and Oliver Norwood came to the fore, so did the away side, who could have gone ahead within the first half hour given a little more final third incision, notably from striker Rui Fonte. Right-back Ryan Fredericks, who blocked Jake Bidwell’s 29th minute effort, was a driving force for the Cottagers, showing the confidence to either attack the flank or cut inside, depending on where the space opened up. He deserved to score the opener on 37 minutes, even if it came via a cruel Jack Robinson deflection.

Inverted full-backs

Just as Fredericks caused problems by cutting in from the right in the first half, Ryan Sessegnon did the same from the left in the second period. On two occassions in a five-minute spell, Sessegnon made a dart from left wing-back to meet a cross from the right at the near-post. Even if he wasn’t able to score on either occasion, the fluidity of his movement sums up the freedom he plays with for the Cottagers, who had many breakaways after the interval. We saw a mixed two minutes for Fonte, who took a poor spot kick after substitute Neeskens Kebano had been tripped by Joel Lynch, but then teed up Johansen to score an impressive strike which appeared to clinch victory.

Late drama

A spirited QPR though thought otherwise, as did the nine minutes of stoppage time, two minutes into which the influential Matt Smith knocked the ball down for fellow substitute Conor Washington to prod home. Smith made a huge impact from the bench, heading wide one of many pinpoint deliveries from Freeman. Fulham’s use of the ball in those closing stages was panicked, with Ibrahima Cisse replacing Fonte to signify a job of shutting up shop. That was completed when Sessegnon and Tomas Kalas combined to clear the ball off the line in the closing stages, but the road could have been smoother.

No cigar for QPR

Ian Holloway’s side put in a performance that showed them at both their worst and best. The Rs lack the tactical variation to challenge for the play-offs, with so many bigger-budgeted sides jam-packed with quality ahead of them. However, the spirit they showed to make a fight of the contest at 2-0 down suggests that they won’t be in any kind of trouble this season, either.

Psychological boost vital for Fulham

The Cottagers have conceded a lot of costly late goals recently, often due to difficulties in sustaining the high-intensity football they play for much of their games. Those issues were on show again in the closing stages, but the fact they held on is huge, for psychological reasons as well as mathematical ones. Tonight was in the main a good performance, but it also taught them another lesson: need to manage games better – and kill teams off while the football flows.