Queens Park Rangers were a snatched effort from Adel Taarabt away from an unconvincing victory over struggling Blackburn Rovers. In a nervy, physical contest brightened only by the pace and trickery of David Hoilett, Rangers and Blackburn largely flattered to deceive, carving out a mundane 1-1 draw which largely bored the assembled crowd at Loftus Road. QPR took the lead through an audacious chip from Heidar Helguson, starting for the first time this season after his impressive substitute stint against Aston Villa. Helguson’s delicate effort flew perfectly over Rovers ‘keeper Paul Robinson, and offers hope to Neil Warnock that his side can cope without DJ Campbell, who will be side-lined for up to eight weeks with a suspected broken metatarsal. Any optimism R’s fans may have had of securing their first win at home in eight league games was dashed by the imposing Christopher Samba, who beat Fitz Hall to the ball and headed past Paddy Kenny after 24 minutes.
Many of the home side’s big names flattered to deceive, particularly captain Joey Barton, whose anonymity contrasted heavily with previous performances in the blue and white hoops. Shaun Wright-Phillips was equally ineffective, too often marked out of the game and pointlessly contesting with Samba for headers from the all-too frequent long balls coming out of the QPR defence. Indeed Wright-Phillips may well look to the efforts of Hoilett, who always had time and space to torment Luke Young – an equally-disappointing performer – and made the former Manchester City winger appear inexperienced and naïve at this level.
The frustrated Rangers supporters thought they’d won it when Taarabt, a substitute for the returning Jamie Mackie, was put through on goal before slicing his shot harmlessly wide and blowing arguably the best chance of the game. Mackie was one of few R’s players to cause the Blackburn defence any particular problems, and it would have been greatly fitting for the winger to have exacted revenge on Rovers for his horrific leg break back at Ewood Park last season. Whilst a home draw is hardly disastrous in itself, the feeling must be that the honeymoon period has well and truly ended at Loftus Road, and the series of poor recent results cannot be ignored. The 6-0 defeat at Fulham a fortnight ago made a win today essential, a situation exacerbated by the R’s upcoming fixtures.
With Manchester City and Chelsea to come at home, and difficult visits to in-form Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Stoke City, only the most optimistic of Queens Park Rangers supporters would expect a buoyant, fruitful November. It could have been so much worse, in fact, had Anton Ferdinand’s sliced attempt at a clearance been slightly lower and not hammered off the crossbar.