QPR kicked off playing towards us; at least we wore our home strip. R's set out their stall early – down the left using McLeod from Everton to feed the local Smash & Grab – Furlong & (ex-Luton) Thorpe. However, a ball wide to Purches Snr. saw him hook a shot over the far angle. QPR were ready to dive in, e.g. Furlong being yellowed for a crudity on Tinders (this led to Tinders missing the next game), so we won a few frees. We won a corner legitimately, then they won one through lino incompetence. Right in front of me, the home player touched it last but the "assistant referee" gave it to QPR & their left-back Padula came over. Our lot made with "gyppo" because of his hair; as I said to someone at halftime, it might've been even worse if they'd known he was Argentinian… And there was new signing Gareth Ainsworth looking from the back just like Stan Bowles.
O'Connor was tidying up & looking to push forward, and SupaFletch was winning headers but no-one was quick enough to reach the knock-downs. Hayts fed Purches Snr. wide superbly; he cut it back & Deadly clipped it onto the bar. Cummings was helped out of trouble by good midfield passing but the move soon broke down. Then O'Connor entertained us with some Rodney Marsh-style keepy-uppy. A fast cross by Purches Snr. saw Deadly unable to head inside the far post, and at the other end Mossie was solid with crosses. Cummings hasn't been right since late last season (although better in this match); I think we have the answer as Deadly executed a perfect left-foot tackle right in front of me to win the ball and send it forward. Purches Snr. put in another good cross, the resultant corner & follow-up were cleared easily and SupaFletch headed wide a O'Connor centre. Although we were making good triangles all over the pitch, and keeping R's service from midfield down to a trickle (Furlong restricted to long shots), in general they were a half-yard quicker on the ground and especially in the mind, even more so than Barnsley the previous week. This is perhaps the most important aspect of having come back up; we have decent players & good organisation but have yet to show that speed of thought.
McLeod hit a rasper just over the angle, then put in a good cross that Broado headed into the net. Amazingly the lino flagged for offside near the pen. spot – his 2nd bad decision but we accepted it! It was the only way they looked like scoring; both sides' service to forwards had been moderate so at half-time it was a deserved 0-0.
We began with a cross from Cummings to Deadly who laid it off for O'Connor who miskicked from 15 yards, then Mossie collected a free-kick easily. Captain Fantastic blocked a through ball for a corner; McLeod was quick & twisty but Mossie was alert, as he was to get down to a Rowlands shot (the midfielder standing in at right-back). QPR now had the upper hand, but Browning initiated a lovely move via O'Connor & Purches Snr., then taking the return but his first touch put it over the goal line. R's came back; a cross was flicked over for their corner then we put together a fast move, looking better for it until the move broke down McLeod raced away & slung over a great cross to let Furlong put a glancing header into the far corner. 1-0, 63.
Time was passing rapidly; was the management keeping the subs back to be fresh for Monday and contemplating a 1-0 defeat as a moral victory? Our fans were yelling at Connell to put his match shirt on & then, on realising it was SOD's decision, got on his back. At last, Feeney & the child Connell came on for Deadly & O'Connor on 84 & changed the game – pace, invention – but not enough time for a telling blow. They lined up Browning for a 20-yarder that was tipped onto the bar, but a 4-1-1-4 formation wasn't going to do it. Big defender Shittu & Feeney tangled in our corner; Shittu cleared & yelled in pain holding his thigh. As Feeney had not really touched him in the slide, I'd presumed Shittu had done his hamstring. Instead, the ref. awarded them a free, yellowed Feeney, & the big Shit(tu) ran back into the centre. I hope he's proud of himself.
Feeney put over a good cross to Wader, inside to Connell and the miscued shot went agonisingly across goal with Browning given offside. Connell was drifting this way & that, tackling up front in a good & welcome return but the whistle went. Full-time 1-0.
We're scrapping, competing, playing strongly, but in each of our 4 first games (actually 5; this written after the 2-2 home to Swindon) we're a goal short of a home win or an away draw (or a goal too many conceded in each case). The hwyl of Cardiff (a Welsh term combining passion and hope) has dissipated; we now face the reality of a small squad in our traditional division where it's muck & nettles from now on.
AFCB (4-4-2): Moss; Tindall, C. Fletcher, Broadhurst, Cummings (Elliott, 67); Purches, Browning, O’Connor (Connell, 84); Hayter; Holmes (Feeney, 84), S. Fletcher.
Subs unused: Stewart, Thomas
Pete Wicks, Greenford