Bolton lost 2-0 away from home for the second game running with Mark Little’s early second-half red card banishing any hopes of taking anything away from Loftus Road. Bolton failed to deal with Matt Smith’s aerial threat (more on this later) and were very poor going forward, all of which culminated in another away disappointment where the most impressive thing was the fantastic visiting support. Here are my player ratings:
Ben Alnwick 8
He is in the form of his life at the moment and if the season ended today he’d be my player of the year. Wanderers should have been 3-0 down at half-time and Alnwick’s superb shot-stopping kept QPR at bay. He had little to no chance with either goal, but I do have a gripe with his distribution. It has always been his most obvious flaw and in this game his decision to hoof all free-kicks long and take 30 seconds each time before kicking the ball made it easy for the likes of Joel Lynch and Nedum Onuoha to deal with our attack. Without Gary Madine we must limit how often we kick long and changing this philosophy starts with Alnwick.
Mark Little 4
He wasn’t having a good game before he was sent off and while it’s very likely we’d have lost anyway his ludicrous decision to dive in two-footed on Massimo Luongo (who was nowhere near goal at the time) put us in dire straits. After being my signing of the season thus far he has gone off the boil considerably of late and hopefully when he returns from suspension he’ll be back to his best. For now, enter Jon Flanagan.
David Wheater 5
Before the game, upon viewing QPR’s team sheet, I was optimistic a man with Wheater’s talent for heading could cope comfortably with Matt Smith. Though he fared best out of the three centre-halves at dealing with the target man he was still found considerably wanting. Having been rested midweek with this match in mind his performance was pretty ordinary. He also had the best chance of the game for Wanderers with Alex Smithies saving his header from point-blank range. Taking all this into account it was a day to forget for the Redcar Rock.
Mark Beevers 4
He had improved dramatically from his disastrous early season form, but he was pretty awful at Loftus Road. Smith dominated him and his clearances to no-one were Matt Mills-esque. What I find amazing is that Dorain Dervite was dropped despite being our best defender in the last few games. After this display the Frenchman may well get his place back.
Reece Burke 5
I thought he did OK and we are certainly a better team with him in it but his decision to try and mark Smith at times instead of leaving him to the other centre-halves was stupid and a clear mismatch. He did marshal Connor Washington pretty well but his distribution, usually his best asset, was fairly poor. He will have better days of that I am certain.
Antonee Robinson 5
He lost his battles with Pawel Wszolek and Luke Freeman in the first half and while he kept them quiet in the second period he didn’t offer very much that was positive in this game. Like Burke we are certainly a better team with him at left-back but in this system too often he is having to mark two players at a time and this is too much for the young man. I have never liked this system and when it harms one of our best players it becomes a real hindrance.
Karl Henry 4
Karl looked like an old man on his return to Loftus Road. He simply did not have the legs to compete with the pace of QPR’s Josh Scowen and Luongo, allowing them too muh time on the ball when they never gave him a second. His distribution was lacklustre and negative, but my real complaint is that he didn’t put in strong challenge all day. Bolton were bullied by QPR and when Henry becomes a victim of such treatment you wonder what the point of him is. I will concede that this could be just an off day but it did highlight every concern I have about him and his ability to compete at this level.
Derik Osede 6
Derik is a ball-playing midfielder and when his first pass of the game went straight into touch, nowhere near anyone in a white shirt, you feared for him. I feel he recovered well, however, putting in challenge when nobody else did and reading the game well to make countless interceptions. He even created a decent opening for Tyler Walker in the first-half with a good through ball. Someone will drop out for Pratley and right now I think it must be Henry rather than the Spaniard.
Josh Vela 5
Vela ran around and put in a shift but didn’t do anything with the ball. I think this system hinders him and his ability to be a creative threat but even if Parky doesn’t change it reports suggest he could be out for a while with another ankle injury. I wish him a speedy recovery but frankly I’m not sure how much he’ll be missed.
Sammy Ameobi 6.5
He was OK at times and is the only player we have that has genuine skill, but he didn’t look bothered too often at QPR. Against both Bristol City and Fulham he was superb but his nagging habit of going missing was in full view in this game. He deserves a higher rating than most for some of his play, but I feel he was only active in the game for a total of 5 minutes during the 90.
Tyler Walker 7
He deserves the highest rating of the outfield contingent for simply working his socks off. He was up against two big, physical centre-halves and managed to win some aerial duels, hold the ball up well and provide our biggest goal threat. In the second half he should have done better when played in behind just after we went down to ten men, but overall he can be proud of his effort and desire to take the fight to Rangers, something his teammates seemed less keen to do.
Jem Karacan 6.5
Coming on from Vela at half-time for his first taste of football since September, Karacan was pretty good. He found a lovely ball through to Walker to set up his good chance and was positive in everything he did. He looked forwards when passing and thundered into challenges. If he comes in for Vela I back him to rediscover his good form.
Adam Le Fondre 6
He worked hard and was a nuisance but didn’t get any scoring opportunities, only having one header hit Nedum Onuoha’s arm though I think a penalty would have been harsh. I reckon Clough will start on Tuesday, but Alfie did his chances no harm.
Filipe Morais 6
I have no issue with him losing out to Smith for the second goal as he had no chance of ever winning a header against the big man and he was pretty tidy after coming on in a very hopeless situation. He is our Mr Reliable.