A poor performance from both manager and players gave struggling QPR a deserved win at the University of Bolton stadium yesterday. Wanderers fans were badly in need of a morale boost after a week of worrying off the field problems, but instead they were treated to negative tactics and defensive mishaps to hand QPR a much needed three points.
Wanderers made three changes from last time out against Preston North End, with two of them enforced as Andy Taylor and Josh Magennis failed to recover from knocks and were replaced by Jonathan Grounds and new boy Christian Doidge respectively. Craig Noone was also preferred to Will Buckley and Yan Wildschut on the left of Wanderers front three.
A minute’s applause to mark former owner Eddie Davies was impeccably observed by both sets of fans and the Bolton fans were ready to get behind the players from the opening whistle. However, Wanderers could have been behind in the opening minutes, as defensive uncertainty allowed Nakhi Wells to get in behind the defence beat Alwnick with a delicate chip, only to for the Wanderers defence to scramble back and clear.
Bolton slowly grew into the game, with new boy Doidge winning some good flick ons and Sammy Ameobi looking dangerous down the right wing. Wanderers best early chance came when a Gary O’Neil free kick picked out an unmarked Sammy Ameobi, however he seemed unsure whether to head for goal or across to a team mate and did neither as his header floated headed wide.
Despite Wanderers having more possession, QPR were creating the best chances with the dangerous Eze firing over after yet another raid down Bolton’s left-hand side. QPR’s next attack down the Wanderers left resulted in the opening goal. Hesitant defending from Lowe and Grounds allowed the dangerous Wells to get clear on the wide right, who flashed a dangerous low ball across the box where Luke Freeman beat Beevers to the ball to turn home at the near post.
Wanderers problems deepened as their best attacking outlet Ameobi failed to recover from an innocuous looking coming together and was replaced by Yan Wildschut, with Craig Noone moving over the right hand side. QPR’s goal gave them confidence, however Wanderers should have equalised before half time. Williams and Wildschut linked well down the left to pick out Craig Noone in the penalty area, who manoeuvred well to give him a clear shot at goal from only ten yards out on his favoured left foot, which he inexplicably placed several yards high and wide of the goal.
Wanderers failed to impose themselves after the break, with the QPR defence getting the better of the isolated Doidge, and QPR doubled their lead after 56 minutes. More poor defending from Olkowski and Wheater allowed Luke Freeman to wriggle free down the Bolton’s right and play a low ball to the back post, where Eze easily beat Grounds to the ball and made no mistake in drilling home from a similar position where Noone had earlier fired over.
Parky responded by throwing on Magennis and Oztumer to provide extra fire power up front. Wanderers were however still failing to carry a consistent threat, until a good move down the right resulted in a foul on Doidge 20 yards from goal. Magennis took charge of the set piece and drilled the ball low under the wall and through QPR keeper Lumley.
Wanderers began to apply pressure and the QPR defence creaked, with Yan Wildschut coming to life and having the beating of his full back to play several dangerous balls across the box that no Wanderers striker could get on the end of. Olkowski had a powerful long range drive tipped over and an acrobatic cross from Craig Noone resulted in a chance for Oztumer at the edge of the box, which was scrambled wide by the QPR defence. That was as good as it got for Wanderers as they succumbed to a second successive home defeat.
There were few positives from a limp home performance against a QPR side there for the taking, however Olkowski was bright and composed again at right back and Yan Wildschut’s performance in the last twenty minutes gave fans encouragement that he could yet be the flying winger Wanderers have been crying out for. These were far outweighed by the negatives, with the Wanderers midfield three desperately lacking creativity and Jonathan Grounds looking very shaky at left back, which QPR targeted and ruthlessly punished.
I heard of some ‘Parky out’ murmurs on social media after the game, which for the record I think is ridiculous given two weeks ago fans lauded him a genius after our start, and if we want to be so fickle then as fans we will get what we deserve if Parky walks out on us. However, Parky must shoulder a significant portion of the blame for the negative tactics he employed yesterday. QPR’s defence was poor and could have been got at, however the selection of three defensive minded central midfielders left Doidge isolated against two powerful central defenders who easily dealt with the direct balls aimed at him.
With tough challenges coming up against Middleborough, Derby and Stoke on the horizon in the coming weeks, Wanderers will need to significantly improve to pick up points and halt a slide towards the relegation zone.