Brave Saddlers, but in the end the same story. Walsall’s latest visit to London ended as the last one did, in a 2-1 defeat despite playing some good football and deserving at least a point. 2 minutes when concentration was lost proved costly, and as happens in the First Division whereas last year maybe it didn’t, we were punished.
A measure of the difference between the squads – QPR can call on Rob Steiner, the Swede who impressed during his loan spell at Bescot last year; ex-Chelsea Gavin Peacock; Chris Kiwomya and the Â£1 million rated Kevin Gallen – who was injured so didn’t make the starting eleven. The Saddlers started with Micky Ricketts and Mark Robins – Andy Rammell fit enough for the bench.
Walsall started the brighter, but the game produced no incident of note until the 30th minute, when Neil Pointon looked to have got Walsall out of trouble by bringing the ball up to the half-way line. But loose control saw the ball given away, Rangers swept it wide, and Wardley found himself clear on goal – he made no mistake with the home side’s first real attack, and we were 1 behind.
Two minutes later another Pointon error saw a cross come in from the same right side, and Chris Kiwomya’s excellent header beat a scrambling Whacker and went in off the post. 2-0.
It was looking bleak for the Saddlers until 5 minutes before half-time when the Saddlers got a break. A bad slip at the back let in Micky Ricketts, who calmly slotted home his 4th of the season (joint top scorer now!) to give us hope. QPR then went up the other end and Gavin Peacock saw his excellent header hit the underside of the cross bar, then brilliantly cleared following a tackle by Ade Viveash. The half ended unluckily for Walsall when a superb move started by Ricketts saw him receive the ball from Wrack, and fire in a dipping 25 yarder that cleared both keeper and crossbar.
Same story after the break – a good spell of pressure with Ricketts at the heart of the action – he had 4 shots in that ten minute spell alone – when just as it looked we’d grab an equaliser, he went up for a header in the area and sustained a nasty facial injury that looks like ruling him out for a few weeks. We knew it was bad when “Trust me I’m a doctor” – a suit – calmly walked over and the subs started warming up.
With Micky off Walsall never really kept up the momentum, although we had lots of the ball. The corners lacked variation, cut out far too easily. Gino and Rambo came on, and then Thomas, his first appearance since being back from his loan spell, who replaced a limping Bukran.
The Saddlers fans behind the goal kept roaring the team on throughout, but started to turn on Robins and Bjarni towards the end, as too often mis-control let them down.
In summary yet another game this season when we’ve had lots of the ball, but fallen to sucker punches. The same issues remain – lack of a midfield, and a striker who can put them away. Man of the match Ricketts gets better with every game, and when fit again should partner Rambo, but it’s time now for Bonser to open his cheque-book, and either sign a proven midfielder who can do the basics, or bring somebody in on loan (and higher wages) to shore up a season that could now start to drift inevitably back to visits to Macclesfield next year.