|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
QPR’s Charlie Austin blows penalty against West Ham as relegation looms
Alan Smith at Loftus Road for the Observer
Published Saturday 25 April 2015 17.17
Football can be so cruel. Without his goals this season QPR would have long been dead and buried in the race for survival but Charlie Austin’s first-half penalty miss in this otherwise dull game has left Chris Ramsey’s team on the brink of relegation.
The QPR manager had spoken before kick-off of his side requiring three victories from their remaining five games if they were to survive and how costly could the striker’s 23rd-minute effort, which was saved by Adrián in the West Ham goal, become for the west London side.
Earlier in the campaign QPR were reliant on their home form to remain in touch, but since Ramsey assumed control in February their record in west London has wilted and this result made it nine without a win on their own turf.
Considering West Ham’s limp performances of late, this represented Rangers’ best chance of victory. Now daunting trips to Liverpool and Manchester City await. Time is running out. “Realistically we still need to win but two might just do it. We have to approach these next two like finals,” Ramsey said afterwards.
As for West Ham, their form line reads one win from 13. A season that promised much has turned stodgy and some players appear to have one eye already trained on sun, sea and sand. Some of the visiting support must have wished they could change their team as easily as David Cameron after this display. “A scrappy battle,” was how Sam Allardyce described the dour affair.
It had actually started brightly when Sandro’s low drive was saved by Adrián 50 seconds in, and West Ham’s Reece Burke, making his first Premier League start at 18, had a header cleared off the line by Nedum Onuoha. But the game rapidly deteriorated into one bereft of quality. Neither side were able to take control, making Austin’s miss all the more crucial.
It was awarded when Bobby Zamora shot and James Collins reacted by raising his right arm to block it. Austin drove it low and hard down the middle but Adrián got down to deny the striker an 18th of the season. It was the Spaniard’s third straight save from the spot. “He spreads fear across the league,” Allardyce said of his keeper.
Matt Phillips had a couple of half chances before the break but apart from that little of note occurred following the penalty, though the second period showed fleeting signs of life. Stewart Downing shot wide after cutting in from the right, before Rob Green produced an impressive save to turn Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick over his crossbar. At the other end Sandro blasted wildly over before Zamora turned Burke on the edge of the area but could not find the target.
Leroy Fer’s introduction with a shade more than 20 minutes to go invigorated the hosts and they had the ball in the net in the 73rd minute through Richard Dunne, only for it to be ruled out by the referee, Mike Jones, after Steven Caulker fouled Adrián from a Phillips corner, leaving Ramsey displeased. “I don’t want to go down the route of criticising referees, but …” the manager sighed.
Desperation took hold, meaning QPR were also living dangerously and Cheikhou Kouyaté should have punished them when fed by Valencia. Adrián denied Phillips in injury time but they could have played on till dusk and a goal would have eluded them.