I'm giving my-self my own thread for this for a change, mainly to receive feedback from you guys and not to get lost on the main match report page under the weight of all the other reports.
Please add your own thoughts as we love a discussion round here!
'I love it when a plan comes together...........!'
What a day. Recently going to watch QPR has been almost torture. Heading to the ground with all the hope in my heart quashed by the reality of our performances had become routine. Change was needed and now, by 'eck lad, we've got it.
The Warlock's first game in charge was always going to be highly charged as Rangers fans demonstrated their relief bought on by the end of Briatore's dictatorship. We'd already beaten Doncaster at home in the first game under the new era, but today we faced a top side in our division and were sitting perilously atop of the relegation places, a ten point deducted Palace only keeping us from 4th from bottom.
I went into the game, in all honesty, expecting the WBA midfield to totally over run ours and was praying that we kept the deficit down to two goals only.
My first surprise of the day was the team sheet. Priskin's inclusion baffled me as German sat on the bench and the sight of Ikelme in goal did very little to persuade me that today we had a chance. Seeing Buz on the bench and Taraabt starting also beguiled me as I thought The Warlock would have dispensed with him, affording him the time to look at real estate brochures in Spain.
Our line up at the start was also of concern to me with Hogan on the left, Taraabt on the right and Priskin and Simpson down the middle, Legs and Faurlin in the middle of the park and Connoly, Gorrks, Stewart and HIll lining up in defence respectively from right to left.
From kick off we looked a much better, more disciplined side from the off and immediately took the game to WBA. Legs and Faurlin didn't let the WBA side settle and were immense in closing down the WBA midfield quckly and not giving them the time to settle on the ball. That set the tempo for the whole game.
Going forward we looked like we could get the ball in and around the WBA box quickly and effectively but the final ball was lacking to begin with against a strong and well disciplined defence.
Our first goal had a lot of luck about it, as after Taraabt produced a great cross from the right across the goal, Carson dived on it only to spill it into the path of Hogie who got a touch to it in the melee and it popped up nicely for Simpson to tuck it in the corner.
It was the early goal I was craving for. Immediately the crowd upped it's volume and massive smiles were spread across our faces, for a change.
The second goal was fantastic. Unfortunately the TV highlights last night only showed the final thru ball from Faurlin to Connoly in acres of space inside the WBA box, before he cooly took a touch and slotted it under the onrushing Carson, but hopefully the extended highlights will show how Hill won the ball around our half-way line, then a combination of slick passing involving Taraabt popping up on the left before finding Faurlin in the middle who picked out Connoly with a great pass. A superb goal.
The Warlock did make one tactical change before the 2nd goal, cleverly swapping Priskin and Taraabt over as the WBA #21 was prolific in the midfield and causing us problems as he freely got the ball and ran at our midfield beating most tackles with ease and laying off great passes. By moving Taraabt into the middle it stifled him somewhat as now he had more defending to do as Taraabt was having an amazing game only being pipped by Ikelme as easily the most improved player since The Warlock's arrival.
WBA were still coming at us and the defense was pulled apart quite easily at times in the first half, the commitment was definately there but staying in position and not getting sucked in towards the ball are still massive failings by our full backs. Today it was more Connolly's turn to drift inside in support of winning the ball in the midfield a fact laid bare by the time and space afforded to them on their goal. A massive gap opened up on our right side which was exploited by a crossfield pass to their left winger who had time to pick out their 6'6" striker with a pin point cross and considering he was being marked by Hill at 5'6" who had wandered towards the ball it was an easy header for him which he took with relish planting it firmly beyond Ikelme's reach.
In the second half Rangers continued in the same vein. Pressing WBA when we didn't have the ball and then looking to create passing moves when we did. The galvinisation of our team by The Warlock was extremely impressive. All game he prowled the touch line, shouting at the players, backed up by a silver haired Keith Curle shooting looks of pure anger at any player who happened to look his way!
Somehow the team kept going for the full game, even though Simpson was clearly knackered after 80 mins. and Priskin after 65 mins. (he is still not 100% match fit) but we never looked like surrendering our lead and with the crowd in great voice we patiently waited for the third goal to seal the game.
After a few substitutions which at the time I thought were interesting to say the least and not ones I would have made (for me Buz for Priskin looked more likely not Taraabt) we got the third goal with a huge slice of luck and more terrible goalkeeping from Carson whose position on the free kick was shocking.
WBA continued to come at us but our defence at times was nothing short of heroic, with players throwing themselves in front of the WBA stikers, at one moment both Stewart and Gorrks together, frustrating the WBA strike force and effectively nullifying them in the 2nd half.
Overall it was a great match and sweet relief from the last 3 months. The Warlock has had that new manager effect and now it's down to Tuesday night to see if he can carry the players confidence and produce another battling, committed display which bought a very well deserved 3 points.
Ikelme: Not the same keeper from the last month. Pulled off two marvelous saves, one diving high to his left to turn it round for a corner when it looked a goal and then rushing off his line to take the ball from the feet of the onrushing striker with such confidence and speed that there was only going to be one outcome, a great save. Definately the most improved player on the park for us, only struggled when he had to kick into the wind in the second half like any keeper would have. The Warlock got the best out of him today and considering the difference between this performance and others by him, he get's the MOTM trophy as his first great save preserved our lead and therefore our confidence whith which we went on and won the game.
Hill: Struggled to compete in the air with their 6'6" striker! Overall played well and linked up with the midfield nicely, though still gets beaten to often down the left for my liking and I suspect The Warlock will look at that pretty immediately.
Stewart and Gorkks: Made some great tackles in and around our box, got back quickly every time and at times were heroic with their blocks, literally throwing themselves to the floor to block shots on our goal. Kept it simple with their distribution and like everyone else kept going for the whole game, exemplifying the team performance of the day. Both very good. Gorrks in flashes sometimes brilliant in the tackle.
Connolly: Going forward was very good, his distribution at times great and overall in defence alright. He kept going forward and with an unfit Priskin on the wing not tracking back and occupying the space vacated was caught out of position a few times but got back on enough occasions to get in a block or a tackle. Overall a very good game but probably would improve to an even better player if he had a winger who could track back for him and give him less work to do but he handled it well enough and reminded me why he has been one of the best purchases of recent times.
Legs: Ran eveyrwhere, marshalled the team effectively and had a good game. Was the fulcrum for the team and played his part well. Overall provided the foundation for our impressive performance.
Faurlin: Did everything. Tackled, covered back, always showed for the ball and made good use of it when he had it. Another typically impressive game though hopefully he won't stand out so much in the future as those around him match their performance to his. Still POTY and I don't see that changing.
Priskin: For the first 20 mins. was very good. Received the ball out wide and always laid it off to one of ours, like he did to Taraabt for our first goal, but faded when moved into the middle and by the end of the game was really struggling with his fitness. A much improved performance from Peterborough but it does make me wonder with two fully fit strikers in the squad on loan elsewhere might it be best to recall Helguson at least instead of Priskin who was to knackered to compete once past the 75th minute. He played well at the start, he had a decent game, but come the end of the season we might need that little bit extra that is missing in his tank for now.
Taraabt: Mate! What can I say? Fantastic improvement. Amazing effort and a superb team performance. Passed the ball around and never gave up. Well disciplined in his approach to the game and head and shoulders ability wise above all else on the pitch. Would have got MOTM but for Ikelme on improvement alone.
Hogie: A decent game. Some nice link up play with those around him and a commited performance, but was not so good defensively and needs to work on his positional defensive play. Needs to put more crosses in and beat more defenders down the line. Hopefully with some stability in the club now, will realise his potential under the guidance of The Warlock. I hope we keep him, but he might be a bit to lightweight for The Warlock. I expect him to live in the gym this summer and come out a lot tougher as he has the skill, just needs more strength for his defensive play.
Simpson: A great performance. Ran him-self into the ground by the 80th minute such was his work rate and missed a great chance one on one with the keeper, the only part of his game where he lacks the composure needed, late on. I forget how young he is though and have only one thing to say about him at the moment: SIGN HIM UP! PLEASE!
Subs: Buz played well and of course scored a freak goal thanks to Carson's position on the free kick, Ramage came on and was, well Ramage!
So in all The Warlock's first game in charge was everything we could have hoped for and the fact it came against very good opponents is more reason to savour it. For me the next challenge is to carry this performance thru until the end of the season, not do our regular thing of raising our game to better teams and then playing badly against clubs in the lower part of the table. If any manager though, apart from Martin Oneil, can keep us going and instill some confidence and therefore consistancy in the squad then it's The Warlock.
After a full on day of madness and rushing around I arrived at the stadium last night full of anticipation and hope thanks to Saturday's display off the back of Warnock's appointment. I've, like a typical fan, have gone from a man possessed by doom and gloom into a more hopeful and happy person mainly thanks to the recent changes behind the scenes at the club.
The new chairman has so far galvinised the club into a more positive one but on a strange note I did find the atmosphere last night a bit strange and can't for the life of me work out where this animosity towards some of our players comes from (I'll get back to Priskin later!).
Setting out the same team as Saturday as a just reward for their performance at the weekend Rangers from the off looked the better side. It was obvious Plymouth had very little to offer going forward and were prepared to see out the game for a 0-0 draw.
Far from being afforded the openness of the park like we had on Saturday Plymouth were content to put ten men behind the ball and see if we could break them down. For me that was perfect. With the form Tarrabt has been able to find since Warnock's arrival (I bet Paul Hart really dislikes him now) and a much improved Legs partnering Faurlin in midfield, we kept our discipline and moved the ball around the midfield superbly patiently seeking out thru balls and at times trying to run thru them with the ball, a la Taraabt.
For me Simpson and Priskin played up front with Priskin on the right and Simpson allowed more freedom to roam in conjunction with Taraabt who played in the hole having the freedom to move into position to receive the pass and run at the Plymouth defense with the ball. More often than not he found a Rangers player with his pass and again showed the discipline and determination that he needs to build on if he is to realise his potential in the professional game. At times he ran into brick walls of about 3 or 4 defenders but somehow and at times still a complete mystery to me as to how he did, he managed to almost punch thru them with the ball and then lay it off. Sometimes it made more sense to lay the ball off and run into the space behind to receive it but it was pretty amazing to watch. If he tries it against better opposition thought I can see it ultimately failing but then I am sure he is aware of who he is playing against and it will be interesting to see if he has the nous and discipline to not do that against the likes of Sheff. Utd. on Saturday who will take turns knocking him off the ball. Warnock, one for you to solve mate!
Defensively we were pretty solid again, Connolly standing out for me again. At times I forget he's a defender at the moment as he plays so far up the pitch and contributes to us going forward greatly, but was solid like the others at the back. Hill once or twice getting beat on the ground and always in the air of course, but the discipline was there for all to see last night, we held the back line well all evening and Plymouth didn't manage a shot of any serious intent all night which says a lot.
With Plymouth plotting up in their own half we had to move the ball around and at times we did this simply and therefore beautifully, in one case starting a move off down the right, getting blocked off, passing back into the midfield who worked it out to the left, where it paused and then came back into the middle and we fashioned a decent chance for Faurlin whose shot was blocked by some good defending. The fact that no one took more than three touches and all found a Rangers shirt with their pass was in stark contrast to the previous 4 months where we were lucky to control the ball even before giving it away. I am pleased Warnock has got us doing this immediately and proves that we have great players when on form and I hope Warnock doesn't sacrifice this in the summer as most teams just win leagues, but at Rangers we do it in style and quality that this team obviously can display at times.
Our first goal came from a penalty and even though the Plymouth players disagreed pretty vehemently their supporters behind the goal rightly didn't as the Plymouth player wrapped his arms around Priskin pulling him down in an attempt to make it look like Priskin had backed into him. A slightly cynical foul and certainly wholly stupid rightly penalised as a penalty.
I just shouted at Taraabt "NOT TO DINK IT" and he obviously heard me and slammed it in the bottom left corner. A well deserved goal from our pressure up until then.
Afterwards we expected Plymouth to react and come at us it seemed as we slowed the tempo of the game down but after a while it became apparent that Paul Mariner either forgot about practising going forward in training or that Plymouth are just not that good at the moment, especially away from home. Not being inclined to forget about Mariner in an England shirt will always mean more than likely I will blame him and not the team.
The first half wound down with us going forward more and trying to open up Plymouth more and in the main it was entertaining to watch and a further reminder that some things have certainly improved for the better.
The second half continued in the same way, Plymouth not to sure how to go about breaking us down at the back, mainly trying to go down our left, but Hill put in a commited performance and the defense unit as a whole provided great cover for him at times when he needed it. No longer do we pass the ball back and forth between then and always look to put it into the midfield as quick as we can, affording the defenders to just defend as they do best and it was fitting a defender got on the end of a superb in-swinger from Tarrabt on the left.
Cynically hacked down from behind Taraabt hit the deck hard and looked in real agony, the type of mind numbing pain that is only cured by the referee waving a yellow card in the air which he did so thankfully Taraabt was able to forget about it and jump to his feet as though nothing had happened. Doctors take note. Yellow cards should be available on the NHS for their magical healing properties from the looks of it.
The cross was perfect for a big lump of a defender to get in the mix and get a touch on it and thankfully we have two of those. Stewart somehow got between the defender and goalkeeper to touch it home and from there it was pretty much game over as Plymouth laboured in our half to pretty much no effect. My only complaint about the goal is that if we are going to score from an in-swinging cross please don't do it immediately after I shout "SOD THAT WE NEVER SCORE FROM IN-SWINGERS". Do it before. That way I don't look stupid in public so much. Be nice if the players could bear that in mind.
Again we tired as the game went on. Warnock and Curle have got us up and running and by running I mean running. Non-stop. Another committed display from all on the pitch and a team effort that deserved the three points on a great night.
One thing though, when Buz came on those around me agreed that we hoped it wasn't Priskin coming off because we could sense that the crowd being on his back, he would more than likely been booed, which he certainly didn't derserve. He is still very unfit and I am to pissed off, with him on the pitch and German on the bench, but when we play better opposition he either ups his game or we chuck on German. With the run in we've got it's to much to ask German to lead the line on his own and Warnock needed obviously to have a long look at Priskin. A little too long if you asked me but the board didn't, they asked Warnock instead thankfully and to coin my new phrase 'In Warnock we trust'. I hope it catches on.
MOTM - Tarraabt. Can still make me nervous but has a touch that would make me listen to pop music for and at times was superb. If he keeps this up it will be a shame to let him go but ultimately out of our hands. Enjoy for now.