GET IN! Another priceless three points! Saturdays feel much better when Blues win. Everyone was saying this was a must-win; play the same way as we did in the first half against Norwich and we’ll win. We made it more difficult for ourselves than needed but we showed the character to come back and get the three points. Here’s how it happened:
Blues started the game on the front foot and were playing some nice football. Pedersen and Bela were giving Todd Kane a nightmare on the left, the midfield were retaining possession and Hogan was pressing the R’s backline. Blues were getting crosses into the box but they just weren’t finding a man, although, had Jukey been on the pitch we may have scored one or two. Our first shot on target was a Gary Gardner effort on the half volley. It felt like slow motion as Dieng fell to his right to turn it behind for a corner.
Hearts dropped when Bela went down after challenging for the ball. Fans were delighted to see him get up and carry on having played a very influential part in the opening half an hour. Blues had another good chance as Sanchez put in a good cross for Hogan whose header went wide of the post. QPR began to show some promise from set-pieces as Ball had a dangerous attempt blocked from close range. Another warning sign came two minutes later as Dickie’s header was destined for the top corner, remarkably, however, Bela got back to clear it off the line. A foul was given against Dickie but Bela couldn’t have known.
Bela was going from defence to attack after making his way into the box and forcing another great close-range save from Dieng. Blues had been dominant all half, however, as is often the case when you fail to take your chances, Blues found themselves behind. Todd Kane found himself in oceans of space down the right and put in a brilliant cross. There was no chance Charlie Austin was going to miss.
It was a familiar story once again where we had been the better team but found ourselves behind. Everyone was playing brilliantly but one costly lapse in concentration meant we gave ourselves a mountain to climb. This was a must-win and we needed the players to show the character in the second half to get the three points.
The second half was very different from the first half. QPR came out to try and make the game as scrappy and ugly as possible. Blues had a brilliant chance to equalise early on from a corner after a pacey delivery which just evaded Bela. It seemed once again as if it was going to be a costly miss as QPR broke forward. Chris Willock put in a perfect low cross which Johansen just had to tap past Etheridge but thankfully for Blues he blasted it high over the bar. Blues weren’t able to create chances as the clock ticked closer to 90. A triple substitution led to Roberts, Leko and Halilovic coming into play. For the first time in a while, I wasn’t baffled by Karanka’s subs. We were getting beaten in the air on both defensive and offensive set-pieces, it made sense to bring on Roberts to deal with that threat. Roberts almost made a costly error the minute he entered the field after miscontrolling the ball in the box leading to a close escape from Blues.
Roberts would turn hero a few minutes later 8 minutes from time. The classic Marc Roberts long throw was easily cleared, however, the ball came back to Roberts who put in a brilliant first-time cross which Pedersen planted into the net. Dieng was rooted to the spot. Blues had the momentum and were pushing for the three points like it was Survival Sunday. QPR couldn’t take the ball off Halilovic who was a class above since coming on. From outside the box he set the ball out of his feet and I think everyone felt before he hit it that it was going into the corner of the net. A brilliant turnaround on a sunny Saturday which makes one wish to be back home. Five minutes were added on. Leko conceded a freekick in a dangerous area, however, it proved to be easy for Etheridge who unleashed his inner Lee Camp and rolled on the floor with the ball to eat up some time.
It seemed at half time as if it was going to be one of those games and you had the feeling we may look back at this game at the end of the season and think about what might have been. Not many fans were confident given we had picked up only one point from losing positions all season. I’d argue that Blues were much better in the first half and QPR were the better team in the second half, football is a funny game. Results went our way making the three points even more significant: Luton came back to beat Wednesday 3-2, Rotherham were defeated 1-0 by Reading thanks to a goal from Michael Morrison and Coventry were held by Blackburn.
I’ve been saying for weeks that if we want to stay up we have to end our winless run at home. We’ve done that now and find ourselves with 2 wins out of 3, playing well in the last 2. Huddersfield are in awful form and sinking like a stone. They’ve just been beaten 3-0 by a poor Preston side and now Blues will have the chance to overtake them on Tuesday. It was all doom and gloom before kick-off on Saturday last week. We’ve now given ourselves a brilliant chance of staying up and we must continue to distance ourselves from the bottom three.