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Match Report: QPR 1-2 Norwich (QPR Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 3rd January 2012
I'm not one to moan about referees. We've had our fair share of bad decisions this season, just like the 19 other teams in the Premier League. However, today's referee was different. Today's referee was completely incompetent. His name was Neil Swarbrick. His decision, with the help of the equally incompetent linesman, cost QPR the game in my opinion. How important the decision will be come the end of the season remains to be seen. It was the main talking point from the game so I may as well start with it.

QPR had the ball and were on the break. Barton was to the right of the play and making a run into the space. Bradley Johnson was chasing him. He first pulled him back then had a little kick out at Barton. Barton reacted to this and squared up to Johnson. They both went head-to-head and Johnson reeled away like he had been headbutted, touching his head and acting like the innocent victim. The referee ran straight past the altercation as play was still going on. The linesman DID NOT flag for any incident and the play continued. The ball went out of play and unsuprisingly, the Norwich players surrounded the referee, urging him to send Barton off. The ref went over to talk to his linesman and once the discussion was over he sent Barton off, gesturing that it was for the headbutt. Johnson wasn't even booked. The play restarted with a Norwich free kick.

Now, a few things stand out here.

1. The referee DID NOT see anything. If he had seen a headbutt, he would have stopped play immediately.

2. The linesman DID NOT see anything. Once again, if he had seen a headbutt he would have flagged immediately to bring it to the referee's attention. Even when the ball went out he did not flag to get the referee's attention. The Norwich players forced the ref to go and speak to the linesman.

3. How can play restart with a free kick when neither the ref or the linesman had even registered an incident had taken place?

Now, people have pointed to the the Gervinho/Barton incident from the 1st game of the season. That has NOTHING to do with this incident. Yes, Barton maybe should have not got involved. But it was clear that Norwich had set out to wind him up after one or two poor tackles on him in the opening exchanges. It was a shocking decision from a referee who left the 15,000 QPR fans inside Loftus Road completely baffled with a totally inept performance.

Before the red card, QPR had looked comfortable. Barton gave the R's the lead with a very good finish after a flowing move involving Alejandro Faurlin and Clint Hill. Norwich weren't creating much and it did seem at this point that QPR would be on course for a vital 3 points.

However, the red card completely changed the course of the game. Anthony Pilkington equalised 3 minutes before half time with an excellent shot from 20 yards and the sides went in level.

QPR introduced Shaun Wright Phillips at the break and he had an immediate impact, forcing John Ruddy in to a comfortable. QPR once again came close to taking the lead when Adel Taarabt's superb free kick was tipped on to the post by Ruddy. It would have been a fully deserved goal for the impressive Taarabt. He was back to his best with a superb display. One outrageous piece of skill and nutmeg on Zak Whitbread was worth the admission fee alone.

Despite the man advantage, Norwich weren't creating much and Lambert made a triple substitution, bringing on Morison, Hoolahan and Fox.

With 15 minutes left, QPR introduced Federico Macheda for his debut after the Italian signed on loan from Manchester United this morning and he almost scored with his first touch. Wright-Phillips fired in a cross from the right and it seemed perfect for Macheda, however he was just beaten to the ball by Ruddy.

On 83 minutes it was Norwich who took an undeserved lead when substitute Morison finished from close range. It was a scrappy goal and one that may prove to be vital at the end of the season.

The game fizzled out and at the final whistle the QPR fans and players directed their anger towards the referee.

Norwich can reflect on a vital win which will go a long way towards their fight for survival. They're not a great side by any stretch of the imagination but in Paul Lambert they seem to have a very intelligent manager who gets the best out of his limited squad. In both games against us this season, his substitutions have had a big impact on the game, with Holt and Morison both coming off the bench to score winners against us.

QPR are left to reflect on what might have been. We showed good spirit in the 2nd half and on another day may have collected all 3 points even with 10 men.

It is 13 days until our next league game and it's vital we make 1 or 2 more signings. With relegation six pointers against Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn in our next 5 games, we really must start picking up points very, very soon.
Jawad Laouira

Total articles: 15

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