Five talking points from QPR’s victory over Rochdale in the EFL Cup
PUBLISHED: 10:03 24 August 2016
Sandro scored twice as QPR came from behind to beat Rochdale 2-1 at Loftus Road on Tuesday evening. Here are five talking points.
A tale of two defensive midfielders
There was an interesting contrast in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s midfield selection on Tuesday evening; sitting just ahead of the back four was summer acquisition Ariel Borysiuk and next to him was Sandro.
For Borysiuk it was a debut in front of his new fans after recovering from a pre-season ankle injury, while for Sandro it was a chance to put himself in the shop window.
A move to Russian side Rubin Kazan failed to materialise earlier this summer, and now the ex-Spurs man is said to be considering legal action after Sporting Lisbon reported he had failed a medical due to knee problems; a claim he has vehemently refuted.
Is he part of Hasselbaink’s plans? it seems not, but there was nothing wrong with his performance – other than a few trademark robust challenges – as he equalised for the Rs just before half-time, turning in a low shot from Tjaronn Chery’s corner.
Then he went one step further, crouching low to head another Chery delivery into the back of the net and pointing to the skies in celebration. He knows this will have done a potential move away from west London no harm at all.
It was ever so quiet around Loftus Road on Tuesday evening. Some research prior to the tie unearthed the fact that the lowest ever attendance for a QPR game at the stadium was 3,036 against Dagenham & Redbridge in the LDV Vans Trophy in November 2003.
The numbers weren’t quite so demeaning this time around – 3,928. While the Dale brought 211 fans down from Greater Manchester and the Loftus Road end was half-empty, the main stand ended up being generously populated – although noticeably subdued.
Two league defeats in a row have done little to convince fans the sensational start to the season will last; just 13,307 watched Saturday’s defeat to Preston.
But this was essentially a valueless game, with neither team likely to feature past the next round or so - and with holiday mode in full swing for many, it shouldn’t be much of a worry.
The attacking presence of QPR’s forward line was much-maligned in the defeat to Preston on Saturday, and the two players most likely to make a difference – Conor Washington and Nasser El Khayati - both started against Rochdale.
It was just the fifth time the latter has appeared in the starting line-up, and he probably did lack the killer instinct in providing for Washington up front, but a knock sustained towards half-time meant he wasn’t really given a chance to, either.
On the other hand his replacement Tjaronn Chery – the Rs’ top scorer thus far - was clearly hungry to put right what had gone wrong on Saturday. No sooner had he entered the fray, he had taken a corner and teed up Sandro to level up the tie.
The importance of Chery
It seems ridiculous to be restating it, but the Dutchman really is a key player for QPR. The Preston game was not his finest hour – nor was it anyone’s in reality – but it cannot be overstated how influential his introduction was in the cup tie.
It took just a minute for him to provide the assist for Sandro’s equaliser, and he again set up the Brazilian midfielder on 74 minutes with a teasing cross. A hat-trick of assists was almost chalked up inside the final 10 minutes when he put Olamide Shodipo through on goal, but Conrad Logan was equal to his effort.
With three goals and three assists in just five games, Chery is sure to attract widespread attention at a higher level - if not in this transfer window then next – but QPR simply look so much better with him in the side and he will prove himself indispensable time and time again this season.
Give Matt Ingram a chance
He didn’t have a lot to do last night, admittedly, but based on his distribution alone Matt Ingram’s performance was superior to what Alex Smithies offered on Saturday.
At just 22 years old (Ingram) and 26 (Smithies), the pair already have almost 400 league appearances between them but, judging by Smithies’ throwing, kicking and punching against Preston, you would have done well to guess it.
Former Wycombe youngster Ingram had already kept two clean sheets in just five appearances in blue and white before tonight and, although he couldn’t add to it against the Dale, he displayed his distribution credentials - even if the only real save he had to make was from Donal McDermott’s cross-cum-shot when the referee had already blown for offside.