QPR forward Emmanuel-Thomas is a late starter but patience pays off
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas admits he did not expect to have to wait until October to make his first league start for QPR.
But the forward was pleased to strike twice – including the late winner – when he finally got his chance in Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 home win over Bolton, and he wants to keep filling the void left by the injured Charlie Austin.
There were fears around Loftus Road when Rangers marksman Austin, who has scored seven goals in his first nine games this season, was ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury after limping out of the embarrassing 4-0 derby defeat against Fulham.
But Emmanuel-Thomas, who joined the Rs as a free agent in June after being released by Bristol City, made the most of his chance to impress at the weekend.
It was he who started the comeback when Chris Ramsey’s side found themselves 2-0 down after 11 minutes at home against Bolton. And, with the two sides level at 3-3 in the 94th minute, Thomas curled in a dramatic winner.
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“We’ve got a big squad, loads of good players, and sometimes it’s all about waiting,” said the matchwinner. “I’ve had to wait until October for my first league start, which is not what I would have intended, but it’s happened and when it’s time for me to play I’ll show what I can do.
“You’d never think you’re not going to start a game [until now], but with the form Charlie’s been in there’s not much you can do. You can’t say much when your striker’s scored as many goals in as many games as him, so you just have to keep quiet.”
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Emmanuel-Thomas added: “I’ve never doubted myself when it comes to scoring goals, and I think one of the reasons the club brought me here is because I’ve been able to score a decent number of goals, and hopefully I can bring as many goals as Charlie’s brought in the past.
“I was needed to do a job. Obviously Charlie’s scored a lot of goals in the last games he’s played and with him being injured the pressure has to go onto someone else, and I don’t hide from the pressure.
“For my first game in the league I couldn’t have asked for much more. I had everything – goals, tackles, everything was flying in.
“I think even though we went 2-0 down we know we’ve got goals in the team, and I don’t think we’d go a whole game without scoring, so it was just a matter of time. But we had to stop them from getting another goal and taking it to 3-0, and get the next goal, like I did, to peg them back.”
Asked how his winning strike ranks among his best goals, Emmanuel-Thomas said: “It’s up there, especially because it’s on my right foot. Normally from that kind of distance they’ve all been left-footed, so from that distance with my right foot, I’m pleased.
“I think because I’m a left-footer he [the defender] knew I wanted to shoot but I thought ‘there’s no point in me shooting if he’s just going to block it – if he’s going to slide then the best thing for me to do is to put it on my opposite foot’. It’s all about keeping calm.”
QPR’s victory ended a four-game winless run, and Emmanuel-Thomas was pleased to play his part in easing the pressure, both on head coach Ramsey and his team-mates.
“I’ve been around all the boys and seen what’s gone on,” he said. “Last week wasn’t great but to bounce back and get the win feels a whole lot better for everybody and I’m just hoping we can take off from here.
“When you look at the team we have you know we’re going to win games. It’s just a matter of time before everything kicks off – last season it was the same when I was at Bristol.
“We knew the team we had was going to win games and we actually ended up winning both competitions [the League One title and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy].
“Once you know the players you’ve got around you and what everyone’s capable of doing and play to each other’s strengths, only good things can happen.”