That ref, more penalty controversy, Batman and why aren't the Millers turning up until the second half? The story of QPR 3 Rotherham United 2

That ref, more penalty controversy, Batman and why aren't the Millers turning up until the second half? The story of QPR 3 Rotherham United 2

By Paul Davis | 25/11/2020

That ref, more penalty controversy, Batman and why aren't the Millers turning up until the second half? The story of QPR 3 Rotherham United 2
Matt Olosunde goes down but no penalty is given at QPR. Pictures by Jim Brailsford

 

ROTHERHAM United's players trooped glumly off the pitch after falling just short in their late fightback.

Meanwhile, fuming Matt Hamshaw was heading in the opposite direction to give the referee, standing in the centre circle with his assistants after the final whistle, the benefit of his opinion.

A lip-reader would have had a field day as the coach ripped into Oliver Langford.

It was happening again. For the second time in successive matches, the Millers had been denied a clear spot-kick that had potentially cost them a precious Championship point.

After Handballgate at Swansea City a few days earlier, Rotherham were now being shortchanged at Loftus Road. Matt Olosunde ran at QPR; Nico Hamalainen took leg not ball; nothing doing, ruled Langford.

"We had a stonewall penalty on Matt," said manager Paul Warne. "There is absolutely no need for him to go to ground - he is in behind the last defender. It is hugely frustrating."

Hamshaw didn't let up. He continued to harangue the official. But the damage had already been done.

The Millers headed back to South Yorkshire on Tuesday night nursing a sense of frustration.

However, the injustice couldn't disguise some worrying signs in West London.

THE MATCH

Just like at Swansea, Rotherham didn't turn up until the second half.

By then they were 3-1 down, having conceded twice in two critical minutes just before half-time, and, in truth, could have been even further behind.

They were second best, second to every ball, unable to get a grip in midfield and like rabbits in headlights every time a certain opponent was in possession.

Winger Bright Osayi-Samuel shone even more than his first name, setting up Ilias Chair's deflected opener and scoring a wonderful goal following Michael Smith's equaliser.

Osayi jinked one way, Samuel went the other and Angus MacDonald and Joe Mattock were left marking only the hyphen as his shot whipped into the net just seconds before Dan Barlaser's handball allowed Lyndon Dykes to strike from the spot.

Angus MacDonald at Loftus Road

"It was two different performances," said Warne. "The first half was completely different to the second half. I thought in the first half we showed QPR too much respect, which is disappointing because we played an attacking side.

"Out of possession, we weren't close enough, tight enough. We didn't make enough tackles and we backed off their dangerous players.

"QPR have got some amazing players and their frontline is excellent, but we kept dropping into the box rather than engaging high up the pitch and that caused us all sorts of problems.

"I thought if we could get to half-time at 2-1 down then we could make the necessary changes to try and help the lads. To concede the penalty right on half-time was a sucker-punch, but at the same time 3-1 did not flatter them."

Smith had headed his first goal of the season from Wes Harding's pinpoint 38th-minute cross and led the second-half revival with a commanding centre-forward's display.

Warne's changes worked and, as the contest was transformed, even QPR boss Mark Warburton admitted that the home side were hanging on for dear life towards the end.

Freddie Ladapo had a shot on the turn saved, fellow substitute Olosunde tumbled, shockingly to no avail, and Ladapo nodded home in the 84th minute after Michael Ihiekwe's header had come back off the post.

Yes, it was that Oliver Langford. The one who blighted Rotherham's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic two seasons ago, the one who ignored Norwich City's penalty-area GBH on Richard Wood in the same season, the one who blows for little things, misses big ones and is comfortably the worst Championship official the Millers have encountered in recent campaigns.

"I thought ours was a stonewall penalty," Warne repeated. "I watched theirs back and theirs was a stonewall one as well.

"It makes a massive difference to the outcome of the game, I don't think we got much in the way of official generosity. But you have to make your own luck. You have to impose yourself.

Scorer Michael Smith

"Overall, I’m hugely disappointed, I came here to try to win the game, I don’t come to sit behind the ball. We were fairly open and unfortunately our more attacking players didn’t give us as much as QPR's gave them in the first half.

"In the second half we changed it and went a lot more athletic. Jamie Lindsay and Crooksy had a massive impact on the game and we just looked more lively really. We were putting decent crosses in.

"Freddie had a chance to make it 3-2 with 20 minutes left. That was a bit of a turning point. Then we got the goal and had a couple of free-kicks and drops and I thought we were going to take a point.

"The second-half performance was different to the first in many ways. We have to coach the negatives, but we need to take the positives. It was a very mixed evening."

Rotherham are 19th in the table, three points above the drop zone, and know they have been the architects of their own downfall in the last two matches.

They came close against Swansea, just as close against QPR, but not quite close enough. The fear is, unless they sort out their starts, they might be saying the same about survival in May.

ATTITUDE

While the Millers were being given a first-half lesson, Warne was also taking heed of one.

"I have learned a little bit about certain individuals," he said. "I have learned we need to give them more confidence when they walk on to the pitch.

"Maybe we need to concentrate more on what we can do and less on what the opposition can do, but it is a very fine line. I love my group and I am heartbroken for them when they don't perform to a certain level.

"We will lick our wounds. The games come thick and fast and we need to learn because we are playing the best team in the league (AFC Bournemouth) on Saturday. If we haven't learned, it will be a very long afternoon."

They couldn't legislate for a decision like Langford's.

A stone's throw from Loftus Road is a little road called Batman's Close. You pass it on your left as you walk to the ground from the Wood Lane tube station

Grimly apt on the night, as the Millers weren't far away from a superhero ending at the ground where they had famously won in the last minute in 2019.

Hamshaw, gesticulating, questioning, his face creased with anger, stayed on Langford's tail all the way to the tunnel.

Rotherham had every right to point the finger at an inept official whose failings had stolen their chance of a point.

Batman. And robbing.

Goals: Chair 20, Osayi-Samuel 45+1, Dykes pen 45+3 (QPR); Smith 38, Ladapo 84 (Rotherham).

Rotherham (4-4-1-1): Jamal Blackman; Wes Harding (George Hirst 84), Michael Ihiekwe, Angus MacDonald, Joe Mattock; Florian Jozefzoon (Matt Olosunde 59), Dan Barlaser (Matt Crooks H-T), Ben Wiles, Trevor Clarke (Jamie Lindsay H-T); Kyle Vassell (Freddie Ladapo 74); Michael Smith. Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Billy Jones, Richard Wood, Mickel Miller.

QPR (4-2-3-1): Seny Dieng; Osman Kakay, Conor Masterson, Yoann Barbet, Niko Hamalainen; Geoff Cameron, Dom Ball; Bright Osayi-Samuel (Albert Adomah 79), Ilias Chair, Chris Willock (Macauley Bonne 60); Lyndon Dykes. Subs not used: Liam Kelly, Todd Kane, Lee Wallace, Tom Carroll, Faysal Bettache, Charlie Kelman, Ody Alfa.

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands).




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