As toxic levels rise inexorably, with both poison chalice holders, manager and chairman, coming under pressure from a frustrated support increasingly questioning of a club seemingly in search of a direction, Town scraped a point in a dire contest thanks to another Grant penalty.
In most circumstances, a draw at Loftus Road, now touchingly renamed The Kian Prince Foundation stadium, would be rightly viewed as creditable given QPR’s standing in the game, but neither the opposition nor the location was relevant.
After a painful second half of last season, for which no blame could attach to the new manager, slightly alleviated by 2 final games of relative competence against less than fully competitive opposition, and a full pre-season to prepare, supporters are still searching for signs of renaissance, some semblance of a new identity and, perhaps above all, evidence of managerial competence.
Siewert deserves a little sympathy as he took over from a man whose consideration of his fast disappearing reputation outweighed his responsibility to a club already suffering an enforced crisis of leadership and there appeared no solution to the spiral of failure. Having accepted the challenge, however, Jan inherited the responsibility and has been given time to impose himself on the job.
He will know that the support’s patience has been stretched to it’s limits with, it seems, a majority yearning for a discernible upturn in fortunes from the very start of the season. This may or may not be an unfair demand, but it is his reality. Goodwill, which extended in to the pre-season, is now spent.
An opening day defeat against a competent Derby County piled on the pressure for a game which could hardly be considered a knocking bet, but the long awaited improvement in fortune failed to arrive, again, in a messy encounter not helped by strong winds and early downpours.
A pacy run by Diakhaby promised a very early boost for the visitors but ended with a tumble deemed a dive by referee Whitestone who booked the young Frenchman.
Rangers’ dangerous youngster Eze, who had scored a well publicised and fantastic goal against Stoke in the R’s opener, brought an excellent save from Grabara and looked a lively handful for the first 20 minutes before rather fading from prominence as the game wore on.
Bright Samuel forced the impressive Grabara in to another stop as the home side dominated the opening 10 minutes.
Weathering both a figurative and actual storm, Town came in to the game and a great through ball by the debutant O’Brien fed Karlan Grant on goal but an unnecessary first touch allowed Lumley to narrow the angles and block. The attack wasn’t over, however, and the combative O’Brien won the ball back and fed Bacuna who brought a spectacular but routine save from the home custodian.
With both sides enjoying brief flurries of pressure, an entertaining battle seemed likely but soon descended in to a scrap of low quality punctuated by poor tackles, misplaced passing and little shape from either side.
Pritchard had an effort from outside the box which troubled Lumley rather more than it should have, but the half descended in quality as it went on and boiled over following a sequence of events featuring Bacuna.
First, he was felled from behind rather crudely by Cameron, who should have been booked, and was refused entry back on to the field of play with the ball deep in Rangers’ territory. Stupidly, the young midfielder took out his frustration on Manning with a high, late challenge which had the home fans near the incident howling for a red card. Replays suggest their ire was not simply partisan.
It made for a bad tempered end to a half from which neither side really deserved to take anything.
While far from exhilarating, the visitors had performed competently, bar Bacuna’s stupidity, with O’Brien enjoying a good debut and Elphick restoring his reputation alongside Schindler with a solid display.
Sensibly withdrawing Bacuna who was one poor decision away from dismissal, Siewert switched Pritchard to the middle and brought on Kachunga to play wide.
Within minutes of the restart, it seemed that the manager had been dealt a winning hand for once as the German was released by an excellent flick by Grant behind the home defence (and possibly a tad in front of it). Driving forward, Kachunga was bundled over in the box and neither the linesman nor the referee were in much doubt as the latter pointed to the spot.
Lumley’s antics; complaining to the linesman and, illegally, banging the crossbar as Grant lined up failed to distract Town’s main goal threat and the penalty was despatched nicely.
This was as good as it got for the visitors who failed to register a single shot on target for the rest of the game, and barely threatened at all from the hour mark.
The hosts enjoyed the majority of the possession for long periods yet rarely looked threatening until the closing stages. Town seemed to be on their way to a scratchy and barely deserved 3 points largely through the inadequacies of the opposition who could only point to easily blocked shots as evidence of territorial dominance.
Elphick was again proving solid and stopped one powerful Eze shot with his head when a goal looked certain and despite one or two scrambles, a decent save by Grabara and a shot which just flew over from Samuel, the hosts seemed destined to draw a blank.
At this point, Siewert decided to replace Diakhaby with Quaner; a decision he will surely now rue as the erratic German managed to give away a dangerous free kick, get booked and lose his man at the free kick which brought Rangers a deserved equaliser in a disastrous cameo.
Difficult as it is to guess which Quaner you will get either as a starter or a substitute, you can always be certain that his aerial ability, despite his size, is virtually non existent. To have him mark an opposition central defender on the back post was grossly negligent and as Grant Hall met an admittedly well delivered free kick which Collin had ducked under, the elusive 3 points were lost.
A second half which had started so brightly descended as it went on. Seemingly playing by instinct (and, sadly, not the instincts which bring inspiration), there seemed little in the way of a plan other than to smother the game. Forays forward were rare and mostly snuffed out with ease. Grant nearly drew a foul for a second penalty following a ball from the hard working but limited Kachunga and a lovely move down the left found Diakhaby released in to space but otherwise the home side took control.
As time wore on, Town visibly tired and while the equaliser was down to an individual’s defensive error, the free kick given away by Hogg was avoidable in the first place.
The visitors held on for a point which was barely celebrated by a following deeply sceptical of the performance of the manager. Lincoln and Fulham represent the thinnest of ice for a coach haemorrhaging support from the fans and increasingly in the hands of a Chairman holding his own poisoned chalice.
An interesting week ahead.