In the last three months Kevin Doyle played against ten League One teams, some of them twice, and failed to score. On Saturday it took him just six minutes to breach the second tightest defence in the Championship.
Not every striker can score goals to order like a Ruud van Nistelrooy, most need the conditions to be right. On a technical level Doyle's parent club Wolves, after back-to-back relegations, no longer have players who can deliver set-pieces with the precision of Niko Kranjcar, whose corner Doyle converted at Loftus Road.
Then there is the mental aspect. Doyle, as he admitted after QPR's 3-3 draw with Championship promotion rivals Burnley, 'needed a change'. “That's fair to say,” said Doyle. “A number of lads at Wolves have done the same in the last year. Ideally I would have liked to have stayed, but this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.”
Wolves, where Doyle scored 33 goals in 173 matches – less than half his strike-rate at previous club Reading - has not been a happy place to be in the last few years. Nor, until this season, has QPR, but under Harry Redknapp they are now.
“He needs to get his career up and running again,” said Redknapp of Doyle, whose deadline day arrival on loan was prompted by what Redknapp said was a season-ending shoulder injury for Charlie Austin. “He was a good player at Reading,” added Redknapp. “He has a great attitude. This is an opportunity for him to show people what he can still do.”
Doyle's game has never been just about goals. A strong runner he leads the line with intelligence and energy. Much the same could be said of the combination who secured Sean Dyche's enterprising team a point. Sam Vokes holds the ball up well, Danny Ings shrewdly works the channels, and both are adept at bringing others, especially each other, into play. Until this season neither had been prolific – Ings's 22 goals in 32 games is more than he managed in 90 previous matches, Vokes' 15 in 33 makes this easily the most prolific of a stop-start eight-season career. But with Austin's summer departure to QPR leaving a vacancy the pair have clicked.
“We're opposite kinds of players, but we work well together,” said Vokes. “We work on things in training, each others' runs and so on, and it seems to have come on this year. For me the Gaffer starting me every week has given me the confidence to go out and play.
Doyle and Vokes played together at Molineux but rarely dove-tailed. Now each have been given the chance to flourish by Austin being, respectively, transferred then injured. That is the other factor a striker needs besides supply and confidence – opportunity.
QPR (4-4-2): Green; Onuoha, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Phillips (Hoilett, 5), Barton Kranjcar, Traore (Henry, 83); Doyle, Johnson (Maiga, 69).
Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell Mee; Arfield, Marney, Jones, Kightly; Ings, Vokes.
Referee: R East
Man of the match: Danny IngsReuse content