The dullard’s derby duly lived down to reputation, since Newcastle neglected to accept Queens Park Rangers’ generous offer of a free pass for another season of lucrative mediocrity.
Yet undeserved survival somehow remains in their hands. They will stay up if they equal or better Hull City’s result against Manchester United when West Ham visit St James’ Park next Sunday. Since a basic level of competence seems beyond them, this is not as straightforward as it sounds.
Newcastle have accumulated a single point in 10 games, having squandered a simple opportunity to earn the victory at Loftus Road which would have inadvertently justified owner Mike Ashley’s behaviour and confirmed the ruinous logic of his business plan.
Rangers, soothed by the certainty of relegation, roused themselves to stage a second-half comeback, but their first home win in 11 matches hardly merited a desultory lap of honour. It was undertaken once stewards had cleared a post-match pitch invasion, in which a QPR fan was prevented from unveiling a homemade banner which read “Mercenaries Out” and a small group of Newcastle fans threw a variety of missiles.
The locals are such connoisseurs of calamity they chose to glorify failure by serenading Newcastle fans with the prediction “You’re going down with the Rangers”. No one should be surprised if such taunts are borne out, because statistically these are the two worst Premier League teams of this calendar year.
Matt Phillips equalised for QPR in the 54th minute, towering above Daryl Janmaat, who gave his best impression of a doormat as the winger converted Austin’s far-post cross with an untroubled header. He also played a pivotal role in the winner eight minutes later, exploiting a poor clearance by Newcastle’s keeper, Tim Krul. The ball fell to Leroy Fer, whose 30-yard, right-footed drive sailed past a wincing Fabricio Coloccini and into the roof of the net.
Newcastle should have had sufficient insurance to counter such unexpected setbacks. They had ample opportunity to build on a lead established midway through the first half, in a manner which would have disgraced a Sunday League side.
Krul’s long kick was misjudged by Steven Caulker, who allowed Emmanuel Rivière to control it before scoring his first Premier League goal. His subsequent somersault was extravagant, since he slipped as he hit his shot, which cannoned off his standing leg, but at least it signalled the end of Newcastle’s 558-minute wait for an away goal.
Robert Green, inadvertently kneed in the head by Joey Barton, was led off to a standing ovation in the 34th minute. Alex McCarthy, his replacement in the QPR goal, made several anxious saves as Newcastle pressed.
Afterwards, John Carver, Newcastle’s head coach, understood another defining challenge awaits. “Let’s get the next week out of the way,” he said. “Then we can have a postmortem.”
QPR: (4-4-1-1) Green (McCarthy, 34); Onuoha, Caulker (Yun, h-t), Dunne, Hill; Phillips, Barton, Henry, Hoilett (Grego-Cox, h-t); Fer, Austin.
Newcastle: (4-2-3-1) Krul; Janmaat, Coloccini, Dummett, Gutierrez; Colback, R Taylor (Aarons, 64); Sissoko, Cabella (Ameobi, 73), Perez; Rivière (Cissé, 64).
Referee: Lee Probert.
Man of the match: Phillips (QPR)
Match rating: 5/10Reuse content