Sunday, 17 February 2019

THE66POW: FORTHCOMING GAMES 2018-19

Forthcoming games:
Tue 19 Feb - Mansfield Town v Doncaster Rovers - Central League - 1PM at Alfreton Town FC
Tue 19 Feb - Notts County v Newport County - EFL League Two - 7.45PM
Fri 22 Feb - Nostell Miners Welfare v AFC Emley - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45PM
Sat 23 Feb - Birmingham City v Blackburn Rovers - EFL Championship - 3PM
Mon 25 Feb - Nottingham Forest v Derby County - EFL Championship - 7.45PM
Sat 2 Mar - Hull City v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 3PM
Sat 9 Mar - Nottingham Forest v Hull City -EFL Championship - 3PM
Sun 10 Mar - Birmingham City v Aston Villa - EFL Championship - Noon
Fri 15 Mar - Retford FC v Retford United - CMFL North - 7.45PM
Sat 16 Mar - Preston North End v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 3PM 
Mon 18 Mar - Mansfield Town v Lincoln City - EFL League Two - 7.45PM
Fri 22 Mar - England v Czech Republic - Euro 2020 Qualifier - 7.45PM
Fri 29 Mar to Sun 31 Mar inc.
Groundhop UK Event: Scottish Groundhop 2019:
Including visits to:
Duniplace FC, Camelon Juniors, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Blackburn United, Linlithgow Rose and Peebles Rovers.
Footnote:
I don't always list the full schedule of games that I'm intending to travel to in advance, especially the midweek ones, so have the kettle on ready, just in case I turn up unannounced :-).

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Notts County 1 v Mansfield Town 0 - EFL League 2

Saturday 16th February 2019
SkyBet EFL League Two
at Meadow Lane
Notts County (1) 1
Craig Mackail-Smith 19
Mansfield Town (0) 0
Attendance: 12,660 ...which includes 4,283 in the Jimmy Sirrel Stand, which was allocated to away supporters, but I saw quite a few Stags fans in the Derek Pavis Stand too... however, they remained incognito, but if truth be told, they had absolutely nothing to shout, or get even mildly excited about, for the vast majority of the game.
On today's evidence, if you were viewing this game sans the benefit of having any prior knowledge  of the facts of the matter in hand upfront, and you'd been asked to guess which team was the trailblazing and all-conquering form-team, going into this afternoon's match in second place in the table, just three points behind the current League Two leaders Lincoln City, and which one has spent the last few months sinking up to their ears into the relegation quicksand, while becoming a laughing stock both on and off the pitch, then you could be forgiven for thinking that it was Notts County who have been enjoying a bouyant season and were in the ascendancy, instead of today's losing side who have been enjoying by far the better of things of late.
Neal Ardley has recruited well during the recent transfer window, and subsequently his team are unbeaten in February, including a draw against the aforementioned Imps and wins against two other promotion chasing sides, namely: Forest Green Rovers and this afternoon's victims Mansfield Town.
The Magpies had looked all but dead and buried at the turn of the year, and were being widely written off as relegation fodder, but if they continue their recent run and defeat Newport County at Meadow Lane on Tuesday night, they will actually claw their way out of the drop zone (i.e. the bottom two places in the whole of the Football League), albeit by a solitary point, but that is a massive leap from the position that they were seemingly anchored to, just a month ago.
Gordon Banks - Rest In Peace
Things could actually have got a whole lot worse for the Stags, had it not been for two moments of overly lenient refereeing, when the match official, one Lee Mason, only showed a yellow card to Ben Turner early in the game, when he wrestled Craig Mackail-Smith to the ground unceremoniously, when the 'Pies number twenty eight had a clear sight of goal and was to all intents and purposes 'the last man'... it was a clearly a sending off offence and Turner was a lucky man to still find himself involved in the game, even if Mackail-Smith had got away with the crafty use of his hand in the build up that led to the more blatant transgression. Jacob Mellis was very fortunate too, that his lunge on Virgil Gomis around the hour mark only earned him a booking, because his foot was up and his studs were showing... and unless I'm mistaken, that is also a red card offence.
Either way,the Stags manager, David Flitcroft substituted both of the players mentioned above, possibly for tactical reasons, but probably most likely because he wanted to keep eleven players on the pitch.  
I'll no doubt stand accused of showing bias to the home side for presenting my take on these two incidents in such a way, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is merely my impartial overview on what I saw with my own eyes... and anyone who knows me will be well aware of the fact that I most certainly wouldn't have been favouring County today, nor did I actually want them to win this game, not by any stretch of anybodies imagination. 
Mansfield were below average today (and I'm definitely showing my bias here, by describing their limited input to this game so generously), but it is something of a misnomer to assume that that the Stags were the architects of the own downfall, because much as it pains me to say such a thing:  Notts won the game because they deserved to, by virtue of being the better side, by overrunning their shell-shocked visitors in midfield, and by showing a hell of a lot of heart, passion, desire, work-rate and running (five attributes that they were the only side to display any inclination towards all afternoon)... and for ultimately claiming the points with a very well taken goal, when Maikel-Smith rattled the ball past Jordan Smith, after Gomis had directed Rob Milsom's right wing cross back towards the Scottish marksmen, as Mansfield struggled to clear their lines in the nineteenth minute.
It would constitute telling a complete pack of lies, if I'd even tried to put a positive spin on the overall game from a Stags perspective, or redirect any of the credit that County wholly warranted away from them.
For what it's worth, both sets of supporters thought that the referee was poor, and I'd have to concur with that point of view too and there were plenty of examples of his curious decision making that I could list to quantify that comment; but even though he'd spared two Mansfield players the ignominy of being sent off, his often frustrating performance didn't influence the end result, because he completely dumbfounded both teams in equal measure, with a number of his bizarre calls.
Mansfield had totally dropped their guard today and got clobbered where it hurt the most as a consequence. Maybe they were displaying signs of being complacent, but even if they did let expectations cloud their judgement, it needs to be said, that if Notts continue to turn up and put a shift in like they did today, they will still be 'the oldest Football League club in the known universe' next season.
It would be churlish to rubbish the Stags altogether on the strength (or more to the point, their failure to deal with County's strengths) of this solitary display, when so much progress is being made at the club this season, but they seriously need to address what went wrong today (and last Saturday when they also lost 1-0, at Newport County) and get back into a positive and focused mindset, with immediate effect, or they're going to see all of the effort they've put in thus far evaporate away to nothing, as they come up against teams who are desperately looking for points to bolster their own campaigns, who will up the ante and tempo accordingly and do whatever needs to be done, by any means necessary, to improve their own lot.
On reflection, Mansfield had a couple, maybe even possibly three half chances today, but they never even registered a single shot on goal all game... so they now need to pick themselves up, adopt a far more serious battle code and prove to everybody, including themselves, that they're genuine contenders and not mere pretenders. 
I'm sure that they'll be up to the task in hand and want to put things right ASAP, starting in their next two games, against Forest Green Rovers and Cheltenham Town, which are both being played at Field Mill (AKA the One Call Stadium).
But as regards today, sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say: the opposition thoroughly deserved to win because they were the best team over the course of the entire ninety plus minutes. Michael Doyle and Jim O'Brien bossed the midfield, Enzio Boldewijn and Virgil Gomis both played very well and were a handful that the Stags struggled to deal with, Mitch Rose impressed and Craig Maikel-Smith was providing his recently signed teammates with plenty of options as well as finding the net with a well taken goal... while John Stead put in a real captain's performance.
FT: Notts County 1 v Mansfield Town 0 
Footnote:
If anybody is planning on attending the Stags Reserves game v Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday afternoon, it's being played at Alfreton Town's 'Impact Arena' (North Street, DE55 7FZ) and kicks off at 1PM

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Retford United U19 0 v Sheffield United U19 5 - WVH NMU19L

Thursday 14th February 2019
Worksop Van Hire North Midland Under 19 League
at Cannon Park
Retford United  (0) 0
Sheffield United (2) 5
Gomis Nickeson 40, 62,
Kevin Tunde 43,
Hassan Ayari 63,
Angelo Cappello 85
This Thursday night contest under the Cannon Park floodlights, was, for the most part, as one sided as the final score suggests, as the young Badgers were gunned down by an impressive looking Blades side, who staged a modern version of the St. Valentines Day massacre
Retford started the game well enough, but once the visitors started imposing themselves, with an impressively high standard of passing and moving quickly off the ball, there was only going to be one winner tonight, even though it did take until the fortieth minute for them to open the scoring in this cup tie.
Tonight's encounter was scheduled league game, even though there is still the small matter of an outstanding 'rescheduled/replayed' cup game to be settled between these sides, after both teams had broken competition rules when they initially met, with the Blades fielding two ineligible players on the night, while Retford played one in their side too.
That game will be played at Cannon Park on Thursday 28th February.
Nickeson Gomis, who scored the only goal of the game when I saw him in action a few weeks ago, for the Blades U23 team in a Premier Development League clash against Birmingham City U23 at Bramall Lane, claimed two goals for himself tonight, including the visitors first after forty minutes, when he cut into the right hand side of the Retford area and drilled a diagonal shot across the face of  Georger Atkinson's goal, that nestled just inside the left hand upright. This was after both Ollie Ashwell and Alex Wonham had gone close to scoring for the Badgers.
The Blades took a two goal advantage in at half time, after Kevin Tunde 'dinked' a dipping free kick from twenty yards out, that squeaked in just underneath the crossbar.
HT: Badgers 0 v Blades 2
Leo Ghaxa and Jean Leroy-Belehouan, both went close to extending the visitors lead, while Gomis missed an absolute sitter from just four yards.
The Blades number three Darnell Joseph, took time out from motoring up and down the left flank, to block a well struck shot from Wonham, but the otherwise dominant visitors put the game beyond reach just after the hour mark, with two goals within a minute of each other, when Angelo Cappello's shot was saved by Atkinson, but Gomis was on hand to score off the rebound... and straight from the restart, Retford conceded possession and Hassan Ayari dribbled his way into the left hand side of the Badgers area and rolled a well weighted angled knock inside the far post.
The Blades were stretching their hosts to the limit and all that Retford could offer in response was to defend deeply and try to make a fist of implementing some kind of damage limitation approach.
Wonham was fouled some twenty yards out from the visitors goal as  the Badgers made a rare push into the opposition half, but having got back to his feet to take the free kick himself, the Retford number nine drilled the ball straight at the Blades defensive wall... and before long it was 0-5 as Jacob Mattock's long range strike was blocked but Cappello was on hand to pounce on the loose ball before finding the net with just five minutes left to go. 
Ashwell went to ground as he got into a tangle with a Blades defender, just inside the visitors area... and though there were some fairly vociferous calls for a penalty, the match officials were well placed to make a decision and were unmoved. To be fair, I thought it was a six and two thirds type tangle, much as the home supporters might disagree with me.
Wonham was unlucky to see his curling free kick crash back off of the top of the left hand upright, and the last action of the night saw Cappello cut into the Retford area from the left and nudge the ball just inches past the far post.
FT: Retford United 0 v Sheffield United 5

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Birmingham City 0 v Bolton Wanderers 1 - EFL Championship

Tuesday 12th January 2019
SkyBet EFL Championship
at St. Andrew's Stadium
Birmingham City (0) 0
Bolton Wanderers (0) 1
Callum Connolly 71
Admission £10. Programme £3
Attendance: 21,682 (398 away fans)
Blues had three efforts on target all night, Lukas Jutkiewicz struck the first one straight at the Trotters goalkeeper Remi Matthews inside the first fifteen minutes, but didn't manage another one, until after the hour mark, when Matthews pushed Jota's angled shot against the bar... and by the time that Che Adams had the third one, in stoppage time, that the Bolton custodian turned around the post at full stretch, the visitors had scored the only goal of the night, when Callum Connelly headed past Lee Camp from Luke Murphy's right-wing free kick. It could have been worse for Birmingham but Camp did well to keep out Craig Noone's twenty yard strike towards the end of the first half.
Without any shadow of a doubt, there have been occasions this season, when Blues have 'won ugly' and let the opposition have the ball for long spells during games, while snuffing out any threat they might ave posed, with a horses for courses steadfast determination to close down even the slightest volume of space that could've been exploited to overcome them.
Well... that is exactly the approach that Bolton implemented tonight. And it worked too.
Wanderers would obviously have been happy with the draw, but will have been delighted to snatch and grab all three, given their current predicament in the Championship table, inasmuch as they're currently twenty third in a twenty four team league... and prior to tonight, they'd only won one game out of their previous twenty one.
As a spectacle, this game was... (and please excuse my profanity at this juncture, but I'm trying to really emphasise a point) fucking awful!
But, that said, I completely understand why Phil Parkinson organised his visiting side the way he did.
Football is an entertainment industry, Saturday afternoon's QPR 3 v Blues 4 thriller being a case in point, but it is also a results based business, where balancing the books by playing at the highest level possible, is the requisite acceptable standard that some club's have to adhere to and upon which, in some cases, their very survival depends. I'm not condoning it and I certainly didn't enjoy tonight's encounter in the slightest... but from time to time, you just have to accept that the dirge that you are watching falls under the heading of 'needs must'.
On the plus side for Birmingham, Isaac Vassell got another fifteen minutes game time under his belt and even David Davis was on the pitch for the final ten minutes of the game (for the first time this season), as they both look to rebuild their fitness after long term injuries. Though in truth, they both still appear to still have quite some way to go to that end; but at least the pair of them will provide Garry Monk with options when he needs to rest players; an option he hasn't had for quite a while now, with such an overstretched squad. There have been times, particularly since the turn of the new, when several members of his team, have seemingly pushed themselves through a tiring schedule, fuelled by adrenalin alone.
Blues now have a week off, before resuming league action with a home game against Blackburn Rovers on the February 23rd... and some time out might be just what this side needs to recharge their batteries and prepare themselves for the continuing battle that lies ahead.
Of course, in the meantime, the EFL might be clobbering Blues with a points deduction... twelve seems to be the most common figure that is being bandied about (twice the amount of points that Bolton have already taken off of them this term)... before that next Championship fixture at St. Andrew's, but it would be wrong to speculate until all of the genuine facts are known and out in the open, and any actual sanctions have been imposed and/or any subsequent appeal lodged against any still as of yet hypothetical punishment.
It must be squeaky bum time for numerous clubs as they wait to see if a potential precedent is about to be set imminently.
FT: Birmingham City 0 v Bolton Wanderers 1
Football is often referred to as the 'beautiful game', tonight it was as ugly as sin... completely hideous in fact! 
But in a roundabout way, tonight's events also illustrated just how unpredictable, open and intriguing this Championship competition actually is (once again) this season. 

Mansfield Town 3 v Morecambe 1 - Central League

Tuesday 12th February 2019
Central League (Reserves)
at the Radford & Hymas Academy, Pleasley
Mansfield Town (1) 3
Nyle Blake 22
Kian Sketchley 48
Tyrese Sinclair 90+1
Morecambe (1) 1
Sam Dalby 39
Mansfield Town Reserves:
Wilson, Armsden, Walker, Wilder, King, Bircumshaw (C), Tague, O’Sullivan, Sinclair, Blake (Sketchley 32), Knowles (Molyneaux 89)
Unused subs - Marrs, Saunders, Cashmore
Morecambe Reserves:
Szczepaniak, Cannon-Noren, Williams, Brownsword, Moore, McKay, Obasoto, Hedley, Dalby, Collins, Oates.
Unused subs - Jumeau, Twiname, Price, Djau, Bakare
To mark the occasion of my 100th of game of football this season, I spent the afternoon at the recently opened RH Academy at the end of Woburn Lane, in Pleasley, just off the A617 to the west of Mansfield.
I've visited this place on several occasions before, but this was the first time that I've actually watched a game being played here.
For the benefit of anyone planning a visit, there is a seated stand within the enclosure that houses the 4G pitch that was used this afternoon, along with provision for spectator standing... and a spacious cafe area inside the main building, that looks out over this training ground facility and the adjacent grass pitches.
The Stags team was made up of Under 21 and Under 18 players, while a few club scouts were present to run the rule over the visitors centre forward Sam Dalby, who is currently on loan at Morecambe from Leeds United.
Dawid Szczepaniak, the 'Shrimpers' keeper was called into action early on, when Tyrese Sinclair tested him with a well struck free kick.
Rhys Oates fired wide of Sam Wilson's goal as Morecambe began to build up a head of steam, before the aforementioned Dalby, almost opened the scoring, but was thwarted by a goal-line clearance by  Riley O’Sullivan. The Stags number eleven went on to put in an eye catching performance, playing in an advanced position, in tandem with Sinclair.
The deadlock was broken in the twenty second minute, when the visitors failed to clear a corner and the ball sat up invitingly for Nyle Blake, who netted from ten yards out with an opportunist strike.
Jimmy Knowles (twice) and James Tague both went close to increasing the lead for Mansfield, before Morecambe upped the ante towards half time and the aforementioned Dalby showed why he is attracting so much interest, by levelling up the score with a well taken equaliser.
Sadly, Blake the Stags goalscorer never finished the first half and limped back to the changing room at half clutching an ice pack.
O'Sullivan was pivotal again for the home side three minutes after the interval, pulling the ball back and picking out Kian Sketchley, who had come on in place of Blake towards the end of the first half... and the Stags substitute crashed the ball past Szczepaniak.
Tague and Sinclair, both set up chances for Knowles, who was proving to be a thorn in the Morecambe defence's side... and Szczepaniak did well to get his body behind O'Sullivan's strike, as Mansfield put the squeeze on their visitors and looked to kill the game off.
Harry Bircumshaw, the Stags captain, was putting in an industrious display in the heart of the hosts midfield and he worked his way deep into Morecambe territory with a mazy dribbling burst of pace, before knocking the ball across the 'Shrimpers' six yard box, but none of his teammates could provide the finishing touch to cap off his great run.
In the final ten minutes the young Mansfield side seemed to take their foot off the gas and almost let the opposition back into the game, especially when Tom Moore headed a glorious chance narrowly wide from close range as the clock ticked down towards full time.
But Tyrese Sinclair secured the win for the Stags, with a well struck half volley from just inside the Morecambe area as the game moved into stoppage time.
The 'Shrimpers' weren't without their plaudits today, but the home side deserved the win... and could've been out of sight by the time that Sinclair struck (just to make sure), so late in the day, after a raft of chances had gone begging earlier in the game.
FT: Mansfield Town 3 v Morecambe 1

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Queens Park Rangers 3 v Birmingham City 4 - EFL Championship

"They call it Shepherd's Bush city limits"
Saturday 9th February 2019
SkyBet EFL Championship
at Loftus Road Stadium
Queens Park Rangers (1) 3
Matt Smith 45+1, 48, Jordan Cousins 80
Birmingham City (4) 4
Che Adams 21, 26, 42, Harlee Dean 36
Attendance: 14,234 (inc. 1,774 away fans)
Birmingham fans were only given the top tier of the away stand this afternoon, exactly the same as they were last year, because of an incident that occurred the season previous to that, when a Rangers fan invaded the corner of the pitch and headed to the away support beckoning for someone to come and fight him. Subsequently a Blues supporter joined him pitch side and put the aggressor on his backside with a single punch.
How on earth could anybody ever come back and recover from such an embarrassing and crushing humiliation?
In response to the incident, the Metropolitan Police have decreed that the lower tier must remain closed, when Blues visit, save for the small number of disabled away supporters, who are allowed in and tucked into the side of that level closest to the home supporters, from where the guy who was the root cause of the trouble and his friends sit.
It's a situation that must create a big drop in match day revenue for the home club... even given the over the top pricing of match tickets, and it could easily be resolved, if the 'Met' coppers didn't still react to any visit from Birmingham City to the capital, as if it was still 1986.
Back in September, these two teams played out a dour and goalless stalemate, at St. Andrew's, when both sides were still making a tentative and slow start to the new season.
Today's game was the exact polar opposite of that bloody miserable occasion. I recall that it was one of those games that was so awful to watch, that I almost left at half time, but decided to hang around on the assumption that the second half surely must get better, but it didn't.
The contrast between that complete dirge and today's edge of your seat stuff, that unfolded in such a spectacular, dramatic and crazy fashion, was ginormous to the nth degree... and put the supporters of both teams through the whole range of a wide spectrum of emotions.
I arrived at the ground just over a hour before kick off and waited outside the club shop to meet two (so called) friends I'd picked up tickets for, when this harmless looking enough R's fan approached me and asked: "Excuse me... is your name Rob?" while holding out his hand to shake mine. I confirmed that was indeed my name and he thrust a pen in my hand, while shuffling through a pile of A4 sheets of paper, festooned with signatures, with various dates written across the top of them, he then asked me to sign the one headed: QPR players 1970's. It would have been easy just to scribble something (anything) on the paper and make good my escape, but I didn't want to spoil his painstakingly assembled collection of autographs. So, I tried to explain that I wasn't anybody famous and that he was mistaking me for a.n.other.
But he was a determined little chap... "It doesn't matter if you only played three times, all QPR players are important to me really", he told me before going on to confirm that two men stood inside the shop had pointed me out and told him to ask me for a signature. It later transpired that they had been telling him that I'd played a handful of games for the Loftus Road club in 1976, but only as a substitute, before retiring early from the game to become a cameraman at the nearby BBC studios on Wood Lane, because I knew that I would never be good enough to get a first team place.
Bastards! I knew exactly who had been telling him fibs now and would've happily torn their tickets up there and then if they had already paid me for them.
For the record, I was only thirteen in 1976, but could probably pass for being much older than I actually am these days.
I tried to explain that he was having his leg pulled and pointed out that Andy Sinton was just walking past and that he used to be a real footballer, who played for England n' all that. So the confused soul toddled off after him.
But then he came back! And then started following me. as I briskly paced away down the South Africa Road towards the Queens Tavern, hoping that he'd eventually decide to go away and leave me alone.
I spotted Hardy Harr, the admin of the Tilton Alliance group on Facebook and stopped for a quick chat, telling him about the autograph hunter, at the exact moment that he meandered back into view, diligently clutching his pen and paper. So Hardy raised his voice, just loud enough for my newly acquired stalker to hear him say: "Oh right, so you used to play for Rangers did you!?" Arrgh, no!!!
At least he didn't find me again, as I vanished into the flats behind the aforementioned pub and found a hiding place, until the coast was clear. But I didn't half get some strange looks from the people up on the beer terrace balcony, as I squatted down among the rubbish bags behind a skip.
The turnstiles were open when I returned, so I exchanged the two tickets for their face value with a certain pair of toss pots I have the misfortune to know, and slipped into the ground all stealth like and kept watch from the top of some stairs, while sipping on the most disgusting cup of coffee that it's ever been my misfortune to have ever purchased, until I moved out into the open again to take my seat in readiness for whatever this afternoon had to offer.
I padded out last Saturday's blog, with several hectares worth of laborious text, by way of an overly detailed explanation and overview, pertaining to the game I'd just watched at St. Andrew's, for the benefit of a disgruntled group of homeward bound Nottingham Forest fans, who seemed to be under the completely false impression, that they hadn't been beaten by a tactically superior Blues side, who had actually controlled the shape and pace of proceedings throughout; but were seemingly under the illusion that they had lost the game for themselves, without any help or input from Garry Monk's side, simply by being completely inept.
It was, I felt (quite strongly), only right to put on record, just how much Birmingham City deserve far more credit for the way that they go about things at times like that.
However, I am not about to adopt any long winded waffle type approach, to fill out the requisite number of column inches as regards this game today, and the reason for that is: it's way beyond my limited scope of knowledge and comprehension of the intricacies of the game of football, to actually analyse and dissect this game and I don't have the required level of vocabulary or writing skills, to narrate large chunks of what manifested itself, before my disbelieving eyes, out on the field of play, in this bijou and compact corner of Shepherd's Bush.
There were times when I didn't have a bleedin' clue what the effing hell was going on (did anybody really?) but I'll tell you this much, it was bloody great entertainment that got the pulse racing... and lots of fun too. In't football brilliant!!!
Rangers started at a decent enough tempo, but once Blues got going, they were irresistible to watch for spells during the first half, particularly that passage of the game between the twenty first and forty second minute, where they cruised into a four goal lead, during which time the man of the moment, Che Adams, helped himself to a hat trick, to take his goals total for the season to nineteen, by virtue of scoring in his sixth game in a row... take note, the current club record is held by a young player going by the name of Trevor Francis, who found the net in seven consecutive league matches in 1978. Blues are at home on Tuesday night against Bolton Wanderers, tickets for the game are just £10. What more motivation do you want!?
By the way, Trevor Francis also played for (and managed) today's hosts and appeared on the back cover of today's programme, sporting a range of classic Blues home kits.
Gary Gardner fed the ball towards Adams, but Joel Lynch moved fast to get between the striker and the ball, as Joe Lumley advanced from his line, but Adams was back in front of Lynch in a flash, using both his speed and strength to reach the ball, before making himself a yard of space to turn one way, then the other, to shake off his marker, before drilling the ball across Lumley into the far side of his goal, to give  Blues the lead.
A few minutes later Maxime Colin won the ball in the middle of the park and rolled it forward to Jota, who threaded a ball through the R's central defence, to coincide perfectly with Adams blind side run... the prolific marksman motored diagonally past Lumley and rolled the ball into the empty net.
It was nearly 0-3 when Lumley turned the ball round his post at full stretch from (G) Gardner's shot.
But Blues didn't have to wait long until they found the net again, when Jota's right wing corner presented the unmarked Harlee Dean with a free, downward header. Rangers were in disarray and when a quick interchange between Adams, Jacques Maghoma and Jota, including two backheels, presented the latter with a shooting chance, he crashed the ball against the woodwork, but Adams was on hand to stab the ball home on the rebound, while Lumley struggled to find his footing amid the chaos that was unfolding all around him.
Game over! Surely!?
Hmm... perhaps not, eh?
After all, didn't QPR used to have a player around the time of their 1967 League Cup Final and Third Division title triumphs called (Mark) Lazarus? How apt!
So, in first half 'stoppage' time, Matt Smith grabbed what appeared at the the time to mere a mere consolation goal for the hosts, squeezing the ball in by the near post, from Luke Freeman's corner kick delivery from out on the right.
But the complexion of the game changed quite dramatically, when Smith scored again, three minutes into second half 'startage' time. Steve McClaren had instructed Massimo Luongo to keep tabs on Jota after the half time break, while also making a double substitution at the break in an all or nothing chuck of the dice to salvage something out of the wreckage of his side's first half mauling... and his side very nearly succeeded too!
Adams had been the visitors man of the match during the first half, but after the restart, that honour went to Blues (former QPR) goalkeeper, Lee Camp.
Smith was on a mission to grab a hat trick for himself, but Camp had other ideas, denying theHoops striker on three separate occasions and tipping the ball over his bar at full stretch, after another Smith effort had taking a wicked and looping deflection off of Wes Harding as he put his body in the way.
With ten minutes remaining, the ball pinged around Camp's area, as the visitors fought tooth and nail to get it away, but it fell invitingly to Jordan Cousins just inside the area and he crashed home Rangers third goal.
The impetus and momentum was all with McClaren's side by now, but Camp was growing in stature as the second half approached the ninety minute mark and he was called into action once again, turning over Smith's header from Jake Birdwell's cross.
In the last minute of the scheduled ninety, Kerim Mrabti was put through on the R's goal by a well weighted pass from Jota, it would've been the perfect time for the Swede to open his Blues goalscoring account, but Lumley managed to block his shot and the ball cannoned off of him and over the bar..
There was a massive cheers around three sides of the ground,when the fourth official signified that their would be five added minutes. Jesus wept! Has anybody in here got any nerve ends or fingernails left by now?
Rangers were throwing everything into the mix now, even their goalkeeper was in the Birmingham area for set pieces... and with just one minute of added time remaining, Freeman went to ground over a sliding challenge from Craig Gardner and the referee blew up for a penalty.
Lee Camp v Nahki Wells... who dares wins!
Nahki Wells stepped forward and struck his shot low, hard and on target, but Camp went the right way and kept the ball out, by getting his torso bin the way, while (G) Gardner dashed forward and hooked the ball away.
Blues survived two even later corner kicks, but held on for the three points.
Wow! What a great afternoon that really was.
FT: Queens Park Rangers 3 v Birmingham City 4
I don't like football, oh no!
I LOVE IT!