LOCAL LAD TOM IS COCK-A-HOOP
QPR may have been dominated by big names and bigger money buys in recent years, but against Ipswich Town it was a homegrown youngster who stole the headlines.
Tom Hitchcock, whose only previous claim to fame was being the son of former Chelsea keeper Kevin Hitchcock, made a dream debut as he came off the bench to tap home a last-minute winner that sent the Tractor Boys home with nightmares.
The 20-year-old was on loan at League Two Bristol Rovers last year but replaced former Spurs, Fulham and England striker Bobby Zamora with seven minutes left and had a much bigger impact than his much more illustrious teammate.
If QPR are to bounce straight back up, then it might be players like Hitchcock they need to rely on.
“He is a goalscorer and he can find the back of the net,” said Rangers assistant boss Kevin Bond
“We were short up front so we thought we would try and have a look at Tom and there he was to score.
“He is a homegrown boy and it is fantastic for the club.The fans like to see it if you can bring on a youngster and if they can make an impact there is nothing better.”
Ipswich thought they had done enough to weather the QPR storm, which came almost entirely through Charlie Austin, before Hitchcock’s intervention.
Austin saw shots blocked, saved and hit the crossbar in a frustrating day for the former Burnley man before his skewed shot was parried by Scott Loach to the feet of Hitchcock for the winner.
Joey Barton was influential throughout and Bond was noncommittal as to whether the controversial midfielder will be at the club come September, though he did though think there would be more signings.
“He is focused on the day to day at the training ground and Harry plays him on merit and he played really well again,” added Bond. “Whether he will still be here at the end of the window I wouldn’t want to say. He might want to look at a move or Marseille might want to buy him but we don’t discuss it with him.
“At the moment it is just speculation and we only talk about us and what we are trying to do.
“I think we are short in the creativity department and it is those areas Harry will be looking at.
“You need goals and creativity and Harry has always liked that.
“It’s an area we could improve. I don’t think we are quite finished bringing players in.”
Ipswich carved out only two chances of note, when Rob Green denied Daryl Murphy in the first half and then blocked David McGoldrick’s late shot late on.
But they went toe-to-toe to QPR for long periods and they have now run two relegated teams close, having lost 2-1 to Reading on the opening day. Not that that is any consolation to manager Mick McCarthy.
“If you are looking for yardsticks in terms of performance both have been pretty good,” he said.
“But if we want to contest top six, pretty good has got to be points.
“We have to have a point at Reading and a point here.
“I am encouraged by the group of players we have got and the characters we have got, but we shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back saying well done because we have diddly-squat to show for it.
“I am not envious of QPR, I don’t do envy. I have become pretty adept at dealing with what I have got, whether it be my own ability as a footballer or ability as a manager.
“I am delighted with the players I have got, think I have got good players.”
HAPPY CHAPS: QPR’s Tom Hitchcock is mobbed by teammates after scoring the late winner
ROBERT GREEN Superb save from Murphy in the first half showed his class
9 Constant forward runs caused problems for Ipswich and defended stoutly too
7 Likes a good old-fashioned boot through the ball hoof but it worked effectively enough
7 Solid enough at centre back and enjoyed a good battle with McGoldrick throughout
6 While Simpson roamed forward on the right, Hill was happy to stay back down the left
5 Showed glimpses of his speed and skill and was a constant threat
8 Everyone’s favourite alice-band wearing pantomime villain controlled the midfield well
7 Did his job well without being noticed too much
8 Showed plenty of tricks and got into excellent positions before providing poor crosses
3 Had a shocker. Bullied off the ball too often
9 Had his chances but was denied by blocks and saves. Constant movement made him a threat
SUBSTITUTES O’NEIL 8; FOR HOILETT (56) JENAS 4; FOR HENRY (75) HITCHCOCK 9; FOR ZAMORA (83)
NOT USED: MURPHY, YUN, EHMER, SHARIFF
9 Stopped Austin a couple of times with good saves but was protected well by his defenders
6 Had a difficult task against Hoilett and then Wright-Phillips but on the whole did well
4 Had a difficult time competing with Austin and was run ragged on occasion
9 Shackled and bullied Zamora brilliantly all afternoon
9 Got forward excellently and put in some really good crosses that deserved better finishes
4 A fairly quiet afternoon, he struggled to make an impact going forward
5 Injured in the first half but struggled through to half time. Out-played by QPR’s midfield
5 Enjoyed his tussle with Henry and did ok without being spectacular
5 Industrious as ever but lacking in quality in the final third
3 Had almost no impact apart from seeing a chance he should have scored, saved by Green
8 Worked tirelessy up front but was on his own too often
SUBSTITUTES TUNNICLIFFE 6; FOR SKUSE (46) TAYLOR 3; FOR MURPHY (62) NOUBLE 3; FOR TAYLOR (84)
NOT USED: CROWE, BERRA, ANDERSON, VESELI
RIGHT PLACE: Hitchcock scores the winner