Jones blames Clucas for ‘scuppering’ Stoke game plan

Nathan Jones praised his Stoke side for securing a point at QPR with 10 men but accused Sam Clucas of ruining their game plan by being sent off.

Clucas ludicrously got himself dismissed after just eight minutes of the goalless draw for stamping on Josh Scowen in full view of referee Gavin Ward.

Scowen followed through with an innocuous sliding challenge just as Ward, who was standing just a few yards away, blew for a free-kick after Clucas had handled the ball near the edge of the Rangers penalty area.

Clucas inexplicably reacted badly and was immediately shown the red card.

But Rangers were unable to take advantage – and themselves ended the match with 10 men after Grant Hall was sent off after picking up a second yellow card late on.

Jones made no excuses for Clucas, whose actions meant the visitors spent almost the entire game on the back foot.

“It did scupper plans that we felt were well laid,” said Jones.

“I’m bitterly disappointed. It’s a lack of discipline that cost us really, because we’d have liked to come here and get three points.”

But Jones was encouraged by the battling qualities shown by players whose attitude was questioned prior to the Welshman taking over in January.

“You have to adapt and we showed that we are adaptable,” he said.

“It was a performance full of character, work-rate and discipline.

“Let’s be honest, that’s not been synonymous with this group in the past. There have been articles written about the group being bad eggs and this, that and the other.

“They’re laying that to rest. I’m proud of them today. I’m proud of the work-rate and the structure we showed.

“That’s how successful teams are made – on that backbone. We had a strong backbone today.

“We were never really under any real pressure and we showed a fantastic fighting spirit and desire to get a point.

“We’re looking solid and are not conceding goals. We’re moving in the right direction.

“We have a platform and a base that means we are gaining a bit of momentum.”

Stoke have not won in 21 league visits to London – a remarkable run stretching back to November 2014.

But they will regard this as a well-earned point and the Potters are now unbeaten in five matches.

QPR, who had lost eight of their previous nine Sky Bet Championship games, have won just once in the league since Boxing Day.

“Obviously we’re frustrated. That’s the overall feeling in the dressing room, the dugout and also among the fans,” said boss Steve McClaren.

“But I can’t fault the players. We tried as much as possible to win the game and the attitude was there to win it.

“We finished the game with two wingers, two strikers, Luke Freeman in midfield – so we went for it. We just didn’t have that quality.

“For Stoke it was like a training session with the two banks of four with four at the back and in midfield with one up front.

“They were very difficult to break down, are very experienced – they were Premier League players last season.

“It was always going to be difficult. We just needed that break – that bit of quality in the final third of the pitch.

“The clean sheet is important but we’re disappointed we didn’t score. It was a frustrating afternoon for us.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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