Matt Smith bagged a brace this weekend as Queens Park Rangers narrowly lost out to Birmingham City in the clash of the summer’s crisis clubs.
The headlines went to the Blues, Che Adams smashed a hat trick and they stole the points after Nahki Wells missed a late penalty, but despite the loss for his team, Matt Smith must be secretly delighted with how things are going.
Steve McClaren’s side have dropped back down to 15th, a league position perhaps more suited to their squad and ability, but it is a far cry from the bottom three, a position many expected them to be in.
As recently as September, Matt Smith wasn’t even expecting that. He was the subject of speculation after the autumn deadline closed, with reports circulating that McClaren was willing to listen to offers for the towering front man.
He’s still very much on the fringe of the first team, having started just three matches this season and appearing a further 22 times from the bench. With his unusual height he’s been seen very much as an impact sub, although he’s been having very little impact, until recently.
He’s now started in consecutive matches, against Portsmouth in the FA Cup and Birmingham in the league scoring twice. If ever there was a player who has seized a chance when it’s been handed to him, it’s Smith.
From a purely selfish point of view, irrespective of the result this weekend, Smith must be utterly delighted. After not only being on the bench, but being told he could leave on loan, he’s bounced back with real vengeance.
Less than a fortnight ago there was a question mark over his future, Millwall were linked with a late bid for the 29-year-old. 12 days on and it’s all change with three goals and a commendation from the manager and an admission that he’s made huge strides in McClaren’s mind.
Matt Smith will be delighted to hear that and can only be looking to the future with renewed optimism and hope.