Just Back on the Island...

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SM
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Just Back on the Island...

Post by SM » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:12 pm

This will be a more brief report than usual, as I have a pretty busy week coming up and don’t have enough time to write a FULLY in depth report.

For those interested, here is my take on yesterday's game against Oxford.

My day got off to a nightmare start. Due to the lethargic nature of Island driver's, I actually missed the ferry I was due to be booked on. Having had to wait 45 minutes for the next one, added to the fact that it happened to run late... the race was on to get to the game!
As we belted along the motorway, suddenly we stopped dead in traffic. Watching the expected arrival time creep up and up on the sat nav was almost as painful as sitting in the traffic itself. Fortunately, we came off a couple of junctions later, and needless to say we managed to bring that expected arrival time down and make it to the game.
When we arrived at the ground, I have to say I was pretty impressed with it. I hadn't visited the Kassam Stadium before, and I was quite taken back that they had such a nice ground. Oh and the fact that it had free parking right outside the ground made me like it a little bit more.

As we got into our seats, we were just in time to hear the team's read out.
There was no real surprises.

Cerny was restored in goal, and the defence was made of Ramage, Hall, Gorkss & Connolly.
Taarabt started on the bench, while Mahon was partnered alongside Rowlands in midfield, with Balanta/Routledge occupying the wings.
Vine started with Agyemang upfront.

As the game kicked off, Oxford did actually hold possession very well. A couple of heavy challenge's from Mahon was the only thing worth mention... It was about what you would expect from a pre-season friendly to be honest.
Suddenly though, we were literally raised to our feet. Connolly, who was occupying the left back slot passed the ball to Balanta along the half way line. As he strongly held off a host of challenges, he jogged down by the left flank. As he tricked left and right, he left the right back completely bamboozled. He played a neat ball through to Vine, who's return pass was poor and easily scrambled by the Oxford keeper.
As Balanta ran back toward's the half way line, he was greeted with the whole QPR end standing to applaud him. It was a fantastic piece of individual brilliant, and he deserved every ounce of the credit he received.

It was again Balanta who was the architect shortly after. Again picking the ball up on the left hand side, he left the defender standing. As he cut in from the left hand side, he flighted a perfectly placed ball into the box. As Agyemang jumped to try and head it toward's goal, the ball actually bobbled to the edge of the box... It was Mahon (yes Mahon) that was on hand, and his well placed shot beat the keeper to make it 1-0. It was a great finish from him, I didn't think he was capable of that.
It wasn't him that people were talking about though, it was Balanta. My younger brother turned to me at this stage and said "Saf, how long has Balanta been this good?!" I have to say I was asking myself the same question, looking at him here he looked a serious threat going forward and I wondered why he never got that much of a chance last season.
Clearly intent on getting on the show himself, next it was Routledge who aimed to impress Magilton. After chasing down a driven ball across field from Mahon (superb ball, again didn't know he was capable of that), Routledge had the ball near the corner flag. As he did about 10 stepovers in the space of a second, he darted past the defender who was left rooted to the spot. As the ball found Vine, it looked for the world that we would be 2-0 up, but it was somehow cleared to safety.

Soon after Oxford had pretty much their first attack on goal. As their number 9 (not sure of his name) continued to wrestle with Fitz Hall, the ball found their striker on the edge of the box. But his ballooned shot was of more danger to the car's parked outside than to Cerny, and he saw his effort smash off against... a black BMW!

As we continued to pour forward, next up it was Routledge who had an attempt on goal. Agyemang, who had been having a quiet game lifted a ball over the backline. Routledge blistered past the defender's and was left 1 on 1 with the keeper. His tame effort was pushed round the post though. He really should have scored, it was a great chance.
Next up it was Vine that went close. Our star of the game Balanta, again found space on the left hand side. By this time, the opposition right back decided to just back off of him. This left him with the time to play in Vine, who saw his effort go narrowly wide of the post.
It was shortly after that Oxford came close to scoring. After playing a neat pass back to a midfielder, Constable ran in behind Ramage. After a long ball came over the top, Ramage was left badly out of position and he went through on goal. As he came in from the left hand side, and with Gorkss rapidly approaching he had a shot at goal which was well held by Cerny.

Just before the half ended, Balanta showed us just one more moment of magic. This time, after receiving the ball on the centre of the pitch he advanced through on goal. Two meaty challenges from player's saw him knocked off the ball, but he somehow managed to hook it around them and continue forward. As he feinted to go left past the defender, he cut in to the right and sent a curling shot narrowly over the bar.
As the referee blew time on the first half, I was pretty happy with what I had witnessed. We really should have been a couple more goals up, but the performance itself was very encouraging.

Magilton shook it up a little in the second half. Borrowdale came in at left back, while Connolly reverted to the right back slot at the expense of Ramage. Alberti was also introduced for Rowlands, and Taarabt came on for Agyemang.
Obviouisly with rumours that Taarabt will be playing as striker for us, I was keen to check up on how he filled the position.

Taarabt received the ball about 20 seconds in. His first touch he cheekily nutmegged the defender, and tried to lay it off for Routledge but his pass was wayward. It was funny looking around at the smiles from QPR fans. I'm looking forward to seeing much more of him next season, and I think near on every other fan is too... even if his trick didn't come off this time.
He had an effort on goal about 5 minutes into the half. Vine found the ball on the edge of the box, and he squared it for Taarabt. He tried to place the ball into the corner though, and it was easily saved by the keeper. He turned to clap Vine for making the opportunity, and know's he really should have tested the keeper there.

Next up was one of the turning points of the game. I must add that just before Oxford got their equaliser it was actually us on the attack. Routledge picked the ball up on the right hand side, after receiving 2 very heavy challenges he managed to stay on his feet and cross the ball into the box… a cross that was easily saved by the keeper. As all the QPR player’s stood in amazement at us not receiving a free kick, Routledge charged over to the referee in complete confusion.

Then a matter of seconds later Oxford were awarded a penalty. I have to confess I don’t remember any of the build up, but one of their players had a shot from the edge of the box and it struck Gorkss hand… who was stood a matter of yards away from him. I thought the original whistle was for offside or something, how on earth he could award a penalty for that was unbelievable. As the Oxford player stroked the ball into the bottom corner past Cerny, there was a loud chorus of booing from the QPR fan’s which went on for a few minutes.

With it being a pre-season, I couldn’t care less about the score line. But after some ghastly decisions by both the referee, and imparticular the linesmen on the near side – I actually really wanted us to win this one.
After a couple of half chances for Taarabt, we eventually took the lead. After spinning his marker, Taarabt ran through the middle of the pitch with Vine to his left and Routledge to his right. As Routledge bursted in from the wing and ran through central, Taarabt released a superb through ball that left Routledge with just the keeper to beat. As all the QPR fan’s raised to their feet in expectation, he attempted to drag the ball past the keeper. It actually came off his shin and ran away from him though, it looked as if it would roll out for a goal kick, but fortunately his speed bailed him out, and he prodded the ball past the helpless keeper. It was a carbon copy of his earlier chance, but this time he made no mistake and we were 2-1 to the good.

“Your not singing anymore!” rang out from the away end, and we had the lead that we richly deserved.

It wasn’t long however until we were again level. The frustrating thing was that we had more than enough time to clear the danger, and it was a sloppy goal to give away. Alberti managed to win possession in the middle of the pitch, but was closed down into the corner. He had about 2 players on him, and instead of clearing he almost seemed content to just hold them off. After one of the defenders managed to tackle him, the ball ended up at the feet of Taarabt. Agonisingly, he made the exact same mistake as Alberti, and hung onto the ball in a dangerous position. As he was tackled they put the ball into the box, and Connolly felt he had more time than he did. As he attempted to chest the ball back to Cerny, the Oxford player ran in and put the ball into the back of the net. 2-2.

As mentioned above, it was a silly goal to concede. Whether or not a lack of concentration kicked in, or just purely over confidence I’m not sure… But I’m sure Magilton will eradicate this kind of mistake again, and needless to say both Alberti and more importantly Taarabt will have learned from it.

As a result of the goal, Magilton decided to introduce Ainsworth. As ever he received a superb reception from the QPR fans, and it wasn’t long until he showed us what he could do. As Routledge reverted to the left hand side, Ainsworth was in space on the right. After receiving the ball, it was classic Ainsworth. Head down… and attack! After getting at the full back he managed to get a cross in the box, which was headed clear. The QPR fan’s all stood to applaud him as he walked back, and although it didn’t result in a goal… his directness was greatly appreciated.

A couple of minutes later we almost nicked the win. Again it was Ainsworth that created the chance. This time after bustling his way past a defender, he was left with just the young right back to beat. As he knocked the ball to his right, Ainsworth blistered to his left and hung a superb ball into the box. It was met by our trialist Pellicori, and as he was left at an awkward angle he met the ball well, and saw his header just cleared off the line.

That was the last action worthy of any notice, and the referee blew full time on the game.

I have to say that even though we didn’t manage to beat them, the performance left me in a buoyant mood for the start of the season. Obviously we aren’t playing at 100%, but I was very impressed with our overall game, and the passing movement and counter attacking was excellent.

As we used so many different players, I will just rate the one’s that I think you will be interested in.

Player Ratings -

Balanta – He was hands down man of the match - by a country mile! After looking at him towards the end of last season, I felt he was a pretty handy player. I thought this season he could be useful coming off the bench, but by no means a regular. Yesterday’s performance left me with a completely different attitude though, and I really think he will actually be in with a shout of becoming a starter. His touch and control of a football is just exquisite. I really do think that the sky is the limit for him, and I really don’t say that lightly. It’s clear he is starting to mix with the other players more, and they all seem keen to get him on the ball… he will make things happen. Driving home I was trying to think who I would liken him to, but he has such a unique style, I suppose you just have to watch him and make your own judgement. To say I was impressed is an understatement though. I can see why he is so highly rated, put simply he is an exceptional talent. He did fade second half, but he is some player!

Borrowdale – The noises coming out of the club seem to suggest he will be our regular left back next season. While I appreciate these are only ‘meaningless’ games, he doesn’t fill me with any confidence at all. He looks slow, tactically unaware and simply not up to it in my opinion. He did put one very good cross into the box towards the end of the second half, but I don’t think he is going to be a player we can rely on… and more likely will end up as a target for the boo boys.

Rowlands – Obviously gradually coming back from his injury, and he didn’t make any real impact during the game. He did a few passes, but seemed more content to just knock the ball round and get a run out. Nothing wrong with that though, and the good thing is he came through unscathed.

Pellicori – He looks pretty useful with his heading. He does add some much needed height up front, and actually looks a pretty useful player. He looks like he will mix it up abit, and appears to be very hard working. He was very unlucky with two headers he attempted, and he did everything right with both attempts... it just wasn’t to be. I don’t think he will be the answer to our goal scoring problems, but by no means a bad signing on this performance. Look forward to seeing much more of him.

Taarabt – Plenty of tricks throughout the game, and clearly a little bit rusty from pre-season. Look’s delighted to be back at QPR though, and I just hope he learns from his mistake in the second half. There was plenty of running round, and he is clearly brimming with enthusiasm. I did try to see if he could cut it as a striker, but on this performance I would have to say it’s a no. He has a very raw talent, and as far at running at players goes – you couldn’t really ask for more. But his shooting does leave a lot to be desired… time will tell on this one. Either way, I’m delighted he is back.

Vine/Agyemang – Both of them offered very little going forward. I hope this was more of an off day rather than anything else for these two. It’s not down to lack of effort, they both worked hard… but going forward offered very little of a threat. Judging by this game, it’s Balanta that should be starting ahead of them both IMO.

All in all though, this has certainly wet my appetite for the season ahead. We have bags of talent, a creative bunch of players that are/will be the envy of most other Championship teams, and a manager that has stuck to his philosophy of passing football. I think this bodes well for the season ahead – and I for one can’t wait for it!

Onwards and Upwards!

U R’ss!!
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Post by qprhoops81 » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:59 am

Great report as always. Always enjoy your reviews with the little extra bits such as the race across land and sea to get to the game.

I hope Balanta gets a good few games. The reports from when he went on loan were very good. Then we took him back early and didn't play him.

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Post by SM » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:18 am

qprhoops81 wrote:Great report as always. Always enjoy your reviews with the little extra bits such as the race across land and sea to get to the game.

I hope Balanta gets a good few games. The reports from when he went on loan were very good. Then we took him back early and didn't play him.
Cheers for the comment qprhoops81 :wink:

Sometimes it is cut fine to get there, but this one was a REAL test :lol:
I agree with you on Balanta, let's hope he gets a few games next season. He will do great things for us.
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Post by Markybabar » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:03 pm

Hat's off SM.

As informative as ever and always very much appreciated.
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Post by SM » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:14 am

Markybabar wrote:Hat's off SM.

As informative as ever and always very much appreciated.
Cheers for the comment Markybabar :D
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Post by PaulaHoops » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:53 am

I can't believe DG has given you your own section, with your name in the subtitle too.... I'm going off you Deedge... :wink:
Last edited by PaulaHoops on Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by DG » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:56 am

It's not JUST for sm, anyone can post match related stuff here. Even you Paula. ;-)
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Post by PaulaHoops » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:08 am

DG wrote:It's not JUST for sm, anyone can post match related stuff here. Even you Paula. ;-)
To be able to even attempt to remember what goes on at a game I would have to do the following:

a) Not go to the pub
b) Not over-eat pie and mash from Cookes' and
c) Not be so biased! :lol:
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Post by SM » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:37 am

PaulaHoops wrote:I can't believe DG has given you your own section, with your name in the subtitle too.... I'm going off you Deedge... :wink:
Ooooooooo touchy!!! :P
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