Just Back on the Island...

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Just Back on the Island...

Post by SM » Sun Aug 02, 2009 5:39 pm

Apologies that this report is a little later than usual, I had to be up at half 6 this morning and have spent most of the afternoon asleep!

It was a satisfying day yesterday though, for personal reasons I couldn’t believe my misfortune… for us to play EVERY SINGLE pre-season game away, and then to play our one solitary game at home - against Southampton I found quite ironic.

When we got to the ground, we had a look round in the club shop, and they had a DVD on covering previous QPR games from different eras. The one standout player I saw was Dave Thomas, and I can see why people on these boards always talk about him as being one of the best players to ever play for us. He was outstanding! After watching these different games for 20 minutes or so, we eventually headed into the ground and took to our seats. We were located right next to the W12 club, and while we had a cracking view, I never realised how cramped the seating was in South Africa Road!

As the teams were read out, it was clear that Magilton had started a near on full strength side… obviously taking into consideration that we had a few injuries.

There were a couple of players I was trying to keep an eye on, firstly Borrowdale was starting at left back, and for obvious reasons I was interested to monitor how he performed. Also, I was keen to see how our trialist goalkeeper Marshall played as I don’t know an awful lot about him.

Before the game kicked off, we had a minutes silence for Bobby Robson. He was honoured impeccably, and a round chorus of clapping preceded the silence.

Onto the game, and for the first few minutes not an awful lot happened.

The one thing that struck me was the voice of Marshall… can he shout or what! With it being a pre-season game, and the atmosphere being on parallel with a library (Stamford Bridge) you can hear the players shouting to each other, but when he shouts… it just explodes over everyone. We all had a good laugh about it, but you could see is clearly keen to impress.

Moving off of his voice now, and the only real moment of note involved Gavin Mahon. As most of the players had a lethargic look to themselves, Southampton were holding possession pretty well – and in truth we were struggling to get the ball off of them. Mahon came in with a superb sliding challenge, and the Saint’s player fell to the floor. As Mahon rose to his feet, another player came in to pick up the loose ball, but after another lunging challenge he won back possession and safely played the ball back to Fitz Hall. Needless to say, he received a generous clap and shouts of encouragement from the QPR fans. Little moments like these are quite prominent in these friendly games :lol:

We didn’t have to wait long for our goal, and it came around 10 minutes into the game. We won a corner after Vine had been tackled, and the ball cleared of danger. As Routledge stepped up to take the kick, we sent up Hall and Gorkss to the box. Routledge whipped a fantastic cross into the box, and Gorkss simply directed it into the far post and left Davis with no chance. 1-0.

Shortly after though, Southampton nearly scored themselves. Following a cross into the box, a blonde haired player for them flew in with a diving header over Ramage, and saw his effort fly wide of the post.

For the following 20 minutes or so, we simply just played the ball round looking for openings. One thing that did irritate me, was that we just couldn’t seem to get Balanta on the ball. He was closely marked by the right back, clearly Pardew had identified him as a threat, but Borrowdale did have chances to play him in, but instead chose to keep playing the ball centrally. We could have gone 2-0 up around the half hour mark. Ramage, who had been having a steady if uninspiring game played a pin point pass over the backline. Agyemang ran onto the free ball, and with only the keeper left to beat, he slowed down for some reason and the ball simply rolled into Davis hands. It was an odd choice from Agyemang, he wasn’t offside and clearly just wasn’t alert to the chance presented to him. On the positive, it was a truly brilliant ball from Ramage – I would love to see him do this kind of thing much more.

Soon after, we were 2 goals to the good. Rowlands had won back possession in the middle of the field and he pinged a superb 40 yard pass across the field (from where we were sat, you really could admire just what great vision he has) and Balanta controlled the ball expertly. As he advanced onto the marker, he played the ball back to Borrowdale. He took one touch to cross the ball into the box from a pretty deep position, Vine actually just managed to get something on the ball, and Balanta strode through and calmly tucked the ball under Davis. In truth Balanta had been near on a spectator for the early stages of the game, and this was one of the first times he had got himself on the ball – and it resulted in a goal. I was delighted to see him score though, it’s something that his recent performances have richly deserved.

As the referee blew his whistle for the end of the first half, I was pretty happy. We had clearly been the better side, and deserved the lead we had.

As the second half started, Magilton opted to make one change. Helguson was introduced for the bitterly poor Agyemang.

Just a few minutes into the first half, and there were yet more encouraging signs. This time it was Balanta and Vine that combined. The latter had somehow fended off the challenges of 2 Southampton players, and he continued with the ball. Vine had peeled off wide, and after playing a neat one two with him, Balanta found himself on the edge of the box. As he looked to shoot, he instead poked the ball back out wide for Vine on the left hand side. As Vine jinxed left and right, he put a good cross into the box… but Helguson had ran to the near post and the ball floated out for a goal kick. It was a great move though, and a very encouraging for the upcoming season.

Magilton made another change later in the half, and it was Adel Taarabt that was introduced for Rowan Vine. Not an awful lot happened for the next section of the game, aside from a few neat touches from Taarabt there wasn’t anything of note.

Around the 80 minute mark, we found ourselves 3-0 up. I think it was Mahon that played the ball to Taarabt along the half way line. As he turned and sprinted towards goal, he had options both left and right. He was clearly intent on making an impression on his home debut though, and after feinting left and right, he left the porky Murty absolutely baffled and slid the ball under Davis – for what was a terrific individual goal.

Although this wasn’t a chance or any free flowing move, I thought that it was worth mentioning that Stewart came on towards the end of the half for Fitz Hall. He won a couple of headers, but I think he shot himself in the foot yesterday. There was one moment in the second half, and he was seeing the ball out for a goal kick… but it didn’t quite roll long enough, and he found himself being ushered by Rasiak. Instead of just booting the ball out, he tried to almost play the ball off of Rasiak and back to himself! He was fortunate that the ball came back to him… but inexplicably he tried the exact same thing again! This time he didn’t get away with it, but fortunately Gorkss was on hand to clear the danger. I think Magilton will be looking to address that though, and despite him being our player of the season last year… I really don’t think he would have done himself any favours here.

We did have one chance just towards the end of the half. Ephraim bent a superb ball into the box, and Pellicori met the ball well, and saw a great header comfortably saved by Davis. He knew he really should have done better, and nodded appreciatively towards Hogan after the great service he provided.

As the clock ticked down to the end, the referee blew time on the game, and we had been treated to yet another very good performance – albeit against lower league opposition.

It’s a shame, when I’m looking back at this report, there aren’t an awful lot of chances themselves to mention… but it doesn’t do justice to quite how dominant we actually were. Without creating stack loads of chances, we were very very comfortable in possession. We played Southampton off the park, and some of the build up play was exceptional.

Player Ratings –

Marshall – As I mentioned early in the report, he really is a leader. He has a voice on him like no other! I think his name pretty much sums him up, he really doesn’t let anyone put one foot wrong. On any occasion that a player puts just one foot out of place, he really does let them know about it. While he didn’t really have a save to make, he must take credit for nullifying any threat from Southampton, the defence looked water tight against some pretty decent players in Llana, Saganovski and Rasiak… but we made them look average. On this performance I really hope that we sign him, I would feel confident having him between the sticks should Cerny not be available. Very promising.

Borrowdale – I have been very critical of him during pre-season… and rightly so in my opinion. He has looked wildly out of his depth from what I had seen so far, but yesterday did show me that somewhere in there – he isn’t actually a bad player. It might have been down to Marshall keeping him in his place, but I think he deserves some credit for his performance yesterday. He was reading the game pretty well, and despite the fact he didn’t release the ball quickly enough (particularly to Balanta), he wasn’t the liability that he has looked in previous games. Connolly is still the better option at left back, but I must hold my hands up… he isn’t as bad as I thought he was.

Hall/Gorkss – These two were just completely dominant from the first whistle. They won absolutely every single ball in the air, and were rock solid in defence. The Southampton strikers/midfield will be relieved they aren’t playing these two every week, they were just sensational. I would be amazed if Magilton doesn’t start them both next week, and similar to the way it was last season… I think Stewart might have to wait for his chance again. My one concern is that neither of them are that quick – but when they play like this, you just cannot drop them. Brilliant!

Ramage – Steady game, there were a couple of baffling passes from him, but on the plus side a couple of excellent ones too. He will need to pick his game up abit from this, but I think he will do well next season.

Balanta – I had been raving about him all the way up to the game, but he didn’t have as big an impact as I hoped for. We couldn’t seem to get him on the ball, but I could hear Magilton shouting “Balanta! Balanta!” when he was available, and he clearly sees him as one of our playmakers. He finished his goal very well though, and I for one really hope he starts next Saturday.

Mahon/Rowlands – Both of them worked very hard yesterday, and bossed the midfield for the entirety of the game. Rowlands really was covering every inch of grass, and is clearly working his way back to full fitness. Mahon was also very strong, and I think they formed a good partnership.

Routledge – A few nice touches from him, and superb delivery for Gorkss goal. I think Magilton does rate him though, and hope to see more of him next week.

Vine – Getting back to form, but still not quite there yet. He was on the end of some heavy challenges from one Southampton player imparticular, but had a few little glimpses of the old ‘Viney’ in there. Hassled the defenders throughout the game, and looks pretty fit. As I said though, still hasn’t quite clicked for him yet.

Agyemang – Very worrying display from him, something just isn’t quite right at the moment. I think overall he has had a poor pre-season. He looks to have lost abit of that blistering pace, and although he is still quick… he just doesn’t quite look with it at the moment. I just couldn’t understand what he was trying to do one a few occasions from him. Really needs to sort himself out.

Subs –

Ephraim – One delicious ball for Pellicori from him, but ran very hard while he was on the pitch. Didn’t have the impact he was hoping for, but looked quite sharp.

Pellicori – I really do rate him. He looks very strong, and after losing Blackstock, I think we have signed someone who will score with his head as well. Probably should have scored towards the end, but won a fair few amount of headers while on the pitch.

Stewart – Won a few headers, but was suicidal in defence. I would be gob smacked if he started next season, as I don’t think Magilton has had a chance to see what a top defender he can be.

Helguson – Should have scored after being set up by Taarabt, but did feed the wingers with plenty of possession. Not a bad game from him by any means, but will probably need to pick it up abit if he wants to be a regular.

Taarabt – Incredible goal from him, and plenty of mouth-watering runs. Finished his goal like a top striker, and looked good when he came on.

Alberti/Brown/Ainsworth – Did their jobs, nothing worthy of mention.

I was very impressed overall yesterday though. To have people like Ephraim, Taarabt, and Pellicori available off the bench, not to mention the injured list of Buzsaky, Leigertwood and Faurlin – I just think Magilton has an abundance of options at his disposal.

I know the QPR job has become somewhat of a poisoned chalice for managers, but there is no two ways about it… we are littered with quality players. I would love to see everything fall into place next week, and I have to say I think it will.

The really are playing some top football, and I just hope they can keep the same mindset next week.

Despite the grumblings of the last few months, I am eager for this season to start – I think (and hope) that it could be one to remember.

Thanks for reading.

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Post by Markybabar » Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:40 pm

Nice one SM, as in depth as ever!

I made an appearance yesterday and have to say that the game has really wet my appetite for next Saturday.

Agree with your opinions of both Pellicori and Taraabt, should we keep them fit I believe that they could be the difference this season.

Can't wait! Bring on the Blackpool

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Post by LiamQPR » Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:55 pm

Cheers for that SM, quite excited about saturday now! :D

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Post by Boston R's » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:53 am

Ta SM, enjoy your reports, had no idea until the Dave Thomas comments that you weren't an old bogger, well done my son, you have more insight than most twice your age. The more you see of the 70's the more you understand what a FLIPPING REVELATION THAT SQUAD WAS. I'm going to lie down now.

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Post by SM » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:14 am

Cheers for comment Markybabar, we will have to meet up for that drink some stage next season... it's been too long! :wink:

Definitely agree with you Liam - I can't wait for it either! :D

Have to say Boston, I wasn't aware just how good the football was that we played back then. Dave Thomas was everything that a winger should be, he must have been a real treat to have watched week in week out. Oh and just for the record - I'm 20 :lol:
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