Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

QPR 2 Barnsley 0

A good choice today, especially as Barnet's game was postponed :-). Rangers had so many home debutants and ex-loan players making their first full home start that the PA guy would have had an easier job announcing who wasn't making a debut. Of players I hadn't seen in the hoops, Fitz Hall, Damian Delaney and Matthew Connolly filled out a brand new defence, while Patrick Agyemang started up front. Mikele Leigertwood returned in midfield in place of the ill (apparently) Gavin Mahon. For every in there's an out, so there was no sign at all of Bolder, Ainsworth, Barker or (LDO) Rehman.

Any worries about the team gelling were eased by an early goal. Dexter Blackstock played Agyemang in and although the chance appeared to have gone for a moment, he muscled his way past goalkeeper and defender to nod into an empty net. Barnsley then had a large majority of possession without doing a single thing with it, thanks in part to Hall's organisation of the defence. Just before half time Rangers finally woke up going forward, and Akos Buzsaky's fierce cross barely evaded Rowan Vine. Moments later, Vine cut in from the right flank, beat a couple of players, sent Agyemang free in the area and was in the right place to tap in his return cross for an excellent goal.

For 15 minutes in the second half, Rangers played really well and showed a very encouraging taste of what they might be capable of in the future. Martin Rowlands' fantastic run looked destined to end in a goal until he took on the keeper as well and, despite beating him, was forced too wide to finish. Connolly's deft chip floated inches wide with the keeper beaten, a remarkable piece of skill from a young defender. They teach them well at Arsenal all right. Then Leigertwood was sent clear by Agyemang's intelligent leave and thrashed in a shot which keeper Muller did well to push away. Unfortunately Rangers couldn't find the goal this spell deserved to finish the game off, and Barnsley, who played some tidy football, made a couple of changes and could have pulled one back when the nippy Campbell-Ryce latched on to a slip by Hall. Fortunately Lee Camp made a good save, and more fortunately still Odejayi failed to latch on to a deep cross with the goal gaping. That was about it though, and Rangers saw out a comfortable win, the only concern being a nasty-looking late injury to Damion Stewart.

The fact that I have, I think, managed to mention the entire starting eleven in a brief report is a testament to the overall quality of the team and the new players. It's highly unclear who is actually responsible for choosing the players to buy, but whoever it is deserves a lot of credit. I can't see a lemon in the whole bunch, and while we have spent quite a lot in Championship terms, it's about a quarter of what Premiership dropouts get in "parachute payments" over two seasons, and comparable to what Birmingham have just spent on James McFadden who, while by all accounts a very skilful player, couldn't get much of a game at Everton. To top that off, today was the biggest gate of the season, although it's only fair to note that there was a family special offer today. Having Rangers fans in the School End lower helps a lot with the atmosphere and that's something we'd all like to see more often. Hopefully starting against Bristol City in two weeks time which should be a good one.


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