Despite His White Boots

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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Barnet 2 Stockport 1

A good enough game to keep me awake in the spring sunshine. Just. Which is more a comment on my mental state than the game, which was OK. Stockport played the better football in the first half and missed two great chances to take the lead, first of all Lowe clipped a loose ball onto the post rather casually, and 10 minutes later Gleeson looked certain to score when Josh Wright pulled out a saving last-ditch block with keeper Harrison stranded. Barnet's PA announcer then attempted to liven up the atmosphere by announcing the score "Brentford 0 Hereford 2" five minutes before half-time, a classless act that reflected poorly on the club. Obviously someone had a word because he apologised at half-time. I mean it's hardly the kind of thing you do by accident.

Adomah had put in a couple of good crosses and shown some decent footwork on occasion in the first half but, not for the first time, it was the other winger Jason Puncheon who was the class act on display. He fired the Bees in front just after the break after winning a free kick, having his first effort blocked but then shooting home low through the crowd from 20 yards. County equalised five minutes later when Rowe lobbed Harrison after a defensive mix-up. It looked all set to drift into a 1-1 draw when Barnet introduced a couple of young substitutes and one of them, Danny Hart, sent in a fizzing cross that Cliff Akurang only had to connect with to score, which he did.

Giuliano Grazioli came on for a well-received cameo towards the end as Barnet closed it out. They're 11th now and can count that as a really good effort after having to sell three quality players before the season started. County meanwhile will take their place in the play-offs, which looked fair enough on today's showing.

Just one more game to go then, QPR v West Brom next Sunday, and I really hope that the Baggies will already be promoted by then, as it will make for a party atmosphere and anyway they're clearly the best side in the division.

Kindly Old Uncle Alex

It's hard to imagine these gnarly managers as Werthers-sucking JR Hartley grandfather figures but they do have like families and wives who presumably don't get the full hair-dryer treatment for overdoing the Sunday roast. Although you never know. And not that kind of roast. But dammit all either Alex Ferguson is mellowing in his old age or I am, because he said some nice things about QPR yesterday that I liked :

Sir Alex On QPR

Just for that I'm going to give United the considerable boost of my funk power at the Bridge today. You can't deny the quality of football United have played for more than a decade, and it's easy for me to forget that sometimes when I don't watch TV games.

I'll probably catch the second half today in the pub when I make amends for being very remiss about getting up to Underhill lately. It's been all QPR QPR QPR and I've been busy with other stuff but I'm going to pop up today, partly because they're playing Stockport who are right in the thick of it so it's a big game for at least one team, and partly to have a look at this Albert Adomah who is attracting a lot of interest. Spring is finally here so it's a nice day to catch some fresh air, as fresh as the air gets in Barnet anyway :-)

Update : Bok, ldo.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

QPR 1 Charlton 0

Rangers won comfortably today against a sluggish Charlton. Lee Cook started for the visitors, to great applause, and Rangers played 16 year old Angelo Balanta up front in the absence of Vine and Agyemang. I'm sure a striker is going to be top of the summer shopping list, if not two, but fortunately Dexter Blackstock is back in the goals and he put the Rs in front on 15 minutes, outmuscling Patrick McCarthy and slotting home from 10 yards.

The hapless McCarthy almost made it two, shinning one just over from the edge of his own box, as Rangers controlled the game without threatening all that much. Cook limped off, to general relief, and Charlton only rallied for a short spell when Iwelumo came on to add some muscle up front. Martin Rowlands and Balanta clipped the Charlton bar and the game should have been over five minutes from time when substitute Akos Buzsaky overhit his cross to Rowlands with the goal gaping as they say. Charlton woke up a bit and punted a few into the mixer but the excellent Damion Stewart and Matthew Connolly soaked it up and held on for the win.

I was surprised how little urgency the visitors seemed to show in a game that meant much more for them than for us, but so it goes. Rangers are showing admirable professionalism as they play the season out, although as Fitz Hall said on the club site on Friday, this is as much because players know that plans are being drawn for next season and replacements can be shipped in double quick if required.

While I'm here a quick hats off to Aldershot and Gary Waddock, Aldershot because they started all the way from the bottom again like you're supposed to, and Waddock because he's a top man who was let down by certain players at Rangers IMO and I'm very pleased that he has done so well there. What odds a League Cup clash next season ? These things do happen :-)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

QPR 2 Preston 2

Rangers pulled out a ludicrous runner-runner chop yesterday after being comfortably second best for the entire game. With Vine, Buzsaky and Delaney all missing, and three or four others playing well short of par, there would have been no complaints if Preston had gone away 2-0 winners. However, Gareth Ainsworth inspired an unlikely comeback in injury time to snatch a point.

Lee Camp had already saved well from Mellor and the excellent Whaley before Rangers forced their first effort on goal, Dexter Blackstock nicking the ball off the visiting defence and having his fierce shot pushed away by Lonergan. Preston went straight upfield, won a corner that could surely have been avoided, and from the set-piece Mawene's header fell to Mellor who blasted a volley past the helpless Camp. Michael Mancienne, Rangers' best outfield player on the day, fired wide from 25 yards just before the break, but that was it for the home side in an off-colour first half.

Matters soon worsened when Whaley and Sedgwick doubled up on the isolated Mancienne and Sedgwick's cross was bundled in by a combination of Priskin and defender Connolly. Camp had to pull out a fine save from Priskin's header and with a better cutting edge the visitors would have been out of sight. Luigi de Canio shuffled his pack as best he could, but with 5 minutes left large swathes of the home support were heading for the exits.

Suddenly though Ainsworth, who had been completely ineffective up to that point, stuck a leg out onto a low cross and somehow lobbed the ball over Lonergan for what looked like a consolation. Rangers woke up and threw caution to the wind, Camp coming forward for a corner, and remarkably Ainsworth found room to swing over a good cross which Blackstock converted after nipping in front of his marker.

Naturally we celebrated this as though we had just been promoted. Well you do, don't you. All in all, Preston were as good as anyone I've seen at Loftus Road this season, and confirmed my current thinking that you'd much rather play one of the "table-topping" sides right now than the form teams. Unfortunately for us it's a trip to Hull next week, the form team of them all. But it's a good test, and that's what the rest of the season is all about, testing ourselves and trying to gel all the elements together into a team to challenge next season.