Youth Alliance National League Cup Final
Team: Butler, Harriman, Waters, Ehmer, Fitzsimons, Sutherland, Parmenter, Doughty, Andrade, Fernandez, Nanetti.
Subs: Bailey, Bewick, Graham, Henry-Francis, Cox.
After the disappointment of losing to Grimsby Town in the previous year’s final, again, we knew very little about our opponents. We knew that they had defeated Colchester United in the 2007 Final and this season, beaten Macclesfield Town in the Area Final and finished 4th in the North West Conference. Although he wasn’t fully fit, at least Elliott Cox had made it to the bench. I have to say that I was disappointed that the club had only issued a team sheet and not a programme as before. Also, why wasn’t the scoreboard or the pa system utilised ? It was good to see Joe and Kevin Gallen in attendance.
The visitors had a very good opportunity in the opening minutes when they broke forward and the ball was played to John Disney in plenty of space but Aaron Waters managed to deflect his shot out for a corner. Rangers had started much the better side and took the lead after 9 minutes when Michael Doughty knocked over a ball into the six-yard box to Max Ehmer who rose and flicked a lovely header into the corner of the net. It was noted by Joe English that the goal celebrations involved all the Rangers out-field players. Danny Fitzsimons, who I believe joined QPR from Millwall, can certainly head a ball and this was to be a feature of the game, whether defensively or not. He came up for a corner and when the ball was crossed over, he headed it downwards but the keeper managed to smother the ball.
Surprisingly, it was Stockport who scored next. With nearly 30 minutes gone, a sloppy ball in midfield resulted in their impressive No.11, Danny Rowe, gaining possession. He then belted down the left-wing, cut into the box and as Jamie Butler came out, he put the ball into the six-yard box. Danny Fitzsimons tried to clear the ball out, but instead, he somehow booted it into the roof of the net. Then at the other end, Fitzsimons tried to make amends when he lofted the ball towards the target and Ormson was forced to fully stretch his arms up to catch it. The visitors took the lead soon after from a low cross, again from the left and the Stockport centre-forward knocked the ball into the net from just outside the six-yard box.
Good work from Christian Nanetti , when he took off from just inside their half, passed through a couple of defenders and as he approached the goal, he shot just wide. The R’s almost levelled when a wonderful long pass from Nanetti found Andrade who bent the ball from outside the box but agonisingly, it hit the post. Danny Fitzsimons was on hand to flick a free-kick wide of the post. The Stockport defence really couldn’t compete in the air and another corner minutes before the interval caused havoc when the in-coming header may of hit the post before going out of play ? Michael Doughty required some treatment when he looked like he had pulled a muscle but although he continued he was to be replaced in the 2nd half. Two minutes added time was indicated before the referee called a halt to proceedings. Rangers always looked dangerous from dead ball situations and Danny Fernandez worked very hard trying to make something of the long balls he was receiving. Half time: 1-2
Just a couple of minutes into the 2nd half, the visitors went further in front. Again, the ball came in from the left and Whitehead was on hand in the six-yard box to score. Immediately after, Michael Doughty was replaced by Sam Bewick. He had been in some distress in the 1st half. Now 1-3 down, but Rangers were still creating plenty of chances. A good shot from Frankie Sutherland brought out a superb save from Ian Ormson who put it out for a corner. The next goal came and with it some hope when Bruno Andrade brought the ball down on the edge of the box and then belted it into the net, absolutely wonderful, 2-3.
But Stockport should of increased their lead but for Jamie Butler’s finger tip save over the bar from point blank range. Their No.9 was booked for kicking the ball away after the R’s were awarded a free kick. Very soon after that, he was shown a second yellow by Mr. T Robinson for not retreating ten yards when another free kick was awarded. Probably a harsh decision, but it seemed that the referee had run out of patience with him. Cameron Darkwah then made a bee-line for Mr. Robinson and was restrained by a couple of QPR players before leaving the field.
There was a great moment for me when Bruno Andrade took the ball over his head, turned and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately it flashed wide of the post. Aaron Waters was then booked after clipping one of their players. Good perseverance by Christian Nanetti down the left who then did very well to force a corner. The move had actually started when Jamie Butler had kicked the ball high out to the left-wing. The equaliser came from the penalty spot. Fernandez stepped up and made no mistake, 3-3. It was now just a matter of time before the R’s gabbed the winner and it was Danny Fernandez who poked the ball in from close range. With a player off the field, the visitors actually had nine players when he scored, but the Rangers celebrations included all eleven when Jamie Butler raced the length of the pitch to join in.
Taylor Parmenter went down after seemingly a clash of heads. The referee had no hesitation signalling to the Physio, who was already on his way. It was good to see Elliott Cox involved, he replaced the impressive Bruno Andrade. Five added minutes went up and Marcel Henry-Francis came on for the hard-working Danny Fernandez. Further chances followed with Sam Bewick’s shot hitting the post and then Christian Nanetti missed an open goal following a superb ball from Henry-Francis. After being set up, he rounded the keeper and somehow placed the ball wide from close range. Stockport had a couple of late corners but the final minutes were played out.
Some silverware at last !!! It was wonderful to see the presentation and the final pitch celebrations. Naturally the Stockport players were gutted and although they stayed on the pitch, they didn’t reciprocate the applause ! They may feel that the sending off cost them the match but Rangers were the better side and created numerous chances throughout the game. Well done to Steve Gallen, Birch and all the players and the Centre of Excellence staff for making this possible. All we need now is a commitment from the Board to take us up a level and confirm that we will indeed return to Academy status.