Team: Kenny, Orr, Hill, Gorkss, Hall, Derry (Leigertwood),Taarabt (Parker), Faurlin, Ephraim, Mackie, Helguson (German).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Borrowdale, Connolly, Clarke.
Attendance: 13, 445
I managed to get in the Coningham around 12 and it was good to see Peter again with some of the Swedish R’s, Dec and Kelly were passing through and also in attendance were Noel from Meath, Kerrins, Steve from Reading, Pete, Jimmy, Kevin, Linda and Finney etc. After what seemed to be a very long pre-season, this was when the serious business got underway. The R’s have been tipped for a successful league campaign in some quarters, but despite Warnock’s desire to bring in a new striker, in the meantime, I did wonder where many of the goals were going to come from ? News came through that Akos Buzsaky had suffered a thigh strain in training and will be out of action for up to ten days.
The heavy rain didn’t last too long and with 13 minutes gone, the R’s should of taken the lead following Taarabt’s corner. The ball came off a defender, was then knocked on by Ephraim and Helguson nodded over the bar. Adel Taarabt almost caught their keeper out when he suddenly pulled the trigger from outside the box and his low shot was well saved by Steele. Gorkss suffered a nasty gash on the side of his head and had to trot off down the tunnel to be bandaged up. Barnsley went close when a 25 yard effort hit the outside of the post and then Taarabt had another good attempt when he curled the ball from a similar distance forcing their keeper into a diving save.
Some of our through-balls were being over-hit, but an absolute gem found, I think Jamie Mackie, which had many fans purring. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite control it and it bobbled away from him for a goal-kick. In the 40th minute we were awarded a penalty after Taarabt had beaten two defenders and the next one took him down in the box. Much to everyone’s surprise, it was Helguson who stepped up, and I have to say that he put it away very coolly indeed. The visitors were awarded a free-kick which resulted in the ball slipping through Paddy Kenny’s hands and the follow-up header from close range hit the post !
Just after the interval, Barnsley had another good opportunity to equalise. With our defence still switched off, a deflected shot hit the post and then went off a defender for a corner. At the other end, a good cross from Clint Hill into the box found Jamie Mackie lurking, but he couldn’t get enough on it. The visitors were screaming for a penalty after what looked like hand-ball but thankfully the referee wasn’t interested. A defining moment as soon after, Rangers increased their lead. Some good skill and perseverance from Shaun Derry just inside their half, took him through two players and knock the ball to Faurlin, who then passed to Hogan in a wide right position who in turn sent over a low cross which the keeper couldn’t hold and Mackie followed up to convert from close range.
Amazingly, we were awarded another penalty after 62 minutes when Helguson was clipped from behind and this time Taarabt took it. This was also well taken and it was 3-0 to the R’s. He certainly had his shooting boots on as he belted another shot just wide of the far post. We almost got a spectacular own goal when a Barnsley defender attempted to powerfully put the ball out for a corner, but it was actually well on target and this time it was cleared with purpose in the opposite direction !!! Helguson somehow missed a ball across the six-yard box, and to a big ovation from around the ground, Taarabt left the field after 78 minutes and was replaced by Josh Parker. Warnock made another change when Derry was swapped for Leigertwood.
Another goal was coming and this time, surprise, surprise, it was Fitz Hall who slid in to put away a lovely cross from Hogan Ephraim into the net from close range in the 81st minute. A couple of minutes later, German was introduced at the expense of Helguson. The attendance of 13,445 was announced although most of the travelling contingent had already departed. Four added minutes went up and Antonio almost got on the score sheet but his effort was deflected for a corner. On another occasion he completely missed the ball and his anger and frustration was prolonged. I noted that we scored our first goal when the game had gone a bit flat and the second came when Barnsley had just been on the offensive. Interestingly, it was the first time that we had scored two penalties in a League/Cup match since Gerry Francis did it in the UEFA Cup against AEK Athens in 1977.
There were also some interesting comments on the BBC website from Neil Warnock about Adel Taarabt after the game. “Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have taken Adel Taarabt. But I’ve said to my players to look at the good things he does and not the bad. We have to find a way of using that. When I came here last season, he’s already been bombed out by the two previous Managers. But I’ve spent a lot of time with him and have to say that I enjoyed working with him. I said to him that sometimes I’d drop him, or play him on the wing, and I didn’t want him stamping around or throwing his shirt when he was substituted. He thinks he should be playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona, and I’ve told him that if he sticks with me he can get there. At the moment, they wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.”
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