QPR U18 3 – 2 Leyton Orient U18

Team: Goodchild, Coyne, Goode, Howell, Brown, Maguire, O’Brien, St.Aimie, Arthur, Rose, Balanta
Unused Subs: Crowther, Ford, Smith, Razzaq, trialist

Another vital three points was secured by Romone Rose’s tremendous strike seven minutes from time. Both sides contributed to an entertaining game that was played on a pitch that was very firm but rather uneven although thankfully the usual Harlington high winds were not so much in evidence. In the 1st half, there were chances and goals at either end but Rangers stepped up the pressure after the break and were the dominant side and fully deserved their victory. Joe Gallen made three changes from the previous week with Chris Goodchild, Andrew Howell and Danny Maguire all returning. The latter lining up in a new role on the right side of midfield and it wasn’t long before he was testing the Orient keeper with the first shot on target. The visitors created a chance soon after and the pattern for the 1st half was set.

In the 9th minute, Chris Arthur delivered a fine cross and Angelo Balanta’s header was well tipped around the post. From the resulting corner, the keeper failed to gather cleanly and in the ensuing scramble, Howell was able to prod the ball home from six yards. The R’s continued to push forward and a firm header from another corner might have doubled the lead but the linesman had already signalled that the ball had curved out of play. On 15 minutes, Orient drew level. They had already created a couple of dangerous situations which had been well defended but this time the ball was fed out to the left and a looping shot deceived Goodchild, nestling in the bottom corner.

Undeterred, Rangers pressed forward and forced another corner but after another fumble, the loose ball was hooked high over the bar. It wasn’t long before the R’s restored their lead when Balanta showed great touch to control a lofted diagonal pass and rounded the advancing keeper to stroke the ball home with his left foot. The away side stormed back though and they won a corner which was generously awarded when it appeared that two different Orient players had touched the last ball ! Poor marking from the Rangers defence allowed a second equaliser with the ball easily headed home from inside the six yard box. It was now 2-2 and only 20 minutes into the game !

For the rest of the half, both sides continued to press forward with the big Orient number 9 looking dangerous on several occasions. Some long throws from Billy Coyne caused a few problems. A good move down the right hand side almost resulted in an own goal as an Orient defender stretched to clear and the subsequent corner was cleared. Another corner was headed just over by Howell and then Balanta had a shot saved at the near post. However, as half time approached, Rangers were almost caught on the counter attack and then had a reprieve when Goodchild received only a yellow after body-checking an Orient player as he tried to go round him. There was a covering defender but the referee could of easily have shown a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. The resulting free kick was superbly blocked by Matt O’Brien. Half Time: 2-2

QPR started brightly in the 2nd half, Rose had been a little bit quiet before the break, but was soon battling away for possession. After some good work, he fed a ball out to Maguire but his first time cross went behind for a corner. Rangers then put together a superb move down the right with some neat passing involving Coyne, Maguire and O’Brien with Balanta’s low cross knocked behind for another corner. With the breeze picking up just a little, the ball was finding its way over to the R’s right flank more often. 10 minutes into the half, Rose and Maguire swapped positions. This change seemed to help with Rose using his pace and power to drive at the full back and Maguire dropping deep to help link up the play in midfield and also spread the ball out to the left side.

On the hour mark, Goodchild had to sweep up just outside his area but took a knock clearing the ball. From this point on though, Orient found it difficult to get forward and created hardly any further chances as Rangers started to dominate. The corner count was rising and some good deliveries from Maguire caused havoc in the area although the ref was often quick to blow for fouls on the keeper when it was hard to see why ? As the pressure increased, a run and cross from Rose was deflected to the keeper. St.Aimie started to make an impact and a forceful run through the centre of midfield was only halted as the ball got stuck under his feet. Then a fantastic drilled, cross-field pass from Coyne gave Arthur the chance to take on the full back. He beat his man and his excellent cross ran through to Rose but he couldn’t get the better of the Orient number 4 who defended well and cleared the danger.

Further chances followed.a Maguire cross from the left, a Rose run and cut back, a Howell shot and then a cross as the visitors dropped deeper and deeper. Rangers were passing the ball around nicely, from side to side, across the back line with Coyne and Brown joining in and linking up with both the wingers. Rose had a forceful run down the right and won yet another corner but once again Orient benefited as the referee spotted yet another foul. Time was running out and the frustration was beginning to increase (not least amongst the supporters) but that all changed on 83 minutes. A free kick from the halfway line was knocked forward into the area and under challenge, an Orient player managed to head clear but as the ball bounced up just outside the area, Rose smashed a fantastic effort towards goal and it flew into the near top corner as the keeper looked on helpless. What a belter and a goal worthy of winning any game.

The visitors made a couple of substitutions in the final minutes and tried to push forward but didn’t create any chances of note. Great work by Rose, tracking back and regaining possession in his own half, resulted in a foul against him and a yellow card for the Orient player. As the clock ticked down, there were more chances for Rangers as Goode found Arthur with a good pass, St.Aimie beat three players down the centre of the pitch and then tested the keeper with a low shot. Brown set Arthur away down the left with a deft chest pass. Rose won another corner after a fantastic run where he dummied to take the ball towards the corner flag then turned his man, drove inside beating another two players before cutting the ball back to Maguire whose side foot volley went just over. That was the final chance and the ref blew for full time soon after.

The Centre of Excellence is all about player development and preparing the youngsters for the step up into senior football but winning games is also part of that development. This was a crucial win for QPR in their pursuit of the league title, especially with the two final tricky away games coming up. I was impressed to see how the lads stayed patient and kept trying to pass the ball and play their football on the deck rather than resorting to long balls. So it was ironic how the winner came about really ! I guess I could give Romone Rose the man of the match accolade for his goal alone but his 2nd half display was excellent, even without the goal. Good to see Julia, jbee, Robbie, Roger, Clive senior, Joe English and the chap with the bicycle. I think a certain game near Birmingham attracted a few of the other regulars away