Puma Youth Alliance Cup Group 3
Team: Crowther, Coyne, Ford, Brown, Arthur, O’Brien. Maguire, Vanterpool, Balanta, Rose, Folkes.
Subs Used: German for Rose, Wright for Folkes, Davenport for Vanterpool
Subs Not Used: Goodchild and Gardener
Rangers lined up in their now familiar 4-3-3 formation but once again were slow out of their blocks and found themselves a goal down inside the first 5 minutes. A neat pass released the Luton scorer in the inside left channel who tuned and shot across Crowther into the bottom corner with little pressure from any of the R’s defenders. Rangers responded well with some pressure of their own and Romone Rose was unlucky when his instant control on the edge of the box provided the space for him to crack a low effort against the inside of the post. The ball rebounded behind the static Luton keeper and away to safety.
Surprisingly, Chris Arthur lined up at left back and he was combining well with Cyrus Vanterpool and James Folkes. it was Arthur who curled a pacy cross towards the far post where Rose climbed high to beat his man and power a header into the top corner for the equaliser. As Rangers started to dominate, Angelo Balanta (in for Antonio German this week) headed just over from a Danny Maguire corner and then failed to make the most of a good burst down the right wing with a poor cross. Folkes followed suit down the left soon after.
More chances came and went. Josh Ford headed a Maguire free-kick just over, Arthur played in Vanterpool and his cross was scrambled behind for a corner. Rose had a run and shot which was blocked and then a fantastic passing movement involving half the team resulted in Billy Coyne breaking free down the right to put in a dangerous cross. It’s always nice to see a full-back overlapping and brings back memories of some of our great players from the past. Our play down the left side was still causing big problems for the Luton defence. Folkes went on another strong run and then combined with Arthur who set up Rose to shoot just over. Rangers probably deserved to take a lead into the half-time interval but sometimes the excellent work out wide did not produce the telling cross or culminate in an effort on goal. It must be said that the opposition defended the crosses well. Half-Time: 1-1.
As is customary, the ‘regulars’ changed ends to watch the action unfold from near the corner flag. As we looked forward to being close to the main action, Rangers obliged by beginning the 2nd half on the front foot and Balanta fired a left foot effort just wide. But soon after, Rose limped off and QPR seemed to lose their way a little as the visitors came into the match and had a period of sustained pressure. There were no chances of note but the R’s were pinned back for a while and allowed a bit too much time and space for the Luton wide players to fire in some dangerous crosses.
On the hour mark, Rangers made another change with centre-back Wright replacing Folkes. Lee Brown moved out to left-back and Arthur pushed forward to join the front three. I’m not sure if the switch was forced on Steve Brown but Folkes had picked up a knock late in the 1st half. The changes helped for a while and a decent passing movement finished with Maguire shooting just over. Then Balanta powered down the right, his low cross was cleared back to him and he followed up with a cross-shot which was almost poked home in the six-yard box by Antonio German. In his new forward role, Arthur was still looking strong and as he cut inside he fired a tremendous right foot effort inches past the far post with the keeper well beaten.
Luton then had another period of pressure and Reece Crowther had to be quick off his line to close down and block an effort from the striker as he broke free through the middle. Then a lightning Luton break from a Rangers corner was thwarted again by Crowther. He was helpless soon after though as poor defending allowed a cross from the right and a free header in the middle. This chance was easily converted from close range and Luton had the lead with only ten minutes remaining. Rangers response was hampered by more injuries as Vanterpool and Balanta were forced from the field. Danny Davenport made a welcome return from injury but he was the third substitute and Balanta’s exit meant the R’s had to play the last five minutes with only ten players. Luton held on comfortably for their victory.
In summary, the U18’s failed to make their superiority count in the 1st half and then suffered a succession of injuries which disrupted their flow in the second. Hopefully, they were only minor knocks and the players will return soon. Chris Arthur had a fine game. He was superb at left back and also looked dangerous playing wide in the front three for the last half-an-hour. Good to see him involved with the 1st team squad yesterday along with Rose, Coyne and O’Brien in the ‘behind closed doors’ match against Barnet. The Saturday morning mob included Alan Barnes, Robbie, Pat and Tom Harrison, Clive senior, Roger Stokes, Steve and Big Paul arrived around half-time after being held up in traffic around the Hayes By-pass.