Team: Butler, Harriman, Waters, Ehmer, Parmenter, Olley, Sutherland, Doughty, Cox, Fernandez, Nanetti.
Subs: O’Donnell, Bewick, Graham, Henry-Francis, Molloy.
The pitch was bumpy and hard but it was a sunny morning at Harlington, no wind which was unusual and the absence of an aeroplane in the Heathrow skies, which was even more unusual. It was the visitors who could have taken the lead after around 10 minutes after they broke down the right. The Dagenham player got through two R’s defenders and blasted the ball at Jamie Butler who made a very good save. A nice move involving Christian Nanetti and Aaron Waters resulted in the latter’s cross going out for a corner. Then their keeper denied Rangers the lead when he kept the ball out with his legs. Straight after this, Elliott Cox put the ball over into the six-yard box where Christian Nanetti was pushed over at the far post as he jumped to make contact. Danny Fernandez stepped up and made no mistake, placing the ball low to the keeper’s left.
The next significant opportunity fell to Max Ehmer. Finding himself in plenty of space, he swung at the ball which hit the target but didn’t get enough on it to concern the keeper. I have to say that Dagenham were one of the better sides I had seen this season, they worked hard, good movement and tried hard closing down our players. Elliott Cox made another good run down the right which resulted in a booking after he was fouled. The visitors went close to equalising a few minutes from half-time after a free kick was flicked just over the bar. As the players left the field, The Saturday Morning Crew headed off to their second vantage point and it was noticeable that the Dagenham contingent spent much of the interval running and stretching before their return.
The R’s doubled their lead after Michael Doughty was fouled after he had laid off a lovely ball. The free kick was from just outside the penalty area and situated in a fairly central position. Doughty took it himself and curled the ball to the keeper’s left. Although he managed to get a hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out. Rangers continued to press forward and Nanetti put over a superb cross for Danny Fernandez six yards out. He didn’t connect first time but got a second bite of the cherry which unfortunately he skied over the bar.
He had another opportunity following a free kick on the edge of the box after Christian Nanetti was fouled but he blasted his shot well over the bar. Another Dagenham player was booked and then for me came the champagne moment of the match. Frankie Sutherland did extremely well when he gained possession of the ball in the QPR box. Now out of danger, he then took off up-field, looked up and belted a long diagonal ball over to Christian Nanetti out on the left wing, absolutely wonderful !
Nanetti put over a low cross but Fernandez couldn’t get enough on the ball to worry the keeper. Shortly after, Henry-Francis came on to replace him. Their No.6 should of been dismissed after he had fouled Michael Doughty. He had already been booked in the 1st half and obviously the referee didn’t want to send him off. I have to say, otherwise, he was a very good player. Elliott Cox was now playing centre forward, and Michael Doughty went off for Sam Bewick. Rangers were much the better side in the 2nd half but the visitors pulled a goal back around 6 minutes or so from the end. After the initial header, which I think came off the post, and the follow-up was smacked into the net.
The R’s nearly got a third after Nanetti had shaved the post and the ball was then cleared off the line. He was replaced on the left wing by Bagasan Graham. As we approached the final whistle, Elliott Cox was harshly booked and Rangers were awarded their second penalty of the game when Graham rounded the keeper and was then taken down. In what was the very last kick of the match, Frankie Sutherland’s spot kick went well over the bar. A well deserved win for Steve Gallen’s side which took them to the top of the table.