Youth Alliance Cup Final – Southern Section
Team: Butler, Harriman, Waters, Ehmer, Parmenter, Olley, Sutherland, Doughty, Cox, Fernandez, Nanetti
Subs: Perring, Sanderson, Graham, Bewick, Henry- Francis, Molloy,
Originally, the match was supposed to have been at Peterborough, then there was talk of switching it to Loftus Road and in the end it was decided to play it at Aldershot. Then on the day, the Official Site announced that the game was doubtful as the Recreation Ground was waterlogged but there would be a pitch inspection at 12 noon. Confirmation that the game was indeed postponed then followed. I was then surprised to get a text from Simon in Sweden informing me that he had just been on the Peterborough website and that the match was in fact back on again as both clubs were anxious to complete the game. It was agreed to play it at Harlington with a kick-off time of 4.30pm. So, the next task was to network the news to as many as possible.
There had also been a lot of rain in the Middlesex area so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Training Ground. I was the first to arrive and unfortunately the refreshment area was locked up but Steve Bacon gave me a thumbs-up and the players started to drift out from the dressing room. Alan Barnes and Ron Hill arrived followed by Roger Stokes and eventually we were allowed into the refreshment area. As we took up our usual position, the strong icy wind was to be accompanied later into the match by persistent rain. We were joined by Pat and Tom, Clive Kingham, Roy and then finally Gordon Macey. Rangers had beaten the visitors 5-2 in November and Peterborough had surprisingly knocked out Millwall in the other semi-final.Both games were decided on penalties.
The match commenced at 4.33pm and Rangers were soon on the offensive. Good work by Frankie Sutherland resulted in Elliott Cox crossing the ball into the box where a Christian Nanetti header brought out a fine save from their keeper. Michael Doughty did well to get his cross over from the bye-line and the subsequent shot ricocheted towards goal which Sam Cole saved after going down low to his right. I think it was Sutherland who tried to chip the keeper but he managed to put the ball out for a corner. Peterborough were continuously under pressure and a long throw from Aaron Waters into the box found Danny Fernandez but unfortunately he couldn’t get enough on his shot.
Although Rangers dominated the half for the first 25 minutes or so, the visitors though, went close when they counter attacked and many of the Rangers players seemed to freeze. The resulting shot almost caught out Jamie Butler but diving low, he still made a relatively comfortable save. I think it was Michael Harriman who crossed over from a left wing position but Christian Nanetti somehow headed wide from close range. Frankie Sutherland went on a great run and after beating a number of players, he was taken down inside the box before he could pull the trigger. We looked over to the referee who could only wave his hands in denial !!! After this early pressure, the game went into a bit of a lull in the latter stages of the 1st half but the R’s deservedly took the lead when Nanetti passed to Cox who sweetly drove the ball low into the corner of the net.
After the re-start, Rangers carried on where they had left off. A lovely chip by Nanetti sailed only just over the bar. Soon after, the R’s doubled their lead after a superb corner from Michael Doughty and Taylor Parmenter was on hand to put the ball into the net after a goalmouth scramble. The Peterborough keeper made another good save following a cross by Cox which he tipped round the post for a corner. The referee awarded the R’s a n indirect free kick in the box possibly for shouting by the Peterborough captain ? Mid-way through the 2nd half, Luke Olley went off injured and Sam Bewick came on to replace him. Javonne Molloy was introduced after Elliott Cox was helped off. We were saying that Molloy looked very comfortable in a wide-right position. He then cut in nicely and bent his shot just wide of the right-hand post.
A few minutes from the end, Sam Bewick in plenty of space, headed up-field and then blasted the ball from at least 25 yards into the roof of the net, an absolute stunner and one of the best goals I’ve seen at Harlington this season. Steve Gallen made his final change when Christian Nanetti was replaced by ‘Bags’ Graham. Further goal scoring opportunities were to follow. Danny Fernandez was fouled near the corner flag and Michael Doughty’s free kick into the box ended up being headed off the line. Seconds before the end, Doughty burst through the centre and instead of shooting himself, squared it to Molloy who somehow clipped the ball from close range which their keeper managed to tip round for a corner. 3-0 was the final score in a match in which QPR dominated on a heavy pitch.
What next for the Youth team ? Steve Gallen, staff and players were scheduled to set off for Sardinia again before the weekend, to compete in the Trofeo Sardegno Tournament. As for the Youth Alliance Cup, we will have to wait for the outcome of the Northern Area Final when Stockport County meet Macclesfield Town on 14th April. Well done everyone.