Team: Deane, Harriman, Sanderson, Walker, Parmenter, O’Donnell, Gibbons, Sutherland, Graham, Henry-Francis, Sharif.
As I entered the Training Ground, the first thing I noticed was Neil Warnock being interviewed and then on the pitch over to his left, the 1st team squad were involved in a non-contact training session. As for the U18’s, there was no Michael Doughty or Sam Bewick of course, but Gareth Deane was back in goal and Sam Cowler was going back to West Ham.
‘Bags’ Graham made a great run down the left wing and knocked the ball back across the face of the goal which ended up in the air and Marcel Henry-Francis’s header was directed straight at the keeper. Our next effort of note involved the same two players. Graham weaved his way up to the edge of the box where Henry-Francis was in receipt of the ball, but his shot was claimed by the keeper. An outstanding ball found Henry-Francis who then put over a nice cross where Sharif was well positioned to connect with his head. ‘Bags’ Graham put over another lovely cross and it only seemed a matter of time before Rangers took the lead and it was Graham who set it up for Jordan Walker. It was a difficult one for the keeper to save as apart from Walker curling the ball towards the corner it also seemed to take a very slight deflection. 1-0 to the R’s and well deserved.
Graham was also involved in our next attack when he cut through the middle and belted the ball just wide. Such was Rangers domination, it was noted that Colchester’s first shot came after 27 minutes, and that ended up well over the bar. A nice piece of skill saw Frankie Sutherland heading the ball down and whilst keeping the ball under control he then proceeded to lay it off to that man ‘Bags’ Graham who sent over another excellent cross into the box. Michael Harriman’s pass from the right straight over to the left flank was wonderful, we enjoyed that. ‘Bags’ Graham’s crosses really were one of the features of the 1st half as he put yet another good ball over which went out for a corner. Jordan Gibbons eliminated a threat from the visitors when he took control of the ball in a wide midfield position and then nicely laid it off. Their keeper was forced into making an excellent save when he went down and palmed the ball round the post. Half time: 1-0 to a totally dominant QPR.
The visitors changed formation after the interval and went 4-5-1 and this seemed to frustrate our rhythm. Colchester could of equalised after a ball was knocked into the box. Their player swung his leg at it, but luckily he didn’t make contact and Gareth Deane was able to clutch the ball. At the other end, ‘Bags’ Graham went on a powerful run and after he twisted and turned his way into the box to pull the trigger, the keeper made a crunching save as he followed through.
The R’s then conceded a sloppy equaliser after a ball was knocked across the box and ended up in the back of the net courtesy of the post. There was a huge shout for a penalty from a number of their players. I don’t know if it was an appeal for handball or whether they thought that the ball had crossed the line ? Colchester were fired up and were certainly a different side since the break. Jordan Walker was replaced by fit again Bruno Andrade and he made an instant impact. Later, Luke Olley came on for Jordan Gibbons.
A Frankie Sutherland shot was deflected en route by Luke Olley and the keeper went down to smother the ball. There was a similar combination when Sutherland swung over another corner which found Olley lurking and the ball was headed off the line for another corner. Bagasan Graham was the final R’s player to be substituted and was replaced by Ben Brown as Frankie Sutherland waited patiently by the corner flag. The visitors had a good chance to snatch it when a U’s player, in plenty of space, took the ball into the box and Gareth Deane went down to make the save. Rangers really should of wrapped it up by half time, but you have to give some credit to the visitors for their 2nd half performance.
The Saturday Morning Crew also included, Alan Barnes, Rob Bennett, Roger Stokes, Clive Kingham and Sean. Some of us decided to stay on and watch the U16’s match against Southend that followed shortly after. They eventually went down 0-4, but more importantly there was what seemed to be a serious injury in the 2nd half when Jordan (I don’t know his surname) went for a ball in the box and as he dipped and the defender raised his boot, he stayed down in a crouching position for some time. There was then a very delicate operation getting him on to the stretcher without moving his neck. He was eventually taken off the pitch with his neck firmly secured to await the arrival of the ambulance. The news the following day confirmed that he had in fact suffered a neck muscle spasm. Best wishes to Jordan and hope that all is well.