St Albans City (0) – QPR X1 (4)

Team: Putnins, Harriman, Borrowdale, Rowlands, Parmenter, Ehmer, Cook, Clarke, Sharif, Doughty, Balanta

Subs: Olley, German, Gibbons, Andrade, Henry-Francis, Pellicori

Attendance: 551

Paul Finney picked me up opposite Stanmore station for my first visit to St Albans. The R’s had previously won 5-2 at Clarence Park on 11th July 1997 in front of a crowd of 1,200 with goals from, Gallen 2, Spencer 2 and one from Mahoney-Johnson. We had a drink in their Clubhouse and a pint of Stella and a pint of cider only came to just over a fiver. Dave Howell had recently arrived from Harrow Borough to take the reins and it was quickly noted by Joe English that Nick Jupp was between the sticks for the home side as he had been for Harrow Borough last week. With the 1st team squad involved simultaneously at Tavistock, Ronnie Jepson took charge and I also saw Marc Bircham.

Rangers were soon probing the St Albans defence and they really should of got their noses in front after Mo Sharif put a ball across the face of the goal, but somehow Angelo Balanta screwed it wide from close range. After 10 minutes, Jupp made a superb double save from Mo Sharif and Leon Clarke. QPR took the lead 3 minutes later following a good move when Leon Clarke slipped the ball past the impressive Nick Jupp. At the other end, St Albans could of easily equalised after Borrowdale was nutmegged outside the box and the ball was knocked across the face of the goal which somehow evaded ‘Elvis’ Putnins and everyone else.

I think it was Shields who, after controlling the ball on his chest, then belted a half-volley which looked initially like it was going well over, but it then suddenly dipped and only just cleared the crossbar. A goal by Leon Clarke was ruled offside following a good run by Lee Cook. Putnins then made an outstanding finger-tip save to his right after a ball over from the left was well headed by Haworth. Soon after, he made another excellent save, this time from close range with his legs after a shot on the turn.

Apart from the keeper, Dave Howell changed his whole side for the 2nd half. For the R’s, Bruno Andrade replaced Angelo Balanta and he soon made an impact down the left wing. Jupp made another good save, this time with his left foot/leg, but Rangers were totally dominant and more goals looked highly likely. Ronnie Jepson made another change with Antonio German coming on for Mo Sharif. A corner from Lee Cook was flicked into the net by Leon Clarke to make it 2-0. Two minutes later, Antonio German evaded their keeper in the box before slipping over and the ball then bobbled into the net for goal number three.

Cook left the field and on came Pellicori. Andrade put the ball in for German and his low shot hit the post and bounced out again. Two final changes were made which saw the introduction of Marcel Henry-Francis and Jordan Gibbons and the exit of Michael Doughty and Leon Clarke. QPR added a fourth after around 75 minutes when a nice header from Pellicori found the back of the net. Bruno Andrade got himself into space before pulling the trigger and the ball clipped the bar as it went over.

News was coming through that there was something of a goal feast at Tavistock ! Finally, thanks to Joe English for the lift home.

Steve Russell