Team: Deane, Downes, Monthe, Champion, Brown, Sendles-White, Sutherland, Simmonds, Henry-Francis, Monakana, Webb.
This fixture was due to be played last Saturday at Harlington, but was re-arranged because of the FA Youth Cup tie on Thursday. The game kicked off slightly late at 12.10pm and the trialist from Arsenal, Jeffrey Monakana, was in the starting line-up.
The R’s got off to a positive start and soon we witnessed successive corners after a good header from Marcel Henry-Francis was well saved by their keeper. Frankie Sutherland took the corner and his ball in was headed on target, but then knocked out for another corner. The next one was blasted by Henry-Francis and put out for yet another corner. Again Sutherland stepped up in front of us and Henry-Francis went even closer as his header clipped the top of the crossbar.
Jake Downes caught a high ball nicely on his chest and as he proceeded, his shirt was tugged and the referee awarded a free kick. Frankie Sutherland took it, but despite being in a good position it came to nothing. The visitors managed their first shot on target after 21 minutes which skimmed along the turf and Gareth Deane went down to make a comfortable save.
Not surprisingly, two minutes later Rangers took the lead and Alan Barnes had a hand in the goal. Just to clarify that, Alan retrieved the ball and passed it over to Frankie Sutherland as he prepared to take the corner. This time his corner was an out-swinger and Henry-Francis went up and we think that Jamie Sendles-White got his head last to the ball as it evaded the keeper. 1-0 to the R’s and well deserved.
Lapping the pitch perimeter was Joey Barton with a big smile on his face. Bradley Simmonds appeared to get a knock and one minute before the interval he was replaced by James Daly. Half-time: 1-0.
New arrival Jeffrey Monakana had an indifferent 1st half as he tried to impress, but after the break his confidence soared. He knocked a ball over to Marcel Henry-Francis whose header was blocked, but he was well placed to fire the ball into the corner of the net to make it 2-0 to the R’s. The Rangers third goal soon followed. Frankie Sutherland took possession outside the box and belted the ball magnificently into the corner from fully 25 yards. Despite the sun breaking though the temperature began to drop further. In the circumstances, I was surprised that the ground was still damp and springy.
Steve Gallen brought on Conor Hubble at the expense of Callum Webb. Emmanuel Monthe moved upfront, Jeffrey Monakana switched wings and James Daly dropped to full-back. Frankie Sutherland took hold of the ball under pressure on the right flank by the half-way line, turned and lofted a wonderful diagonal ball over to Monakana on the other side of the pitch, wonderful. Monakana was transformed as he grew in confidence. There was some great play from him as he twisted and turned his way through defenders towards goal and then smashed the ball just over the bar.
There were periods of play where Rangers were stringing thirty plus passing moves together to good effect with some excellent movement, good control, precision passing, involving pretty much the whole team. Emmanuel Monthe had been struggling with what looked like a pulled muscle and on came Tobi Adekunle. Gareth Deane had very little to do, but a defensive mix-up resulted in the R’s keeper being rounded and the ball slotted into the back of the net with 3 minutes remaining. Well done to Steve Gallen and the team on such a resounding victory.
The Harlington faithful also included Alan Barnes, Clive Kingham, Roger Stokes, Sean plus Pat and Tom Harrison.