Team: Green, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Traore (Ephraim), Mackie (Johnson), Park (Derry), Fabio, Wright-Phillips (Doughty), Taarabt (Dyer), Cisse (Zamora)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Ehmer, Connolly, Harriman
Gary Waddock had said ahead of the game: “QPR is a great football club and I had a number of years there and it was a big part of my career. I probably did every role there – every coaching role and was able to be the manager. It didn’t work for me on that side, but I had a fantastic time and I am absolutely delighted to see what they are trying to do and how they are taking the club forward. I had a good relationship with the fans and it will be a nice evening.”
Paul Finney picked me up from the Target and we then headed into deepest Buckinghamshire to collect Jimmy and have a beer. Anton Ferdinand captained the side and it soon became clear that the 3,000+ R’s contingent would be treated to plenty of exhibition type football. Not surprisingly the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes. Roaming amongst the front row of the away end was a Korean television crew. Wherever Ji-Sung Park goes the Korean media will surely follow.
Park played central midfield and he then proceeded to ping the ball around the pitch. Adel Taarabt really turned it on for us. Apart from displaying his artistry he also showed us his strength when a Wycombe player, with the intention of knocking him off the ball, simply bounced off him which didn’t unsettle Taarabt one bit and he continued with the ball at his feet as if nothing had happened.
The industrious Jamie Mackie deserved his goal after 30 minutes and although he had little to do, Rob Green was forced into making a great 1st half save. Further goals followed after the break from Wright-Phillips and Onuoha. And yes Kieron Dyer really did come on after 73 minutes AND he really did complete the match.
There was a huge roar from the large Rangers contingent when 39-year-old Gareth Ainsworth came on and did he lap it up ! The R’s connection also included Nikki Bull in goal and Dennis Oli.
Gareth Ainsworth said after the game: “I had a lump in the throat and a few goosebumps because it was a fantastic time when I was at QPR and to be remembered after all the success they have had in recent years as one of the guys who got them up to the Championship was fantastic. I thank all those who came out tonight and it is something I won’t forget.”
Yes, an enjoyable evening’s football. Opposition apart, there were some very good performances; Fabio da Silva, Ji-Sung Park…but for me Adel Taarabt is finally showing signs of maturing. His talent is not in question, he is a joy to watch, but his decision making was impressive, he looks strong, fit, sharp, assured and his work rate good. As long as he can keep his toys in the pram he could turn into some player.