Team: Lennox, Magri, Monthe, Laurent, Young, Ben Haim, Balanta, Doughty, Hitchcock, Ephraim, Andrade
This was my first visit to Wheatsheaf Park and the programme noted that the R’s had played Staines on three previous occasions.
The first occasion was on 15th April 1944 against Staines Vale, as they were then, at their ‘Lino ground to raise money for the St. John Ambulance. QPR won 3-2 with two goals from Bow and one from Shaw.
The next encounter was played on 30th August 1966 and Staines had become Staines Town. Rangers ran out 7-0 winners with Alan Wilks scoring a hat-trick. Mick Leach bagged two and there were also goals from Glover and Parker. With the score already 6-0 at half-time, the programme notes that Staines had seriously underestimated the strength of the Rangers side and R’s keeper Mike Kelly was ‘borrowed’ for the second half.
There was the 2-2 draw on 25th April 1984 and the R’s goalscorers were Ian Stewart and Martin Allen. Apparently all the goals came in a seven-minute period and 241 attended the match.
Rangers lined up as follows: Benstead, Duffield, McClure (Manning), Chivers, Martin Allen, Charles (Davis), Comfort, Cooper, Burke (Scott), Stewart (Beggs), Kerslake. This late-season friendly was played to raise money for the Mayor of Spelthorne’s Charity.
Gordon Macey informs me that the QPR Juniors have also played there twice, winning 3-2 on 29th July 1975 and then 5-0 on 17th February 1976.
Looking around, I noted that Michael Doughty was captain and that Sam Magri’s head was still bandaged after receiving a very nasty gash at Stevenage. The game kicked-off a few minutes after 1pm and Rangers dominated the early stages.
The R’s took the lead after 7 minutes following an excellent build-up which led to a corner. From the corner, Tom Hitchcock’s superb overhead kick spectacularly hit the back of the net.
Thirteen minutes into the game, the home side had their first goalscoring opportunity which flew high over the crossbar. Then a few minutes later, Aaron Lennox made a comfortable save during this brief spell of pressure from the home side. At the other end, Bruno Andrade blasted the ball into the side-netting from close range.
Following a very heavy challenge on Bruno Andrade close to the bye-line, I must mention what referee Lee Collins said to the perpetrator after awarding the free kick: “To be fair, you can’t really complain as you did pole-axe him.” The keeper tipped Michael Doughty’s free kick out for a corner.
Aaron Lennox’s goal kick found a Swans player and then had to make a superb save to rectify his mistake. Then Bruno Andrade should of doubled the score after he was put through and Kyle Merson managed to block the shot with his legs. Emmanuel Monthe belted a 25-yarder just wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.
Minutes from the half-time whistle, Tal Ben Haim had a strong penalty claim turned down by Lee Collins and Staines went close when the ball was curled just over the crossbar. Half-time: 1-0.
As expected, there were a number of changes made to the Rangers personnel. Joe Lumley replaced Aaron Lennox in goal. Luke Young made way for Darnell Furlong who slotted in at right-back. Also, Peter Skapetis, Dylan Carreiro and Aaron Mitchell were introduced at the expense of Angelo Balanta, Josh Laurent and Michael Doughty respectively. With so many changes I suppose it was no surprise that the second-half started off a bit scrappy.
The home side had a very good opportunity to equalise when the unmarked Staines player momentarily hung in the air, but his header was aimed straight at Joe Lumley. But it was the R’s who scored next after a superb run by Tal Ben Haim which took him past defenders and on towards the bye-line. He then squared the ball to a well-positioned Tom Hitchcock who scored from close range after 58 minutes.
Marc Bircham made his second batch of changes a minute later when he took off Tal Ben Haim, Hogan Ephraim and Bruno Andrade. On came Ben Brown, Michael Petrasso and David Fitzpatrick. Funnily enough 90 seconds earlier Alan Barnes had turned to me and remarked that Hogan Ephraim wouldn’t last the pace !
As Rangers went looking for a third goal, Aaron Mitchell’s shot was well saved and the ball then hit the post and out for a corner. It was Tom Hitchcock who notched up QPR’s third and thereby completing his hat-trick when he thumped the ball in the net from ten yards or so after good work by David Fitzpatrick.
There was still time before the final whistle for substitute David Fitzpatrick to score a fourth. Michael Petrasso was announced as the goalscorer, but as I was still scribbling down my notes, Alan Barnes confirmed that it was in fact David Fitzpatrick who had scored from close range.
At the final whistle, I trudged out of the ground with Ron Hill and Alan Barnes. We parted company half-a-mile or so further down the road as they then made for the railway station and I went looking for the 441 bus.
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival. All rights are reserved and his photos are used by the Independent R’s with his permission)