The U18’s got back to winning ways the previous week with a 2-1 win at Coventry. From 0-1 down at half-time, Steve Gallen’s side won the match with two goals after the interval from Cole Kpekawa.
For their next game at Harlington last Saturday, Rangers lined up as follows:
Team: Smith, Furlong, Kakay, Comley, Wise, Kpekawa, Komodikis, Butler, Grego-Cox, Mitchell, Shodipo.
Des Bulpin was appointed the Palace U18’s manager in the summer and over on the adjacent pitch Gerry Francis was watching his son Jake in action for the U16’s. The Saturday Morning Crew also included Alan Barnes, Rob Bennett, Roger Stokes and Clive Kingham.
Palace looked very busy in the opening stages, but it was the R’s who soon got to grips with the game. Rangers had the first decent effort when a dipping shot passed just over the bar. At the other end Mark Smith was forced down to block a shot which ended up going out for a corner. QPR took a deserved lead after 17 minutes when Reece Grego-Cox side-footed the ball into the net following Brandon Comley’s corner.
With less than 30 minutes gone, the R’s doubled their lead. Aaron Mitchell weaved his way through into the box and placed the ball wide of the keeper. Next up was the goal of the season. Cole Kpekawa advanced over the half-way line and decided to pull the trigger from at least 30 yards. The ball hit the back of the net like a bullet. 3-0 and the R’s went in search of another goal.
Reece Grego-Cox was released and the Palace keeper went down to smother the ball. He then had another good effort following a run down the left flank. Grego-Cox twisted round, the defender slipped over, but his shot was aimed straight at the keeper.
The Saturday Morning Crew were gathered to the right of Mark Smith’s goal and it became more apparent just how vocal Mark Smith is to his team mates.
A few minutes before the interval Rangers added a fourth goal. Following a good move started by Furlong and Wise, Andreas Komodikis fired in a shot and the keeper made a diving save with his left hand, but Grego-Cox was backing up to slot home.
At this point Palace upped their game and finished the half the stronger side. Some good defending by Harly Wise probably helped deny the visitors a goal. He stuck with the Palace player as he ran through into the box. Although the opposing player still managed to force Mark Smith into making a save with his legs, it was good pressure from Wise.
As I began catching up with my notes, a steward who had been eyeing me made his approach and asked if I was a scout much to the amusement of the Saturday Morning Crew!!!
Palace almost added another goal, but the shot was blocked on the line. The visitors were getting behind our defence and as half-time approached they managed to pull one back. Mark Smith did manage to get a glove to the ball, but it wasn’t enough to stop it hitting the back of the net. Half-time: 4-1.
Steve Gallen brought on Ben Pattie for Cole Kpekawa, Darnell Furlong went to centre-half and George Butler moved to right-back. Palace got off to a lively start and again they managed to get behind our defence on a number of occasions. Mark Smith made an excellent save and they also went close following a very good run by a Palace player from midfield, but his shot ended up just wide of the post. The Eagles then proceeded to hit the woodwork twice.
A goal was certainly coming and it came when Mark Smith wasn’t able to keep possession of the ball or clear it, and a Palace player was well placed to tuck the ball away. There was a hold up in play because of an injury to Harly Wise. He eventually limped off and continued to receive treatment off the pitch. Ben Beckles came on to replace him, but Rangers now had no recognised centre-halves.
The pressure from the visitors eased and a Brandon Comley free kick was tipped over the bar for a corner. Steve Gallen made a further change by introducing Ryan Young at the expense of Olamide Shodipo after 80 minutes.
Palace certainly had the best of the second-half, but overall the R’s deserved their 4-2 victory. The U16’s game ended 0-0.