U18 Professional Development League 2
Team: Southwood, Furlong (Darion), Bowler, Donnellan, Garnett, Arthur, Komodikis, Klass, Adams, Clarke, Thompson
The Eagles came into this match on the back of seven straight league victories, which included a 6-2 win over the R’s last month, whereas Rangers hadn’t won since December.
Luke Southwood was soon called into action when he was forced down to block a shot on goal. He then saved a penalty, diving to his right and getting his body behind the ball after the referee had pointed to the spot following a trip on a Palace player.
The R’s had a great chance when Ruudi Clarke broke through and their keeper had to make a very good save. Rangers took the lead after 29 minutes after a high ball from Jeremy Arthur, which Brandon Adams challenged with the keeper, forcing him to punch the ball out to Michael Klass who then superbly volleyed the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Rangers were now well in their stride and hit the crossbar but in an open game the visitors also went close with a free header. It may have been deemed offside but it just evaded the post
A minute or so before half-time, Brandon Adams doubled the lead when he rose well in the box from the incoming curling cross and headed the ball into the corner. Leo Donnellan had earlier been harshly booked, but Rangers were 2-0 up at the break.
Despite sporadic pools of water around the perimeter, the pitch was surprisingly firm. Dan Darbyshire and Brandon Barzey replaced Addison Garnett and Brandon Adams respectively.
Immediately after the interval, the Eagles ruffled the side netting. Then, Rangers almost conceded an own goal from the resulting corner, but Luke Southwood was on hand to make a great save. Leo Donnellan had switched to right-back and Darion Furlong moved inside.
After 57 minutes, Andreas Komodikis looked as though he had left it too late as he drifted wider, but he then pulled the trigger and belted the ball low into the corner of the net. 3-0 to the R’s and a couple of minutes later he went off and on came Hugo Cardoso.
Palace were creating numerous chances but a combination of poor finishing and superb goalkeeping throughout the half were to thwart them. The Rangers custodian made another good save and he then blocked the follow-up.
Following a very good move down the right, Ruudi Clarke was set up but his effort from six yards narrowly went past the far post. Then a powerful shot from Dan Darbyshire was scooped up into the air, but the keeper managed to hold on to the ball after successfully steadying himself on the goal-line.
At the other end, two QPR players collided with each other. One was able to return but his team-mate required further treatment and the R’s were down to ten men!
Rangers’ players claimed offside as the opposition headed forward and it then became a one-on-one with Luke Souhwood, but he managed to grab the ball from the feet of the Palace player. They again broke free but Southwood was quickly off his line to smother the ball. Then the ball was cleared off the line and it now looked as if Palace were never going to reduce the deficit.
Ruudi Clarke was obviously struggling and was eventually forced off with 5 minutes or so remaining which meant that the R’s were now down to nine men.
QPR battled on until the final whistle and I have to say that it was their best performance of the season that I’ve witnessed, especially given the circumstances.
I don’t normally like to single out players but Luke Southwood, who I think Alan Barnes told me was our 8th or 9th keeper of the season, had a superb game.
Well done everyone.