QPR U23 (0) – Middlesbrough U23 (5)

Premier League Cup

Team: Little, Williams-Lowe, Woollard-Innocent, Owens, Woodman, Drewe, Ajose, Bettache, Kelman, Duke-McKenna, Aveiro

Subs: Salamon, Pitblado, Jude-Boyd, Aoraha

Following the 0-1 defeat in September at Bishop Auckland FC against Middlesbrough, the R’s came into this return Cup tie having previously beaten Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers respectively.

The match was once again set to be played at Wealdstone FC, but it had to be switched to Harlington due to a waterlogged pitch.

On a very cold and windy afternoon, the visitors took the lead in less than a minute when Calum Kavanagh seized upon a back-header intended for Max Little.

The Boro’ went close to a second goal after the home side hadlost possession in midfield, which saw Pharrell Willis bomb down the left-wing and fire his shot just over the crossbar. They went even closer soon after when an effort came-off the bar.

So, it was no surprise when Middlesbrough doubled their leadon 15 minutes. Max Little lost possession and the Boro’ captain, Isaac Fletcher, had the easy task of tapping the ball into the net from close range.

As Rangers went looking to reduce the deficit, a great ball out to Joseph Ajose on the right-wing got him underway. But he was chopped down as he cut-in close to the box which resulted in a booking for Malik Dijksteel. Unfortunately, the free kick came to nothing.

Middlesbrough went even further ahead on 23 minutes. Nathan Simpson’s deep cross from the right-flank was finished at an angle by Isaac Fletcher with a side-footed volley.

A Boro’ player nipped into the six-yard and his effort hit the post and before there was any further attempt on goal, Mr Yianni halted play after a foul on Dean Woodman.

Shortly after the referee booked Aidan Bridge for an off-the-ball foul on Stephen Duke-McKenna.

Duke-McKenna provided the R’s first attempt on target and forced Henry Popple into a very good, low, one-handed stop.

The visitors increased their lead even further on 40 minutes when Pharrell Willis slid the ball into the back of the net.

Charlie Kelman got on the end of a powerful cross, but the keeper managed to keep the ball out as it bounced heavily in front of him.

As the 1st half entered added time, Boro’ scored a fifth, courtesy of Calum Kavanagh from an Isaac Fletcher assist. Half-time: 0-5.

Despite no striker on the bench, Charlie Kelman was taken off and Joseph Ajose was pushed upfront.

Rangers played much better after the break and created a few goalscoring opportunities but in truth the match had already been settled.

ChrisPTenner posted on the Indy’s Facebook group: ‘One forward upfront, none on the bench. Forward taken off at half-time. Only four subs, meanwhile I saw seven U23 players watching from the side-lines. I spoke to them, none of them were injured (their words).’

The win moved Mark Tinkler’s side to the top of the group, whilst QPR sit in third place.

A crucial Cup tie is set for the 19th January when the R’s travel to Alfreton FC to take on Nottingham Forest.

Steve Russell