Date:Saturday July 19 2008
Rangers rolled over Blue Square Premier outfit Stevenage Borough in their first friendly of the campaign, in a game where transition was the key to success.
A first half strike from Hogan Ephraim set the R`s on their way after good work from new signing Samuel Di Carmine, the second followed soon after the break when Romone Rose found space on the left to fire low past veteran Carl Muggleton.
The third was as simple and it was a debutante who took the cheers of the applauding faithful, Matteo Alberti struck home a deflected effort. However a consolation goal somewhat spoilt the perfect result when Isyden Christie found space in the box to nod home from a left-wing cross.
The R`s lined up with two new additions in the starting line-up, Peter Ramage and loanee Samuel Di Carmine took their place, whilst there were also places for Chris Barker and Adam Bolder.
The starting eleven was as follows:
Lee Camp, Peter Ramage, Chris Barker, Damion Stewart, Zesh Rehman, Gareth Ainsworth, Hogan Ephraim, Adam Bolder, Martin Rowlands, Patrick Agyemang and Samuel Di Carmine
Kick Off - Stevenage Borough v Queens Park Rangers
The early proceedings of the fixture was sluggish as the teams looked to feel each other out, it was the hosts however who created the early chances with Rangers relatively slow out of the blocks.
They had the ball in the back of the net in the opening stages of the game only to be disallowed. The Rangers rearguard was at odds to clear a floated cross and ex-Barnet striker Anthony Thomas was on hand to slot the ball past Lee Camp at the far post, the flag being the R`s stoppers` only saving grace.
Camp was brought into action once again infront of the Rangers travelling army of in excess of 1,200 when his reaction save thwarted Borough striker Steve Morison. The striker who scored in the previous friendly at Gillingham`s Priestfield Stadium, found some room in behind Zesh Rehman after a catalogue of defensive errors. He found Camp in good form however, with the R`s stopper flicking out a right hand to palm the ball away.
In between Rangers looked more confident going forward that at the back with Hogan Ephraim and Samuel Di Carmine linking up well on occasions, with the striker on loan from Fiorentina winning several flick ons and bringing the midfielders into play. On numerous occasions however Rangers attacking flair was thwarted by tough tackling as the going was tough early on.
The running of ex-Southend United midfielder Mitchell Cole was proving a real test for the Rangers backline as they struggled to cope with some clever skill, but for all the trickery the end product was not forthcoming.
Rangers started to get their way back into the fixture when some clever feet by Patrick Agyemang sent his marker out the ground, and the Ghanaian closed in on goal only to stopped by a last ditch tackle from defender Ronnie Henry.
The post then came to the rescue of Boro as summer signing from Newcastle United, Peter Ramage, sent in a pinpoint cross, Di Carmine met the header, glancing it towards the near post. With the ball cannoning back off the upright Boro could also be thankful for the assistant referee giving offside.
The breakthrough finally happened however, and it was winger Hogan Ephraim who made the breakthrough. Some excellent hold up play by Di Carmine brought the ex-West Ham winger into play, Di Carmine slotted the ball into the path of Ephraim, who duly cut inside on his right foot before placing the ball into the bottom right hand corner. A textbook finish from the young talent as veteran goalkeeper Carl Muggleton struggled to get down to the shot.
Stevenage Borough 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers had a few more chances before the break with Gareth Ainsworth having a tough time on the right flank, with every touch getting heckled by the home support after a few tentative touches early on. However a couple of efforts of note came from the Rangers player coach as he forced Muggleton into a good stop, before getting another drawing on another audacious volley from his vast repertoire which hit the side netting.
Stevenage`s chances became few and far between as Camp began to gobble up every cross that came his way, with a fierce wind taking inswinging crossing straight into his hands. Isyden Christie managed to test the R`s stopper before the break but to no avail as Borough went into the break a goal down.
Half Time: Stevenage Borough 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
As was to be expected from Rangers there were a plethora of changes made during the break, it was only Lee Camp who remained from the first half line-up. The second half line-up was as follows:
Lee Camp, Matthew Connolly, Damien Delaney, Fitz Hall, Simon Walton, Matteo Alberti, Romone Rose, Emmanuel Jorge Ledesma, Gavin Mahon, Dexter Blackstock and Angelo Balanta.
Rangers came out the blocks firing, and the new side oozed the zeal and confidence you would expect from prospective promotion contenders. They wasted no time in doubling their advantage as Rangers youngster Romone Rose latched onto a pass from Angelo Balanta, before taking a touch and drilling the ball inside the near post.
The Rangers fans rose in chorus as Muggleton was not able to display the agility of his younger years and was caught out by the well placed drive, giving Romone Rose his very first, first team goal.
Stevenage Borough 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers had the bit between their teeth and began to turn the screw over their lower league opposition, as the Boro defence was beginning to crack under relentless pressure.
Persistent fussy officiating at times made for a frustrating spectacle, as when Ledesma laid the ball to Blackstock on the edge the of the six yard box, he was sycthed down from behind, with the goal at Blackstock`s mercy the referee called play back for a free kick on the edge of the area. A decision that was harsh on Rangers having been denied a very good penalty shout only a few moments previous.
After the referee had given the ok to the wall situated roughly 5 yards away from the ball, Rose dummied and Ledesma, the midfielder on loan from Genoa unleashed a curling drive which cannoned back off the cross bar.
Barely moments later the result was sewn up courtesy of Rangers earliest summer buy, former Chievo youngster Matteo Alberti. The youngster playing wide right latched onto some neat build up play from the R`s before tricking his way into the box and slotting the ball home at the near post. A shot that took a slight deflection of the onrushing defender had Muggleton rooted as Alberti celebrated his first senior goal infront of a travelling army in good voice.
Stevenage Borough 0-3 Queens Park Rangers
A succession of changes by Boro broke the game up as Rangers took their foot off the gas. But the changes had the desired response when Isyden Christie found himself unmarked in the box to head home an accurate cross from the left wing.
Christie, who bagged a brace when he played at Loftus Road for Mansfield Town, rose highest in the box to send a powerful header past the despairing Lee Camp, who conceded his first goal of the campaign.
Stevenage Borough 1-3 Queens Park Rangers
With five minutes left on the clock Dowie saw it fit to give another youngster his chance, as goalkeeper Lee Camp, who had been a spectator for large spells of the second half, was withdrawn in favour of young American Reece Crowther.
Crowther appears to be Rangers` third choice goalkeeper as it stands behind Camp, and the injured summer signing Radek Cerny.
Rangers continued to plug away in the latter stages as they piled the pressure on, they came closest in the final moments of the fixture when Emmanuel Ledesma, who was being jibed by both home and away fans for his over-zealous appeal for a free-kick previously in the half, fired narrowly wide of the right hand upright, with Muggleton as ever rooted to the spot in hope more than knowledge.
And with that Mr. Russell drew the game to a close. A thoroughlly enjoyable day out for the Rangers players and fans alike, with three goals and a number of good performances. Questions will be asked in some departments however as the season begins to draw ever closer.
Final Whistle: Stevenage Borough 1-3 Queens Park Rangers
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Date:Saturday July 19 2008
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