Date:Saturday July 26 2008
Queens Park Rangers came unstuck north of the border as SPL side Falkirk beat the R`s 2-0.
Two goals in the space of 5 first half minutes was enough to decide the fate of the game. Centre half Damion Stewart put through his own net before Bairns forward John Stewart sealed the game as Rangers looked bereft of ideas.
Rangers took a loyal following of 236 up to Falkirk and were well greeted by fans North of the boarder. Indeed Rangers fans only had to look down the road at what life could have been like with the dormant ground of East Stirlingshire one of the local visiting attractions.
Fans were treated to traditional Scottish food including Scotch Pies and Irn Bru once inside the ground, and were made to feel thoroughly at home when Pigbag rang loud over the tannoy.
The R`s once again named a respectable line-up off the back of two pre-season victories against English lower league opposition. The only change to the side that beat Northampton Town 2-0 was the introduction of Hogan Ephraim in place of Matteo Alberti giving Emmanuel Ledesma a chance to roam his favoured right wing position.
There was good news on the injury front as full back Peter Ramage earned himself a place on the bench after missing the Northampton clash with a hamstring strain.
Rangers: Lee Camp, Matthew Connolly, Damien Delaney, Fitz Hall, Damion Stewart, Emmanuel Ledesma, Hogan Ephraim, Martin Rowlands, Gavin Mahon, Dexter Blackstock and Patrick Agyemang.
Kick Off - Falkirk v Queens Park Rangers
In undoubtedly the R`s biggest test of pre-season they started brightly with a passing move which Blackstock lay the ball off to Ledesma on the edge of the area, but the young Argentinean`s strike didn`t match the build up play that preceded.
Ledesma incurred the wrath of the home faithful and sections of the away support when he once again performed his dying swan act. Evidently this was not advisable infront of such ardent support and it was soon cut out of his game.
Rangers once again were left to ponder the conundrum that for all their attacking exploits, there are definitive cracks appearing at the back, and it didn`t take long for the Bairns to exploit them. A neat passing move saw midfielder Neil McCann saw full back Gerard Aafjes dart down the right flank before sending a teasing cross to the near post, it was there that centre back Damion Stewart was covering.
In his haste to clear the ball Stewart promptly slotted the ball into the near post giving R`s stopper Lee Camp absolutely no chance.
Falkirk 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Barely moments later the Rangers defence were at odds to deal with a barrage of pressure and promptly gave away a corner, it was from this corner that the hosts doubled their advantage.
Ex-Southampton midfielder McCann was at the centre of play once more and fired a corner into the heart of the penalty area, forward John Stewart promptly volleyed home from just inside the box.
Stewart earned himself selection due to his strike in a recent friendly against Berwick Rangers, he definitely repaid his managers faith with his sublime finish.
Falkirk 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were looking second best for long periods of the first half, rarely troubling Falkirk custodian Robert Olejnik. Wave after wave of attack ensued as the R`s seemed unable to cope with the growing pressure, and their inability to retain possession was their worst enemy once more.
Rangers were shell-shocked and looking for a way to relieve the pressure, they had a couple of chances of note towards the end of the first period that may have suggested some sort of recovery and some positives to take into the second period.
Damien Delaney went close for Rangers after a goal-line scramble wasn`t adequately cleared by the Bairn`s backline, however Delaney snatched at his chance sending the ball wide of the target.
Rangers were starting to sense possibility in their play and set about their task in a more positive fashion. Emmanuel Ledesma tried his luck from distance after a brief moment of possession on the edge of the area, but his effort flew high and wide of Olejnik`s right hand post. Ledesma`s skills to get himself into the shooting position however was certainly a positive to take into the second period.
Rangers almost struck gold on the stroke of half time as Hogan Ephraim tested the Bairns stopper with a cross come shot after cutting inside from the left flank. Olejnik was more than equal to it, tipping it round the post.
And with that the first half drew to a close as a brief foray of chances by Rangers couldn`t make up for the defensive shortcomings of the Championship outfit.
Half Time: Falkirk 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers started the second half in a more positive vain, with Hogan Ephraim being withdrawn for Matteo Alberti meaning that Rangers reverted to the starting line-up that began at the Sixfields Stadium.
However once again it was Falkirk who had the first opportunity when former Crewe Alexandra forward Michael Higdon, testing Lee Camp from fully 25 yards, but the R`s stopper was more than equal to it.
Gavin Mahon who alongside Rowlands had been largely anonymous in the first period, started to make inroads and nearly halved the deficit. Excellent interplay between the former Watford man and forward Patrick Agyemang, put Mahon into a good position, however ex-Sheffield Wednesday defender Lee Bullen saw to it the shot wasn`t forthcoming.
Rangers began to assert more pressure and Irish international and R`s Skipper Martin Rowlands flashed a drive yards wide of the target from the outside of the area.
On 55 minutes there was worry on the Rangers bench when Rangers full back Matthew Connolly collided with former Coventry and Arsenal player Graham Barrett. The former Arsenal trainee was stretchered off with what looked a worrying injury, but has since been revealed not as serious as first expected. He was replaced by Peter Ramage.
Falkirk had an appeal for a penalty turned down by referee Mike McCurry after a combination of Damion Stewart and Lee Camp were thought to have brought down goal scorer John Stewart in the area.
Gareth Ainsworth was introduced into play and was quickly rekindling memories of his performance against Northampton by bursting down the right flank, he was upended by defender Darren Barr who was reprimanded by the referee and in a competitive fixture perhaps would have received harsher treatment.
However the action tailed off towards the end of the fixture with both sides growing weary after an energy sapping pre-season fixture. For the few chances they received Rangers rarely looked like breaking the deadlock, and but for defensive ineptitudes they may have got something from the fixture. As it stands the R`s have their first defeat of pre-season and will surely be looking for better on Wednesday night against Kilmarnock. Falkirk will feel satisfied that they have sufficient
Attendance: 1,308 (236 Away)
Rangers: Lee Camp, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Matt Connolly (Peter Ramage, 55) Hogan Ephraim (Matteo Alberti, 46), Emmanuel Ledesma (Gareth Ainsworth, 68), Martin Rowlands (Adam Bolder, 61), Gavin Mahon, (Simon Walton 83) Patrick Agyemang (Angelo Balanta, 78), Dexter Blackstock.
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Date:Saturday July 26 2008
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