R's Coast Past Southampton - Full Match Report
Queens Park Rangers eased past Southampton in their final pre-season fixture before their first test in the Championship against Blackpool next Saturday.
The R`s were comfortable for large periods of the game and none more so than with nine minutes gone, with defender Kaspars Gorkss nodding home his first for the club.
The lead was doubled shortly before half time with young forward Angelo Balanta coolly slotting past Kelvin Davis after one of a number of defensive complications.
The rout was completed when substitute Adel Taarabt displayed his vast potential, but turning a forlorn defence inside out and rolling the ball home with consummate ease.
While manager Alan Pardew admitted his side were still finding their way in terms of preparation, QPR gave him food for thought as they set their intentions for the opening day.
Radek Cerny was ruled out with illness, something which Lee Cook has later attributed to be swine flu, so Andy Marshall was given his chance to impress between the sticks as he closes in on a contract.
Gary Borrowdale returned at left-back with trialist Gregory Vignal not being offered a contract, and he lined up in defence alongside pre-season first choice trio Peter Ramage, Fitz Hall and Kaspars Gorkss.
Into midfield and Gavin Mahon and Martin Rowlands linked up again in the middle being flanked by Angelo Balanta and Wayne Routledge, while Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang continued up front.
Saints had stalwart Chris Perry in their back four, along with experienced campaigner Dan Harding following his move from Ipswich Town.
A club that is struggling to hold onto its commodities, Southampton still managed to field players of the talent of Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin, with Marek Saganowski partnering youngster Patterson upfront.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Southampton
With all the hype about the new football season in full flow at Loftus Road with fans once again becoming familiarised with their surroundings, thoughts went out to football legend Sir Bobby Robson with a minute`s silence being held prior to the fixture.
Rangers set their early intention with a nice spell of possession football, instigated by the excellent midfield combination of Mahon and Rowlands. The pair appeared to be on the perfect wavelength as they sparked a flurry of attacks.
The lively Angelo Balanta was in fine form as he picked up where he left off against former club Wycombe Wanderers. Picking up the ball down the left he tormented young duo Lloyd James and Oliver Lancashire with an excellent blend of creativity and skill.
It was he and Patrick Agyemang that linked up to provide the first goal of the game. Agyemang received the ball from the young Colombian and earned his side a corner. Balanta fired the ball in and defender Kaspars Gorkss was allowed to power the ball home into the top right hand corner.
The Latvian defender in truth didn`t have much competition in the air as he nodded home, with Perry and Lancashire left rooted by the effort.
Goal: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Southampton
QPR were beginning to look good value for their lead as Vine and Agyemang began to link up in familiar fashion - a partnership sorely missed for the vast majority of last season.
Balanta and Borrowdale linked up well down the left, with sections of the R`s support impressed by the introduction of the former Crystal Palace full back. His neat interchange with Balanta found Vine in some space with only a last ditch tackle denying Vine that final confidence booster ahead of next weekend.
Southampton, like last season at Loftus Road, never laid down and played some nice football of their own under new boss Alan Pardew. Joseph Mills in particular was in the mood after firing a venomous drive over the bar with his less accomplished right boot.
He was among the action once again moments later when James` cross from the right flank saw Mills beat the R`s defence in the air but the ball drifted wide of the Marshall`s left hand upright.
Marshall himself was looking a confident figure at the heart of the Rangers rearguard, commanding his area well and organising the defence in front of him. On this evidence he appeared to be placed well for a deal in W12.
The busy work of Schneiderlin and Wotton in the middle made the R`s work hard with Lallana and Mills foraging away on either flank in search of an equaliser.
QPR were now struggling to get in behind the Saints with Dan Harding in particular cutting an impressive figure at left-back, leaving Wayne Routledge with very little to attack. The former Tottenham winger found the going tough against the former Ipswich and Brighton man.
But it was the R`s who have finally discovered their killer instinct, after what has been a season in the making, and it was the youngster Balanta who took the honour with another well taken pre-season strike.
Gary Borrowdale picked out another menacing cross from the left, leaving the Saints back-line in all manner of confusion. Rowan Vine was on hand to deflect the ball goalbound, before Angelo Balanta stole in to roll the ball home with the comfort of a veteran striker.
Goal: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Southampton
With less than ten minutes remaining on the clock before half time the R`s appeared in professional form, content to keep hold of possession and limit the Saints to efforts from distance.
Indeed Matthew Patterson`s bright running alongside Saganowski made a chance for the impressive Adam Lallana, but he could merely fire his effort into the stands.
Rangers took a good advantage into the break, and while not entirely convincing in terms of performance, the signs were there that the R`s were gearing up for a positive campaign.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Southampton
Jim Magilton made one change after the break with ineffectual striker Patrick Agyemang replaced with Heidar Helguson as the R`s gaffer looks to finalise his line-up for the opening day.
Magilton must have said something to his side at half time, as they came out with renewed vigour and drive in the second period.
At the centre of this was the young Colombian Balanta who attacked his new opponent down the left - former Reading veteran Graeme Murty. The battle of youth and experience made for compelling viewing as the winger gave the Scottish full back a good test.
It was on the other flank that the action took precedent as Routledge awoke from his slumber in style to fire over a cross from the right. Balanta took a touch in the middle before firing a dipping volley over the bar. While not quite the finished article, the signs of promise were evident for all to see.
Balanta`s trickery created more mayhem moments later when he fed Vine after fending off two challenges, but he couldn`t find his strike partner Helguson and disappointingly chipped wide of the far post.
Southampton continued to press Rangers with the newly introduced Simon Gillett proving a handful for the R`s, more specifically with his set-piece prowess. His deliveries called Andy Marshall to be brave and collect on a couple of occasions, with everything else mopped up by a solid back-line.
While nothing spectacular was being provided in terms of a spectacle, the main differences from last year were at the forefront for all to see. A greater product of passing football, possession on the ball and most importantly goals.
The comedy came courtesy of Lallana who somehow managed to earn himself a free-kick after tripping over. Not a soul near him as he was sent tumbling by his own feet, but somehow Mr Crossley thought different and gave a foul, much to the dismay of skipper Martin Rowlands who held his head in his hands.
Hogan Ephraim and Adel Taarabt took from the bench and both looked intent on impressing the R`s support with some neat passing football. They linked up wide right before Taarabt received the ball and purposefully drove the ball which flew inches wide.
Damion Stewart also came from the bench to replace Fitz Hall, who appeared to be struggling with another injury complaint.
But the young Moroccan wasn`t to be denied moments later when he scored a memorable to round off the scoring at Loftus Road.
Picking up the ball in midfield he rode the challenges and waltzed towards the edge of the area. He turned Lancashire inside out before calmly rolling the ball in the bottom right hand corner, a goal crafted from the educated boots of Adel Taarabt
Goal: Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Southampton
After the goal Rangers made wholesale changed with Borrowdale, Ramage, Mahon and Balanta being replaced by Gareth Ainsworth, Lee Brown, Matteo Alberti and Alessandro Pellicori respectively as the R`s shifted to 4-3-3.
Helguson had a glorious chance to further extend the lead when he was laid in by the exciting Taarabt, but his powerful left footed drive could only find the upper loft as the Ice Man continues to struggle in front of goal.
The final ten minutes were all QPR as the hosts used their greater preparation and fitness levels to their advantage with the Saints having to endure a pre-season of turmoil and behind the scenes uncertainty.
Taarabt was at the forefront of the R`s attacking threat and didn`t allow the Southampton defence a moments respite drilling a twice taken effort just wide of Davis` right hand post.
Pellicori had a chance to score on his debut when Heidar Helguson crossed from the left and in truth the Italian did well to get something on the effort which was plucked by the stopper Davis.
The signs were positive from the giant Italian forward who won everything that came his way in the air and even managed to engineer himself a couple of chances infront of goal.
With that Phil Crossley blew the final whistle and brought the game and the R`s pre-season to a positive close. Goals and clean sheets are always positive but from this display QPR fans can look forward to the Blackpool game with a positive mentality.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Southampton
Referee: Mr P Crossley
Man of the Match: Angelo Balanta: The young Colombian put in another impressive display out on the left wing, and with Lee Cook out injured for a considerable period, he may have made the spot his own for the opening day.
His dazzling display of trickery unlocked the Southampton defence on a couple of occasions and he rounded off the display with a well-taken goal in the first period.
Queens Park Rangers
Andy Marshall, Peter Ramage (Gareth Ainsworth 77), Fitz Hall (Damion Stewart 69), Kaspars Gorkss, Gary Borrowdale (Lee Brown 77), Wayne Routledge (Hogan Ephraim 69), Martin Rowlands, Gavin Mahon (Matteo Alberti 77), Angelo Balanta (Alessandro Pellicori 77), Rowan Vine (Adel Taarabt 63), Patrick Agyemang (Heidar Helguson 46).
Kelvin Davies, Lloyd James (Graeme Murty 46), Oliver Lancashire, Chris Perry, Dan Harding, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin, Paul Wotton (Simon Gillett 46), Joseph Mills (Oscar Gobern 81), Marek Saganowski (Jake Thomson 75), Matthew Patterson (Grzegorz Rasiak 63)
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