Although it hasn’t always been a case of City really turning on the style by any means, the large majority of matches I’ve seen at first team, Development team and Academy levels this season have offered decent entertainment with plenty happening to provide me with enough material to come up with a thousand words and more on here about them. I’m going to struggle to do the same about the Academy match with QPR at Leckwith yesterday lunchtime though because two hard working, but fairly uninspired teams, largely cancelled each other out as the visitors followed up their 1-0 win in London at the start of the season with another victory by the same score.
The goal that decided the match came after about five minutes and was just reward for the visitors who made a fast start as they pressured City into early mistakes. The way QPR won the ball from a City throw in was typical of their early competitiveness (and City’s early lethargy) and they were able to quickly work the ball out to their quick and skillful right winger who was brought down by our left back for what had to be one of the most obvious penalties I’ve ever seen.
The spot kick was put away by QPR’s number ten as Liam Williams dived to his left and the ball went in the opposite direction and, at the time, it looked to be the prelude for more goals to come for the visitors. As it turned out though, despite looking quick and lively in their build up play, they proved to be pretty toothless in front of goal – indeed, apart from a far post header tipped over by Williams without too much difficulty after more good wing play by their number seven, it was hard to think of a time when they really threatened the City goal during the rest of the first half.
Despite their lack of a cutting edge, QPR went on to just edge the game for the rest of the first period. City did come more into things after their poor start, but I thought they missed the absent Theo Wharton in midfield. With striker Gethyn Hill struggling to make much of an impact against a tall and imposing pair of central defenders, there was only the occasional moment of inventiveness from Tommy O’Sullivan to suggest an equaliser might be coming. Hill did come close though when his header from a fine O’Sullivan cross was beaten out by QPR’s keeper and City didn’t make the most of a lovely pass inside the full back by the same player which completely opened up the left side of the visitor’s defence.
City did put together their best passing movement of the first forty minutes by some distance just before the break to create a shooting opportunity for Jaye Bowen (I think it was him anyway), but it was dragged across the face of goal as the ball flew wide of the far post. That was the end of what little goalmouth action there was in the first forty five minutes and I decided to wander over to the adjacent pitch to watch the Under 16’s for a while during the half time interval. In fact, I stayed for longer than I had planned to, because the fare on offer from the younger players was a lot more watchable than what was being served up by the Under 18′’s. City were 2-1 down when I started watching and, although I didn’t see any goals scored, there were enough near misses at either end to suggest that the score wouldn’t end up that way.
Whether it did or not I don’t know, because I decided to go back and watch the last half an hour or so of the Under 18’s game and within a minute or so of me getting back to their match, a fine run by our number seven created what was probably City’s best chance so far as QPR’s keeper blocked a well struck shot from O’Sullivan. Unfortunately, although City were now enjoying their best spell of the game as they managed to gain the same sort of slight superiority the visitors had done in the first half, they were never to come as close again – there was one more decent save towards the end, but, that apart, all both sides could manage were a series of scuffed and none too powerful efforts that caused few problems to either keeper and a scrappy affair finished in a narrow win for the visitors which they probably just about deserved for their quick start to the game.
Overall though it was one of those matches where defenders tended to come out on top in their individual battles with the opposing forwards and, although I’ve mentioned Tommy O’Sullivan having a decent game, I’d say it was typical of the way things went that our best player was probably our blond number six who showed good defensive anticipation throughout to nip possible threats in the bud. He also tackled well when required and tried to play the ball out from the back constructively – however, like most of yesterday’s team with regulars like Wharton and Kane Owen missing, I haven’t got a clue what his name is!