Oxford Utd 2 QPR 2
By Ben Kosky THEY scored twice and could have had more – but it s difficult to disguise the Dexter Blackstock-shaped hole in Rangers front line. Much of the Rs approach play was sharp and pleasing to the eye, with Angelo Balanta darting in from the left
By Ben Kosky
THEY scored twice and could have had more - but it's difficult to disguise the Dexter Blackstock-shaped hole in Rangers' front line.
Much of the Rs' approach play was sharp and pleasing to the eye, with Angelo Balanta darting in from the left, Gavin Mahon and Martin Rowlands looking assured in the centre of the park, and trialist Alessandro Pellicori causing some problems late on.
"I thought for 20 minutes or so we were very good, we moved the ball well and looked very positive and compact with a real cutting edge," observed manager Jim Magilton.
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"A lot of good things came out of it and it's all about preparation for August 8. I found out a little bit more about my players again and that's the most important thing."
What may have been evident to Magilton is that, while Patrick Agyemang and Rowan Vine are valuable attacking players with some excellent qualities, neither is equipped to lead the line by himself.
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And the return of Adel Taarabt leaves Magilton's squad top heavy with what his predecessor Ian Holloway used to call 'flitty-farty' players - those who possess skill on the ball, but little end product and drift out of the game for long periods.
Wayne Routledge is another who falls into that category, failing to beat Us goalkeeper Ryan Clarke in a one-on-one just before the end of the first half - although he later made amends by giving Rangers a 2-1 lead from a similar position.
It was Mahon who fired the visitors ahead in the eighth minute, tucking away Agyemang's knockdown, and Balanta came close to extending the lead with a run and shot that dipped just wide.
Matt Green had an ambitious penalty appeal against Kaspars Gorkss rightly turned down in the first half, but got lucky nine minutes after the restart when his hopeful punt struck the centre-back's hand.
Referee John Farries pointed to the spot and Green gratefully accepted the chance to beat Radek Cerny, but QPR were back in front nine minutes later as Routledge ran on to Taarabt's through ball and kept his composure to round Clarke and slot in.
Oxford levelled again with just over 20 minutes remaining as Matthew Connolly attempted to chest a cross back to Cerny, but misjudged the distance and Jack Midson nipped in to score.
Taarabt, who had squandered two earlier set-ups from Vine, blasted another opportunity wide and Pellicori almost won it for Rangers, stretching to reach Gareth Ainsworth's cross and prodding it against a post with Clarke beaten.
QPR: Cerny; Ramage (Borrowdale 45), Hall (Stewart 66), Gorkss, Connolly; Routledge, Rowlands (Alberti 45), Mahon, Balanta (Pellicori 66); Agyemang (Taarabt 45), Vine (Ainsworth 73).