QPR 3 Southampton 0
By Ben Kosky EVEN with Lee Cook on the injured list, it s clear that QPR still have some attractive options on their left-hand side. Saturday s final warm-up game did have the feel of an Auto Windscreens Shield tie – a three-quarters empty Loftus Road wat
By Ben Kosky
EVEN with Lee Cook on the injured list, it's clear that QPR still have some attractive options on their left-hand side.
Saturday's final warm-up game did have the feel of an Auto Windscreens Shield tie - a three-quarters empty Loftus Road watching a lower division side - but it was enough to confirm the quality of Angelo Balanta.
The teenager has been Rangers' most consistent player in pre-season and netted a clinical goal to give them a 2-0 lead over Southampton, before Adel Taarabt planted his own marker with a classy third.
"Angelo continued to play well, he's continued to be a threat throughout pre-season and he scored a very good goal," observed Rs boss Jim Magilton. "The lads' application has been first class - they've worked extremely hard and they're raising the bar.
"But I don't hold great stock by pre-season results - I've won every game and then had horrendous starts, and vice-versa. We're ready and we'll try and control the hype going into next Saturday."
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Aside from Balanta, who picked holes in the Southampton defence all afternoon, the other main plus point for Magilton was a very competent display from trialist goalkeeper Andy Marshall, who dominated his area throughout.
In terms of actual shots to save, not a great deal came Marshall's way - although, aside from the three goals that flew past him, you could certainly say the same for Saints keeper Kelvin Davis.
He could do little as Rangers opened the scoring in the eighth minute, Kaspars Gorkss timing his run to the near post to meet Wayne Routledge's corner with an accurate header into the opposite corner.
And Balanta doubled the Rs' advantage just after the half-hour, pouncing to drill the loose ball home after a sweeping build-up involving Martin Rowlands and Patrick Agyemang.
Balanta almost scored again just after half-time, chesting down a crossfield pass from Peter Ramage and shuffling inside full-back Graeme Murty before blazing over, while Taarabt was also off target.
But the on-loan Tottenham man grabbed Rangers' third with 20 minutes left, jinking around two defenders before steering the ball past Davis - and he then set up an opportunity for the sluggish Heidar Helguson, who fired high into the empty stand.
QPR: Marshall; Ramage (Ainsworth 76), Hall (Stewart 69), Gorkss, Borrowdale (Brown 76); Routledge (Ephraim 69), Rowlands, Mahon (Alberti 76), Balanta (Pellicori 76); Vine (Taarabt 63), Agyemang (Helguson 45).