Huge Promise In Narrow Defeat

Enfield Town 0 QPR Development 1

From Andrew Warshaw

Gavin Macpherson said from the moment he arrived that pre-season was all about preparation rather than winning every game. In other words, it’s no good results masking what you need to work on.

Yet anyone who witnessed our first pre-season outing on Saturday cannot fail to have been impressed by the methods and tactics Gavin and his backroom team are trying to get across.

Forget the scoreline. The fact that we more than held our own in blustery conditions against a team of professional players, albeit all of them under-21, spoke volumes about Gavin’s philosophy of trying to play the ball on the ground and take the game to the opposition.

It was certainly appreciated by a healthy 300-plus crowd who clapped the squad off at the end.

With a handful of key players unavailable, we played a mixture of first-teamers – including many of our new signings — and triallists, changing the entire eleven for the second half.

New keeper Rhys Forster showed a commanding presence while Mickey Parcell proved what an asset he will be on his return to the club with an eye-catching 45-minute shift, setting up one chance with a glorious assist and then, at the other end, clearing a QPR effort off the line.

In fact we had arguably the two best chances of the first-half. Marcus Wyllie, seemingly relishing playing down the middle, latched on to a ball out of defence before seeing his finish come back off the post. Then Parcell’s gorgeous ball found a triallist who forced a double save from Rangers keeper Joseph Adoje.

The match was won on 68 minutes when Noah McCann burst forward to crash an unstoppable header beyond Adi Connolly from a corner.

But our collective performance was more important than the result, with five more friendlies to come for Gavin and his staff to get a feel for what works best and make any necessary tweaks.

“To have 310 at a pre-season friendly is absolutely immense,” Gavin told me afterwards. “It’s everything I thought this club would be.”

“We were always going to use the first two games to look at our work out of possession. It’s clear that some of the lads are more atuned to going longer than we would like but that’s what we’re here for.”

“We didn’t really have a cutting edge but you have to put that in context given we had no out and out center-forward. To lose the game to a set-piece like that we’ll have work on, but there was a lot to be pleased about. Will we get better in certain aspects? Yes. Will the team show more of an identity during pre-season? Of course because that’s how it works.”

Next up the annual pre-season fixture on Tuesday against a Tottenham Hotspur under-21 side and, in all likelihood, a far stiffer challenge.

“We’ll use it again to see how we are out of possession,” explained Gavin.  “There’s an awful lot of work still to be done but we’re only week two so it’s normal we wouldn’t yet be functioning as a complete unit.”