So on a beautiful summer's evening at the Park City capitulate to a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of a decent looking Queens Park Rangers side in the first round of the Carling Cup in front of 4614 supporters, including some 800-odd who'd travelled down from West London. City lined up: Jones; Golbourne, Seaborne, Taylor, Duffy; Harley, Cozic, Russell, Sercombe; Stewart, McAllister.
With daytime temperatures approaching the mid 20s, it was somewhat of a blessing that the first home fixture of the new season was an evening kick-off, although it was City who were cooking on gas in during the opening exchanges when Harley and Stewart combined on the left hand side to give Stewart a sighter with a speculative long range effort that the keeper collected comfortably.
QPR responded in kind by immediately taking the ball down the other end and looping a header onto the top of the cross bar from a floated cross from the right. Jones had to be alert moments later with a smart double stop firstly from the livewire former Aston Villa player Wayne Routledge who shot low then collected the rebound just as giant striker Patrick Agyemang closed in.
Midway through the half the now beefed up Liam Sercombe set off on a bursting run through the middle, but was bundled out on the edge of the box before spotting Stewart in acres of space to his right, then two minutes later City had their first proper attempt on goal when Scott Golbourne played an intelligent ball into Stewart just inside the box. With his back to goal Stewart took a moment to control the ball before turning and lashing a first time effort towards the roof of the net that the keeper gratefully held.
In something of a golden period for City they were straight on the attack again with Stewart, Duffy and McAllister working the ball from the right to Harley on the left. He in turn turned his defender inside out before fizzing a waist height cross across the box where Stewart stooped at the near post to plant a header straight into the keeper's midriff.
With City's tails up they continued to press and finished much the stronger side - despite conceding the lion's share of possession to the visitors - and it was fitting that midfield powerhouse Bertie Cozic should have the final say of the half unleashing a vicious low drive from all of thirty yards out that had the keeper scrambling across his line to keep his goal intact.
During the interval it was a most welcome sight to see local lad Liam Tancock on the pitch, and it was equally welcoming to hear his thoughts on his world records and world championship success recently in the 50m backstroke in Rome, plus his thoughts on City too. Nice one Liam, good to see you at the Park.
Anyways, soon enough it was time for the second half, and within a couple of minutes City looked to continue where they left off in the first half when Duffy had the keeper interested with punt from long range. A couple of minutes further in and Cozic set off on a lung bursting charge through the centre of the defence, and despite a QPR defender's best efforts at hauling him back, Bertie managed to lay the ball perfectly into the path of Stewart just inside the box. However Stewart screwed the shot horribly across the face of goal and the chance was gone.
Then in the ninth minute QPR were all of a sudden in the lead. The ball was flighted through from deep, millimetres away from the outstretched boot of the backtracking Seaborne, but perfectly weighted for the storming Routledge to stick out a toe and guide the ball past Jones from the edge of the box to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
City looked to hit back immediately, but Duffy's whipped in cross from the right couldn't be converted by McAllister as the keeper comfortably gathered his powerful far post header. But just six minutes after taking the lead QPR doubled their advantage when Agyemang showed superb patience holding the ball up in front of three defenders before calmly laying the ball off to the right where Routledge raced through to smash low past Jones from ten yards to now make it 2-0 to QPR.
They weren't finished there though, as two minutes later Routledge completed an eight minute hat trick with a well struck penalty. A hanging cross to the far post looked to have been headed in, but the linesman on the far side decided that Golborne handled in trying to keep the ball out, and thus he was red carded and the penalty awarded, so for the second game running City would finish the match with ten men.
In the aftermath of the sending off, Stewart was sacrificed to bring Tully on at right back with Duffy switching to left back, then a couple of minutes later Logan and Norwood replaced McAllister and Russell. The introduction of Tully almost paid immediate dividends when his hoisted free kick into the box was met on the full by Matt Taylor's head, but the direction wasn't there and the ball whizzed past the far post. A minute or so later Taylor was at it again, but this time just lifting a powerful header over the bar from Harley's corner.
With five minutes to go Jones pulled off a miraculous save tipping over a looping far post header, then from the resulting corner an identical header was this time cleared off the line from inches beyond Jones' flailing glove. Up the other end Sercombe sent Norwood scampering, but in a complete rush of blood to his head he made a right hash of his shot skying it high onto the Bank from the edge of the box.
A minute later QPR got their fourth when the ball was played out to the right and crossed back across the face of goal where it was drilled home from close range to make it 4-0, then in the 90th minute four became five when Hogan Ephraim scored the goal of the game skipping down the left then cutting in to smash a beautifully curving dipping strike into the top corner to give Jones no chance. He nearly repeated the effort deep into stoppage time, but this time Duffy was on hand to clear off the line almost getting cut in half with the power of the shot.
But thankfully the ref put us out of our misery soon after, and off we trudged to reflect on the performance. Which is strange really, because in the first half we played pretty well, and were quite a good match for QPR. However in the second half those three quick goals from a true quality player did for any aspirations we might have had of making the second round of this particular trophy for the first time in 16 years. The sending off didn't help either (obviously), and made the scoreline look a bit harsher than it actually was.
But QPR were good value for their win though, so well done to them. As for City, three players made their home debuts, and all three looked to have plenty for the manager to work with. However, it was the more established favourites who shone today, Cozic and Harley in particular, ably supported by the resurgent Alex Russell. We looked quite bright at times today against our loftier opponents, so it will be interesting to see how we do against another 'bigger' side when Norwich visit on Saturday. Which Norwich will turn up is anyone's guess though - the one that got spanked 7-1 at home on Saturday, or the one that won 4-0 tonight - who knows? There's only one way to find out though, so get yourself, and a friend, up to the Park this Saturday for our first home fixture back in League One, plus there's the chance to welcome back one of the heroes of last season in Matt Gill too.
It should be a great game to watch, so see you there.