Stalemate at the Park
Exeter City and Queens Park Rangers played out 0-0 draw at St James Park to kick off both sides’ pre-season.
The game was entertaining, despite a lack of real chances, and will have provided a real fillip to the City youngsters – many of whom were making their SJP debuts against several international stars.
Both sides opted to play a different team in each half, with City opting for a blend of youth and experience for both sides of the break.
Matt Grimes and Tom Nichols were both also drafted in as additional subs to be used whenever Paul Tisdale opted.
And while the Hoops began the match the stronger and retained possession in the way a Championship side full of internationals would expect to, it was the Grecians that found the first shot on target.
It was Jake Gosling that shimmied outside of Luke Young and peppered a stinging shot goalwards, which Rob Green couldn’t hold. On the follow-up, Liam Sercombe drilled a left-footed effort into the side netting.
Gosling was looking lively and managed to win a corner with a low, teasing cross. Matt Oakley delivered, by John O’Flynn’s header sailed just wide of the near post.
Artur Krysiak’s first two saves of the match came in quick succession. Within a minute, he had denied Stephane Mbia and Armand Traore down low with smart saves.
Much of the first half was spent inside the Grecians’ half, with Esteban Granero and Jermaine Jenas pulling the strings in midfield. But City were ambitious with the ball and it took a fine header by Clint Hill – QPR’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons – to deny O’Flynn getting in first to nod in an opener.
The game came to a temporary halt towards the end of the first period, as Myles Anderson and Shaun Wright-Phillips clashed heads. The City man got up unfazed, but the Rangers winger needed a bit of treatment before continuing.
The best City chance of the half was just before the interval, as Gosling lofted in a delightful cross which cut Green out completely, but O’Flynn couldn’t quite arrive in time at the far post to net.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 QPR 0
21 different players emerged for the second period, with Artur Krysiak the sole survivor from the first.
And Krysiak was called upon early after the interval as a short pass allowed Andy Johnson to break clear. Jordan Moore-Taylor put the former England international under plenty of pressure, meaning his strike wasn’t troublesome enough to beat the Polish stopper.
Elliott Chamberlain might have been lucky enough to snatch a goal when he drifted in unnoticed soon after, but after taking the ball out of the air, Tal Ben Haim came steaming in before he could pull the trigger.
Ten minutes into the second period, Christy Pym was handed his St James Park senior debut as he replaced Krysiak.
Despite City having a side comprising of a number of players that have never played a competitive game for the Grecians, they were coping stoutly against QPR’s firepower.
However a clever spin by Jamie Mackie on the right flank saw him escape the attentions of Jacob Wannell, and his low cross was cleared out the stadium decisively by Danny Coles.
Jose Bosingwa’s last action for the Hoops before being replaced by trialist Ryan Sanusi was to smash a free-kick over the crossbar, following a mistimed tackle by Scot Bennett on Johnson.
Matt Grimes and Tom Nichols also made substitute appearances towards the end of the game, and the former had a chance to nick a City win at the death. He timed his run beautifully as Alan Gow slipped him in, and held off the challenge well to make space for himself – but his shot across the face drifted wide.
It was the final opportunity for the Grecians before time ran out, as City kicked off their pre-season with a goalless draw against QPR.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 QPR 0
Exeter City first half: Krysiak; Woodman, Baldwin, Anderson, Dawson; Sercombe, Oakley, Doherty, Jagger Cane, Gosling; O’Flynn.
Exeter City second half: Krysiak (Pym 55), Bennett, Coles, Gow, Davies, Moore-Taylor, Reid (Grimes 82), Keohane, Wannell, Tillson, Chamberlain (Nichols 82).
QPR first half: Green, Traore, Hill, Wright-Phillips, Granero, Onuoha, Jenas, Young, Mbia, Hoilett, Zamora.
QPR second half: Murphy, Simpson, Derry, Ferdinand, Park, Johnson, Faurlin, Mackie, Bosingwa (Sanusi 74), Ben Haim, Yun.