Two goals in two minutes from Luke Amos gave QPR a 2-1 win at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon despite a fine reply from Alex Gorrin.
On a bright sunny afternoon United gave home debuts to Alex Gorrin and Tariqe Fosu in a 4-2-3-1 shape which featured Malachi Napa up front. Gorrin looked good in a holding role alongside Cameron Brannagan, while Fosu showed some neat touches and Napa buzzed around with plenty of energy to show that he is back to full fitness after an illness wrecked much of last season for him.
Rangers closed United down quickly and looked comfortable on the ball on a lush surface which invited both teams to move it around in midfield. Other than an early header from Rob Dickie there were few chances and you could almost see the two benches moving players around and working on shape for the coming season as the game progressed.
However, two goals in two minutes from Amos just after the half hour changed all that. Both came from balls towards the back post from the left, the only difference being that the first was a set piece and the second from open play. The result was identical: Amos, QPR’s shortest player, finding space to head home almost unchallenged from six-yards out.
United showed a bit of spirit though and on 39 minutes were back in the game when Fosu held the ball up and set up Gorrin for a clever lofted shot which left keeper Joe Lumley stranded and once again underlined what a good signing the Spaniard will be for the U’s this season.
The second half continued in the same open fashion, with Bright Osayi-Samuel hitting the bar for QPR when it was easier to hit the net and United relying on the aerial dominance of the excellent Dickie and the organisational skills of the resolute John Mousinho to keep the Hoops at bay.
Further forward, there were glimpses of the bright approach play which Karl Robinson's sides always have but with Jamie Mackie missing and new striking options expected this week there was always going to be a lack of a cutting edge, despite Napa working himself into the ground and chasing every ball.
United ended with another very young side - Kyran Lofthouse, Nico Jones and Fabio Lopes all getting their chance late on, and fellow sub Tony McMahon rattled the bar with a trademark free kick with five minutes to go: a reminder of his set-piece expertise.
No shame in losing to a side from the division above and not too many new lessons to learn; where United need to strengthen over the next few weeks remains clear. But a good work out, lots of positives and we will ALWAYS have 1986.
Our best wishes to QPR for the season ahead.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels