QPR LEGENDS Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong were on target, as Rangers triumphed in the Alan McDonald Memorial Match in Belfast on Monday night.
In a match befitting of the late, great Macca, who sadly passed away earlier this summer at the age of 48, it was the former R’s front-duo who rolled back the years to inspire the R’s to a 3-2 win over their Northern Ireland counterparts.
In front of a crowd in excess of 1,500 supporters, Rangers were led out by none other than ‘Sir’ Les Ferdinand, whilst the Northern Ireland team were skippered by Sammy McIlroy.
After a minute’s applause, both teams exchanged the famous Macca number five jersey, retired for the evening in memory of the legendary centre-half.
The jerseys will, in due course, be auctioned off for the ‘Alan McDonald Trust,’ the charity set up by Macca’s widow Tonia and close family and friends following his tragic passing.
In a bright opening, it was Iain Dowie who went closest to opening the scoring for Pat Jennings’ side inside two minutes, only to head wide from close range.
The Northern Ireland team were getting a lot of joy down the right flank in the opening exchanges and when Keith Gillespie got to the byline and pulled the ball back in the seventh minute, Gerry Armstrong headed wide when it appeared easier to score.
At the other end, Tommy Wright thwarted Bradley Allen with a fine save down low to his left, before the former QPR front-man went close again moments later, with Wright producing an equally impressive stop.
Rangers were enjoying a fine spell, with Ferdinand going close twice in a number of minutes, the second with a ferocious far post volley.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 27th minute, with Gallen’s drilled effort from 25-yards giving Wright in the Northern Ireland goal absolutely no chance.
The hosts were almost level 60 seconds later, but Jim Magilton’s deft chip cannoned back off the crossbar.
On the stroke of half-time, Wright again denied Ferdinand, this time diving to his right to thwart the R’s number nine.
Rangers doubled their advantage early in the second half, with half-time substitute Furlong heading home Steve Gallen’s perfectly-weighted cross.
But the two-goal buffer didn’t last long, as James Quinn glanced home a fine header from 10-yards.
Undeterred, Rangers were soon back in the swing of things, with Gallen smashing home an unstoppable strike from distance.
Glenn Ferguson made it 3-2 with a contender for goal of the night, but the R’s – who were managed by Gerry Francis – held on to run out worthy winners, on a night McDonald would have been proud of.
Northern Ireland XI: Wright, Nicholl, McClelland, Creigan, Donaghy, Gillespie, Magilton, McIlroy (c), Hughes, Dowie, Armstrong.
Subs: Jimmy Quinn, James Quinn, Dennison, Campbell, Wilson, Cleary, McBride.
QPR XI: QPR: Thornton, Herrera, Wilson, Maddix, D Peacock, Wilkins, Barker, K Gallen, Sinton, Ferdinand (c), B Allen.
Subs: Challis, S Gallen, Maguire, Fereday, Langley, Bircham, Rowland, Lynch, Furlong.