PETER SKAPETIS’ double from the penalty spot fired QPR's Elite Development Squad to victory over Bristol City at Harlington on Tuesday.
The in-form striker twice obliged from 12 yards within ten second-half minutes to bag his second brace in successive home outings for the Under-21s.
City forced a grandstand finish but Toby Ajala’s reply proved only a consolation as the young R's continued their flourishing end to the campaign with a third straight win.
Bircham named a strong starting XI which included experienced midfield trio Esteban Granero, Diakite and Shaun Derry for the Robins visit.
Brian Murphy took guard in goal behind Sam Magri, Taylor Parmenter, Jamie Sendles-White and Emmanuel Monthe across the back four.
Diakitie, Derry and Granero formed a three-progned midfield assisted by Frankie Sutherland and Michael Petrasso on either wing, while Skapetis led the line in attack.
It was the Robins who began brighter as Rangers were caught on the backfoot after eight minutes. Rhys Jordan slipped Ajala in behind the R’s backline but the striker dragged his shot wide from eight yards.
Despite enjoying long periods of possession, the R’s found chances hard to come by early on. A succession of corners from Sutherland, though, almost forged an opening but Granero’s volley from the Irishman’s centre was blocked en route to goal.
Rangers were inches away from finding the breakthrough on the half-hour mark after Monthe's teasing cross caused havoc in the Robins penalty area. The full-back's centre was eventually diverted behind by City defender Curtis Jones’ outstretched foot, clearing his lines in front of his own goal.
Respite was brief for the visitors as Diakite almost caught out Robins goalkeeper Dylan Castenheira from distance. The midfielder’s ferocious volley from 30 yards flew towards goal but lacked direction, sailing narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
At the other end Kevin Krans forced an opening but couldn’t find the target, flashing an effort past Murphy’s far post.
The last action of the half belonged to Rangers, who almost broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion two minutes before the break. Sutherland pounced on a loose ball before firing inches over the crossbar.
Rangers were forced into a change two minutes into the second period as Darnell Furlong replaced Sendles-White in defence, moments before the R's made the breakthrough.
Diakite’s surging run through the City backline was cruelly cut short as the Mali midfielder was hauled down by Pierce Mitchell.
Skapetis made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick, sending Robins goalkeeper Castenhaira the wrong way from 12 yards.
City almost made an immediate response as only a combination of resilient Rangers defending kept the visitors at bay. Murphy denied Ajala from point-blank range before Derry came to the R’s rescue, heading the striker’s rebound off the line.
The pair were rewarded moments later as Rangers doubled their lead on the hour mark following Castenheira’s rash challenge on the onrushing Petrasso.
Skapetis obliged for a second time from the spot, this time firing past the goalkeeper’s despairing dive to his left into the top corner.
The visitors reduced the deficit almost immediately, though, as Ajala’s persistence finally paid off. The striker reacted quickest to a cross before volleying neatly past Murphy’s outstretched fingertips.
Ajala’s response breathed fresh life into the Robins attack, who equally proved vulnerable to Rangers on the counter-attack in the closing stages. After sprinting the length of the pitch, Diakite’s centre was inches away from finding Sutherland at the back post before Petrasso skewed a shot wide from Monthe’s pull-back.
The hosts weren’t made to pay for their late wastefulness in the final third, though, as Bircham's troops weathered the late pressure.
The final whistle sealed maximum points in the R's penultimate league match, who sign-off the season on Monday with a trip to Colchester United.
QPR: Murphy, Diakite, Monthe, Derry, Parmenter, Sendles-White (Furlong 47), Magri, Granero, Skapetis, Sutherland, Petrasso