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Tom Hitchcock’s opener wasn’t enough to prevent QPR Under-21s suffering a 2-1 defeat on the opening day of the season to Brighton & Hove Albion at Loftus Road. Marc Bircham’s youngsters recovered with back-to-back wins at Harlington, where a Hitchcock double sealed a 2-0 victory over Ipswich Town before Michael Petrasso’s last-minute winner downed Charlton Athletic.
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Tom Hitchcock and Michael Petrasso were on the scoresheet again as Rangers secured a third successive league victory at the start of October, edging a five-goal contest with Cardiff City. The R’s winning run ended at Bristol City, but defeat at Ashton Gate was dispelled with a 4-0 beating of Brentford at Loftus Road thanks to two goals apiece from Petrasso and Javier Chevanton.
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Rangers kicked-off the month with a thrilling 4-3 win against AFC Wimbledon in the Under-21 Premier League Cup, where Tom Hitchcock’s hat-trick helped the young R’s into the last 32. Dramatic back-to-back defeats against Millwall (2-4) and Crystal Palace (3-4) followed, before bowing out of the cup after a 3-1 reverse to Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
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QPR’s Under-21s signed off 2013 by earning a point at Swansea City. Reece Grego Cox’s opener – his first for the Elite Development Squad – stemmed the R’s losing streak heading into the New Year.
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The wet winter weather put pay to the young R’s fixture schedule in January, during which time Marc Bircham’s departure to Millwall paved the way for Steve Gallen to take charge as manager. His first game produced a 2-2 draw at league leaders Cardiff City, before a last-gasp 2-1 win at Crystal Palace was replicated at home against Swansea City seven days later.
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Ipswich Town inflicted Steve Gallen’s first defeat as manager, whose unbeaten start ended with a 1-0 defeat in Suffolk. Successive draws with Charlton Athletic and Bristol City followed, but the month ended on a high. Goals from Michael Petrasso and Mo Shariff secured a 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion before victory by the same scoreline at Brentford kept the R’s play-off hopes alive.
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Andy Johnson’s double propelled QPR Under-21s into the play-offs with a 3-1 win over Millwall, securing second spot on the final day of the season. Victory set up a semi-final showdown at Huddersfield Town, where another Johnson brace sent Rangers soaring into the final. Steve Gallen’s youngsters had to settle for a runners-up medal at Loftus Road, however, as Crewe Alexandra took the title by a one-goal margin.