FIRST-HALF goals from Angelo Balanta and Emmanuel Monthe fired QPR Under-21s to back-to-back away victories with a 2-0 win at Millwall on Friday afternoon.
Balanta and Monthe both profited from Frankie Sutherland set-pieces within half an hour as Rangers made the ideal start in south London.
The R's held firm at the other end as Marc Bircham's youngsters were rewarded for another impressive display with a second success on the road in the space of five days.
Bircham made four changes from Monday's eight-goal haul at Barnet as Aaron Lennox, Sam Magri and Josh Hunt-Laurent were all restored to the starting line-up. Luke Young also featured on a bitterly cold afternoon in the capital, partnering Taylor Parmenter in the centre of defence.
It was Millwall who found themselves on the backfoot almost from kick-off, though, as only the woodwork denied Monthe breaking the deadlock inside ten minutes. The visitors poured forward and, after being teed up by Sutherland, the left-back crashed an effort against the foot of the post.
It was a sign of things to come as Balanta – buoyed by his hat-trick heroics on Monday – made the breakthrough on 15 minutes. Sutherland’s inch-perfect free-kick from the right found Balanta unmarked at the back post, who took full advantage by lashing the ball into the roof of the net.
The midfield trio of Sutherland, Hunt-Laurent and Max Ehmer continued to dominate proceedings and neat interplay in the centre almost provided a second goal six minutes later. Peter Skapetis was released down the right but his driven shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Respite was brief for the Lions as the R’s doubled their lead with a carbon copy of their opener. Another free-kick from Sutherland found Balanta, whose downward header was spilled by Lions 'keeper Thomas Wellham, allowing Monthe to slot home the rebound from close range.
Millwall rallied as the first period wore on and twice came close to reducing the deficit on the half-hour mark. Tamika Mkwandawire rose highest from Tom Bender’s corner but headed over, shortly before Dylan Richards’ attempt from similar range was held by Lennox in the R’s goal.
Rangers contained their hosts until half-time and continued to assert themselves after the re-start, as Balanta forced Wellham into a smart save with a deft volley from 12 yards.
Chances were at a premium thereafter as both sides battled for possession in the centre of the park, where Hunt-Laurent tried his luck on a couple of occasions in search of a third R’s goal.
The young midfielder fired a rasping shot over from 25 yards shortly after the hour mark before ghosting in behind the Lions backline only to see his curling effort deflect narrowly wide.
Rangers stood firm in the dying embers as Millwall sought a late consolation, capping a successful week with a hard-earned clean sheet.
QPR: Lennox, Magri, Monthe, Ehmer, Parmenter, Young (Champion 73), Hunt-Laurent, Sutherland, Skapetis, Balanta (Brown 80), Shariff.