ANOTHER Andy Johnson double sent QPR Under-21s soaring into the Professional Development League Two play-off final with victory at Huddersfield Town on Wednesday night.
Johnson – bagging a brace for the second successive week – scored twice either side of Aaron Mitchell’s first-half strike to set up a title showdown at Loftus Road.
Steve Gallen's side were indebted to Joe Lumley for coming to the R’s rescue at the other end, frustrating the Terriers with a string of fine second-half saves.
Johnson led the attack in Yorkshire – making his second Under-21s start in successive weeks after scoring twice in the win over Millwall which secured the R’s play-off place.
And it was the R’s frontman who provided the perfect start, continuing where he left off eight days earlier. Coll Donaldson’s lofted ball split the Town defence, allowing Johnson to cooly lob Lloyd Allinson from 18 yards with the game just six minutes old.
The lead lasted just 11 minutes, though. After responding well to falling behind, Huddersfield levelled as a well-worked free-kick saw Harry Bunn side-foot into Lumley’s left-hand corner.
Only an offside decision denied the hosts a second shortly after. Daniel Carr bundled the ball into the net but his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Huddersfield continued to look the more threatening, coming close twice on the half-hour mark. Lumley was at full stretch to keep out Bunn’s long-range shot while Joe Wright headed narrowly over from the resulting corner.
Rangers weathered the storm, though, before regaining their lead in emphatic fashion on the counter-attack. Michael Petrasso’s pace eventually created the chance for Mitchell, who raced clear to lash the R’s back in front.
Lumley again came to the R’s rescue at the other end, keeping out Joe Lolley before his efforts were repaid on the stroke of half-time with a third goal.
Mo Shariff’s delicate chip found Johnson who, after beating an unsuspecting Town defender to the ball, sent a shot arrowing into the far corner with aplomb.
Huddersfield unsurprisingly dictated proceedings from the start of the second half. The hosts fashioned two quick-fire chances from the re-start but blazed both over.
When the Terriers did find a way through, Lumley again kept them at bay. Substitute Paul Mullin seemed destined to pull a goal back but his close-range volley was blocked by the R’s goalkeeper.
The Terriers’ frustration only grew as the evening wore on, coming up against a resolute R's rearguard before finally setting up a grandstand finish deep in stoppage time.
Rangers this time failed to clear their lines, allowing substitute Jake Charles to stab the loose ball into an unguarded net to give the hosts late, renewed hope.
Gallen's young R's weren't to be denied, though, seeing out the final seconds to secure their place under the lights at Loftus Road in seven days time.
QPR: Lumley, Comley, Kpekawa, Laurent, Donaldson, Magri, Petrasso (Grego-Cox 90), Gibbons (Carreiro 89), Johnson, Mitchell, Shariff.
Subs not used: Herdman, Skapetis, Fitzpatrick.
Bookings: Mitchell 90.
Goals: Johnson 6, 45, Mitchell 38.