MICHAEL Petrasso’s dramatic late winner snatched victory for QPR’s Elite Development Squad over Charlton Athletic on Monday.
The Canadian winger's deft toe-poke from close range finished off an inspired solo run to secure a second successive win for Marc Bircham’s youngsters at Harlington.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Aaron Lennox was the R’s hero at the other end, pulling off a string of fine saves before Petrasso had the final say deep into stoppage-time.
Bircham made four changes from success over Ipswich Town seven days earlier, most notably in midfield where Ale Faurlin lined-up alongside Niko Kranjcar.
Kranjcar, fresh from making his R’s debut at Yeovil Town on Saturday, came closest to an early opener after surprising visiting goalkeeper Dillon Phillips with a quickly-taken free-kick. His tame effort squirmed underneath the goalkeeper’s legs, who scampered back quickly to smother the ball at the second attempt.
The Addicks number one was called upon again three minutes later, twice denying the R’s in quick succession. Tom Hitchock saw his effort blocked after bursting free of his marker before Phillips palmed away Faurlin’s rebound to safety.
The Addicks rallied as the half wore on, threatening an opener with a succession of efforts shortly after the half hour mark. Tobi Sho-Silva twice missed the target from distance either side of a close-range strike from Callum Harriott, whose goalbound effort was diverted over by Lennox.
Cameron Stewart was next to try his luck for the visitors, bursting down the R’s left before firing over from a tight angle.
Rangers weathered the storm as half-time approached before Hitchcock almost edged the R’s in front three minutes before the break. The striker outmuscled his marker after good work from Petrasso but Charlton survived, blocking twice on the goal-line to clear the danger.
The Addicks were quickest out of the blocks after the interval, as Lennox parried Stewart’s fierce volley away before the woodwork came to the R’s rescue on 61 minutes. Kevin Feely’s downward header left Lennox stranded only to rebound back off the post.
Pressure began to mount on Lennox’s goal, smothering Ade Azeez’s dinked effort on 74 minutes before Mo Shariff almost snatched a spectacular opening goal at the other end. The winger unleashed a ferocious shot from 25 yards but saw his effort dip just over the crossbar.
Substitute Peter Skapetis followed suit moments later, failing to direct his glancing header from Frankie Sutherland’s cross on target.
Instead, it was Charlton who looked favourite to break the deadlock as Jordan Gibbons’ last-ditch challenge diverted Azeez’s header off the line with three minutes left on the clock.
There was to be one final twist, though, as Rangers registered in stoppage time. Petrasso’s jinking run from the right went untracked, cutting in from the by-line before sliding the ball underneath Phillips as the ball nestled in the far corner.
It was a cruel blow for the Addicks, who had little time to react as a second successive clean sheet secured maximum points for Bircham and co.
QPR: Lennox, Gibbons, Magri (Monthe 59), Sutherland, Sendles-White, Komodikis, Petrasso, Faurlin, Hitchcock (Skapetis 71), Kranjcar, Shariff (Carreiro 81).