QPR UNDER-21S continued their surge up the table with a comprehensive victory at west London rivals Brentford on Monday.
Rangers leapfrogged the Bees in the process as two goals in either half eased the young R’s to a third straight win on the road.
Mo Shariff, Max Ehmer, Michael Petrasso and Ben Brown all inked their name on the scoresheet as Marc Bircham’s side built on success over Swansea City last time out with another dominant display.
On a bitterly cold afternoon in Osterley, Marc Bircham made three changes from the XI which triumphed over the Swans at Loftus Road.
Under-18s goalkeeper Joe Lumley retained the gloves while Luke Young moved to right-back alongside Brown, Taylor Parmenter and Sam Magri amongst the back four. Ehmer wore the captain’s armband in central midfield flanked by Josh Hunt-Laurent and wingers Petrasso and Shariff, while Dylan Carreiro supported Peter Skapetis in attack.
Despite the blustery conditions, Rangers asserted themselves from the outset and needed less than two minutes to find a breakthrough. After a surging run down the right, Young’s pull-back eventually fell to Shariff, whose first-time half-volley arrowed into the far corner.
The opening goal was reward for a bright start by Bircham’s youngsters, though Brentford almost provided an instant reply through Farid El Alagui four minutes later. The Bees striker was unmarked six yards out but directed his header over the crossbar.
At the other end, Rangers twice came close to stretching their early advantage as, first, Shariff saw his low shot from 18 yards well held by Bees goalkeeper Jake Larkins. Ehmer’s raking through ball then released Petrasso, whose curling effort sailed inches past the upright.
Rangers were dealt a setback shortly before the half-hour mark as Emmanuel Monthe was introduced off the bench after injury ended Young’s afternoon early.
Insult was added to injury six minutes later as Brentford capitalised by forcing an equaliser. Luke Reeves’ floated free-kick was met by Sam Griffiths, who rose highest to flick a deft header into an unguarded net.
Parity was shortlived, however, as Rangers restored the lead within four minutes of conceding. Shariff turned provider, delivering an inch-perfect cross for Ehmer to lash into the roof of the net at the back post.
Ehmer's strike was almost quickly followed up with another shortly before the break as Monthe’s rasping 25-yard drive stung the palms of Larkins, who acrobatically tipped the left-back’s effort over the crossbar to safety.
The visitors began the second half in similar vein to the first, finding the net within three minutes of the re-start in spectacular fashion. Petrasso collected the ball on the edge of the area before deceiving the Bees goalkeeper from 20 yards, dinking the ball over Larkins into the far corner with an audacious chip.
Meanwhile, Lumley was on hand to preserve the R’s two-goal cushion with a smart save low down to his left from El Alagui’s dipping shot.
At the other end, Bees counterpart Larkins was called into action once again to smother Shariff after the winger's surging run down the left.
Larkins was helpless on 70 minutes, though, as Rangers profited from Carreiro’s free-kick. The ball eventually landed at Brown’s feet who, with his back to goal, found the bottom corner with an instinctive back-heel.
Despite their dominance, the woodwork came to the R’s rescue two minutes later as El Alagui’s fierce effort from 20 yards cannoned back off the inside of Lumley’s right-hand post. The R’s keeper was tested soon after, gathering Emmanuel Oyelke’s effort from similar range from the Bees next attack.
Rangers cursed their own luck in front of goal moments later as Parmenter missed a gilt-edged chance with seven minutes remaining. Carreiro’s cross landed perfectly for the R’s centre-back, who could only head over with the goal gaping.
Brentford made Rangers pay by finding a goal their second-half efforts merited after good work by substitute Josh Clarke on the right flank. Clarke’s cross flashed across the six-yard box before Lee Hodson slid in at the far post to bundle home a late consolation for the beaten hosts.
QPR: Lumley, Young (Monthe 27), Magri, Hunt-Laurent, Parmenter, Brown, Shariff, Ehmer (c), Skapetis, Carreiro, Petrasso.
Photo Credit: Mark D Fuller/obfcp.co.uk