Queens Park Rangers V Brentford
BRENTFORD collected their first win at Loftus Road since October 1964 on a night to forget for Rangers following this west London derby.
Victory was no more than the visiting Bees deserved.
Goals from Josh Clarke (42 minutes) and Romaine Sawyers (74) capped a convincing triumph for Dean Smith’s men in W12.
R’s boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made two changes to his team following last weekend’s narrow defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
Jack Robinson came in at left-back for his first start of the campaign, while Jordan Cousins was also named among the starters after a recent hamstring injury.
So Ben Gladwin and Niko Hamalainen both dropped down to the bench.
Even though chances were at a premium early on, plenty of strong tackles and switches in play made this derby a very-lively affair.
It was Rangers who created the first meaningful opportunity in the 12th minute.
A wonderfully-worked move saw Massimo Luongo and Tjaronn Chery combine to feed Conor Washington, whose low attempt forced Bees defender John Egan into an important block.
Eight minutes later, the home side had goalkeeper Alex Smithies to thank for a fine save at the other end.
Sawyers beat the offside trap following Josh McEachran’s lovely dinked ball over the top – and the former’s subsequent shot saw Smithies get down well to tip the effort away. Nico Yennaris then skewed wide when the ball was eventually worked back into the box.
The visitors threatened again just two minutes later. Andreas Bjelland’s goal-bound effort from a corner was blocked away.
Despite an even opening, Brentford grew in confidence as the half progressed – pushing Rangers further back with every minute that passed.
The Bees went within a whisker of opening the scoring in the 25th minute, after breaking on the counter attack. Clarke eventually fed Scott Hogan, who curled only inches wide of Smithies’ right-hand post.
By now, Brentford were firmly knocking on the door.
In the 28th minute, a slick passing move involving Yennaris, Clarke and Maxime Colin put the latter in the clear, whose low centre saw R’s skipper Nedum Onuoha produce a vital intervention to deny a waiting Hogan on three yards.
A driven Washington effort on the half-hour mark, caught by ‘keeper Daniel Bentley, briefly weathered the Brentford storm.
However, the visitors were soon on the attack once more. In the 38th minute, Clarke’s cross-shot was held by Smithies.
At the other end, QPR’s James Perch ended a tidy move – and driving run into the penalty area – by producing a low blast that was taken well by Bentley in the 39th minute.
A minute later, meanwhile, Brentford’s Hogan couldn’t steer a first-time attempt on target, following Clarke’s assist.
But the visitors took a deserved lead just three minutes before the break.
A three-man move – involving Sawyers, McEachran and Clarke – concluded with the latter displaying fine skill to evade his marker, before Clarke slotted the ball under Smithies and in.
The goal had been coming and, admittedly, it had been a below-par display in the first half from QPR once the half-time whistle sounded. A response was needed.
Rangers were indeed improved at the beginning of the second period.
Early chances saw Luongo shoot straight at Bentley from 20 yards, before Chery blazed over with his right foot.
Hasselbaink opted for an attacking first R’s substitution in the 64th minute.
Pawel Wszolek replaced Robinson. That meant Perch switched to left-back, while Cousins moved to right full-back.
A Brentford breakaway saw the visitors threaten in the 67th minute. The move ended with Hogan shooting straight at Smithies.
Rangers’ second sub arrived two minutes later, meanwhile, as Seb Polter came on at the expense of Washington.
However, that change couldn’t prevent Brentford from doubling their lead in the 74th minute.
There was a suspicion of handball in the build-up as the Bees worked the ball to Sawyers on the edge of the box.
But there was no doubting the quality of the former Walsall man’s eventual finish, as he arrowed an effort into the top left-hand corner.
In response, the R’s had an effort cleared off the line two minutes later, with Idrissa Sylla’s looping header blocked by Egan.
There was a long delay late on. A serious-looking injury for Brentford sub Lewis MacLeod, picked up following a collision with Chery, meant that play ground to a halt for a good few minutes while he was carefully stretchered off.
Therefore, some eight minutes were added on at the end.
Rangers, though, were unable stage any form of comeback. In truth, the game was probably already won by Brentford before that break in play.
Sub Konstantin Kerschbaumer twice went close for the visitors in the dying embers, before the referee brought the curtain down on a desperately-disappointing evening for the R's.