R's crash out of the Carabao Cup
A FIRST-HALF performance to firmly forget ultimately did the damage at Loftus Road, as Rangers exited this season’s Carabao Cup competition in the second round.
On a night when Darnell Furlong scored his first senior goal for the club, that 43rd-minute strike unfortunately proved to be nothing more than a consolation effort.
Indeed, neighbours Brentford were totally dominant in the opening period, and are in the hat for round three after an own goal by Ariel Borysiuk (10 minutes), as well as strikes from John Egan (19), Neal Maupay (32) and Josh Clarke (83).
Injuries and fatigue alike meant that R's boss Ian Holloway was forced into a number of changes for this west London derby.
Only Alex Baptiste retained his place in QPR’s starting XI, following Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win over Hull City at Loftus Road – though the R’s did retain their now-accustomed 3-5-2 formation.
Matt Ingram was in goal, behind a back three of Furlong, Steven Caulker and Baptiste. Pawel Wszolek and Jack Robinson occupied the wing-back positions.
Moroccan youngster Ilias Chair was handed his first professional start for the R’s, and he partnered Borysiuk and Ryan Manning in midfield.
Yeni Ngbakoto joined Idrissa Sylla in attack.
When the game got underway, Brentford enjoyed a bright start, fashioning the first effort of the tie. Romaine Sawyers fired over in the fourth minute, following patient build-up play from the visitors.
QPR also went close only a minute later. Wszolek’s goal-bound header – from a left-flank Ngbakoto corner – was blocked by a crowd of Bees bodies in the six-yard box.
But Brentford were soon on the attack once more and, in the 10th minute, Dean Smith’s men edged ahead.
The Bees’ Florian Jozefzoon broke on the counter and when his low right-wing centre flashed across the penalty area, a sliding Borysiuk unfortunately carried the ball into his own net.
Brentford then almost added a second in the 15th minute. However, Nico Yennaris’ 20-yard attempt crept just wide of the left-hand post.
In truth, though, the visitors had been much the better side – and they deservedly added goal number two in the 19th minute.
Jozefzoon’s corner eventually found its way to Egan who, unmarked, had the simple task of heading home from inside the six-yard box.
Smith’s charges were good value for their lead, and nearly added a third in the 23rd minute. Ingram produced a smart save, getting down low to tip away Clarke’s 12-yard effort.
Rangers should halved the deficit a minute later. Furlong’s cross from the right picked out an unmarked Ngbakoto on the penalty spot, but he headed agonisingly wide.
However, once more, it was the visitors who should have registered a third goal, this time in the 27th minute.
First Ingram produced another fine low save, from Maupay, before Jozefzoon fired the rebound inches wide.
But things would get even worse for Rangers, with Brentford adding goal three in the 32nd minute.
Sawyers’ through ball put Maupay in behind the QPR defence, before the French striker arrowed an unstoppable 16-yard effort past Ingram.
Quite simply, it had been a disastrous half for the R’s. In the 40th minute, the home side had strong claims for a penalty dismissed when Brentford goalkeeper Luke Daniels sent Sylla – who followed up a Manning effort – tumbling in the box.
At the other end, meanwhile, Baptiste had to produce a goal-saving block a minute later to deny Sawyers, in his attempts to add a Brentford fourth.
Though, finally, there was to be some cheer for QPR. The question was – had they left it too late, or would Furlong’s 43rd-minute strike spark a comeback?
That remained to be seen – but the gap between the teams was reduced to two goals, after Furlong rose to meet Ngbakoto’s centre.
Into the second half – and the R’s made a change five minutes after the break. Manning made way for Luke Freeman.
If there was to be one, the next goal was undoubtedly crucial and, following Freeman’s introduction, Rangers enjoyed their best spell yet.
What they needed was a second goal for their pressure.
Chances were at a premium for much of the closing period, but that goal should have arrived in the 65th minute.
After neat approach play, Wszolek teed up Sylla, but he could only head over from 10 yards.
Two minutes later, Brentford also went close when Clarke shot into the side-netting.
In the 69th minute, Rangers made a second change. Mackie was sent on for Wszolek.
And, as Holloway’s side chased a way back into the game, Matt Smith was also thrown on 15 minutes from time, replacing Caulker.
The R’s huffed and puffed in order to do so, but ultimately their efforts were in vain.
In fact, matters only got worse for QPR, who conceded a fourth goal with seven minutes left on the clock.
Clarke latched onto a ball in the box before hammering low past Ingram from 10 yards.