QPR UNDER-23S went down to Birmingham City in W12 on Friday.
Despite Faysal Bettache’s sumptuous opener, Rangers had to withstand pressure for much of the afternoon at Loftus Road.
Isaac Vassell’s double either side of half-time edged the visitors in front, who added gloss to the scoreline with further goals from Corey O’Keeffe and Olly McCoy.
Rangers began well enough, but it was Birmingham who created the better chances early on. Myles Bowman was twice called into action in quick succession – first palming over a volley from Vassell before getting down well to turn McCoy’s attempt wide.
He was soon rewarded at the other end as Rangers made their first attack of note count. A well-worked move ended with Bettache, who arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner from 18 yards.
The lead only lasted 10 minutes, though. Bowman this time had no chance, beaten by Vassell who flicked home a free-kick inside the six-yard box.
Vassell almost had a second soon after but headed just wide.
Birmingham’s pressure continued, though, and Rangers were lucky to escape when the woodwork came to their rescue. Ryan Burke took aim from 25 yards only to see his effort come back off the post.
But, after weathering the storm, the R’s missed a golden opportunity in first-half stoppage time to restore their lead. Lewis Walker wriggled away from his marker before picking out Bettache six yards out, but this time the midfielder got his shot all wrong and dragged it wide.
Instead, it was Birmingham who netted the third goal of the game soon after the re-start. Kyle Hurst’s cross from the left was dispatched by Vassell into the far, top corner.
The visitors didn’t have long to wait for more joy, either. Another fine stop from Bowman denied Odin Bailey, but from Bailey’s resulting corner an unmarked O’Keeffe headed home at the near post.
Rangers introduced Under-18 pair Dillon De Silva and Jake Frailing in search of a way back, but Paul Hall’s youngsters struggled to create any clear-cut chances.
By contrast, Birmingham looked threatening throughout and netted again eight minutes from time. Bowman – soon after twice denying Bailey – was helpless to prevent McCoy tucking away the Blues’ fourth.
Defeat for the young R’s then, who finish the campaign against Sheffield United (away) and Sheffield Wednesday (home).
QPR U23: Bowman, Drewe (De Silva 59), Gubbins, Wells (Frailing 65), Phillips, Carlyle, Tilt (Kefalas 90), Bettache, Walker, Mesias, Brooks.
Sub (not used): White.
Booked: Gubbins, Wells, Carlyle.
Goal: Bettache 14.
Images courtesy of Ian Randall.