Two goals in four second half minutes, added to a first half strike from Junior Hoilett, sent Brentford spinning to defeat against Queens Park Rangers. The Bees were behind at the end of an even first half, having hit the post and come close to taking the lead early on, but were hit by the double strike just past the hour mark. And from there, there was no way back.
Brentford started the game with Alan Judge as their most forward player. It was a change in role for the Irishman, who has generally played just behind the front line this season and it allowed The Bees to use Alan McCormack, Ryan Woods and Josh McEachran in the centre of midfield. With QPR also playing just one up front, the centre of the field was congested with both teams looking to use their wide players as their attacking outlets.
While the atmosphere at Loftus Road was as you would expect of a West London derby, the start of the match was not as feisty as it could have been. There was not a great deal of flowing football on display, with the teams fighting for control of the centre of the pitch, but it was an engaging contest. QPR started slightly the better and Hoilett saw an early shot cannon in to Sebastian Polter before David Button made a comfortable save from an Alejandro Faurlin free kick.
Button was in the action again soon after, saving from Tjaronn Chery after the midfield man had turned clear of Harlee Dean before Hoilett shot wide from distance. Button then saved again from Hoilett, this time at full stretch, after good work on the right by Matt Phillips. QPR’s attacking trio – Phillips, Cherry and Hoilett – were proving to be their main threat and although the home side had the majority of chances in the first quarter, Brentford had the best. Sergi Canós came within a whisker of opening the scoring when he picked up a loose pass and attacked the penalty area but his shot from 18 yards flew just past the far post.
Brentford started to get a measure of control of the game as the half hour approached. When Woods and McEachran linked in the centre of the field, involving John Swift and Judge regularly, The Bees looked potent. QPR were happy to sit off and let Brentford play, looking to counter-attack. Brentford did create chances with their possession. Judge shot narrowly wide from 25 yards before Canós fired in to the side netting from 25 yards after cutting in off the left, where he had wandered. Dean almost profited when Alex Smithies dropped a short corner and Swift had a looping header saved soon after.
But when Brentford were having their best spell, QPR scored. The ball was worked in to the left channel and Hoilett was given the time and space to measure a curling shot in to the top corner from 25 yards. There was nothing Button could do but Brentford will feel they could have prevented the shot. Button saved from Cherry soon after but The Bees almost equalised before the break when a free kick was worked short to Woods and he shot low from 30 yards, it beat Smithies but hit the post and bounced away.
If the first half had not been one where tackles flew in and tempers flared, the opening minutes of the second half made up for it. Woods took exception to a high two-footed lunge by Karl Henry and his reaction saw him booked along with the QPR man. Hoilett followed him in to the book soon after as QPR tried to prevent Brentford building momentum with a series of niggly fouls. Brentford still started the second period on the front foot and almost scored when Judge cut inside and curled a shot inches over the bar. Nico Yennaris then charged down a clearance and the ball looped on to the roof of the net.
Button had saved from Cherry early in the half but two goals in four minutes made the game safe for the hosts. The first came when Woods was robbed in midfield and with Brentford appealing for a foul Cherry put Polter away to smash it past Button. And minutes later Faurlin’s pass put Cherry through on goal and the midfield man finished was aplomb, stroking the ball in to the corner of the net.
The game was over at that point and although Brentford pushed forward, they never really looked like getting back in to the game. And Button had to be well positioned to prevent a long range shot from Phillips making it four. Yoann Barbet should have reduced the deficit when he met a Judge free kick ten yards out but his header was weak and Smithies saved. Konstantin Kerschbaumer had a shot blocked and Sam Saunders lifted an effort over as The Bees pressed without reward.
Smithies then tipped a Kerschbaumer shot over the bar before, from the resulting corner, Saunders curled an effort over. At the other end Hoilett fired in to the side netting but QPR had done what they needed. And when referee Fred Graham brought proceedings to a close, they had the points.
Queens Park Rangers: Smithies; Onuoha, Angella, Hill, Perch; Faurlin, Henry (sub El Khayati 82 mins); Phillips Cherry (sub Luongo 73 mins), Hoilett; Polter (sub Mackie 85 mins)
Subs (not used): Ingram, Washington, Mackie, Tőszér, Kpekawa
Bookings: Polter (45 mins), Henry (48 mins), Hoilett (49 mins), Faurlin (90 mins)
Brentford: Button; Yennaris, Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; McCormack; Canós (sub Vibe 64 mins), Woods, McEachran (sub Kerschbaumer 76 mins), Swift (sub Saunders 76 mins); Judge
Subs (not used): Bonham, Clarke, O’Connell, Djuricin
Bookings: Canós (32 mins) (fourth of season), Woods (48 mins) (sixth of season), McCormack (67 mins) (eighth of season)
Attendance: 17,894 (3,026 Bees fans)