Brentford took the West London bragging rights as they beat Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road for the first time in more than 50 years. A first half goal from Josh Clarke set The Bees on their way and they could have been out of sight by half time as a few chances came and went. The hosts responded after the break and Brentford had to do some defending to ensure they kept their lead. And that enabled Romaine Sawyers to smash home his first Brentford goal inside the final 20 minutes and seal the win.
There was little doubt Brentford were worth the points. Apart from a short first half spell and a slightly longer one at the start of the second period, QPR were very much second-best. There were very few saves for Daniel Bentley to make as the defence in front of him – with Harlee Dean and John Egan imperious at the heart of it – kept the hosts largely at arms’ length. And when there were sights of goal for QPR, Brentford threw bodies in the way to keep their clean sheet.
The Bees were equally impressive further up the pitch. The central midfield trio of Ryan Woods, Josh McEachran and Nico Yennaris ensure Brentford ran the majority of the game while Clarke gave QPR left back Jack Robinson a torrid time. There were signs early on as to what was to come from Clarke. It took a great interception from Steven Caulker to prevent him setting up Scott Hogan inside the first five minutes and another from Nedum Onuoha to stop him putting Yennaris through.
Yennaris also had a shot blocked as Brentford started brightly but QPR were also on the front foot in the opening exchanges. Tjaronn Chery hit a defensive wall with a free kick and Ariel Borysiuk blasted the loose ball well over before Conor Washington cut in off the left to have a shot blocked. Massimo Luongo saw an effort deflected over and then saw an effort blocked before Egan made a superb block to prevent Washington finishing off a move involving Robinson and Chery.
The first 15 minutes had been everything fans have come to expect from West London derbies. Two teams were going toe-to-toe and looking to win the match but the focus was very much on the quality of the football rather than the tackles flying in. More than 2,500 Brentford fans were also making their voices heard and as the half developed Brentford took control. McEachran was to the fore, prompting and probing and knitting Brentford’s play together with Clarke as the main outlet. A great chipped pass from McEachran put Sawyers in on goal but Alex Smithies saved his low shot and Hogan stumbled as he tried to turn it in, when the striker returned the ball back across, Yennaris fired wide.
Clarke saw a shot deflect wide before a Sawyers corner was flicked on by Maxime Colin and Egan was just unable to turn it in. Dean had a header blocked before Clarke set up Hogan after a quick break but the front man curled a shot narrowly wide. Another great Onuoha interception prevented Hogan finishing off a sweeping move involved Clarke, Yennaris and Colin and Woods shot wide while at the other end Bentley saved from Washington and then James Perch after the full back had burst in to the box.
A clever back heel from Colin almost created the opening goal as half time approached but Smithies kept out Clarke’s shot as Hogan waited to pounce. And moments later Clarke kept the ball in play after a Robinson error and cut it back to Hogan but the shot flew over. The goal Brentford had been threatening, and deserved, came three minutes before half time. And it was one to savour. After a series of passes and a switch of the play to the left, Andreas Bjelland and Sawyers combined and McEachran threaded a pass through to Clarke, he skipped free and placed a shot between the legs of Smithies to put Brentford in front.
The Bees would have been looking to build on that after the interval but QPR responded. They got Chery in to a more central position and he began to have an influence while Washington was closer to front man Idrissa Sylla. Bentley was forced in to an early save from Luongo and then denied Chery as he tried to curl in a free kick from a narrow angle. Chery then shot wide and Perch fired across the face of goal before Egan blocked a Luongo shot. At the other end, Smithies saved at the feet of Hogan before the striker fired wide after a quick break and an exchange of passes with Clarke.
Bjelland made an important clearance as Sylla arrived to try and meet a Washington cross but Brentford appeared to have weathered the storm and grabbed a second goal with 16 minutes remaining. Substitute Lewis Macleod extricated himself from a tight position and Colin moved in to space, he picked out Sawyers with a low pass and the midfield man fired a left foot shot first time in to the top corner from 20 yards. It was a moment to savour in front of the travelling fans and the only negative was that it was Macleod’s last real involvement as he left the pitch on a stretcher after picking up a knee injury.
QPR tried to respond and would have halved the deficit with a Sylla header but for a fantastic headed clearance from Egan. Substitute Pawel Wszolek also volleyed wide and Bentley comfortably saved a Sebastian Polter header but it soon became apparent QPR’s race was run and Brentford pushed forward looking for more goals. Smithies saved at the feet of Yennaris and Konstantin Kerschbaumer blasted over from 15 yards after a clever Hogan cut back.
Yennaris volleyed wide at the death and a Kerschbaumer shot deflected wide as Brentford continued to push on. Even eight minutes of stoppage time, played due to the injury to Macleod, did not give QPR time to respond. And when James Adcock, who refereed the game superbly, blew his final whistle Brentford had fully earned their first win away to QPR since 1964.
Queens Park Rangers: Smithies; Perch, Onuoha, Caulker, Robinson (sub Wszolek 64 mins); Borysiuk (sub Gladwin 81 mins); Chery, Cousins, Luongo, Washington (sub Polter 69 mins); Sylla
Subs (not used): Ingram, Hall, Henry, Hamalainen
Bookings: Borysiuk (18 mins), Chery (74 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Bjelland; Woods; Clarke (sub Kerschbaumer 90 mins), Yennaris, McEachran (sub Macleod 71 mins (sub Kaikai 87 mins)), Sawyers; Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, Onariase, Hofmann
Bookings: Dean (6 mins) (sixth of season)
Attendance: 16,488 (2,542 Bees fans)