Lewis Macleod heads the winner as Brentford win at Loftus Road
A second half winner from Lewis Macleod ensured that Brentford progressed in the Under-21 Premier League Cup at the expense of West London rivals Queens Park Rangers. The Scottish midfield player provided the assist as Josh Bohui gave Brentford the lead in the first half and then, on his first appearance since March due to injury, headed home in the second half to win the match for The Bees. QPR pulled one back and Brentford were indebted to goalkeeper Jack Bonham for a string of fine saves as they came away from Loftus Road with a 2-1 win.
Brentford flew out of the traps and could have been ahead inside 25 seconds. Bohui showed signs of what was to come as he skinned Aaron Mitchell on the left and fed Jermaine Udumaga, but the striker’s shot flew across the face of goal. Bohui had a shot blocked soon after but it was probably the home side that settled quicker.
QPR began the match with Brazilian international Sandro providing a defensive shield, allowing the five in front of him to have an attacking mind-set. They had Ben Gladwin just in behind Sebastian Polter – both expensive summer signings – and looked to find space in front of Brentford’s back four. But the visitors’ inexperienced back line held a good line and shape and made it hard for the hosts.
James Haran had an early volley hit Polter on its way towards goal and Gladwin shot over from distance soon after. The home side were largely limited to long-rage efforts during the first half but Bonham did have to tip a shot from Mitchell over the bar before he went to his left to save from Ryan Manning. Polter had a shot blocked, an acrobatic Sandro effort was saved and Manning fired over the bar as the home side pressed.
But Brentford were proving incisive on the counter attack with Bohui and Josh Clark, overlapping from right back, giving them options on both sides of the pitch. They should have gone ahead when Sam Saunders delivered a deep corner, Bohui fired it back across but neither Gradi Milenge or Jan Holldack, who shot wide with the goal gaping, could force it in from six yards. They had an even better chance when Clarke went flying down the right and cut a ball back but Udumaga miss-hit his shot from five yards and then fired the follow up against Haran.
Gladwin shot over for the hosts and Bonham made a fine fingertip save from a Nathan Corkery shot as the game started to open up. Brentford were better in both penalty areas, creating better chances and preventing QPR from getting in to really dangerous positions. Holldack shot wide after getting on to a quick Saunders free-kick before Bohui picked up an Udumaga cross but slipped as he shot and Joe Lumley saved easily.
Gladwin curled a free kick over as half time approached and Milenge missed a great chance when Zain Westbrooke chipped a half cleared corner back in and the central defender nodded wide from five yards. Bonham made a great save from Polter after the German striker had turned clear and the same man then fired a free kick in to a defensive wall before Sandro sliced the loose ball wide. Sandro also shot wide in the dying seconds of the half but by that time Brentford had turned their incisive attacking play in to a goal.
Audrius Laucys started the move with a ball inside to Macleod. The Scottish midfield player released Bohui in behind Mitchell and he raced towards goal before cutting inside and firing low in to the corner. That meant Brentford ended an even half with the initiative but QPR had shown that they could take advantage if the visitors switched off defensively. And they went straight on the attack after half time. Polter shot wide before a Gladwin header was saved by a well-positioned Bonham.
The hosts introduced right winger Gianni Crichlow at the break and looked to get him in behind Laucys. They went for the jugular at the start of the second period and really should have levelled the match. Crichlow’s ball put Gladwin in with only Bonham to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper smothered the shot and he saved from Corkery soon after. Polter had another sight of goal when he beat Bonham to a long ball but under pressure and from a tight angle he could only fire the ball in to the danger area and Laucys cleared.
Manning fired a free kick in to a defensive wall as it looked like Brentford were rocking but QPR’s profligacy came back to haunt them as Macleod struck. It came from a breakaway and as the ball was worked to Saunders on the left, Macleod stole in at the far post to nod the cross home from eight yards. It was the last action for Saunders and Macleod, who were substituted before the game restarted, but it gave Brentford a cushion. And they should have made the game safe as they dominated the next ten minutes.
Holldack lashed a volley narrowly wide after being set-up by Reece Cole and Udumaga and Brentford pressed on. Udumaga had a shot blocked and Herson Alves Rodrigues curled the loose ball inches past the far post. Westbrooke fired over when a shot corner was cut back and Lumley denied Udumaga, after Cole had put him through, before Holldack’s follow-up was desperately blocked. But for the second time in the half, a goal came against the run of play.
Crichlow, who had been moved to right back as QPR shuffled the pack, found space on the overlap and delivered a cross for Polter to arrive and head home unmarked eight yards out. That set up a grandstand finish as the home side pressed for an equaliser. Mitchell shot well over and Joseph N’Guessan curled a shot inches wide as they pressed. And with added time running in to five minutes, the dying stages were a real test of Brentford’s resolve.
Haran fired over when a corner was half cleared and Bonham saved from N’Guessan before Gladwin shot over. Mitchell missed a great chance when he cut inside and fired over from 12 yards and Bonham saved from Josh Bowler before N’Guessan was crowded out. Gladwin cheekily tried to score from the half way line but Bonham was alert and got back and another Mitchell shot was blocked.
Cole could have sealed it on the break for Brentford but couldn’t beat Lumley after being set up by Holldack. It proved, however, not to matter as The Bees had done enough to progress to the First Round proper of the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
Queens Park Rangers Development Squad: Joe Lumley; Aaron Mitchell, Harly Wise, James Haran, Osman Kakay; Sandro (sub Josh Bowler 59 mins); Nathan Corkery, Brandon Comley (sub Gianni Crichlow h/t), Ben Gladwin, Ryan Manning (sub Joseph N’Guessan 72 mins); Sebastian Polter
Subs (not used): Conor Hudnott
Brentford Development Squad: Jack Bonham; Josh Clarke, Chris Mepham, Gradi Milenge, Audrius Laucys; Zain Westbrooke, Lewis Macleod (sub Herson Rodrigues Alves 59 mins); Jan Holldack, Sam (sub Reece Cole 59 mins) Saunders, Josh Bohui; Jermaine Udumaga (sub Seika Jatta 77 mins)
Subs (not used): Cameron Greaves, Julius Fenn-Evans
Bookings: Udumaga (66 mins)