DEJECTED Brentford manager Wally Downes refused to put this injury-time derby defeat at Griffin Park on Saturday down to bad luck - instead he referred to the financial gulf that divides the two West London rivals.

Downes said: "The difference between the two sides is about £30,000 a week in wages. Up front QPR have got Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong, who have cost a lot of money and are still good players.

"Meanwhile, we had a kid making his full debut in Mark Peters and Mickael Antoine-Curier on loan from Nottingham Forest. That says it all.

"Sometimes you get a little bit jealous when you see what other managers can do at certain stages of the season."

Downes also lamented the fact that had Brentford's making been better then Marc Bircham would not have been able to grab a last gasp winner to keep Rangers of on course for the play-offs with their first victory at Griffin Park since 1961.

The Brentford boss commented: "We had a problem with Bircham being unmarked, but know the exact reason why as it was two versus one' on the edge of the box as we had to put another one in the six-yard-box. The one time that occurred the ball fell to Bircham and he hit it perfectly.

"I'm disappointed to lose two goals to set pieces, from two corners. It's not nice to get done in the last minute."

Downes was full of praise for striker Mark Peters on his full debut. He said: "Mark played well. He's had a chequered couple of years here with injuries, and we only really got him right about three or four months ago - then he got suspended for four games. It bodes well for next season".

Peters had put the Bees level in the 81st minute to cancel out Rangers' ninth minute lead, gained when Danny Shittu headed in Gino Padula's corner. Substitute set up Peters and the youngster fired past keeper Chris Day, who had earlier made fine saves from Stephen Hunt and Kevin O'Connor.

O'Connor later hit the post with a header, while at the other end Ibrahima Sonko made amends for being at fault with Shittu's goal by blocking on-target efforts from Shittu and Kevin Mcleod. But Bircham blasted the winner from another Padula corner.

Brentford: P. Smith; Dobson, Marshall, Sonko, Somner; O'Connor, Tabb, Fullarton, Hunt; Peters, Antoine-Curier (Evans, 67mins). Subs not used: Julian, Williams, Fieldwick, Frampton.

April 25, 2003 13:01