QPR 2 Sheffield Utd 3

By Ben Kosky IT S nine years and counting as Rangers – to nobody s great surprise, crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle yet again. In fairness, Tuesday s exit from the competition was hardly on a par with the nights of shame against Vauxhall Moto

By Ben Kosky

IT'S nine years and counting as Rangers - to nobody's great surprise, crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle yet again.

In fairness, Tuesday's exit from the competition was hardly on a par with the nights of shame against Vauxhall Motors, Swansea and Luton that Rs fans have witnessed in a barren decade.

But a defensive collapse midway through the second half, which enabled the Blades to score twice in quick succession, ultimately cost Rangers the chance of a fourth round trip to Bolton.

Unchanged from the side that had drawn at Bramall Lane nine days earlier, Rangers started well and created the better opportunities.

Alejandro Faurlin's ferocious drive was beaten away by United keeper Mark Bunn, while Peter Ramage's curling cross reached Jay Simpson, who stole in front of his marker to glance a header wide of the far post.

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But it was the Blades who broke the deadlock with their first meaningful attack of the game on 19 minutes. Stephen Quinn's cross to the far post reached the unmarked Lee Williamson, who controlled the ball and cracked it low beyond Radek Cerny.

The Rs afforded Quinn too much space again soon afterwards and his cross found its way through to Ched Evans, who went down under Akos Buzsaky's challenge - but referee Andy Woolmer waved play on.

Williamson had two chances to double his tally in quick succession and both were blocked - but those misses were negligible compared with Evans' attempt a minute later.

Williamson played the centre-forward clean through but, with only Cerny to beat, he hammered his finish against the crossbar.

Nick Montgomery also fired one just over but it was Rangers who came closest as the first half drew to a close, with Gary Borrowdale's cross reaching the head of Kaspars Gorkss, but Derek Geary scrambled it off the line.

After the break, Richard Cresswell headed wide from a corner but, in general, the contest began to deteriorate into the scrappy kind of affair witnessed in the two recent clashes between the sides.

But the tie was effectively decided by two goals in the space of two minutes. First Quinn sped clear on the left and crossed for Jamie Ward - who had been on the pitch only a matter of seconds - to fire underneath Cerny with his first touch.

And the booing brigade were in full voice when Ward scampered clear again almost immediately and centred for Cresswell to score against Rangers for the third time in a month.

But a QPR substitution gave the home side a flicker of hope almost immediately. Adel Taarabt's drive was handled in the box and Buzsaky stepped up to drill home the spot-kick.

And the visitors were sentenced to a nervous finish when, with two minutes remaining, Buzsaky's free-kick was headed home by the diving Damion Stewart.

Substitute Antonio German almost forced extra time when his effort was pushed behind by Bunn - but, despite the late flurry, Rangers can look forward to their traditional blank Saturday next week.

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