Queens Park Rangers 1 Sheffield United 0: Ian Holloway marks 300th game as QPR boss in style as Idrissa Sylla profits from mix-up in Blades defence
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Sky Bet Championship: Queens Park Rangers 1 (Sylla 4) Sheffield United 0
Ian Holloway celebrated his 300th game in charge of Queens Park Rangers, split over two spells, with a 1-0 win at home to Sheffield United in the Championship.
QPR gleefully accepted an early treat from the Blades as a defensive mix-up allowed Idrissa Sylla to tap into an empty net inside five minutes.
Both teams pushed hard for a goal in the second half, but to little avail as the Loftus Road side did another to earn a second straight league win.
The Rs were forced into one change for the clash, with Joel Lynch, whose devilish delivery teed up Matt Smith for the winner against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, suspended.
In his place came David Wheeler, with the west Londoners performing a trick and switching to a 4-4-2.
The fit-again Jordan Cousins lined at right-back, with Alex Baptiste and Jack Robinson in the middle of the defence and Jake Bidwell on the left.
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Wheeler took his place on the right of midfield, with Luke Freeman on the opposite flank, while Massimo Luongo and Josh Scowen linked up in the heart of the pitch.
Up top, Conor Washington maintained his partnership with Sylla after the pair started against Wolves.
Less than five minutes into the match, QPR took the lead in bizarre fashion through Sylla.
Chasing a ball over the top, the Guinea international was beaten to it by United stopper Jamal Blackman.
However, as the on-loan Chelsea man came to collect, he clattered into Blades defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, dropping the ball at the feet of Sylla.
The Rs forward could not believe his luck and made the most of the Halloween horror at the back for the Yorkshire outfit, tucking the ball into the empty net.
There was more bad luck to follow for the Blades, with Blackman forced off as a result of the collision and replaced by Simon Moore.
In the 12th minute, United looked to be in down the left through Enda Stevens, only for a timely block from Bidwell to send the ball out for a corner.
The resulting set piece drifted all the way to Jack O’Connell at the back post, but the Blades defender blazed over from six yards.
In a cracking start to the match, the Rs broke down the right through Cousins in the 15th minute.
The former Charlton Athletic man played the ball across the ground to Washington, who was in the area, but a good interception from Chris Basham prevented the Loftus Road club from doubling their lead.
Sylla went close to doubling his account for the night in the 17th minute with an audacious effort from 35 yards.
The long-range shot nearly caught United substitute keeper Moore out, but he just about managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Sylla was clearly enjoying himself, heading just over from 12 yards after Washington delivered the ball from the left in the 33rd minute.
Former QPR forward Leon Clarke nearly returned to haunt his former side a minute later, but stuck his effort following an Enda Stevens cross over.
The Rs perhaps should have had a second with nine minutes left in the half when Luongo set Washington away down the left.
However, after cutting inside Carter-Vickers, the Northern Ireland international put his effort high and wide of the goal.
Following Blackman’s injury earlier in the half, there were six minutes of time added on to the end of the first period.
In the fifth of those six minutes, Stevens again broke down the left for the Yorkshire club before delivering the ball from the sideline.
Clarke tried to get a telling touch, but was unable to do so before Alex Smithies gathered for the west Londoners.
That proved to be the last threat on either goal before the break as QPR took their one-goal advantage into half time.
Nine minutes into the second header, Sylla nodded just wide of the far post following a spot of head tennis in the Blades box after a free kick.
In the 58th minute, Smithies was at full stretch to keep the Rs ahead, getting down low to keep out an effort from United substitute Billy Sharp.
With 24 minutes remaining, stand-in skipper Luongo almost hit the target for the Loftus Road outfit, but curled just wide of the goal from 20 yards.
Blades thought they had equalised in the 72nd minute when Clarke headed home a cross from David Brooks, only for it to be ruled out for offside against the latter.
With 15 minutes remaining, Freeman showed good strength to get into the box for Holloway’s men, before pulling the ball back for substitute Jamie Mackie.
However, the Scotland international went for power over placement and stuck his half volley into the Loft.
QPR saw the remainder out of the match with little incident as they made it two home wins in three days.
And the Rs will look for a third straight league win when they visit Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
QPR (4-4-2): Smithies; Cousins (Furlong 59), Baptiste, Robinson, Bidwell; Wheeler (Manning 87), Luongo, Scowen, Freeman; Washington, Sylla (Mackie 67).
Subs: Lumley (GK), Smith, Wszolek, Ngbakoto.
Sheff Utd (3-5-2): Blackman (Moore 10); O’Connell, Basham, Carter-Vickers; Baldock (Duffy 60), Lundstram, Brooks, Coutts, Stevens; Clarke, Donaldson (Sharp 56).
Subs: Hanson, Stearman, Lafferty, Carruthers.
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Attendance: 13,604 (including 1,853 Sheff Utd fans)