Sheffield United 2 Queens Park Rangers 1: Luke Freeman goal not enough as QPR lose out at Blades
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Sky Bet Championship: Sheffield United 2 (Stearman 27, Lundstram 50) Queens Park Rangers 1 (Freeman 63)
Queens Park Rangers saw their run of away matches in the Championship without a win reach three games after a 2-1 loss at Sheffield United.
The Rs were under pressure for long periods of the first half and fell behind midway through it.
The Blades doubled their lead early in the second half and though Luke Freeman pulled one back for the Loftus Road outfit, it was not enough to take something from the tie.
QPR boss Ian Holloway made just one change following Saturday’s win at home to Bolton Wanderers, which was enforced.
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Defender Jack Robinson missed out through injury, with Alex Baptiste coming into the starting XI, while the fit-again James Perch was named on the bench.
By starting at Bramall Lane, centre back Joel Lynch made his 50th appearance for the west Londoners since joining from Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2016.
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The Rs had an early let off when Alex Smithies palmed a cross to United defender George Baldock, but his volley from 20 yards flew harmlessly over the bar in the third minute.
Smithies’ goal was under threat again four minutes later, with the QPR stopper saving a shot from John Lundstram inside the box.
The rebound fell kindly for former Rs forward Leon Clarke who shot at goal, but saw his effort cleared off the line by away skipper Nedum Onuoha.
Under pressure early on, the west Londoners went close to a chance in the 18th minute, but a ball from Josh Scowen narrowly evaded both Freeman and Matt Smith in the area.
However, the QPR defence was soon put under pressure again, with Billy Sharp breaking clear of the defence five minutes later, though the eventual chip from the Blades captain went well off target.
United’s pressure finally told in the 27th minute when they took the lead through Richard Stearman, who turned home a Mark Duffy corner.
Forward Conor Washington fashioned room for a chance to draw the Loftus Road side level 14 minutes later, but fired over the bar from 20 yards.
Without Washington missing the target, QPR went into half time trailing to Steaman’s opener.
Just two minutes into the second half, a powerful effort from Freeman was palmed back into play by Blackman, but Washington was unable to put away the rebound.
It proved a costly miss at United doubled their lead in the 50th minute when Lundstram found the target.
The Rs though were offered a lifeline 13 minutes later when Freeman pulled one back for the visitors.
After embarking on a fine solo run, the former Bristol City midfielder shot from distance and saw his effort fly past Blackman to half the deficit.
Freeman nearly turned provider when he crossed for Smith three minutes later, but the forward’s volley went over the bar.
Smith was involved again with 11 minutes remaining on the match, but the Rs attacker was unable to get on the end of a cross from substitute Paul Smyth.
In the 89th minute, Smith rose highest to meet a Freeman cross, but saw his header saved by Blackman.
That proved to be the closest QPR came to an equaliser in the closing stages as their woes on the road continued.
With a return to Loftus Road on Saturday against Nottingham Forest, Holloway will hope that brings about a swift return to winning ways.
Sheff United (3-5-2): Blackman; Basham, Stearman, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram (Lafferty 84), Duffy (Leonard 75), Evans, Stevens, Clarke, Sharp (Donaldson 74).
Subs: Eastwood (GK), Wright, Evans, Brooks.
QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Baptiste (Smyth 66), Onuoha, Lynch; Wszolek, Luongo (Eze 87), Freeman, Scowen, Bidwell; Smith, Washington (Osayi-Samuel 80).
Subs: Ingram (GK), Furlong, Perch, Chair.
Referee: Oliver Langford.