Early Sheffield United goal sends QPR to another defeat

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood scores against QPR at Bramall Lane

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood scores against QPR at Bramall Lane - Credit: PA

Sheffield United boosted their Championship play-off hopes with victory over QPR following an early goal from Oliver Norwood.

And a sixth defeat in seven matches amid a run of two wins in 12 games puts further pressure on Rangers boss Mark Warburton, who admitted before the game his future beyond the end of the season was uncertain.

United boss Paul Heckingbottom handed a debut in defence to Croatia international Filip Uremovic, while Andre Gray, on loan from Watford, returned to QPR's starting line-up after being rested at the weekend.

And the hosts got off to a great start when Norwood struck in the ninth minute, receiving a corner from John Fleck just inside the area and beating Keiren Westwood with a low deflected shot.

Oli McBurnie put a header on target, but it lacked the power and direction to test Westwood.

Then Sander Berge threatened to find a way through with a surging run as the home side looked to extend their lead, but Yoann Barbet made a timely challenge to dispossess him.

United skipper John Egan shot wide early in the second half following a corner, while at the other end Ilias Chair also fired off target.

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Morgan Gibbs-White tried a chip from inside the area which only just went over, but there was an enforced change for the hosts just after the hour mark when Uremovic went off after receiving treatment, with Jack Robinson taking his place.

Warburton made a double substitution with George Thomas and Andre Dozzell replacing Gray and Jeff Hendrick and a third change for the visitors saw Lee Wallace replaced by Sam McCallum.

United also made another substitution, sending on Daniel Jebbison in place of McBurnie, but Lyndon Dykes caused problems for the hosts down the left and fired in a shot which went just over the bar.

As Rangers went in search of an equaliser in the closing stages, Chair tried a free-kick which struck the defensive wall.

Ben Osborn found Gibbs-White whose low shot failed to test Westwood with the keeper gathering the ball comfortably.

Gibbs-White had another chance to add a second goal when he ran from around the half-way line into the area and shot narrowly wide of Westwood's left-hand post.

Rangers piled forward in stoppage time, but they were unable to test keeper Wes Foderingham and remain three points off the play-off places with six games to play.

QPR: Westwood, Dunne, Dickie, Barbet, Adomah, Hendrick (Dozzell 68), Field, Wallace (McCallum 72), Chair, Gray (Thomas 68), Dykes. Unused subs: Amos, Austin, Sanderson, Mahoney.

Attendance: 26,488.