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Thread: QPR 1 Blades 2 - report

  1. #1
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    QPR 1 Blades 2 - report

    The Blades finally got off the mark for the season as they saw off QPR at Loftus Road with come from behind victory. After falling behind to an Eze strike, United stayed in the game thanks in part to some good saves from Dean Henderson and got level thanks to ace predator Billy Sharp after a well worked move involving the returning Duffy and Freeman. The second half saw David McGoldrick introduced and he won; and then converted a penalty to complete the turnaround. The Blades stood firm and were able to hold onto the three points with a resolute and determined performance. In truth, the game was far from a classic but United were able to ensure they got the crucial three points.

    Manager Wilder, who had shuffled his pack in the week moving out Lee Evans to Wigan, ahead of some imminent transfers inbound; brought back Freeman, Stearman, Duffy and Sharp into the line-up. Lundstram and McGoldrick were on the bench and Baldock missed out with an ankle problem. Rangers surprisingly left striker Matt Smith on the bench but Blades target Luke Freeman started.

    The game started with United playing away from their 2,000 fans resplendent in the new bright yellow away shirt. The Blades started well with Fleck and Stevens linking to win a corner but Stearmanís header came to nothing. Freeman had a shot deflected wide as the home side slowly came back into it but the first effort on goal was from the visitors as Fleck had a bouncing half volley saved comfortably. Eze was drifting into good spaces and linking well with Freeman as Rangers slowly started to find more of the ball in the key areas. Henderson made smart save low down from the dangerous Eze who drifted away from Stearman and Egan. Soon after, United failed to heed the warning and some decent interchange saw the ball played into EZEís feet and with no challenge incoming, he fired a low and hard shot into the corner past Hendersonís despairing dive to give the home side their first goal of the season.

    United were rattled and the home side came again and Eze this time fired a shot across the goal as the supporters behind Dean Hendersonís goal started to become frustrated. However, out of nowhere United suddenly were level. From a decent move down the right Duffy found Freeman who ran down the right and put over the cross that found SHARP unmarked and he converted from close range. There was a suspicion of offside but the goat stood. It was a relatively simple goal in its origin and eventual conversion. The equaliser was crucial after a ragged spell where the home side had threatened to get away from the Blades.

    After the break, United came out buoyed from the leveller and Clarke managed to hook the ball away from his defender to create a chance from himself and as the ball fell he hit a shot that seemed goalbound but Ingram did well to dive to his left and push the ball away. Fleck had a shot deflected wide from the resultant corner. Sharp came off for McGoldrick on the hour and soon after the substitute was involved in a crucial moment. Stevens ball came over and the striker tussled with Bidwell and Lynch and it was hard to see who was the offender and was certainly a surprise when the referee, Scott Duncan gave the award to the Blades pointing to the penalty spot. After a number of appeals and a booking for Lynch, McGOLDRICK was entrusted with the responsibility and casually rolled it into the far corner in front of the United fans.

    Rangers knew they had to have a go after a poor start to the second half and that man Eze had a decent effort again saved by Henderson before Luongo headed wide. Woodburn came on for Duffy and Smith came on for the home side who started to go more direct as a result. The United back line stood firm and after a spell of retreating and going to deep; managed to have a spell with the ball. McGoldrick had taken a kick and gone down twice before finally succumbing and the sub was subbed with Leonard coming on for the goal scorer.

    Eze had another shot saved from Henderson low down; a save you would expect him to make, but a save non the less. Scowen then forced the keeper into a save as the time started to tick down. Fleck and Leonard did well to keep the ball for a spell as the game entered an additional 5 minutes of stoppage time. In this spell United saw the game out skilfully and indeed Leonard had a powerful suing run inside the right-hand channel forcing Ingram into a turn around the post for a corner. Soon after Rangers final punt forward was too late; and the final whistle went signalling many United players to punch the air. It was not a classic performance but a gutsy, workmanlike showing that showed great courage to come from behind to win.

  2. #2
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    United – A win. Not a classic performance and did we deserve it? Maybe not. Possibly a draw was a fairer result but we did improve after going behind and certainly second half we looked the more likely after the break and up to when we scored. After this, they had a few chances and Henderson made some decent saves but I never felt we were under massive pressure. We got the crucial win and showed some guts today, especially after going behind. We showed some real character and resolve as having lost two and then going behind, you sort of feared the worst but the players stuck at it; got level and went on to win in albeit with a little bit of luck in terms of a decision.

    Yes, it was not brilliant and in truth not a lot better than the previous two games really but we showed a bit more organisation, fight and spirit and a bit more of a goal threat. On another day the lad Zee may score a hat trick and we were fortunate to get a penalty and it could have been completely different. However, you could say the same about the game at home last week where things did not quite go for us. It is such small margins but today Henderson made 3 or 4 saves (nothing out of this world and saved you would expect on the whole – but he made the saves non the less). We have away another sloppy goal as no one closed down the attack or the player shooting and they had other chances around this. The equaliser came at a great time as we needed a lift and Clarke had a good chance 2nd half and then we got a very dodgy penalty. After this they had a few decent efforts but no glaring misses or clear chances and we defended well.

    The returning Freeman, Stearman, Duffy and Sharp made a difference and Basham stiffened up the middle too. There were no superb performance but a number of workmanlike showings and we showed some determination and more effort to win those crucial first and second balls. QPR were not as good a side as the previous two opponents but confidence had dropped so it was a big turning point before and after half time.

    Crucial to get the win after two poor defeats and now we have a home game next week; where if we win then the bad start if almost forgotten. With players coming in too, you suddenly feel a bit more optimistic about things- shows how things can turn so quickly in this game. We definitely needed a win today with fans being frustrated and players confidence under threat. The reaction at the end by many of the players showed how important it was to get the three points after two defeats.

    Hopefully now we see a few new players coming in and it was great to see Coutts training on the pitch before the game so hoping he will only be a few weeks away now and if we get in another midfielder (Norwood?) and a striker we have a few more starting options.

    QPR – Fancied them to struggle and saw nothing today to change my mind. They had a few bright moments but overall, they too looked clueless in attack and slow in build-up. The lad Zee is a talent and is only just 20. He caused us the most problems. Freeman got on it for the home side and tried to make things happen but outside of the aforementioned Eze, the rest of the team looked very slow and static. Not many make runs off the ball and they looked a bit stationery. Still they had plenty off efforts on goal and will complain about two decisions (possible offside and then a really controversial penalty) but for a home side after leading; not sure they did enough to preserve this. They gave away a sloppy goal and then went behind, unfortunately. After this they had some long-range efforts but they looked a bit clueless. They were static at the back too and I felt if Clarke had looked bothered; we would have caused them more problems. They are not a side blessed with much experience. Surprised Smith did not start today as his height would have caused us problems I feel but we handled him quite well when he came on; albeit for limited time.

    They have kept Freeman for now but you worry if he will be there for much longer with a lot of buds in. They lack experience at the back and in midfield and will pin a lot of hopes on the young lads. Exe was very good today and United struggled to mark him or top his touch and shoot policy. I did fee they would struggle when I predicted the table and I saw nothing today to change that belief. They need players with the financial issues; it is more likely more will depart. Forgot Steve McClaren was even there until he shook Wilder’s hands at the end. That sums him up really. Good coach but poor manager. I do think that Rangers could be in a relegation scrap this year. Normally at home it is quite intimidating and they make Loftus Road a tough place to play but today it felt a bit mundane and was rather sterile. United came back into it and second half sensed a win with a nervy team and fans watching.

    Opposition Man of the Match – Freeman flitted in and out of things but Eze was easily the main man. He scored and had 3 or 4 other decent efforts. Showed pace and dribbling and had a good shot on him that he wanted to get away whenever he could.

    Opposition Weak link – The whole defence looked a bit square at times and I felt with better balls, United could have caused more problems. The lad Lynch looked particularly clumsy and struggled to make even routine clearances at times. Another lad at the back Leinster was very slow and looked a player that teams with pace (not us) could get at.

    Henderson 8/10 – Excellent today. His saves were not out of this world but he made 4 or 5 smart saves down low and managed to push them out of the way too rather than back into the danger area. Some of those may have gone past Blackman or Moore last season and maybe reason we brought him in. He will have been annoyed that the defence allowed so many shots away (same lad Eze a lot too) but in the end he managed to save shots that were decent but not right in the corner but a few were so crucial. Had little chance with the goal. His kicking was poor again as he sent it out a few times but he got better as this game went on and took a few key high crosses. Clearly really cares and his reaction on the goal and at full time showed how much it mattered to him.

    Freeman 7/10 – Good to see him back. Gives us much more an attacking threat with more of an end product. Today he was a bit slow at times defensively losing his man a few times and a bit hesitant to react but got better as the game went on. Attacking wise he seems to find the key ball more than Baldock and showed this on the goal with a precise cross. He gave us some good energy and you sense somehow, we have to find a place in the team for him

    Stevens 6.5/10 – He was ok today in terms of defensive shape but his end product and passing was not the best once again. At times he was once again wasteful when he got into good attacking areas but he got there time and time again. He showed real energy today getting up and down. A few times he sliced the ball or panicked and needs to show more composure but I felt he did keep plugging away and I also thought defensively he did well second half as they threw men forward. Just needs to steady himself when he gets forward and not hit the first man when he does cross.

    Egan 6.5/10 – Better game today even though he still had a few shaky moments. First half he did not quite communicate with his fellow defenders and this led to shots coming in as we did not close down attackers. He slowly started to become more assertive in terms of headers and clearances as the game went on and I felt he looked better with Stearman alongside him. His distribution was still poor at times and he does panic when he has to pass the ball. Hoping today will give him a confidence boost.

    O’Connell 7/10 – Steady showing and better than he has been. He has not featured much in terms of from an attacking sense this season save for a few moments first half v Swansea. However, today without going forward much he defended better and after a few moments where we did not close down, we started to become more solid and restricted them to long range efforts second half. Knows he is here now till January at the very least, so needs to settle down and get back to standards of last season. Today was a move in the right direction.

    Stearman 7/10 – Our best defender. Felt he looked nice and solid in terms of defensive stuff he did (heading and clearing) but he just seemed to calm the defence down today and made a few key tackles and interceptions. Admittedly, at times we let them advance and shoot; especially Eze but as game went on; him and the defence improved. When Smith came on; he clearly took the responsibility of marking him and did a good job of limiting him to one decent chance but made sure he had to fight for every header.

  3. #3
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    Basham 7.5/10 – You know what it was a game made for Bash. Scrappy and with neither side having much fluidity; Bash got in amongst it, won a lot of loose balls and even went forward when he could too. He won so many tackles, or just 50/50 stuff and helped turn us the other way. He just gives us a presence and energy that can defend a bit and attack a bit. Not sure whether short term or long term, this is his best position but with changes in the week and us needed to be a more more solid in this area; the change worked today. He just did all the bits and pieces today. Nothing spectacular but made sure we had a solid base in the middle and were not the soft touch we have been in this area.

    Fleck 6.5/10 – A better game but he had some really mixed moments. First half he gave it away a number of times and continued his poor start to the season but slowly he improved as the game went on. I felt he was poor in the first half and kept giving it away or was sloppy when we needed some control. Second half his touch, passing and link play was more like the old Fleck and hopefully this finish to the game will give him confidence. Think it helped without the statuesque Evans and Lundstram as at least he had players who would run forward or carry it on.

    Duffy 7/10 – Just gave us a better option in the key area. As always, he tried to get on the ball when he can and make things happen and most of the half chances and attempts we had first half came from his prompting and probing. His final ball was a bit up and down but you just think things might happen when he has the ball. Faded a bit as the game went on and departed on the 70th minute for Woodburn. Hopefully he will remain in the side now for a period to build on his promise in the week and today.

    Clarke 4.5/10 – Sure this mark will cause some controversy but he was really poor again today. He never got in front of his man to get to the ball first and was barely even a nuisance factor as the tow big lads for QPR won nearly everything both aerially and on the floor. Tried to link with others but often ran the wrong way or was not close enough to teammates. Second half he had a decent effort that he made but he would have felt confidence of scoring. After this his confidence seemed to drain despite us leading and I felt his touch/link up was non-existent. He whined and moaned but we just needed him to do more or win the odd header, flick. At the moment looks a long way off the pace.

    Sharp 6.5/10 – Not always involved in the game but out of nowhere he scored a typical Sharp poachers goal. Tried to play on the shoulders of the defence. Not sure he saw too much of the ball and was offside a lot but he did get that crucial goal. Felt he was harshly treated to go off instead of Clarke when the change came. Interesting that Wilder mentioned him turning down a move to Sunderland in the week – maybe a bit of a dig at Evans also in this comment.

    Subs:

    McGoldrick. Off one as he came on, won an innocuous penalty, which he coolly converted and then soon after took a whack which he tried to recover from on a few occasions but eventually he succumbed. Ipswich fans said he was talent but always injured. Hope they are not right. Apparently today was only a dead leg so should not miss any games.

    Woodburn – Brought on but difficult for him as at this stage we were defending and he was picking up bits. Got booked stupidly for kicking it away at the end. We of course need to see more of him.

    Leonard – Do you know what he was only on for 10+5 minutes at the end but he was excellent albeit in limited time. He won a few tackles, saw the ball into the corner and held it up there a few times. He then even had a surging run and shot right at the end. Like to see him get more games…probably might see him on Tuesday v Hull for a longer look.


    Ref – Scott Duncan. He gave us a really soft penalty. In fact, if anything I felt it was the other way as McGoldrick seemed to be the aggressor. It was a big call. McClaren claimed there was an offside on Sharp’s goal but this seemed less clear cut. I would be annoyed if I was a home fan as his decision effectively decided the game.



    Crowd/Day Out – Just over 14,000 there. Always think it is a good atmosphere there but the home end was a bit flat although it helped we got back into the game so quickly to dampen the mood. I felt it was really quiet though and all the noise came from the away end as the Rangers fans got frustrated. Loads left before the end and you sensed they knew it may be a struggle this season. United’s fans were vociferous throughout (still singing the same songs though – Duffy and Coutts ones from over a year ago – not much originality) and got the rewards with 2,000 almost in the away end – most in the top tier but a sprinkling in the lower tier too. The fans did not stop singing second half and really willed the side onto victory in the end.

    The facilities inside are terrible in terms of the narrow concourse, lack of food (it all run out) and cramped toilets. Also, why do they send us all out one way at the end?

    Rest of the day saw us get into London at 8.30am (early start) and we had a lovely breakfast at the Breakfast Club off Liverpool Street before we went up the Sky Garden near Fenchurch Street (similar view to the Shard but for free- recommend it but you do need to book in advance). Had 2 pints for £14 up there though! After this had a beer by the River near the Golden Hind and then headed to Portobello Road and had a few beers round there. Walked a bit towards direction of Shepherds Bush and forgot we were near Grenfell Tower so was a bit erie when we looked up and were within a few hundred yards of the tower block that has now been covered up. There are still flowers and tributes all around it. We hopped in a cab to take us rest of the way and got in around 2.45pm at the ground. After the game we had an early-ish train back to had to hot foot it back to the centre and did well to get to St Pancras by 5.30pm – had a quick pint near here and then was on the train with a few cans and back in Sheffield not long after 9pm. It was chucking it down but we had won so cared little. Another good day out – invariably is when you visit London for a Blades game and this time the result/90 minutes did not spoil the day!

  4. #4
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    Sounds a decent day out DB ..............interesting report as for once I was there. Agree with most of what you say, but did you notice that Clarke took a whack to the face in the second half which looked like a cut. He seemed dazed, and clearly wanted to come off, but to be fair to him he stuck at it.

    I've no idea why he is captain though - just doesn't seem like a leader on the pitch to me.

  5. #5
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    Nailed it with that report db, nowhere near the high pressing fluidity from last year but ground out a result, lots of work to be done but great day out in that london village👍

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