It was another ‘near miss’ for QPR as they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
A goal in each half from the hosts was followed up by a cracker by Luke Freeman, a goal which signalled a shift in the flow of the game.
The Hoops had chances to get back into it but ultimately fell short on a disappointing night in south Yorkshire.
But what were the main talking points to arise from the game?
It was a frustrating night for the QPR fans, who once again saw their team click into gear when the side went 2-0 down.
The Blades had edged things up until that point, but they had the ruthless ability to punish the Hoops for some lapse defending for both goals.
For a lot of teams, this would have made the losing team fold completely, but credit to QPR, that didn’t happen.
There’s two sides to this conundrum; one is that it’s a fantastic show of strength that the team don’t give up when they’re seemingly dead and buried; the other being the infuriating question of ‘why can’t they play like that from the start?’
Perhaps it’s the underdog mindset, or even the freedom of playing with ‘no pressure’ after going 2-0 down, but either way, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
The absence of Jack Robinson
The big talking point as the teams were released was the absence of Jack Robinson.
The defender failed to recover from a toe injury picked up against Bolton at the weekend, and all eyes were on how QPR would cope without their best defender.
For the most part, the Hoops coped well.
While both goals came as a result of a defensive lapse, it’s hard to see how Jack Robinson’s involvement would have made a real difference.
Of course his exclusion gave Alex Baptiste an opportunity to stake his claim for a starting spot, and the former Middlesbrough man coped well.
Baptiste, in my opinion, is unfortunate to have lost his place after the rise of Joel Lynch in recent weeks, but it seems that Ollie has ultimately decided that Lynch, Robinson and Nedum Onuoha make up his best defensive line-up.
The clash at Bramall Lane showed exactly why the former Bristol City man is so important to the team.
Freeman, I’m sure, would admit that he had a quiet first half in south Yorkshire, but when he came to life it changed the course of the match.
The build-up play for his goal was outstanding as he turned his man in midfield and charged at the defence before unleashing a precision finish from 20 yard, but we shouldn’t forget, he almost did exactly the same moments earlier; only his effort flew over the bar.
The goal clearly had a positive impact on the midfielder, as he looked to get on the ball at every opportunity from that moment on, and he was almost instrumental in leading a QPR comeback.
His performance simply showed the impact that he can have on the game when he’s in form and that’s why Ian Holloway must ensure that he’s given enough licence in matches to make things happen.
The impact of youth
We know that Ollie is a big fan, but QPR’s young guns are certainly justifying his faith in them.
Holloway introduced Paul Smyth, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ebere Eze in the second half, all three of whom look dangerous when on the field, and frankly add a raw unpredictability which can catch the opposition out.
Smyth was fantastic after his introduction, getting on the ball on the right flank, charging at defenders and working to get the ball in the box at every opportunity
In my opinion it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the starting line-up.
As for the others, QPR clearly have some talented lads in the shape of Ilias Chair, Aramide Oteh and Ebere Eze, and the focus should be on including them at every opportunity between now and the end of the season.
The travelling fans were making jokes about QPR’s poor away as they sat through another defeat at Bramall Lane, and who can blame them for trying to make light of the situation?
Last night’s defeat extended their run to just two away victories in their last 24 games on the road, a record which is grim viewing for those who like to follow their club on the road.
While they’ve got away with it somewhat this season, having such a poor record away from home addsso much pressure to the club’s performances at Loftus Road, and you can only be thankful that the home record has been so good, otherwise things could have been looking a little more bleak than the currently do.
However in the same breath, if QPR can rectify their away-day woes then it’s plausible that they may well have been battling in the top half of the table; but that’s simply ifs, buts and maybes.
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