Charlie Austin scores on last QPR game but Hoops slump to 3-1 defeat against Sheffield United
QPR yet again came up short, this time at the hands of Sheffield United in a 3-1 defeat.
It was the departing manager Mark Warburton’s men’s 11th league defeat in their last 15 games.
And they slumped in classic QPR. The display perfectly sums up their season. A false dawn followed by broken dreams and faded promotion hopes, which cost manager Warburton his job.
In fact, tonight’s first 45 minutes were followed by a disastrous second-half. Just like their season imploded midway through the campaign, they let this game slip through their hands midway through.
Charlie Austin, on potentially his last home appearance, headed them in front.
But the Sheffield United players had another spring in their steps in half-two and Iliman Ndiaye equalised with a flourish before Jack Robinson completed the turnaround with a bullet header on 73 minutes.
At 2-1 down and with Sheffield in complete control, QPR centre-back Jimmy Dunne’s volley struck the crossbar following Osman Kakay’s superb delivery.
For Sheffield United this game had a bigger significance and tonight’s win keeps the Blades right in the mix for promotion while simultaneously denting the hopes of Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Millwall.
Even though the Blades had more ideas on the ball in the opening stages and nearly scored through Chris Basham, who fired wide, it was QPR’s Austin who scored the first goal of the game with a well-taken, angled header after dinking over at the far post following Albert Adomah’s cross. Like in the good old Premier League days. Austin scored and the QPR fans celebrated. But for the very last time because the ex-Southampton striker will quit the club at the end of the season.
Shortly after the half-hour mark Morgan Gibbs White tried to catch Murphy Mahoney out but QPR’s goalie went down well to save it.
Ndiaye, who would go on to score the leveller in the second period, had already tried his luck on 40 minutes but smashed a shot just over from outside the box.
Austin, who hadn’t scored a single goal since January 15, came close to a double when he almost stung the fingers of Wes Foderingham with a good strike.
But 1-0 was all QPR could take into half-time.
After the interval it was a totally different game, with QPR backing off and Sheffield United asking most, if not all the questions.
Sam MacCallum cleared what would have been the guests’ equaliser off the line before Mahoney pulled off a majestic flying save minutes later to keep the scores at 1-0.
And the dazzling Blades came close again but this time Gibbs-Whites’ header came off the post.
There had been too many let-offs for QPR and the equaliser was only a matter of time and in the air.
And after turning the screw on QPR for so long, Frenchman Ndiaye was well-placed to pounce on the loose ball following Sander Berge’s blocked shot to make it 1-1 on 54 minutes.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men completed the turnaround when Robinson headed into the roof of the net following an impressive looping header across the six-yard box by Basham from the right.
QPR came close to an equaliser late on but Dunne saw his thunderous shot ricochet off the crossbar.
Sheffield went down in stoppage-time to round off an impressive second-half display through Conor Hourihane.
It wasn’t a hurricane but for QPR it must have felt that way and the substitute did well to clinically dispatch his side’s third into the top corner to consolidate their sixth place with one game to go.
38 Mahoney- 7 Johansen- 8 Amos- 10 Chair- 11 Austin- 15 Field- 16 McCallum- 17 Dozzell- 20 Dunne- 28 Sanderson- 37 Adomah
18 Foderingham- 3 Stevens- 4 Fleck- 6 Basham- 8 Berge- 12 Egan- 16 Norwood- 19 Robinson- 23 Osborn-27 Gibbs-White- 29 Ndiaye