QPR 0-3 Sheffield United | FA Cup third round match report

QPR lost 3-0 at home to Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round to give Nigel Clough’s side their third Premier League scalp of the season

It is a conundrum that Nigel Clough is used to by now, having guided Sheffield United to a third Premier League scalp of the season. This latest victory over a dreadfully poor QPR ensured the League One side advanced deservedly into the fourth round, following another fine FA Cup performance that once again belied the Blades’ third-tier status.

If United could only produce this form in the league they would surely be candidates for automatic promotion rather than play-off hopefuls. Certainly they outthought and outfought their opponents here, with two goals from Jamal Campbell-Ryce and the opener from Marc McNulty ensuring a comfortable win and another upset.

Clough’s side have already beaten West Ham and Southampton en route to the League Cup semi-finals this season and reached the last four in the FA Cup last year. QPR, in reality, did not put up much of a fight. There was no late barrage or list of squandered chances, as Harry Redknapp’s men limped to a terribly disappointing exit.

“We were confident of getting a result but to get a result you’ve got to work hard, get the blocks in and keep the game alive,” said the United coach, Chris Morgan. “When you come away to a Premier League outfit in the Cup you’ve got to be at your best.

“When Jamal plays like that, with the experience that he’s got, he’s tough to play against. But it’s unfair after a result like that to name individuals. I think every single one to a man did the job that they were asked to do. We do try and get the ball down and play football. That was a game that QPR wanted to win today. By no means did they take it easy.”

Redknapp made seven changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Swansea City in the Premier League on New Year’s Day, while United had not played since Boxing Day due to successive postponements and made five alterations. Perhaps the unscheduled rest had invigorated the Blades. Either way they were certainly a match for their opponents during a first half in which they were composed at the back and decisive in attack.

With the exception of a Leroy Fer shot that Mark Howard tipped over in the seventh minute QPR were lacklustre going forward and unable to defy an assured United defence. The 21-year-old Terry Kennedy impressed at centre-half alongside the experienced Jay McEveley while the left-back, Bob Harris, regularly kept Junior Hoilett at bay.

Hoilett and Armand Traoré were deployed in advanced wing-back roles by Redknapp, whose three-man defence of Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker and Nedum Onuoha often appeared uncomfortable in the face of the red and white counterattack.

Campbell-Ryce was afforded oceans of space on the right and exploited it well, enabling Stefan Scougall to fire a shot over from inside the penalty area after 18 minutes. McNulty’s brilliantly executed opener came at the end of a fine break in the 36th minute. The striker held the ball up before Louis Reed demonstrated composure to slip him in and McNulty fired the ball under Alex McCarthy.

“They looked sharper than us all over the pitch,” Redknapp said. “They were bright and better than us. We looked lethargic and didn’t show up. They thoroughly deserved their win. You have to give them credit. They raise their game in the Cup.

“We looked sluggish. There’s no good shouting and screaming; what can you do? The last goal summed us up, it was a horrendous goal.”

The opening goal was no more than Clough’s men deserved and Redknapp responded by replacing Hoilett with Bobby Zamora at half-time and moving Matt Phillips wide right. Soon, however, they were two behind. Reed drifted a corner to the far post and the ball ricocheted off Jordon Mutch, dropping inside the six-yard box where Campbell-Ryce turned it home in front of the travelling United support.

Zamora then headed narrowly wide from a Phillips cross, as QPR finally woke up. Fer saw a header from a corner cleared off the line, shortly before McEveley almost steered a header inadvertently into his own goal.

Yet that was the closest QPR came and Campbell-Ryce put the gloss on an excellent display in injury time after capitalising on some woeful defending from Fer, picking up a loose ball inside the area and waltzing through to shoot past the desperate McCarthy.

Man of the match Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Sheffield United)


James Riach at Loftus Road

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