James Shield’s Big Match Verdict: The Star’s Sheffield United writer analyses the main talking points from today’s game against QPR

The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield

As Sheffield United moved back into the Championship's automatic promotion places following a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, The Star's James Shield analyses the key moments and talking points to emerge from the game.

Key Moment: Scoring for the fifth time in six outings, McGoldrick's effort just before the break proved enough to beat a very lively Rangers. It was a deserved win for United, who have now won four league matches in a row. But they had to keep their wits about them against opponents who, if they boasted more of a cutting edge, could well be inside the top six themselves. The goal, the result of a patient build-up, encapsulated the qualities United displayed here: focus, concentration and attention to detail. It also enabled them to record a victory in exactly the manner their manager believes could hold the key to reaching the Premier League.

Key Man: McGoldrick started and finished the move that gave United the lead. After missing an early chance, when he really should have scored, the former Ipswich Town centre-forward was rewarded for his persistence. Oliver Norwood, though, was the hosts' most consistently effective performer throughout this game. The Northern Ireland midfielder, who provided the cross for McGoldrick to score, was at the heart of most of United's best moves.

How the Game was Won: United were methodical and, when it mattered, clinical. Rangers were smart but Chris Wilder’s players were better and deservedly edged home. This result was all about attitude; from United’s perspective at least. 

Referee Watch: One of the English Football League's most experienced officials, Andy Woolmer acquitted himself well but could have clamped down on Rangers' desire to break the rhythm of the game at the re-start. Of course, not every one of his decisions went down well with the crowd. A couple caused outright confusion. But the Northamptonshire based referee and his team allowed both sets of players to go about their business in a physical manner, despite becoming a little fussy during the second-half.

Summary: Rangers arrived at Bramall Lane unbeaten in six outings and full of confidence. They carried a threat on the counter attack but failed to truly test Dean Henderson. With the opposition happy to press forward, United found themselves in the unusual position of having space to run into on numerous occasions. They will also feel as if they could have troubled the opposition goalkeeper on more occasions but, crucially, made one excellent first-half move count when McGoldrick glanced home Norwood's cross after setting the ball in motion. Rangers were as quick on the break as any team to visit Bramall Lane this season. Make no mistake, their margin of victory was slender. But this was a big and very professional win for United, who move into the automatic promotion places on goal difference.