Match Report: Familiar faces return as Chris Wilder's team open their account for the season with a 2-1 win at Queens Park Rangers

Sheffield United visited Loftus Road this afternoon
Sheffield United visited Loftus Road this afternoon
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Goals from Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick turned a match which at one stage threatened to become a headline writer's dream on its head and secured Sheffield United's first points of the Championship season.

Goals from Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick turned a match which at one stage threatened to become a headline writer's dream on its head and secured Sheffield United's first points of the Championship season.

Chris Wilder, whose team had travelled to London propping up the rest of the table and desperate to avoid a third straight defeat, must have feared it was going to be a case of 'Eze Does It' when Ebere Eze handed Queens Park Rangers the lead.

But a combination of Sharp's predatory instincts and McGoldrick's penalty combined to ensure the visitors prevailed instead, as Wilder's side passed a potentially pivotal test of character.

The finish which saw Sharp open his account for the season, after Eze had given Rangers the lead, was the type he has built a career on. It did not go unnoticed either that Mark Duffy, whose creativity has been sorely lacked over the past week, was responsible for instigating the move. Aware Kieron Freeman had peeled away from his marker, the former Birmingham City midfielder slipped an angled pass into his pass.

When the wing-back drove a low centre into the heart of Matt Ingram's penalty area, United's captain was on hand to do the rest.

Like the vast majority of his colleagues, Leon Clarke's campaign has proved something of a slowburn. But Wilder's tactical switch meant he too probably enjoyed more touches than against Swansea City and Middlesbrough combined. One, soon after the interval, brought the away supporters behind Ingram to their feet only for the goalkeeper to save well.

In the end, a McGoldrick penalty sealed the result.

Although Rangers were aggrieved by referee Scott Duncan's decision to punish a challenge on the substitute, there was definitely nothing soft about his execution from the spot; sending Ingram the wrong way to spark delirious scenes in both the away end of this claustrophobic stadium and also on the visiting bench.

Speaking on the eve of the game, Wilder had ruled-out ever allowing the public to influence his selections.

But Sharp and Duffy, two of four changes to the starting eleven which succumbed in the North-East, were certainly back by popular demand. With Richard Stearman and Freeman also handed recalls by the 50-year-old and his staff, Chris Basham moved into midfield where, before being converted into a centre-half, he began his career at Bramall Lane five seasons ago.

Basham's presence, in part designed to accommodate Duffy's return, also provided John Fleck with the freedom to roam further upfield and, midway through the opening period, the Scot unleashed a looping shot which was collected by Ingram. Earlier, United had passed and pressed well without ever quite managing to carve a clear cut opportunity. The same could be said of Rangers too who, after surviving a period of sustained pressure, had to wait until moments later to test Dean Henderson. Eze held the ball up well, brought it down with ease and tried to pick a spot between the goalkeeper's outstretched palm and the post. Henderson was signed after impressing Wilder with his ability to make big saves in big moments.

After palming the 20-year-old's first attempt away, he denied him again soon after. But even Henderson was powerless to prevent Eze breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute.

Predictably, given their results en route to the capital, United's confidence drained. Not completely, but enough to see Rangers to build momentum. Eze was inches away from claiming his and the hosts' second when Basham was caught in possession deep inside his own half but, just as Wilder's men appeared to be creaking, Sharp came to the rescue with a close-range effort two minutes before half-time.

Clarke forged an an opportunity soon after the restart through sheer persistence but Ingram tracked the flight of his shot and turned it around the foot of his left hand post. The movement of Eze and Idrissa Sylla continued to cause United a few anxious moments at the other end of the pitch; the latter improving after a neat and tidy first-half display. There was another, albeit for a much more desirable reason, when United were awarded a 64th minute penalty seconds after withdrawing their designated taker Sharp. McGoldrick, who had drawn the foul from Jake Bidwell and Joel Lynch, stepped-up to send Ingram the wrong way.

Queens Park Rangers: Ingram, Bidwell, L Freeman, Eze, Scowen, Luongo, Kakay (Washington 89), Lynch, Leistner, Smyth (Osayi-Samuel 46), Sylla (Smith 69). Not used: Lumley, Cousins, Manning, Baptiste.

Sheffield United: Henderson, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Clarke, Sharp (McGoldrick 63, Leonard 82)), Egan, Freeman, Stearman, Duffy (Woodburn 70). Not used: Moore, Lundstram, Lafferty, Norrington- Davies.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Newcastle-upon-Tyne).

Attendance: 14,128

Goals: Eze, Sharp, McGoldrick (Pen)