Why Sheffield United felt they "owed QPR one" after Covid cancellation sparked tough run of fixtures

With the knowledge that they would go back into the Championship play-off places with three points, Sheffield United may not have needed any extra incentive to beat Queens Park Rangers at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 12:29 pm

But the big victory, which puts play-off qualification back in their own hands with just six games of the regular Championship season remaining, may also have been fuelled by a sense of injustice after the R’s called off the initial game back in December at short notice.

The London club had a number of positive Covid-19 cases, but also had players missing with injuries and on duty at the African Cup of Nations and with games against Preston North End, Middlesbrough and Hull also falling victim in the same circumstances, United ended up playing one league game in the space of six weeks.

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Speaking after the game was eventually played earlier this week, striker Oli McBurnie admitted that the Blades “owed [QPR] one” and boss Paul Heckingbottom also alluded to a sense of injustice when reflecting on the tough period of fixtures the original cancellation sparked.

“QPR were the ones who set us off really, cancelling on us when they probably shouldn’t,” Heckingbottom said.

“But they did and they maybe took advantage of the rules, and it set us on a tricky period. Only one league game in six weeks. Which meant we had to catch up over a long period of time, two games a week, but that training period was terrible for us.

“We knew what was going to come and we have suffered with injuries, without a doubt.”

Sheffield United pair Oli McBurnie and Paul Heckingbottom both referenced QPR's Covid cancellation in their post-match interviews: Richard Sellers / Sportimage

“We kept getting games cancelled at the last minute so we could never get the work in to supplement not having games,” Heckingbottom added.

“But a lot of players have stepped up throughout that and helped us climb the table.”

United led since the ninth minute thanks to Ollie Norwood’s goal, but couldn’t find a second to kill the game off.

“We want to take advantage when we're up against these teams and put it out of sight,” McBurnie added.

“But at this stage, it’s just about winning the games and getting the three points. It was a bit more nervy at the end than we would have liked it to have been but the three points is massive.

“After they cancelled the game before, we owed them one.”