Team: Kenny, Orr, Hill, Gorkss, Hall (Ramage), Derry, Faurlin, Mackie, Taarabt (Clarke), Helguson, Ephraim (Leigertwood).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Connolly, Parker, German.
A very competent performance by Rangers at Bramall Lane, but it has to be stated that it was in the context that United were pretty woeful and that the exit of their Manager, Kevin Blackwell, after the game was hardly a surprise. The R’s lost the toss and had to switch ends. Paddy Kenny received a lot of abuse from the Kop End of the ground as he ran towards them and I wondered whether it might rattle him. Instead, he went on to have his most assured performance so far in the Rangers No. 1 jersey.
Rangers started purposefully and after 11 minutes, Hogan Ephraim took his goal superbly after running almost half the length of the pitch to slot the ball into the goal that the 650 or so R’s fans were behind. Hogan is looking a lot tougher this season and is less easily knocked off the ball. I do hope that the promise he has shown in the three years since he signed for QPR, is now turning into regular, solid displays as, on his day, he is a talented player.
The second goal came on 20 minutes from a good header from Jamie Mackie, and I wondered if I was dreaming when Rangers were awarded a penalty after 22 minutes, that Taarabt coolly slotted home. When was the last time we were three up away from home after just 22 minutes ? ! Those three quick fire goals totally took the wind out of the Blades and they never really looked like they were going to get back into the game. What pressure they did put on Rangers was easily soaked up. With only 10 minutes gone of the second half, many of the locals started to leave and with 10 minutes remaining, the stadium looked distinctly empty.
All in all, it was a fine team performance. It was especially good to see Gorkss have a very solid game on the ground where he had a nightmare debut two years ago and Peter Ramage played well after replacing the injured Fitz Hall early in the second-half. Faurlin is also quietly maturing into a very fine player. The fact that we’re no longer top of the table (Millwall are top on alphabetical order), I see as a positive as it helps to avoid anyone getting too carried away, too early on. There is of course, still a very long way to go, but I do believe that the Championship is more wide open this season than it has been for many years.
What could have been better on the day ? I had expected more than about 650 R’s fans there, but our away support has been down this year and it is still the holiday season for many people. It would also have been good if Neil Warnock had acknowledged the Rangers support, but apparently he didn’t want to do this at Bramall Lane as he managed the club for many years and is well known to be a Blades fan. They are all very understandable reasons. All in all, a very good day that more than helps to make up for some of the poor away performances that we saw last season. Things are shaping up nicely ! Roll on Scunthorpe and Derby.