Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Sunderland
Ten-man Sunderland fell to a narrow defeat at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday as Ebere Eze’s second-half strike proved decisive.
An even if uneventful opening period, Chris Coleman’s men endured a bitterly-disappointing start to the second period as Jason Steele was sent off for handling the ball outside his box.
Ian Holloway’s side piled forward after being handed the initiative and, despite the best efforts of substitute Lee Camp, they broke the deadlock with 62 minutes played.
The R’s had multiple chances to increase their advantage but in the end it mattered little, as it ended 1-0.
Coleman made four changes from the side that fell to a 3-0 midweek defeat to Aston Villa. With Tyias Browning out for the season and Jake Clarke-Salter suspended, the Welshman switched to four at the back as Adam Matthews replaced Donald Love in the starting XI. Jonny Williams came into the centre of midfield alongside Ovie Ejaria as Lee Cattermole started in front of the back four, and George Honeyman and Joel Asoro were also handed recalls as Ashley Fletcher once again led the line.
Early on, Fletcher’s powerful run left his marker trailing behind before his cross was blocked and the subsequent corner was cleared. But the Lads were almost caught out with four minutes played, as Honeyman’s bobbling back-pass was ballooned into the air by Steele before the Black Cats recovered to clear. The R’s continued to press and Steele did well to intercept Darnell Furlong’s cross before unleashing Fletcher with a fizzing through ball, but the frontman mistimed his run and an offside flag ended the attack.
Back in the team, Asoro showed his first moment of promise with 21 minutes played as a typically fearless run put the home side on the back, but despite ghosting past two and picking out Fletcher, the striker was unable to get the ball under his spell. The on-loan Middlesbrough man then turned provided as Ejaria shifted through the gears and into the box, but a sliding block from one-time Sunderland defender Nedum Onuoha ensured Alex Smithies remained untroubled. And the Black Cats were forced into a change on half hour, as Williams limped off and was replaced by Aiden McGeady.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder needed little time to settle in and he immediately thrust himself into the middle of the action. An eye-catching backheel fed Ejaria and the midfielder did well to find McGeady once more, but the winger’s effort deflected effort was hacked away just as Fletcher looked to pounce. After 45 lacklustre minutes, during which neither side really got going, the opening stages of the second period shattered the status quo as Steele was sent off. The ‘keeper misjudged the flight of the ball and as it threatened to loop over him, he handled it outside his box and was subsequently dismissed.
R’S ON TOP
Camp replaced Asoro as the Black Cats were forced into another change and the stopper had to be on his toes soon after, as Josh Scowen darted into the box and forced a low save. The R’s continued to ramp up the pressure as Matt Smith headed wide, with penalty appeals waved away moments before as Bryan Oviedo slide in. But the opener was coming and Sunderland simply couldn’t keep the home side out. Eze showed pace, persistence and, most importantly, quality, as a surging run saw the ball fall kindly and he coolly slotted the ball beyond Camp.
It should have been 2-0 when the ball broke to Smith one on one, but Camp did well to prevent the striker from tucking home from close range. And the replacement stopper was needed again as substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel threatened to break through twice in the space of six minutes. Furlong was next to try his luck as he towered over the Sunderland defence and planted a header straight at Camp, with Smith’s effort ruled out for offside in the 82nd minute. Camp remained on top form to push Osayi-Samuel’s curler to safety, but Coleman’s men were unable to produce at the other end, as QPR claimed three points.
Attendance: 14, 126
Queens Park Rangers: Smithies, Furlong, Bidwell, Onuoha, Freeman, Scowen, Smith, Robinson Lynch 45), Luongo, Eze (Manning 89), Smyth (Osayi-Samuel 72).
Subs not used: Ingram, Cousins, Washington, Wszolek.
Sunderland: Steele, Matthews, O’Shea, Kone, Oviedo, Cattermole, Ejaria, Williams (McGeady 30), Honeyman, Asoro (Camp 51), Fletcher (Maja 87).
Substitutes: Jones, McManaman, Gooch, Robson.