QPR manager Michael Beale admitted his team had to show “blood and guts” to win 1-0 at Championship table-toppers Sheffield United.
Beale added that he felt the Blades provided his side with their toughest test of the season after Chris Willock’s 51st-minute strike earned the visitors a fifth victory in seven matches.
The former England under-20 international, who has now netted six times this term, went on to limp out of the action moments later with a hamstring issue that Beale said he hopes will not prove to be a “bad one” after it is assessed ahead of Friday night’s home clash with Reading.
Providing his post-match verdict, Beale declared: “I thought Sheffield United were outstanding and Paul (Heckingbottom) is a very lucky man when you look at the group he has and the way they played.
“We haven’t played everyone yet but it was the toughest game we have had by far and very different. But we scored a good goal with our only moment of real quality in terms of possession and I was delighted with the group.
“Sheffield United are a much more established team than us with a lot more know-how and we are growing as a young group, but we showed qualities that you can’t really give players like making big blocks and headers.
“It took a lot of blood, guts and hard yards to get this result. We had a bit of a sort out at half-time because I wanted to show a bit more and I challenged Ethan Laird, who has been excellent this season, because he was being given a tough time and then he went and got himself an assist for the goal.”
Heckingbottom questioned referee James Linnington’s decision not to award his team a stoppage-time penalty when Andre Dozzell grabbed Sander Berge’s shirt in an incident that also left the Norwegian midfielder injured.
“There were two hands on him pulling his shirt and he’s actually got injured from it after twisting when he fell over, so we will be getting that scanned,” Heckingbottom said. “The ref said they were pulling each other’s shirts.
“QPR also took a lot of time to do things and just giving a yellow card in the 81st minute is not good enough – but all that’s not taking anything away from them, because they defended fantastically well and their two centre-halves were very good.”
Heckingbottom also refused to be critical of his own players’ efforts, aside from the defending for Willock’s goal.
“In terms of the performance, you’d take that every week and we would win more than we’d lose,” he reasoned.
“All their staff can’t believe how they have come away with something from the game but I can because they defended very well and we lost the runner for the goal, which we don’t normally do.”
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