Queen's Park Rangers 1 Sunderland 2: Leadbitter's effort leaves sour taste in QPR mouths

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The Independent Football

Win your home games and you should be a long way down the path to safety. QPR, recently bearing an increasingly confident outlook under John Gregory, have now lost their last two fixtures at Loftus Road and things do not look so bright.

Having lost to Coventry at the weekend, they fell to a Sunderland side last night, who have begun to lose the jitters rather than matches. This win made it four games unbeaten for Roy Keane's men and took them above QPR to 14th place.

Not that this was a nerve-free win. "I don't know what it was like for the fans but it was bloody hell down on the bench," Keane said. In quick succession in the last 10 minutes, Sunderland's Ross Wallace missed an open goal and David Connolly squandered a good chance. Wallace, in particular, should be grateful to his keeper Darren Ward, who made a fine save from Nick Ward in the last minute.

The visitors took the lead after 17 minutes when a corner was headed out to Grant Leadbitter, with the midfielder trying his luck from the edge of the penalty box. His shot burst through the crowd and Daryl Murphy headed past Simon Royce, with the QPR defence claiming offside to no avail.

That decision was presumably what led to a plastic water bottle being lobbed on to the pitch soon afterwards, causing a delay that proved crucial as the visitors secured their ultimately decisive advantage in the last minute of first-half stoppage time. Liam Miller's accurate pass met Leadbitter's perfectly timed run, which he rounded off in style.

QPR finally got back into the match thanks to Ray Jones' turn and shot after 73 minutes, but Keane's side were in no mood to relinquish the rest of their advantage.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Royce; Mancienne, Rehman, Stewart, Bignot; Ward, Smith, Rowlands, Cook (Jones, h-t); Blackstock, Gallen. Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Bailey, Furlong, Nygaard.

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Ward; Nosworthy, Varga, Caldwell, Collins; Kavanagh; S Elliott, Leadbitter (Whitehead, 63), Miller (Connolly, 57), Wallace; Murphy. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Hysen, R Elliott.

Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire).