Queens Park Rangers 2 Barnsley 1: Reds run out of time
Barnsley's rotten record at QPR continued as a goal in each half condemned Paul Heckingbottom's stuttering side to a deserved defeat.
Sub Tom Bradshaw struck a late consolation goal - slotting in after meeting Angus MacDonald’s through-ball - but the Reds are now winless in their last 23 trips to Loftus Road.
More currently, they are also now winless in their last four games as the play-off charge appears to have crashed against the buffers.
Rangers went ahead with the most fortunate of goals in the seventh minute. Guinea international striker Idrissa Sylla registered for the 10th time this season, though he didn’t appear to know too much about how the ball ended up beating Adam Davies as he got a touch to Yeni Ngbakoto’s cross.
The Reds soon hauled themselves back into contention. Josh Scowen fired over the top with a rasping half-volley, while similarly, the recalled Alex Mowatt went close as his shot too, was just a little too high.
Back came Ian Holloway’s in-form Rangers and Ngbakoto’s crisp volley forced Davies into his first fine stop of the night.
The West Londoners then came mighty close to a second after 26 minutes. Sylla leapt highest, but thankfully for the Reds his header came back off the crossbar.
The Reds almost levelled following a sweeping move down the left flank.
Ryan Kent burst forward and played in Adam Armstrong, but his shot was blocked by centre-back Nedum Onouha.
Marley Watkins headed a cross from Matty James just wide, while Armstrong ought to have down better when he lashed over the top after latching on to a through-ball from the influential James.
Just before the interval the hosts had a scare when Watkins’ seemingly goal-bound effort was hacked off the line by Jake Bidwell.
Rangers enjoyed the better of the second half’s early exchanges.
Luke Freeman was proving increasingly to be the hosts’ danger man.
He crossed superbly for Sylla, who headed disappointingly over the top.
All of a sudden the Reds are looking like a side stripped of a bit of confidence, and as the three-quarter point in the game passed, they were letting Holloway’s men take charge.
They came close to a second in the 64th minute when Bidwell’s mis-directed effort fell into Ngbakoto’s path, but he failed to test Davies.
Barnsley’s game was pretty much up when Rangers made it 2-0 in the 66th minute.
It was Sylla who figured he’d struck again, though as he poked home at the near post after he met a smart, low cross from Pawal Wszolek, the ball appeared to deflect off MacDonald on its way in.
Prospects looked grim at this point, but the Reds did create the next chance, with Smithies having to dive full length to beat away Scowen’s well-hit free-kick.
Bradshaw’s eventual strike with 11 minutes to go proved not to be enough.
QPR (3-4-2-1): Smithies; Onouha, Freeman, Hall; Bidwell, Luongo, Wszolek (Washington, 70), Perch (Furlong, 48); Ngbakoto (Morrison, 87), Sylla; Manning.
Subs not used: Ingram, Goss, Doughty, Smith.
Barnsley (4-4-1-1): Davies; Elder, Roberts, MacDonald, Yiadom; James, Scowen, Mowatt (Bradshaw, 46), Kent (Hedges, 73); Watkins (Hammill, 73); Armstrong.
Subs not used: Townsend, Jones, Jackson, Moncur.