BLUES GRIPPED BY FEAR OF DROP
Monk takes the fight to final day
BIRMINGHAM boss Garry Monk felt his side were gripped by fear after they failed to secure their Championship status for next season.
The Blues took the lead on 29 minutes through Che Adams, but the R’s pulled level through Bright Osayi-Samuel’s first goal for the club.
In the second half Birmingham failed to capitalise on a succession of chances around the hour mark before receiving hammer blows from Ilias Chair and an injury-time effort from Matt Smith.
The West Midlands outfit may now need to get a result against Fulham to avoid slipping into the third tier.
“We played with a little bit of fear of the situation and I haven’t seen that from the games before,” Monk admitted.
“In the games before, we’d been meeting this challenge head on, putting our maximum onto the pitch and getting results.
“We knew coming here we had the opportunity to secure our survival.”
The visitors came up against a side who only had pride to play for, but neither side came out of the traps quickly.
The opener came following good work from Jota, who had blazed over moments earlier.
The Spaniard drifted inside, slotting the ball down the lefthand channel for Jacques Maghoma.
The Congolese winger flashed a dangerous ball across the box and Adams was on hand to finish past QPR keeper Joe Lumley.
Birmingham’s revival under Monk must have given the travelling faithful hope they could extend their advantage, but no sooner had they trotted back to the centre circle than the hosts were level.
The lively Luke Freeman charged down the right flank, hoisting over a delivery that Ryan Manning touched inside for Osayi-Samuel to tuck into David Stockdale’s left-hand corner.
Freeman continued to impress after the interval, with his fierce drive punched to safety by Stockdale.
More magic from the former Bristol City winger followed as he bamboozled Wes Harding and sent a ball to the back post for Chair to slam home 20 minutes from time.
Nedum Onuoha and Jamie Mackie had just come on for their final games at Loftus Road and the latter almost made it a fairytale ending, with Stockdale once again equal to the task.
Smith then made the game safe, sweeping home after the ball broke in the box.
Monk was surprised that the team hadn’t capitalised on the chances they enjoyed.
“Playing with fear means you play within yourself, you kind of hope your team-mates are going to be the ones that can do something,” he added.
Looking ahead to next week, Monk said the team’s focus was on the game against Fulham.
He added: “We have to go through it next week and be ready for the next game to give our maximum.”
Ian Holloway heaped praise on his players and was optimistic for the future.
“It was a fantastic performance. We let a goal in and it could have wobbled everybody. We got stronger, we scored a really good goal,” he said.
“I needed to put a few senior players on to settle us down, but every one of them’s been a credit to the badge and I want to thank them for that.”
HAMMER BLOW: Ilias Chair celebrates his goal for QPR, inset
STAR MAN LUKE FREEMAN QPR