QPR suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Barnsley with Domingos Quina’s stunning second-half strike proving to be the difference between the two sides.
If ever a game summed up how challenging the Championship is, this was surely it. Barnsley went into this game bottom of the league and with just one win from their lasty 27 league games. Their performance bellied those facts on an afternoon where QPR struggled to create the sort of opportunities they are used to.
In a game which could have gone either way, it was Quina’s effort on 74 minutes which was the match-winning moment.
Mark Warburton made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Middlesbrough three days ago, bringing in Moses Odubajo, Jeff Hendrick and Andre Gray.
Chris Willock did not travel to Oakwell after sustaining a knock in training while Albert Adomah and Stefan Johansen were named on the bench.
This match also saw the return of Seny Dieng following his AFCON success with Senegal. The R’s stopper, who returned to England on Thursday, was on the bench for this one.
It meant QPR lined up with David Marshall between the posts behind a back three of Yoann Barbet, Jimmy Dunne and Rob Dickie.
Lee Wallace continued on the left with Odubajo on the right, while Sam Field partnered Hendrick in the middle of the park.
Chair, who netted a stunning opener against Boro on Wednesday night, played in the hole behind a strikeforce of Gray and Lyndon Dykes.
While Barnsley after having a difficult season – they headed into this game having won once in their last 27 league games – Warburton was wary of the threat posed by a team battling for their Championship lives.
Having lost their last six matches in a row, the confidence of the hosts may have been low but they started brightly and Carlton Morris’s effort from 18 yards forced the first save of the game on eight minutes, with Marshall diving low to his right.
In blustery and wet conditions, few chances were created from either side in the opening exchanges, but on 24 minutes Rangers came close to taking the lead when Wallace found space on the left but his drive from a tight angle was deflected into the side netting.
Jordan Williams went on a surging run for the Tykes through the middle of the park moments later but was unable to keep his effort down while Mads Andersen should have done better with a free header from 12 yards.
Belief was visibly growing in the home side the more the game went on and Amine Bassi came within inches of giving them the lead with a beautiful, curling effort which fizzed just wide.
Claudio Gomes also wasn’t too far away with a strike from distance.
Rangers were finding it difficult to get their passing game going but Chair forced a good save from Brad Collins just before the interval, with the home keeper diving low to his left to push the ball to safety, while Wallace again find the side netting as he stretched to reach Dickie’s delivery from the right.
After the break, Barnsley enjoyed a lot of the ball but on 54 minutes Gray had a great chance to break the deadlock for Rangers when Chair won the ball high up the pitch, and fed him on the right, but the Watford loanee’s shot was brilliantly blocked by Andersen and looped over the bar.
With the game still goalless after an hour, Warburton made a double change by bringing on Charlie Austin and Johansen for Gray and Hendrick.
Moments later, Adomah replaced Wallace for the R’s.
On 68 moments, Chair fired over after the ball fell invitingly to him on the edge of the box as QPR looked to find a way through against a determined Barnsley backline.
The hosts remained a threat at the other end of the pitch too, and that threat was demonstrated with just over 15 minutes remaining when the dangerous Quina fired a thunderous shot from 20 yards which flew in off the crossbar.
The home fans were ecstatic and now QPR had it all to do.
Rangers pushed forward in numbers but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities until the 95th minute when Dykes was inches away from getting his head to Barbet’s cross from the left.
It summed up a tough afternoon for the R’s who will now look to get themselves back on track when they visit Millwall on Tuesday night.