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Reading 1-1 QPR: Barton denies Royals

Reading and QPR played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in front of the SKY cameras this afternoon, with Garath McCleary's long range strike cancelled out by Joey Barton's free-kick as both sides had to settle for a point each. For Reading it was a vast improvement on last week's thumping at Hillsborough but once again Nigel Adkins will be left to reflect on another lead squandered at home.

Ben Hoskins

Reading: McCarthy, Kelly, Gorkss, Morrison, Gunter, Baird, Guthrie (Akpan), Obita, McCleary (McAnuff), Robson-Kanu (Sharp), Pogrebnyak

Following a performance that saw five goals conceded to the league's bottom side, changes were to be expected and sure enough Alex Pearce was the man to lose his place in the starting lineup at the expense of former QPR man Kaspars Gorkss.

Gorkss last three Reading starts have seen the team ship five, four and six goals and his confidence levels couldn't have been helped in the early minutes after QPR laid siege to the Reading goal. First Junior Hoilett smashed the bar from outside the box before minutes later Gorkss scuffed a clearance that allowed Austin to fire at Alex McCarthy from six yards. Just second later Austin again found himself with a chance from around the six yard box but again he fired straight at McCarthy.

The game went against the usual pattern of play this season because it was Reading who were pretty ordinary for 20 minutes before suddenly springing into life.

First Jordan Obita burst into the box between Danny Simpson and Matt Phillips before going to ground. There was contact between Simpson and Obita but referee Anthony Taylor gave Simpson the benefit of the doubt instead of awarding the penalty.

That helped Reading grow in confidence and after McCleary drilled one over the bar, Pavel Pogrebnyak had two half chances to give the Royals the lead. The first came after good work from McCleary down the right who drilled the ball into the box, saw his cross hit Robson-Kanu before being poked just wide by Pog on the stretch. Then minutes later Pog's header at the far post went just over the bar.

The closest Reading came to a goal in the first half came from Chris Baird, with the midfielder's header being well saved on the stretch by Green.

However it was QPR who ended the half with a good chance, with Alex McCarthy getting himself into trouble with one of quite a few poor kicks on the afternoon, only for the keeper to redeem himself with a save on the stretch from Hoilett.

The second half started far more quietly, with both sides patiently probing without really causing many problems. That quiet was broken 15 minutes into the second half when Garath McCleary picked the ball up midway inside the QPR half, dribbled five yards before striking one low into Green's right hand post.

Reading suddenly looked in control, with Jordan Obita forcing Green into another good save minutes later. Reading also received another boost, with Hoilett struggling with a hamstring injury and all three Rangers subs used, meaning Reading were effectively up against ten-men for the last 20 minutes of the contest. Sadly just as they did against ten-man Millwall two weeks ago, once again Reading would throw away two points by giving away a silly set piece.

After being fed by sub Andy Johnson, Austin spun away from Gorkss inside the D with the Latvian captain clearly catching the former Swindon strikers foot. The one point of contention might have been the fact that referee Taylor still brought the free-kick back even after Phillips had the chance to take a shot on goal.

Joey Barton who'd been booed throughout by the home fans, stepped up and curled one through the gap in the wall between Gunter and Guthrie and past McCarthy who might be a little disappointed with how slowly he got across his goal.

Both sides traded possession in dangerous areas throughout the final minutes but neither keeper was seriously tested and the only frustration from my point of view was the fact that Adkins waited until the final minute of play to make three changes. It was far too late to make a decisive impact, while more worryingly one of those changes was the forced substitution of Danny Guthrie who picked up a late knock.

Overall a point was a fair result but it's the fourth time this season and the third occasion at home where Reading have led going into the final 15 minutes and blown a lead.

Performance wise and this was probably one of the best home performances from Reading this season. The midfield looked good and overall there seemed a bit more calmness and stability after some of the madness we witnessed last week.

Anthony Taylor didn't have the best of games with the whistle today. I appreciate a ref trying to let the game flow but Pavel Pogrebnyak seemed to get nothing all day, well except for a yellow card that hardly looked deserved from the replays.

I'll save my player ratings to provide you with some Sunday morning reading material but Pavel Pogrebnyak was once again superb up front and at the other end Reading were indebted to Alex McCarthy for making a string of fine saves to keep them in the game early on.

Gorkss didn't have an outstanding game but he showed that he's still a capable player at Championship level, while Stephen Kelly rebounded from an awful performance at Sheffield Wednesday to show that he's an OK if not ideal stand in down the left.

With the news that Wayne Bridge is set to miss a few weeks following knee surgery it was nice to have some good news on the injury front by seeing five minutes from Billy Sharp, while both Danny Williams and Royston Drenthe were both involved in a full warm-down training session after full-time.

The two week international break has once again seemingly come at a good time for Reading but then again we said that last time and Reading only earned five points from a possible 12 after their last layoff.

Still, the positives are that Reading head away for two weeks off the back of a good result against a QPR team who demonstrated why they'll be up there come the end of the season. Harry Redknapp's side didn't blow Reading away with outstanding football but they had the players on the pitch and on the bench who could make things happen and individuals with the quality of Joey Barton are always going to keep QPR in the game as long as the scoreline is close.

Reading meanwhile still look a way off being a top two side. In many ways they're quite reminiscent of Brian McDermott's side during the first-half of that Championship winning campaign of 2011/12, where they had enough about them to scrap out results but also didn't have the quality to really dominate games. That season McDermott's side hung around the top eight until the New Year before really kicking on and while the situation off the field means that we're unlikely to see a flood of new signings, the fact that our injury list is likely to shrink as the weeks wear on will effectively give Nigel Adkins 'new' signings to deploy and help build momentum.

As mentioned we'll have full player ratings for you tomorrow morning so check the website again Sunday morning for those while we'll also have full analysis of the game on next week's Tilehurst End Podcast so if you want to leave your feedback for that, please drop some comments below or email us at thetilehurstend@gmail.com