Reading: McCarthy; Obita, Gorkss, Pearce, Gunter; McAnuff, Williams, Akpan, McCleary (Kelly); Pogrebnyak (Robson-Kanu), Le Fondre (Hector)
It had been eight years since we last beat QPR with last season seeing the two sides draw twice including the dire game that left both teams limping out of the Premier League. This season it has been a different story and after today’s impressive victory we have now taken four out of six points from the "fake hoops".
As ever with Reading we were electrifying for the first twenty minutes. We had named a strong team and for the first part of the game it showed. Reading dominated possession but also looked deadly on the counter attack and it all fell into place on the tenth minute as the excellent Danny Williams finished off a lovely team move to head in a delicious cross from the largely anonymous Le Fondre. Things where looking up and the duo of Akpan and Williams continued to run riot in midfield picking up every loose ball and being as industrious as ever. It wasn’t until the 18th minute that QPR had even recorded a shot. That all quickly changed.
20 minutes in the ball found its way into the Reading box from a Traore cross and the resulting defending was atrocious. It was one of very few moments in the game that we looked fragile at the back but the attempt to clear the ball was a comedy of errors. McCarthy couldn’t hold the resulting shot from Keane as he collided with Pearce. Who else could have pounced on the loose ball but Doyle as the former Reading man toe punted the equaliser from a very close distance putting the number of former Royals who have scored against us this season up to seven. Sods Law, although Jordan Obita could and probably should have played the Republic of Ireland man offside.
After the goal QPR where back in the game and the next 20 saw Reading drop their intensity as the home midfield slowly started to take more control of the game. What resulted was a bit of a stalemate and bar a few pot shots neither side really looked that dangerous, except for a few minutes of Reading pressure, until after the break.
The start of the second half was very slow. A few injuries and stoppages meant that the game didn’t really kick into gear again until ten minutes in when the Royals bagged a quick fire double. Reading won a corner on the left hand side and the McAnuff delivery met the head of Pearce to put us ahead on the 56th minute. Then less than two minutes later McCleary picked up the ball near the half way line. As he approached the box Assou-Ekotto seemed to peel off him a bit, then out of nowhere from about 25 yards McCleary unleashed a fire cracker of a shot hit the opposite top corner of the goal. It was a beauty of a shot and I think we’ll be hard pressed to find a better goal this season. You felt as though there was more to come to as the Royals kept up the pressure with McAnuff in particular winning a few free kicks just left of the box. The signs where looking good and the feeling of another three or four goal rout started to enter the imagination but that all quickly faded.
Out of nowhere on the 70th minute Gorkss went in with a harsh tackle on Hoilett, who had been one of QPR’s main inspirations, and found himself sent off. I personally was quite surprised with this decision. Twitter and Sky seemed to agree with the ref but I personally think a red was a bit harsh especially considering the fact that he did actually get some of the ball. Le Fondre was then taken off for Hector who slotted in at centre back. The young defender however; had very little to do. In the first few minutes after Gorkss sending off I was worried but as the game progressed you got the impression that McCleary’s goal had won the game. It was the first time in a few games that I thought we looked relatively solid at the back and with ten minutes or so to go you just knew that Reading had this in the bag.
Adkins brought on Kanu for Pogrebnyak and, to further waste time, Kelly for the excellent McCleary before Reading managed to win a corner and from there kept the ball as close to the opposition by line as possible. In all honestly QPR where held back rather well. They were mainly reduced to a few pot shots and a near miss or two including a close one from Barton but other than that they never totally threatened. It just wasn’t there day.
We'll have the full player ratings up tomorrow so stay tuned for that.
Reading have now won five from seven games in the league. We came to the team with the best defensive record in the league and knocked three past them, had it not been for Gorkss red card it could definitely have been more. A word needs to be said for Obita who yet again looked comfortable at left back, although he did have one or two dodgy deliveries form free kicks, he was solid. McCleary also terrorised down the flank and I think this was the best I have seen McAnuff play for quite some time. Defensively, bar the ridiculousness that was the goal, we looked relatively stable and solid Hoilett caused a few problems but that aside we coped well. The pieces are all starting to come together and as a team Reading seem to be growing stronger and stronger with every game, our late season push may well reappear. We sit in sixth now four points clear of Brighton and ten points off second. It’s a long shot but with just over two months of games left to play we could well make a late charge, but for now we will settle for play offs. We’ve got Blackburn at home next week so let’s celebrate, move on and move up. It was a fantastic result and I for one am going to be buzzing for a few days. Well done Boys.
Catch some highlights at the links below, courtesy of SkySports: