Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, Hector (c), Ferdinand, A Taylor; Norwood, Williams, Fernández Iglesias; McCleary, Blackman; Vydra
Subs: Bond, Robson-Kanu, Sá, Obita, Hurtado, John, Cooper.
A calamitous error from Ali Al-Habsi allowed Queens Park Rangers to come away from the Madejski Stadium with all three points, and extend Reading's poor run of Championship form to just one win in their last eight league outings.
In a first half where chances were hard to come by, the first clear-cut opportunity of the game fell to the Royals. It was Oliver Norwood who served as provider, as he whipped in a trademark curling free-kick from the right-hand side, which captain for the evening Michael Hector headed just wide. Openings remained at a premium as the half progressed, with Nick Blackman and Junior Hoilett going close at either end, before a commotion ensued on 28 mins, as Leroy Fer was shown a yellow card for a poorly time tackle on Norwood. However, the first period soon petered out with only half-chances falling to Andrew Taylor for the home side and Sandro for the visitors, before referee Andy Madley brought proceedings to a close.
It was in this same tone that the second period commenced, with both sides finding themselves increasingly frustrated by their inability to break down their opposition. QPR manager Neil Warnock responded with the introduction of the highly sought after Charlie Austin on 63 minutes, but it was Reading's own prolific marksman who would next go close, as top scorer Nick Blackman rattled the woodwork with a free-kick strike from a good twenty-five yards out.
In an attempt to bolster the fruitless Royals' attack, Steve Clarke brought on Hal Robson-Kanu, returning from a spell on the sidelines, for former Real Madrid man Alex Fernández on 73 mins to try and force a breakthrough. Yet is was QPR who would then next go close as Nedum Onuoha found himself unmarked in the box after a deft Charlie Austin flick on, before heading over from six yards.
Steve Clarke's final roll of the dice saw the double substitution of Orlando Sá and Ola John coming on for Matej Vydra and Nick Blackman respectively. As the Royals continued to press, some neat footwork on 81 minutes from Danny Williams and a slick through ball from McCleary put Hal Robson-Kanu in the clear, but he dragged his powerful effort wide.
The breakthrough eventually came in the final minute of normal time, as a Alejandro Faurlin corner was met by the continuously troublesome Onuoha, whose powerful header was fumbled by Ali Al-Habsi in the Reading goal. Despite having a man either side of him, the 33 year-old Omani international found himself unable to keep the former Manchester City defender's effort out, leading to an inquest amongst the Reading defence.
As the final whistle blew, a chorus of boos echoed out around an unhappy Madejski Stadium, frustrated by a performance that did little to endear the fans to an already under pressure Steve Clarke. We'll have more reaction up as soon as possible, including a full report and player ratings, so check back for that a little later this week.