A decent, if not classic performance today as Reading travelled to Loftus Road to face QPR.
Looking like they were struggling to shake off the cobwebs after the international break there was a stutter to play from the kick off, no one really taking the reigns and directing things.
After a rare forage forward, Reading went behind quite early on to a goal that came from some pedestrian defending. A hopeful ball over the top was controlled by Pawel Wszolek after Tyler Blackett, a mere spectator at this point, let him waltz past him. A tidy finish left Ali Al-Habsi, who was slow to respond, with little chance of stopping it and the Royals were down 1-0.
The positive here was that rather than heads going down, this seemed to wake the players up and with a lot of play going through Joey van den Berg early on, there was a sense we might pull one back.
A superb run up the left by Gareth McCleary ended with a teasing cross to the far post where Danny Williams was first to it, finishing delightfully across the keeper to get Reading back on terms. A superb goal scored and assisted by the two players driving Reading forward the most today.
The remainder of the half was relatively tit-for-tat stuff, not quite end to end but a share of chances for both sides without either threatening too severely.
After the break there was still a certain lack of intensity and a lot of passing without a killer end product. Kermorgant again did well winning his share of headers and flick ons but there was no one in behind to profit. In a 4-4-2 with a striker of old (Forster, Cureton, Le Fondre, Roberts in their days at Reading), I swear we'd be lauding Yann Kermorgant as a massive asset for the chances he's creating. But with no one running through the middle, there was little to show for it.
Approaching the 70th minute, Reading had probably their best spell of the game and played with intensity, pressuring the ball and getting numerous chances in and around the box. Sadly, wasteful finishing, an alert and in-form Alex Smithies in the QPR goal and an all-too-frequent linesman's flag meant no goals despite the feeling that it was just a matter of time.
On the point of the offside decisions - I don't believe there was even one that was contentious. QPR were playing a disciplined high line and in both halves of the game we didn't adapt to it at all, getting caught off on many occasions, which was disappointing and frustrating to a decent sized away support.
As the game wore down, with Jordan Obita on for the forgettable (today) Blackett and the late introduction of Callum Harriott for McCleary (I disagreed with that one and would have thought Roy Beerens coming off for him would be better) did nothing to break the deadlock.
All that was left was that with the clock ticking down and another brief spell of good Reading pressure, the ball came back to Al-Habsi who dithered and held on to it rather than pump it forwards one last time, at which point the referee called time on proceedings and we left with a deserved, if not spectacular, point.
Always nice to rescue something from the game after going behind but I felt like we should have come away with the win today.
MOTM - Danny Williams just shades it ahead of McCleary. Not just for his well taken goal but also his desire to drive forward throughout the full 90.
Reading: Al-Habsi, Blackett (Obita), Moore, van den Berg, Evans, Gunter, Williams, Swift, Beerens, McCleary (Harriott), Kermorgant
Points change on this stage in 2015/16 (Total 52): -3
Points change on this stage in 2005/06 (Total 106): -8
Points change on this stage in 1997/98 (Total 42): +7
Projected Points Total 2016/17: 73