If Wembley was heartbreaking for Reading fans, today’s season opener reminded us that things can quickly get even worse. QPR strolled to a well deserved 2-0 win over a very groggy looking Reading, who have plenty of work to do if they’re to match last season’s efforts. Here’s the key details, with a full report and ratings to follow later this weekend.
Jaap Stam’s lineup contained three debutants, with goalkeeper Vito Mannone joining Pelle Clement and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the starting XI. The toll that injuries had taken on the squad was painfully clear by looking at bench, which not only had six instead of seven names, but included three players yet to make a senior appearance for the club, plus fellow new boy Modou Barrow.
The fear going into this season was that there would be a bit of a play-off hangover and sure enough it was a very sluggish start from Reading, who struggled to get any time on the ball. QPR forced Mannone into a couple of early saves but it looked as if we’d weathered the storm, only for Rangers to take the lead.
Pawel Wszolek was given too much time to cross down the right and his teasing cross found an onrushing Conor Washington unmarked six yards out to stick the ball past Mannone.
From there, Reading really never recovered. QPR could have easily been two or three up by half-time and while Barrow’s introduction early in the second-half for Clement offered a brief moment of impetus, it was painfully snuffed out on 56 minutes.
Tiago Ilori was the culprit, hauling down Wszolek in the box and earning himself a straight red card. To make things worse, Bodvarsson was injured in the build up, forcing him off. Washington stroked home the pen and that was all she wrote in terms of a competitive contest.
Will will be along later with more detailed analysis but for now the message would be don’t panic. The last two times we won promotion we started the season winless, while as I wrote earlier this week, hangovers are the norm for beaten play-off finalists. With some luck on the injury front and a couple of signings things can turn round very quickly but at the same time, we might have to get used to some further pain first.
We’ll be live on Facebook just after 6pm (Saturday evening) for the post-game show, so come and share your thoughts with us then, or if you’ve missed that, our TTE Podcast will return on Wednesday.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Evans, Kelly, Popa, Clement (Barrow), Swift (Mendes), Bodvarsson (Richards)