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Reading 1-0 QPR: Royals Come Out On Top In Boxing Day Slog

Reading went pound-to-pound with QPR on Boxing Day and ended up with the win despite a fightback from Mark Warburton’s men in the 12th round.

Reading v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Zac Goodwin/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

The Boxing Day football is one of, if not the, most eagerly anticipated days of football in the whole year and it surely lived up to expectations for Reading fans - despite the awfully inconvenient kick off time of 7:30pm.

After the success last time out against the 10 men of Derby County, it was crucial that the Royals continued that momentum going into three games in the space of seven days - and they duly did that (albeit the hard way but hey, we should be used to that by now from Reading).

Thankfully John Swift returned to the starting lineup, replacing the injured Sam Baldock, as did Pele who came in for Andy Rinomhota. This meant for the first time in a long while that our two most influential players (Swift and Ovie Ejaria) were starting the game together - which is always going to give you a boost.

First half

Reading began much the better the team, with Charlie Adam channelling his inner-Xabi Alonso, pinging 50-yard passes left, right and centre. As much as we may joke about having Adam in our ranks - as we did with O’Shea last season - when he is able to use his passing ability as he did in the first half it is a really dangerous weapon to have.

Time after time the Scottish Pirlo found Chris Gunter in acres of room on the right-hand side - who was also a real threat throughout the first 45. However, with all of that lovely build-up play we squandered some great chances to take a deserved lead.

Both Ovie and Swifty saw shots saved before Gunter found himself in nosebleed territory before firing wildly over the bar when a pass to Ejaria was probably the better option. To be fair, there aren’t many occasions when a pass to Ejaria isn’t a better option.

With all of Reading’s dominance in the first half, they were given a wake-up call as QPR had a goal disallowed on the stroke of half time. Overall though, a good half but still lacking that final pass or ball which has been the story of our season.

Reading v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Hands up if you’ve won two games on the bounce
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Second half

Let’s just go straight to the goal - it’d be extremely rude not to.

Oh. My. God. You do not hit a football cleaner than that. I’ve said it time, time and time again and I’ll continue to say it until I’m Royal blue in the face - John Swift, on his day, is one of the best footballers in this league.

The problem with Swift though, as we all know, has been his consistency. But you cannot really complain about that this season. The lad’s created the most chances in the league, has got seven assists and can pull off moments like this - we are very lucky to have him in our squad.

After the goal, QPR rallied the troops and started fighting back - big time. The ever-threatening Eberechi Eze started getting on the ball more and more and before you knew it we were on the ropes.

He danced his way into the box before seeing his effort hacked off the line by Michael Morrison and substitute Ilias Chair cracked the beans on toast with an effort from 25 yards before a Gunter switch-off nearly cost us dearly, only for Rafael to thwart Jordan Hugill.

In a basketball-like game, Lucas Joao saw two glorious opportunities missed - one a brilliant save from Lumley, and the other a towering header that scraped the crossbar. And then, in the craziest moment of all, Rafael goes and makes a point-blank save with his face in the dying embers.

Some of the most defining moments of the last couple of seasons for us have been saves from goalkeepers - think Vito Mannone’s penalty save against QPR and the countless times Emi Martinez saved us last campaign - hopefully, this is yet another.

Conclusion

A crazy, event-packed, end-to-end game that somehow only finished 1-0. Thankfully, it was 1-0 to the Royals and is another huge three points in our mission to keep climbing further up the league.

Everyone to a man pulled their weight and more. It was a gutsy, gritty, fighting performance with one incredible, joyous, sensational moment from our magician in chief - John Swift.

URZ.