Royals win battle of the hoops
Sunday 16th February 2014
Reading secured a superb result on Sunday afternoon, with a 3-1 victory over one of the promotion favourites, QPR, at Loftus Road.
Nigel Adkins named an unchanged line up for the seventh consecutive game, meaning Alex Pearce retained his place after having his red card against Sheffield Wednesday rescinded by the FA. Reading started the game and kept good possession at Loftus Road and took an early lead just ten minutes in, with a good move involving Akpan, McAnuff and Le Fondre.
Hope Akpan found the skipper McAnuff in space on the left and drove towards goal, before slipping in Le Fondre, who crossed back for Danny Williams to perfectly place his header past Rob Green. The Royals were in firm control and were looking for a second goal, with Le Fondre`s header back into middle causing problems for the Rangers defence.
Just as we were in control, QPR equalised in what was poor, scrappy defending on our part. Traore drove past Gunter into the area and his low cross wasn`t cleared well enough by Gorkss, leading to McCarthy spilling a shot and former Reading player Kevin Doyle scoring on his first appearance against his former side. A disappointing goal to concede from Nigel Adkins` point of view.
Harry Redknapp`s side were now in the ascendency, as Will Keane connected well with Assou-Ekotto`s corner, but landed on the top of the net. It was a good first half an hour to a game which usually doesn`t impress in front of the TV cameras. The game settled down after this point though, with a Jordan Obita in swinging cross nearly causing a major problem for the home side.
Tottenham loanee Assou-Ekotto was the last player to have an effort at goal in the half, after he tackled McCleary in the middle of the park, before having a low drive from thirty yards, which was comfortable for McCarthy. It was a good half for us on the bigger scale of things, it was just disappointing to concede a comical goal when we were in good control of the game.
The hosts started the second period well, with Joey Barton having two early efforts at goal - one from a free kick that sailed over the bar, before going close after being teed up by Keane on the edge of the box. Hope Akpan had a nervous moment as he nearly put the ball in his own net, as Aaron Hughes` low cross was mishit by the midfielder, but McCarthy rose to comfortably claim it.
It was the Reading who retook the lead in West London though, as Jobi McAnuff`s corner was emphatically headed home by Alex Pearce, making amends for his mistake against Sheffield Wednesday last week. Just as Reading thought it couldn`t get any better, it did, as Nigel Adkins stunned Loftus Road with a third goal just minutes later.
The inform Garath McCleary was allowed space on the QPR left side to drive forward and managed to work himself between two defenders before slamming an effort into the top corner from twenty yards. A superb piece of individual skill from McCleary, who scored a similar goal in the reverse fixture at the Madejski Stadium, which finished 1-1 back in November.
Kevin Doyle was within inches of getting QPR a goal back, as Hoilett`s cross went right across the face of goal, but fortune favoured Reading as the striker couldn`t make any contact with the ball. Traore was next to try his luck at goal, but his fierce effort was low and easy for McCarthy to gather. Then was to come a big decision from the referee David Coote, as he produced the red card.
Kaspars Gorkss was adjudged by the referee to have lunged in on a QPR player, despite getting a touch on the ball and not using two feet. It seemed to be an awful decision from the official, but Rangers were failing to make their advantage count. Joey Barton went within inches of getting one back for his side, but his dipping volley just went over the Reading crossbar.
Reading defended very well in the closing stages, despite QPR not posing much of a threat to our back line, clearing missing the goals and threat of Charlie Austin. Clint Hill nearly got on the end of a Yossi Benayoun flick from a corner, but went harmlessly wide. Reading comfortably saw the game out, to secure a fantastic result and send out a clear message to the rest of the play-off pack.
It was only QPR`s second loss at home this season, who also have the best defensive record in the division, so to score three goals is a very good achievement. We still currently sit sixth in the league, so play-offs still has to remain the aim, but this sort of result could be a catalyst for a late season run. Autos will probably be too much, but stranger things have happened in football.
QPR - 4-4-2: Green, Hughes, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, Hoilett, Barton, Krancjar, Traore, Doyle, Keane
Subs: Murphy, Onuoha, Jenas, Henry, Benayoun, Zamora, Maiga
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McCleary, Akpan, Williams, McAnuff, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, Guthrie, Drenthe, Blackman, Robson-Kanu