Team: Green, Hughes, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto (Benayoun), Traore, Barton, Kranjcar, Hoilett, Doyle, Keane (Zamora).
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Onuoha, Henry, Jenas, Maiga.
Attendance: 16,522 (including 1,279 away fans)
Queen’s Park Rangers’ aspirations of automatic promotion suffered another setback as they lost despite their fellow Premier League hopefuls Reading playing the last 20 minutes with ten men. It was Rangers’ second defeat in a week and has left them “hugely disappointed” according to assistant manager Kevin Bond.
“There were two goals we certainly should have done something about. We’ve been very good defensively for most of the season but now we’ve started to ship goals,” said Bond.
QPR will hope that their new signing in-waiting, Ravel Morrison, will help add their offensive power. “He’s obviously a huge talent and we’ll try to put him to good use,” Bond said. “We want to increase the goals really.”
Reading now sit well placed for their own assault on the top two and Nigel Adkins believes his side are “in good shape” for the second half of the season. “It’s about winning games,” he said. “We’ve got a good formation about ourselves, we’ve got a great spirit about the players. The momentum’s with us, which is important. We’re in good shape.”
Reading went ahead early on when Danny Williams exchanged passes with Adam Le Fondre before rising unmarked to head home. QPR were soon level when Junior Hoilett cleverly slid-in Will Keane. The 21-year-old’s shot was saved by Alex McCarthy but Kevin Doyle was on hand to poach the rebound and celebrate joyfully against his former club.
That sparked Redknapp’s men, and the ebullient Hoilett in particular, who saw his cross deflect off Gorkss and on to the near post before Manchester United forward Keane headed the resulting corner onto the roof of the net.
Jordan Obita almost had Reading back in front but curled his angled effort just the wrong side of Rob Green’s post. Then, QPR were again undone by careless marking as Reading defender Alex Pearce was allowed to head in Jobi McAnuff’s corner from close range as the second-half began the same way as the first.
Pep Guardiola will bring European champions Bayern Munich to Loftus Road for a training session on Monday ahead of their match against Arsenal on Wednesday evening. The technical quality on show is likely to exceed that seen here but any of his players would have been pleased to have scored a goal of the quality of Gareth McCleary’s third.
The winger advanced down the right side before unfurling an unstoppable, rising drive from 20 yards into the top corner to put the game beyond QPR. “It was a fantastic goal” said Adkins. “He’s a massive threat and he’s got that in his locker.”
Stunned at their misfortune, Rangers might have conceded a penalty as Reading surged forward with Clint Hill appearing to handle Pavel Pogrebnyak’s header, but the referee looked kindly upon them. “Harry, sort it out,” sang disgruntled home fans sensing automatic promotion hopes ebbing away.
Doyle almost offered another quick response but was unable to reach the impressive Hoilett’s deflected cross. QPR were then given further assistance from the referee as Gorkss was harshly shown a red card for his lunge on Hoilett, much to the Latvian’s amazement.
Despite the efforts of the irrepressible Joey Barton and Hoilett, Rangers were unable to offer a response and left the field to a chorus of boos.
The result leaves Reading six points behind QPR in sixth place and four points clear of Brighton as the play-off bun-fight intensifies.
Tom Prentki – The Telegraph
Well done to Tony Fernandes, Joey Barton and the club for their magnificent gesture for R’s fan Tony Mills and his family. Sadly 52-year-old Tony was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2012, but as you would expect it was a very poignant moment when he was introduced to the crowd.
A minute’s applause was held just before kick-off for a true England great, Sir Tom Finney, who sadly passed away last week at the age of 91.
One of the few positives on the pitch was Armand Traore’s performance. We looked so laboured and unimaginative on the ball which was in sharp contrast to the visitors who looked much more positive, dangerous and mobile. Some awful defending left the R’s faithful feeling even more frustrated!
Two poor performances in a week and we are currently going backwards! Harry Redknapp said after the game: “I thought the best team won. Reading were bright, they had more energy than we did and I’ve got no complaints. It’s a difficult day but we’ve got to pick ourselves up again. We’ve got to work hard on the training pitch and get back to how we were playing a few weeks ago.”
“There’s testing times in every season. I’ve had one in every season I’ve been in management and this is just another one.”