“It was quite strange today. I asked the players to give me everything they had and they did, they were magnificent.”- QPR Interim Manager Neil Warnock
“I understand the supporters are disappointed that we’re not winning matches. If supporters direct anger at me, it means they’re not directing at the players, so that’s fine.”- Reading Manager Steve Clarke
After their 3-1 away defeat to Nottingham Forest, there was a lot riding on Thursday evening’s game for Reading and their manager. Against a QPR side that historically provided a tough test for the Royals, however, it was always going to be a tight affair. It was a game where you felt a single goal would decide the tie and ultimately it was a fortunate, late goal from Nedum Onuoha that handed the away team the victory.
On a wet and windy evening at the Madejski, there was little to inspire those in attendance. Chances were few and far between for both sides, with QPR managing the only two shots on target throughout the game. One of those two shots was Onuoha’s 90th minute header which Reading player of the month Ali Al-Habsi let past him far too easily.
Reading looked fairly secure in the first half, with Rangers continuously resorting to fouling in order to prevent any real attack coming to fruition. Michael Hector arguably had the best opportunity to put Reading ahead but his header went wide of the post.
In a game where space was hard to come by in the midfield area, Matej Vydra soon became an isolated figure in the Reading attack. Nick Blackman was handed the striker position alongside him but neither really had an opportunity to make an impact. With the majority of forward balls being looped high into the air, however, this is not surprising.
After a somewhat boring first half, the quality of football did not really improve into the second. Blackman came close to opening the scoring when his free kick took a late dip to rattle the bar.
One highlight of the game was the return of Hal Robson-Kanu to the fray- a sentence that many will have not expected to be uttered at Reading. The Welsh international had one of the better chances to score but his shot was instead dragged wide.
While Reading arguably had the best opportunities it was QPR who made the breakthrough. After Al-Habsi earned himself the player of the month accolade it was frustrating for him to be at fault once more. Onuoha slipped his marker at the far post and his header was not dealt with by the Reading keeper. Neither side deserved the victory but Reading will have been disappointed to concede in the way they did.
Overall it wasn’t the worst performance from the home side but it was nowhere near the best. With all the looping balls being played forward, Reading were clearly missing Orlando Sa. Vydra and Blackman on paper had the potential to achieve great things but in reality the combination just didn’t work.
The concerning run of games for Reading continues and the lack of quality demonstrated in the latest game is a marked difference from the early form of the season. Blackman in particular is struggling to make his mark and no one is stepping up in his place.
With a number of fixtures to go this week, Reading’s tumble down the Championship table is set to continue.