Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
QPR 1 READING 1
Reading: D Williams (21)
QPR: P Wszolek (14)
It is always good to pick up a point away from home but Reading’s performance today was worthy of a win. Having fallen behind to a well taken goal from Wszolek, Reading equalised through Williams seven minutes later and went on to dominate possession and create more clear openings than the home side. Although the finishing is not there yet, there were times, especially in the second half, when Reading put Rangers under considerable pressure with the some slick and precise passing. Williams stood out, not simply for the equaliser, but for the way he probed with purposeful running and well-timed, accurate passes.
The Loftus Road pitch is probably smaller than many in the league making the new Reading style of play slightly more difficult. It made it easier for Rangers to deny the Royals back four time and space to play the ball out of defence in to midfield. Al Habsi was forced to play the ball long and wide more often than he would have liked and possession was not retained as easily as it might have been. Rangers took the lead when a misplaced pass on the half way line allowed Rangers break quickly. Shodipu dropped a diagonal ball over the Reading centre backs for Wzsolek control on his chest and slot past Al Habsi from close range. McCleary’s pace was worrying the Rangers defence and Smithies had to come out quickly on more than one occasion to deny him scoring opportunities. Reading’s equaliser was a good example of the improvement in the timing and quality of their passing. A superb early ball from his own half by Evans released McCleary who had popped up on the left. McCleary made room for the cross and found Williams steaming in at the far post to guide it past Smithies.
Ranger’s attacks were less subtle with the burly Polter leading the way. He constantly shoved Van den Berg on and off the ball and caught Gunter with a flailing elbow. Fortunately for Reading his skill did match his aggression. Blackett deservedly got an earful from Kermogant for choosing to stop defending and protest about an offside decision which never came. A decision which almost cost Reading another goal. Beerens did not have one of his better days. Twice in the five minutes before half time his technique let him down when in a good position to score.
Van den Berg started the second half by needlessly picking up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge just inside his own half. Reading however looked the most likely side to score the crucial second goal but a combination of dogged defending, good goalkeeping and poor finishing prevented them from making the breakthrough. McCleary had a shot well saved by Smithies. The Rangers ‘keeper also saved from Beerens. Williams broke through the middle but with the goal in his sights, elected to pass the ball out wide. Perhaps he was trying to make amends for an earlier decision to shoot (an effort which was easily blocked) when Gunter was in acres of space to his right. With Reading in the ascendancy Obita replaced Blackett, presumably for his attacking potential, and was clearly fouled as he ran onto a ball played into the box. A Rangers defender had a handful of his shirt, but not a big enough handful for referee Martin. I lost count of the times Reading were caught offside, which was frustrating for Royals fans, but not as frustrating as when McCleary clearly went past the full back after the ball was played over him to deny a one on one opportunity with Smithies.
Rangers have not won at home since the opening game of the season and do not look capable of mounting a serious challenge for promotion. Reading on the other hand are steadily improving. They passed with greater purpose today and showed character and composure to come back from conceding an early goal and take control of the game. Reading were strong in midfield today. Swift is clearly a talented ball player but also Evans is growing in confidence and passing the ball with greater assurance. Williams is getting his head up and timing his passes far better than he ever has before. Jaap Stam’s team is beginning to take shape.
This Championship game took place 159 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.