First my report and then Jon Hanford's...
Reading started their first home game for almost a month with the same team that pulled off an impressive away draw at Norwich the previous week - with the exception of one change. Phil Parkinson was relegated to the bench in favour of Micheal Meaker - discarded by QPR and determined to show them what they were missing out on. What seemed like a back four formation was quickly seen to be a back five with Meaker playing in the usual role of right back. QPR however fielded a very different side to their last game, and the side printed on the program, to accomadate the arrival of new 2.5 million pound signing John Spencer and the on loan Gavin Peacock - both from Chelsea. The QPR side on paper looked a very scarey prospect with a number of well known names such as Trevor Sinclair, and Daniele Dichio only making it to the bench.
The game got under way once Lenny Henry had finished making use of the South Bank to sing some very silly chants such as "The Toilets here are lovely" for his new TV series. (snigger) Arriving late I only managed to hear the "There's only one Gary Wilmot" - however the home fans were in great voice for the cameras. Lenny Henry appeared the best entertainment by half time when a massive crowd of 12,847 had endured a dull first half.
The passes were all over the place. It was unbelievable. QPR attempted to knock it about a bit but failed to take control as the Royals played the long ball game very badly. Caskey was incredibly bad. He got the ball and just hoofed it up the pitch. He failed to read anything into what was happening and the ball went flying straight to a QPR defender. Even Mickey Gooding thought he'd join in the fun with a couple of passes going nowhere. Reading looked fairly tight at the back, as did QPR, but with no midfield we weren't going anywhere. Reading's best chance came to Michael Gilkes who legged it into the area on the left but his chipped shot cleared the goalkeeper but also the far post to go for a goal kick.
The QPR fans thought they'd liven things up by bouncing at the start of the second half. Yep, bouncing. I have to say it was great to watch. First the middle and then it spread out, and soon the entire away end starting bouncing up and down. It must have been appreciated by the away side who then took just 3 minutes of the second half to take the lead. Great work by Trevor Sinclair on the right saw a pass driven to John Spencer who made up for his very quiet first half, by powering the ball into the right corner of the net from the edge of the area. The away fans bounced some more. 0-1. QPR then started to take control and everything looked like falling apart for Reading. For a ten minute spell QPR looked well dangerous.
Then the game started getting a bit over physical for a bit. A very pissed off Barry Hunter placed his boot on the back of a floored QPR bloke. Luckily he refrained from actually making real contact but the QPR cheat thought it a good chance to get Hunter sent off and rolled over in agony and almost died. The ref saw sense but failed to book the QPR player. A little fight broke out with a bit of pushing and shoving but Morley missed the chance to make the most of his metal head.
At last the substitution we'd all been waiting for happened. Darren 'too much money for a fat midfielder who can't pass' Caskey came off and on came Jamie Lambert. Excellent. A very commendable substitution that one. And Reading realised they were in danger of losing and really started to play. With just about 15 minutes left the Royals at last got the breakthrough. Morley won the ball in the middle from a Paul Bodin cross and headed it home from the edge of the area. The keeper pushed it to his left but it rolled inside the post into the net. 1-1, and a nice chant of 'You're not bouncing anymore!' Reading's celebrations were cut short with Andy Bernal down on the edge of the area after a heavy collision when, just before the goal, he'd attempted a long range shot on a 50-50 ball. Skippy was stretched off - not too serious I hope. Phil Parkinson joined the action as his replacement.
With the scores level Reading decieded they wanted to win the game. Lambert made a beautiful run and pass to the advancing Gilkes on the left, Gilkes couldn't make his shot count. Then our central defender thought they'd have a bash. First Macca almost scored with a close range effort then Barry Hunter followed it up with a header that hit the top of the bar. Then Reading got the goal they deserved from great work by an impressive Michael Meaker with seven minutes of the game remaining.
Meaker sprinted down the right and played in an excellent low cross into the QPR box. To me it looked like it may have been sneaking in the far post anyway, but there was Nogan to put it in on the post. 2-1 to the R's!
Despite a dull first half the second half came to life and also included another two dissallowed goals for each side. QPR's was well offside while Nogan's strike was dissallowed for a foul on the keeper. I never thought we'd win it somehow until the second went in. An excellent result which looked in doubt for most of the game, and a result that puts us level on points with QPR with 2 games in hand. A win on Tuesday could see us jump anything up to 8 places in the table. Good stuff.
QPR manager Stewart Houston's #2.5m investment in John Spencer was repaid with a goal, but it seems he now needs to spend on his defence after Reading came from behind to snatch victory.
After Michael Gilkes had missed a great chance for the home side after eight minutes, the first-half was largely a bad-tempered affair littered with petty fouls.
But things livened up after the break and after 46 minutes a superb run by Gilkes took him 40 yards to the edge of the Rangers' area where he set up Darren Caskey for a shot which bounced out of Tony Roberts' arms and the ball was cleared. But three minutes later QPR's Trevor Sinclair made another dazzling crossfield run before cutting a reverse ball into the path of debutant Spencer who scored with a crisp, low shot from 18 yards. But Rangers failed to capitalise on that lead, although Sinclair again set up Spencer for a 20-yard effort which was clawed to safety by Tommy Wright.
Rangers hit back in the dying seconds with both Karl Ready flashing a header just wide and substitute Danny Dichio volleying just past the upright in injury time but defeat could not be avoided.