|Reading 1 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Thursday, 26th December 2019 Kick-off 19:30
QPR punished for wastefulness again - Report
Friday, 27th Dec 2019 20:52 by Clive Whittingham
A catalogue of missed chances across two games have turned six points into one against Charlton Athletic and now Reading for profligate QPR.
Do you know what, as it’s the season of goodwill and I’m a naturally benevolent and festive person anyway, I’m almost inclined to just write this one off as one of those weird things that happens sometimes in football.
Nobody can explain how or why but occasionally you’ll bang away all night and through a variety of increasingly convoluted and flukey reasons not score, while of course shipping a crucial single goal at the other end. Like that time Grimsby Town won 1-0 at Loftus Road with Lev Yashin in goal disguised as Danny Coyne.
There was Ilias Chair’s glorious effort, immediately after he’d come on as a second half sub, that somehow struck inside the angle of post and bar, bounced down without going in, and then fell to Jordan Hugill who hit the rebound straight at goalkeeper Rafael who made one in a serious of unlikely saves to deny him.
Later, with the last attack of the game, Hugill would get on the end of a perfect Todd Kane cross at the back post and fairly well belt the ball straight at the goal from four yards out for a certain equaliser. It struck Rafael square in the face and stayed out. The keeper knew nothing about it. When the loaned West Ham front man did find the net, in the first half, he’d strayed offside expecting the cross to come earlier from Bright Osayi-Samuel and was too busy berating him for holding onto the ball to get back in line with the last man, so it was ruled out.
There was more.
A corner routine seven minutes before half time that had worked perfectly for Grant Hall to score against Brentford earlier this season paid dividends again, freeing the skipper at the near post for a completely unchallenged header on goal from six yards. For some reason he skimmed a flicked attempt rather than planting a firm one and it drifted wide.
Straight after, when Ebere Eze got free into open space for the first time in the game and glided smoothly into the penalty area his progress was interrupted by a crude trip from Liam Moore – leg out, taking the Rangers man down at the thigh, on the linesman’s side of the field. Referee James Linington failed to award a pretty blatant spot kick.
In the second half Eze set off again, picking the ball up wide on the left in his own half and ghosting in field via a one two with Luke Amos before accelerating deep into the danger zone, executing another text book wall pass with Bright Osayi-Samuel, doing a perfectly controlled 360 degree receive and spin to take Rafael out of the game and poke an equaliser towards the empty net. This time Gunter, for reasons known only to himself, was back on the line in just the right place to clear from under the crossbar. Re-run that move 100 times and he’ll never be standing there again.
Naturally when Reading’s John Swift drew his foot back six minutes after half time, 30 yards out from goal, the connection was crisp, the technique immaculate, the shot powerful and accurate, and the ball fizzed into the top corner of the net for what will almost certainly be the Royals’ goal of the season.
Chalk it up lads. One of those nights. On another day exactly the same performance comes away with a three or four one win and we’re all singing everybody’s praises. Don’t sweat it, move onto the next game which luckily is in 20 minutes time.
Except there was more to niggle those of a QPR persuasion here than simply an unjust result, celebrated like a World Cup final victory on the final whistle by a fairly shameless Mark Bowen. Try not to hold that against him, if you’d dedicated your life to being a bibs, balls and cones man for Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes various managerial disasters you’d celebrate the rare wins when they come along as well.
Firstly, QPR start to the game was abysmal. A real lazy, sluggish, passive, classic of the day-after-Christmas genre. In the first 30 minutes we lost every 50/50 tackle and were second to every second ball. As at Loftus Road, we gave the excellent Swift and talented Ovie Ejaria all the space and time they wanted to do as they pleased. Thrown into the mix this time in addition to that was 63-year-old Charlie Adam, fat as a barrel and with the face of a man who’s stared into the Ark of the Covenant but allowed to just stand in 30 square yards of space in the centre of the field and ping diagonals left and right unchallenged for the first half hour.
Geoff Cameron and Luke Amos both weakly lost out on tackles in the first five minutes to set the tone and then when Adam was given all the time he needed to get Chris Gunter in down the right his low cross was smacked goalwards first by Ejaria and then by Swift only for Joe Lumley to save well twice in quick succession. A low cross from the other side by Tyler Blackett was excellently cleared by Leistner. Gunter ran in field and shot over. It took until 19 minutes for QPR to have a serious attack, with Eze winning a free kick for a pulling offence but then wastefully hitting it over the bar from a distance and angle he was ever likely to score from. One of two such incidents in this game.
The frustrating thing is we got away with it. The score was still nil nil when Bright Osayi Samuel moved to the right of the three behind Jordan Hugill and the ineffective Marc Pugh came to the left. That, and a move by the rest of the team ten yards further up the field, sparked a turn around in the flow of the game and Rangers were much the better team after that. Which made Swift’s wonder strike all the more galling, but even then he had time and space to take two touches on a cleared corner before getting a shot away, and thereafter Lumley twice had to be at his best away to the left to keep out Joao efforts – one with his head, the other on the half volley. And even while playing better, there were still times when Jordan Hugill was bringing the ball down with his back to goal on the edge of the Reading box with no teammate within 30 yards of him.
Warburton kept adding technicians from his bench to try and crack the code. Ilias Chair was impressive, Matt Smith less so, and like I say on most other days in most other games either the Chair one off the bar or the Hugill one into the goalkeeper’s face, at least, go in and we don’t lose the game. But at the same time, it wasn’t bad luck for Nahki Wells to go through on goal against Charlton and piss about long enough for the keeper to make a save and it wasn’t bad luck that Hugill sent two absolute sitters in this match straight at the goalkeeper. Apart from his trademark lean back and high over the bar favourite, Hugill does seem to have an unerring ability to shoot straight and powerfully at whatever obstacles are left on the line once the chance has fallen to him.
Premier League strikers don’t come on loan for free, or even that cheaply. QPR will have paid money to borrow the pair of them to make the difference this season and while they’ve done that to this point, their glaring misses over the last 180 minutes have turned six points into one.
Match Gallery: 15 photos
We had tough games in November and gave the team something of a free pass through a poor set of results. The reward for that was victories against Preston and Birmingham but we’ve now taken one point from Barnsley, Charlton and Reading which are three of the easiest games on the calendar this year and were meant to be a chance for us to kick on up the table. You’ll forgive me some nagging doubts because it was this time last year, with a disappointing 0-0 at home to Reading over Christmas, that things started to go seriously south for QPR, and it was the strikers Nahki Wells and Tomer Hemed who led that nosedive from the front.
Just one of those nights? Be nice to get a bit of extra confirmation on that in two quickfire home games to come between now and New Year.
Reading: Rafael 8; Gunter 6, Moore 6, Morrison 6, Blackett 7; Ejaria 7 (Boye 86, -), Swift 8 (Olise 84, -), Adam 7 (Rinomhota 74, 6), Gomes 6; Joao 6. Meite 6
Subs not used: Walker, Miazga, Loader, Obita
Goals: Swift 52 (unassisted)
Yellow Cards: Gunter 74 (foul)
QPR: Lumley 7; Kane 5, Leistner 7, Hall 6, Manning 6; Cameron 5 (Smith 68, 5), Amos 6; Osayi-Samuel 6 (Wells 83, -), Eze 7, Pugh 5 (Chair 61, 6); Hugill 5
Subs not used: Barnes, Wallace, Scowen, Ball
QPR Star Man – Joe Lumley 7 I don’t know, tough one to award really. Four saves, including a tidy double stop when we were under pressure in the first half, probably nudges it for Joe who has played better in recent weeks (bar Barnsley), though his distribution was again haphazard.
Referee – James Linington (Isle of Wight) 6 Not too bad, but I thought he missed a pretty blatant penalty for the foul on Eze and like everybody else that officiates at this level quietly and passively allowed some biblical time wasting to go on second half without so much as a warning.
Attendance 12,495 (1,351 QPR) And if you believe that…
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