Reading 1 (Sigurdsson 85 pen)
Reading earned another fully deserved three points and continued their incredible run of form as Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty earned a 1-0 win over QPR on Tuesday evening.
The first half was pretty much even until QPR were reduced to ten men right on half time when visiting defender Damion Stewart was shown a second yellow card, having committed two clear fouls in the space of 12 minutes.
Rangers were then completely content to sit back in the second half and hold out for a 0-0 draw, and we twice had efforts cleared off the line before Sigurdsson was clearly fouled by Matt HIll and smashed home the penalty himself to show maturity beyond his years and top class ability.
Reading were the better team, and while Rangers' defensive approach was probably understandable with only ten men, they were not able to hang out for long enough to keep us at bay and prevent us taking the points.
In securing our sixth straight home League win and our eighth victory in nine overall, we also inflicted a first defeat on Neil Warnock since moving to Loftus Road. In addition we have leapfrogged his team to move up to 14th.
Our superb form cannot be underestimated and Brian McDermott's team have shown they can win in style - but on this display they have also made it clear they can put in the hard graft and keep going until the bitter end.
Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Griffin, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Mills; Howard (Rasiak 61), Tabb; McAnuff, Kebe, Sigurdsson; Long (Church 68)
Subs: Hamer, Khizanishvili, Gunnarsson, Matejovsky, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Rasiak (dissent 90)
QPR (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Connolly, Hill, Gorkss, Stewart; Leigertwood (c), Faurlin; Priskin (German 87), Ephraim, Taarabt (Ramage 81); Simpson
Subs: Cerny, Borrowdale, Buzsaky, Cook, Vine
Booked: Faurlin (foul 34), Leigertwood (foul 75), Hill (foul 84), Connolly (dissent 84)
Sent off: Stewart (two yellows, fouls 32 and 44)
Attendance: 16,886 (2,024 away)
Referee: G Ward
Andy Griffin passed a fitness test so regained his place at right back; Brynjar Gunnarsson dropping to the bench as a result. QPR were unchanged from their weekend draw at Sheffield United. Marcus Bent, on loan from Birmingham, missed out due to a restriction on the number of loan players that can be included in a matchday squad.
the match quickly shaped up as an encounter involving two positive, attack-minded sides, and Brian Howard was close to an opener with eight minutes on the clock, curling a 22-yard left-footed free kick just a couple of feet wide of the upright. Carl Ikeme in the Rangers goal was rooted to the spot and was very grateful to see it glide just past the post.
Rangers' Adel Taarabt stung the palms of Adam Federici in 13 minutes, and although the Morrocan struck it well it was to close to our number one to ever trouble him.
Federici was then called into action from a right wing corner, spreading himself well to stop Kaspars Gorkss' header.
It was an open game, and Ikeme was a little fortunate when Gylfi Sigurdsson charged down his kick, only for it to fly over the Rangers crossbar.
Tottenham once paid top dollar to bring Taarabt to the English game, and he is certainly capable of the odd moment of magic. He slid a wonderful through ball for Jay Simpson on 25, but Federici saved very well at his feet.
Games against Neil Warnock's teams always seem to be blood and thunder affairs, and so it proved when both Damion Stewart and Alejandro Faurlin were booked in the space of 120 seconds. Stewart went in the notepad for a a high foot up near Long's face, while Faurlin tripped Jay Tabb.
Reading were just beginning to up the ante as half time approached, and Jimmy Kebe had a good break but Matt Hill got back to defend well, then Howard curled a shot wide; comfortable for Ikeme.
It had been a nip and tuck affair between two form sides, and there was an explosion of action right before the half time whistle as the visitors went down to ten men.
Rangers were on the attack and the Federici grabbed a high cross, quickly looking to release Kebe on the break. Rangers defender Stewart impeded our 'keeper to prevent the quick attack, a silly thing to do given that he had already been booked. Our players were incensed and remonstrated with referee Ward before he showed the inevitable second yellow. Staying to form, Rangers boss Warnock argued the decision with the fourth official and also appeared to mockingly applaud our bench.
There was still time for Kebe to shoot wide in injury time, and visiting 'keeper Ikeme also caused a panic inside his own box as heond half came out for a high ball, Long getting there first but a defender on hand to hack clear in desperation.
Rather cheekily, Rangers were out for the second half as late as they possibly could be, but Reading remained unflustured by any delaying tactics and came close twice in the first five minutes of the period.
First Kebe shot low at Ikeme after a nice reverse ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson, then Long hit a shot a foot wide from a tight angle - and it would have burst the net had it been 12 inches to the left.
Reading were the only team with genuine attacking intent, and when Rangers' bench questionably threw a second ball on the pitch and delayed the game with 35 minutes to go it betrayed their genuine approach to the game.
Just before the hour mark Reading came close again after Howard's quick free kick, and Ryan Bertrand's drilled low cross was just ahead of a teammate. Soon afterwards Federici couldn't hold a low drive from Hogan Ephraim, but he did well to put Simpson off on the rebound.
Brian McDermott was not about to settle for a draw, and brought on Grzegorz Rasiak then Simon Church to look for that all-important goal.
Rangers simply could not get out of their own half, and Mikele Leigertwood had to clear Sigurdsson's shot off the line with Ikeme well beaten.
We were throwing everything forward, and with 12 minutes to go Rasiak seemed to have a great chance but it evaded him in the middle - only to fall to McAnuff, who hit a beauty that again Rangers cleared off their own line.
One moment was all we needed - and it was supplied in some style by the ice cool Sigurdsson. He stepped inside Ephraim to move into the area, and then beat Matt Hill with another piece of skill for a stonewall penalty. Sigurdsson took it himself and smashed a brilliant spot kick right into the top corner. Hill was very unhappy with the decision, while Matt Connolly was also booked, but when they see it back they will surely realise the referee got this key decision correct.
For the first time in the the half Rangers then had to show some attacking intent, but it only opened up more space for us and McAnuff went on a flying break, releasing Kebe for a disappointingly wild shot.
Inside injury time McAnuff went on another sensational run, this time travelling 70 yards in possession and looking certain to score a sensational goal, only for Ikeme to come out at his feet.