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16:35 23rd April 2016

Honours even in battle of the hoops

Deniss Rakels scored his third goal for the club to secure a point for Reading on the road, ending a disappointing run of defeats with a 1-1 draw against Queens Park Rangers this afternoon.

Honours were even at the break. Grant Hall had headed the hosts ahead with a far post header from a corner that looped in despite Norwood's effort to keep it out on the line. But Deniss Rakels fired us level with an instinctively taken equaliser after superb work from Kermorgant had seen the Frenchman cushion a ball into his strike partner's path for Rakels to sweep home with excellent technique and accuracy.

Norwood's set piece and a late header from Polter came close to winners in the second half, while Rakels was a whisker away from sealing the win with a dive towards McCleary's inswinging cross from the left - but the spoils were shared at Loftus Road.

Royals' boss Brian McDermott altered two of his starting eleven, opting to start with George Evans in midfield while Yann Kermorgant returned to the eleven after the birth of his baby daughter at the start of the week. Michael Hector and Matej Vydra took places on the bench, while Chris Gunter was fit enough to be named as a substitute at Loftus Road.

The first chance fell to Ben Gladwin as a long throw from the left bounced kindly for the QPR man in the middle, but having to generate the pace on his header, Al Habsi was able to dive low to his left to scoop it behind for a corner.

Reading found the side netting soon after though. Rakels was set away down the left channel and he pulled the ball back for Quinn to cross. It floated over Ingram in the Rangers goal and Kermorgant met it on the volley at the far post but the angle was too tight for the Frenchman.

Rakels then tried his luck with a sweetly struck left-footed effort from 20 yards that whistled just wide of the top left corner, and the Latvian was causing more trouble as he scampered in behind the back line to back heel it into Cox's path, but his first time drilled effort was charged down.

Reading were creating chances and from the throw on the right Cox took a good first touch and then arrowed an effort just wide with his powerful second.

Midway through the half, both sides had a chance to open the scoring within the space of 30 seconds. First Polter ran on to a ball in behind and forced a tidy save from Al Habsi with a well-hit effort from the left side of the box. But Reading broke from their own area and Rakels rolled his marker to slide a ball into the path of Kermorgant. The Frenchman was too wide to fire an effort at target so tried a chip that lobbed Ingram but sailed over the crossbar.

A superb save from Al Habsi kept the scores level minutes later when Norwood's foul handed Chery the chance to direct a set piece at the Omani's goal from 22 yards out. He swerved it around the wall only to be denied by a low dive to Al Habsi's left.

Half an hour gone and Rakels showed good vision to thread a ball across the edge of the area to Evans who drilled a shot just wide of the bottom left corner. But QPR took the lead from a Faurlin corner when Grant Hall rose at the far post and planted a header back across Ai Habsi's goal where Norwood was helpless to keep it out with a header on the line.

The Royals looked to respond immediately and Kermorgant forced a corner from a McCleary cross on the byline. Quinn swung in the set play and Cooper met it but couldn't keep his header down.

But with five minutes of the first half left on the clock, Reading did level. Kermorgant did superbly to ping the ball out to the left on the slide and Taylor delivered another cross into the box. It found Kermorgant who again managed to angle a cushioned volley into the unmarked Rakels who instinctively swept the ball home with his right boot.

Rakels threatened a second when he sprung the offside trap to scurry onto a lovely ball over the top, but Onuoha got back to force the forward to sky his left-footed effort high over the bar.

And Ingram was called into action by McCleary before the break could arrive, the right-back flying forward to get in behind the stumbling Kpekawa and firing low at goal only to see the Rangers stopper scrappily save with his body.

Half time: QPR 1-1 Reading

A quite brilliant one-handed save from Ingram denied Reading an early lead in the second half - Onuoha had dragged Kermorgant to the ground to concede a free kick and Norwood arced a powerful effort towards the top left corner only for the flying Rangers keeper to push it wide.

Cooper then forced the home stopper into an easier stop with a header from Quinn's corner, then Polter at the other end cut onto his right foot to arrow an effort towards Reading's near post - Al Habsi was equal to it.

Al Habsi palmed away a Polter header after a cross from the right had sailed to the far post where the Rangers striker met it well. Then Perch fired over as the hosts broke quickly from a Reading counter attack that had been stopped in its tracks.

Cox came close with a right-footed drive that deflected just over on the hour, then Kpekawa headed over from close range to spurn a good opportunity - as both sides keenly sought more than the point they held at 1-1.

Phillips curled an effort into the arms of Al Habsi and then Ferdinand did well to scramble the ball clear despite a slip in the middle as the hosts pressed for a winner. Chris Gunter, Michael Hector and Matej Vydra came on for the visitors, while El Khayati and Petrasso were called upon by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Norwood and Cox combined the thread a ball into the feet of Vydra and he twisted and turned but saw his shot charged down with seven minutes remaining. Then at the other end Polter got past Ferdinand down the left and pulled the ball back for Chery who spooned high over the bar from just inside the box.

With four minutes left on the clock, Rakels came a whisker away from connecting with a diving header following McCleary's inswinging cross. But Polter missed a better chance when a sliced Cooper clearance skied high into the air and neither Al Habsi nor a covering Reading defender got underneath it, allowing the Rangers striker a free header which he placed wide from close range.

Evans hammered an effort at goal in the last of the ninety minutes that deflected just wide, then McCleary won a corner in injury time that caused some panic in the QPR box at the very end - but Reading had to settle for a point at the end of a solid away display at Loftus Road.

Full time: QPR 1-1 Reading

Reading: Al-Habsi, McCleary, Taylor (Gunter 77), Cooper, Ferdinand, Evans, Norwood, Quinn (Hector 71), Cox, Kermorgant (Vydra 81), Rakels. 
Unused Subs: Bond, Barrett, Piazon, John.
Yellow: Norwood

QPR: Ingram, Perch, Onuoha, Hall, Kpekawa, Luongo, Faurlin, Gladwin (El Khayati 70), Phillips (Petrasso 77), Chery, Polter
Unused Subs: Lumley, Hill, Diakite, Hoilett, Washington.

Att: 16,225 (1,633 away)