A dramatic encounter saw the Royals earn a vital victory over QPR at Madejski Stadium this evening thanks to Sone Aluko's firecracker and an injury time penalty save from Vito Mannone!
- Aluko scores a firecracker to give the Royals a first half lead
- Lynch has goal disallowed for offside as he got a touch to Freeman's drive to direct it past Mannone.
- Kermorgant shown second yellow and sent off with nine minutes remaining
- Mannone saves injury time penalty from Bidwell
Paul Clement made four changes to the eleven that lost at Carrow Road before the international break, bringing in Vito Mannone, Chris Martin, Joey van den Berg and John Swift to start.
The home side began the game brightly with Swift sliding a nice ball in for Barrow to battle onto, only for Smithies to come off his line to collect it before the forward could capitalise. Then, soon after Swift was pulling the strings again, winning a free kick as another clever throughball was collected by the QPR keeper before Edwards could get a toe to it.
Reading were builiding early pressure with a string of corners and Aluko swept a crossfield ball to Blackett who drilled low and just wide with eight minutes gone.
Swift had a shot repelled by a Rangers head but Reading would soon make their dominance pay and in sepctacular style. Aluko turned his man on the half way line and scurried towards the Rangers box. He cut inside and unleashed a wonderful left-footed strike that beat a helpless Smithies and nestled in the top right corner of the QPR goal!
The away team twice came close to levelling - Conor Washington fizzing a snapshot just wide from 15 yards out, then Paul Smyth reacting quickest to a punch clear from Mannone but directing his first time effort over the bar.
Reading reasserted their command somewhat but on the half hour it took a good block from Liam Moore to deny Pawel Wszolek after he had run onto a one-two with Washington inside the Royals area. At the other end Barrow was denied a run at goal from the left by a marginal offside decision.
Gunter produced an important block of his own to charge down a shot from Freeman as QPR continued to pose a threat, but Barrow was allowed to stretch his legs as he broke from his own half, beat two for pace before being muscled out by Onuoha in the penalty area.
Rangers thought they'd equalised five minutes before the break when a low Freeman drive was deflected past the dive of Mannone by Joel Lynch, but the offside flag ruled it out before the travelling fans could celebrate parity.
Wszolek could have levelled in the final minute of the forty-five, cutting back onto his left boot but hammering wide of the left upright to Reading's relief. And Paul Clement led his team into the dressing room with a slender advantage.
Half time | Reading 1-0 QPR
Reading began the second half on the front foot and Swift stole possession in a good central position in the QPR half. Neither he, Barrow or Edwards could find the space to pull the trigger though and Rangers recovered.
At the other end, Furlong delivered an early cross from the right which Smyth flicked on, but Mannone was down quick to smother it before Washington could get a toe to it.
Josh Scowen send a speculative set piece into the Rangers fans from 25 yards out, but Aluko won a free kick for the Royals with a neat piece of skill on the right flank and Swift's whipped delivery was headed behind by a Rangers head.
The resultant Swift corner was deep towards Blackett and it beat Smithies in the air but was bundled behind for another corner by Blackett's marker as Reading knocked on the door looking for a second.
Ian Holloway had thrown the towering Matt Smith on up front and a cross from the left was met by the substitute but thankfully directed just wide of the left upright.
The visitors were coming closer though and it took a fine fingertipe save from Mannone to deny Smyth, who had ridden a challenge from Bacuna to arrow an effort at goal from the edge of the Royals' box.
Reading were defending for their lives as we entered the final 15 minutes and Eberechi Eze fizzed a low shot inches wide of the bottom left corner.
And the task of clinging onto the points was made much more difficult when Kermorgant was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Furlong with nine minutes of the match left to play.
Some heroic defending from Moore denied Rangers twice as a follow-up shot ricocheted off the defender's head and away to relative safety. And Clement brought George Evans on for Swift in an attempt to hold onto the one goal lead.
But at the start of five minutes of injury time, a tired tackle from Edwards on Wszolek inside the box saw referee David Coote point to the spot. Bidwell stepped up and struck the spotkick...but Mannone guessed the right way and parried brilliantly to push the ball to safety. Madejski Stadium was rocking when the resultant corner came to nothing.
Ilori produced a brilliant block to deny Freeman from 12 yards out and a final corner was seen off by the Royals to the sound of the final whistle. Three points. Hard-earned and very valuable!
Full time | Reading 1-0 QPR
Reading: Mannone, Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Blackett, Van den Berg (Bacuna 55), Edwards, Swift (Evans 84), Aluko, Barrow, Martin (Kermorgant 61).
Subs: Jaakkola, Holmes, Clement, Smith.
Goals: Aluko 13
Yellow: Martin, Kermorgant, Aluko
Queens Park Rangers: Smithes, Furlong, Bidwell, Onuoha, Lynch, Freeman, Cousins (Luongo 74), Washington (Smith 58), Scowen, Wszolek, Smyth (Eze 74).
Subs: Ingram, Manning, Robinson, Sylla.
Yellow: Bidwell, Freeman, Lynch.
Referee: Mr D Coote
Attendance: 20,273 (3,243 away)