A quality Michael Olise strike gave Reading all three points against QPR on Saturday afternoon, as the R’s once again could not make possession count.
In terms of team news, Chris Willock returned to the QPR side after the draw at Millwall, whilst Reading were without key attacking duo Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite, who had suffered injuries in the midweek loss against Birmingham City.
The first half was a rather tight affair, but one QPR shaded in terms of possession and chances.
Reading, without Messrs Joao and Meite could be forgiven for trying to be that bit more compact defensively given their dented attacking arsenal, and so QPR found to their frustration.
The first real opening of the game came the Hoops’ way eleven minutes in. Ilias Chair worked his way inside from the left and drove hard at the Reading goal. Rafa Cabral, perhaps a little unconvincingly, punched away when it looked easier to catch.
The Royals did have a few of their own chances despite their attacking injuries, however, and a couple came soon after, with Michael Morrison nodding just wide at a corner and Sone Aluko then flashing wide of Seny Dieng’s left post.
Certainly, Reading showed glimpses of real threat on the transition, with a neat exchange seeing Josh Laurent set Ovie Ejaria away down the left and his first-time centre just eluding a charging Sam Baldock.
On the break, then, the Royals looked like they had something to offer but as the half wore on they got deeper in their own territory, with QPR probing and looking for that opening.
The R’s, though, have found it tough this season to make large phases of possession really count and so that proved the case again here.
Tom Carroll would go close as we approached half-time, a fine strike blocked well by Liam Moore, whilst a late Osman Kakay chance got caught between his feet as he looked to convert Bright Osayi-Samuel’s sweeping ball in from the left.
Level at the break it was, then.
The second half might have been one where you’d felt things would open up a bit more but, in truth, things remained cagey.
Osayi-Samuel had an early chance to break the deadlock but took far too long with the ball at his feet in the box, allowing Reading skipper Liam Moore to steal in and clear.
Up the other end, meanwhile, Reading saw sub Thomas Holmes stretching as much as he could to connect with a corner at the far post but, ultimately, his leap wasn’t high enough.
Indeed, this became rather a war of attrition with the game largely played between the two boxes and, to add to things, injuries to QPR pair Osman Kakay and Bright Osayi-Samuel saw them have to limp off, following the same fate that Omar Richards had suffered for Reading in the first 45.
Into the final 15, Ilias Chair came so close to giving R’s fans something to celebrate as he whacked the post. Driving forwards, he bent a lovely right-footed effort from the edge of the box and past Rafa Cabral. It looked destined for the net but, instead, hit the inside of the woodwork and bounced clear.
Another afternoon it was of QPR woe in front of goal and then, to seal it, Michael Olise earned Reading all three points.
Coming in from the right, he curled a fine left-footed effort into the far corner, giving Seny Dieng no chance.
Reading, in fairness, had looked more than solid enough to earn a point but perhaps hadn’t done enough, until this moment, to get the win.
QPR, though, as has often been the case this season, lacked quality in front of goal to make their possession count and, once again, paid the price.
Indeed, Olise’s goal perhaps summed up why these two sides are where they are in the table right now.
Reading, ultimately, have the individual quality to win games they perhaps shouldn’t. QPR, meanwhile, are sorely lacking it to start winning the games they should.