Resilient Reading ride out the storm

The Times, November 7, 2005

Queens Park Rangers 1 Reading 2

SUPPORTERS OF Queens Park Rangers went away from this hotly contested fixture with a warm glow. Their team had lost but had lived up to their reputation as a side that plays neat, passing football. Not, though, that this was any consolation to Ian Holloway.

“I’m in the results business,” the QPR manager said. “What is football? It’s about the right ball, whether it’s long or short. It’s all about balance. Reading were so good that my scouts couldn’t find a weakness in them. I’m gutted because we played well enough to get something from the game, but the final ball wasn’t quite falling our way.”

Reading arrived brimming with confidence, as befits the only Coca-Cola Championship club able to keep up with Sheffield United. Rangers — one of only two teams to beat Neil Warnock’s side — have been predictable only in their inconsistency. But they raised their game and tested Reading’s resolve to the limit.

The opening ten minutes produced football that would have graced a Premiership arena. Within seconds the lively Kevin Doyle forced a save from Simon Royce and yet, far from being cowed, QPR took the game to the wisiting side, with Richard Langley pulling the strings.

All to no avail. Reading, so well organised, absorbed everything that QPR could throw at them and took the lead with a well-worked move on the right flank. Steven Sidwell found the similarly flame-haired Dave Kitson, who back-heeled for James Harper to slot home.

It took until early in the second half for QPR pressure to pay dividends, Lee Cook accepting a pass from Kevin Gallen before scoring with a left-foot drive.

Reading responded strongly, as was only to be expected from a side unbeaten since the opening day of the season. They regained the lead in the 66th minute courtesy of the excellent Ivar Ingimarsson, who found the net with a powerful header from John Oster’s corner. Rangers rallied and threatened more than once, but for no reward.