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Saturday, January 31, 2009

QPR & Reading's Draw - Report and Managerial Comment

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Paulo Sousa was content with a point against a Reading side he believes have Premier League quality throughout their squad.

Speaking after the goalless draw at Loftus Road, the R's boss said: "It's never easy to play against such a good side as Reading.

"They were very compact and have Premier League quality throughout their squad. This shows our level of performance is very good.

"We made a good performance. We showed good knowledge throughout, controlling the tempo and rhythm of the game.

"We made more chances than Reading over the 90 minutes, but I'm happy to accept a point.

"We know where we want to be and we are moving in the right direction."

Sousa believes Rangers are showing great strides, but admits his side will have to be at their best again on Tuesday night, when in-form Swansea City come to town.

"Swansea play some of the best football in this division and they are on a terrific run," he said.

"They have good quality and a good Manager, so it will be tough.

"We will rest up tonight and then start focusing on the match."

READING Official Site - PERSPECTIVE - Coppell: I thought we edged it

Royals boss Steve Coppell praised his players' workrate at the end of a dogged goalless affair with QPR at Loftus Road this afternoon.

It was the second time the two sides have drawn a blank against each other this season, but Coppell assured our online TV station that it was not for the want of trying on his side's part.

"I think anyone who was here will appreciate the effort we put in, you could see it etched on everyone's face.

"Maybe everyone thought we could have played a bit more, but that was really, really difficult to do.

"The pitch made it tough and the wind was deceptively interfering."

"In many ways I think we edged it but it was just so scrappy.

"QPR had a holding midfielder, and in various games this season we've struggled when presented with that five man midfield set up.

"I didn't feel as if we did so much today, but they made it very difficult to get at their back four.

"I thought a lucky break might settle it, to be honest, and I thought we edged it, but the goal never came."

His players thought that the break might have come via a penalty shout in the second half, when Stephen Hunt was bundled over when looking to latch onto a loose ball in the box, but referee J Moss thoguht otherwise.

"Hunty felt he was blocked getting on the end of a shot, but it was probably a day when the draw was the best outcome," Coppell explained.

QPR Official Site Report

In front of a season's highest attendance of 17,120, QPR extended their unbeaten run to eight matches with a closely-fought draw with high-flying Reading.

For the second time in the season, the free-scoring Royals - English football's highest scorers - failed to find a way past the R's.

In a match of few clear-cut chances, Leroy Lita twice tested Lee Camp, who stood tall to deny the visiting striker, whilst for Rangers, Heidar Helguson came within inches of finding the net on two occasions.

With both sides looking for the winner at the death, there was just time for Damion Stewart to brilliantly deny Kevin Doyle.

But ultimately in remained goalless, with both sides having to make do with a share of the points.

An unchanged Rangers took to the field to face Reading meaning Camp continued to deputise for the injured Radek Cerny.

Matt Connolly and Damien Delaney retained the full back berths, flanking the central defence partnership of Kaspars Gorkss and Stewart.

In the middle of the park, stand-in skipper Gavin Mahon was joined by Mikele Leigertwood and, making his home debut, Liam Miller.

The forward ranks saw Wayne Routledge join Lee Cook in supporting centre forward Helguson.

On the bench, the Italian duo of Matteo Alberti and Samuel Di Carmine joined Hogan Ephraim, Fitz Hall and Dexter Blackstock.

The R's opened with an intensity not seen at Loftus Road for weeks and controlled the early going. Bravery from Helguson allowed Routledge to pick up a loose ball from Duberry's block and when the ball eventually found it's way to Leigertwood, he ha a pop from just inside the box that bounced wide.

Rangers were firmly in the mood and Helguson just needed the faintest of touches to turn home a fantastic right-foot cross from Delaney.

Reading were by no means lying down and were playing their part in the spectacle. Chris Armstrong's hopeful punt fell fortuitously at the feet of Kevin Doyle and when the Irishman turned a shot, Stewart was on hand with a solid block.

The rebound however, fell kindly for Kalifa Cisse, who poked a shot towards goal that took a deflection of a Hooped defender. Despite lacking power, the ball trickled beyond Camp but luckily onto the post instead of inside it.

The home side were dominating possession but Reading were holding firm at the back. Cook tried to break the deadlock with a 30-yard free-kick that flew straight into the grateful arms of Adam Federici.

Despite being something of a spectator for much of the opening half hour, Camp was called into action on the 30 minute mark, beating away a Lita drive from a tight angle.

Lita went close again, in the second half, after delightful chipped through-ball from strike partner Doyle. Latching onto it, the Reading hit-man took a touch and blasted a shot straight at Camp at his near post.

Rangers had let their foot slide off the gas pedal somewhat, but Delaney tried to get the packed in Loftus Road faithful on their feet with a rasping drive on 56 minutes. After Routledge and Cook combined to tee him up however, the Irish left-back could only fire high and wide.

The visitors were very much on top in this second half, and when Chris Armstrong was freed down the left, his teasing cross was put beyond expertly by a lunging Stewart. At the other end, Helguson just failed to connect with an equally inviting centre from Cook.

Control of possession led to Routledge finding space to have a go at Armstrong, and when the winger easily outpaced the Royals defender, he crossed at the by-line. Federici, however, was smart enough to dive off his line and collect whilst airborne.

Helguson was next to try his luck from the edge of the box, curling an effort wide after the excellent Miller had picked him out.

Back came Reading once more and a combination of Mahon and Connolly kept out Cisse and Doyle. Connolly especially did ever so well to deny the Royals striker, positioning himself perfectly to block on the line.

Increasing pressure from the hosts saw Camp come for a cross but end up spilling into the path of Hunt, who, fortunately for the hosts, snatched at the loose ball and poked it wide.

Manager Paulo Sousa looked to add a new dimension to his side in the 77th minute, replacing Mahon with Ephraim.

In a frantic end, Stewart rescued Rangers when Doyle had freed himself in the area and venomously snapped off a left-foot shot that the Jamaican did superbly to block.

On came Blackstock and Di Carmine to try and steal the points, but it wasn't to be, as the final whistle brought an end to the match, with both teams returning to the dressing room with a point apiece.
QPR: Camp, Delaney, Stewart, Mahon (Ephraim 77), Leigertwood, Routledge, Gorkss, Connolly, Cook (Di Carmine 90), Miller, Helguson (Blackstock 84).
Subs: Hall, Alberti.
Bokings: Helguson (81)
Reading: Federici, Armstrong, Cisse, Lita, Doyle, S. Hunt, Kebe (Gunnarsson 90), Harper, Rosenior, Pearce, Duberry.
Subs: Gunnarsson, Matejovsky, Bikey, Long, Andersen.
Bookings: Hunt (41), Duberry (86)

READING Official Site - MIN BY MIN

The Royals take on QPR today and we have live updates here - refresh for the very latest. You can listen to full commentary on Reading World.

QPR: Camp; Connolly, Delaney, Gorkss, Stewart; Leigertwood, Mahon (Ephraim 78), Miller, Routledge, Cook (Di Carmine 90); Helguson (Blackstock 86).
Subs: Hall, Alberti.
Yellow: Helguson

Reading: Federici; Rosenior, Armstrong, Duberry, Pearce; Cisse, Harper (c), Kebe (Gunnarsson 90), S Hunt; Doyle, Lita
Subs: Andersen, Bikey, Matejovsky, Long
Yellow: Hunt

Ref: J Moss
Att: 17,120

Live updates
2:20pm - Teams are in. Leroy LIta starts in place of the Noel Hunt, who has an ankle injury. Liam Rosenior replaces Julian Kelly and Andre Bikey makes the bench.

2:55pm - The two teams are out and trying to warm themselves up again on a bitterly cold afternoon in London. QPR sport the blue and white hoops, while the Royals are in all orange.

2 mins - Michael Duberry is sporting a fetching headband to protect the cut above his eye that he picked up in the win over Wolves on Tuesday night.

7 mins - A scrappy start but Lee Cook is standing over a free kick on the right here. He delivers it into the box but Kalifa Cisse nods it away confidently.

9 mins - Liegertwood has the first shot on goal from the left side of the box. It takes a slight deflection and bobbles wide of the right post for a corner, which is too long for everyone and wasted.

12 mins - A superb cross from Damien Delaney arcs its way towards the far post where Helguson is storming in. He is ahead of his man but can only muscle onto it late and glance it wide of the right post. That was half a chance though and it got the home support excited.

14 mins - Routledge pulls Armstrong out of position and Duberry has to come accross to the left side. He passes it inside to Helguson who shoots from 25 yards out but Pearce blocks it well and the danger fizzles out.

16 mins - No multiball system in place here today so Reading players are having to trudge back and forth to retrieve the ball every time it goes out.

18 mins - Doyle ties to feed Lita in the box but it bobbles back to him off a QPR leg. He shoots, but it is charged down and it falls loose for Cisse to swing a left leg at. He scuffs it but it's heading for the bottom left corner before Camp scambles across and touches it aroound his upright.

26 mins - Reading struggling to string too many passes together and under a bit of pressure.

28 mins - Stephen Hunt is penalised for a foul on Mahon and Cook tries his luck with the 30-yard free kick. Federici has to watch it fizz through a host of bodies and bounce in front of him, but it is straight at him and his handling is good.

32 mins - Lita is slid in down the right side of the box and he fires a firmly struck cross into the middle. Camp can only parry it and it falls to Cisse but he can't bring it down and shoot before being dispossessed.

38 mins - Doyle flicks Pearce's crossfield ball on to Hunt on the left and he crosses deep to the far post. Lita is lurking but Delaney slides in to concede a corner, which Hunt wastes.

HALF TIME - Not a lot for the purist to admire at Loftus Road so far. Wolves lead at home to Watford. Birmingham kick off late at Sheffield Wednesday.

52 mins - Doyle lofts a ball over the top to sent Leroy Lita away down the right side of the QPR box. He takes it towards the byline and tries to fizz a cross in. It takes a big deflection off Gorkss and is heading inside the near post but Camp is alert and parries it wide.

58 mins - Armstrong hits a deep free kick into the box. It's over Doyle and Pearce looks like he might connect with it with his left foot, but a QPR defender intercepts and hacks it out for a corner. The referee gives a goal kick to Pearce's disgust.

63 mins - Harper orders width and gets it as Hunt finds the overlapping Armstrong on the left, he runs onto a one-two with Lita and crosses low into the near post. It is intercepted and QPR concede a corner which they clear.

65 mins - Reading are still sitting very deep and Delaney tries to take advantage of that as he lets rip from 30 yards. It sails over teh crossbar without troubling Federici.

67 mins - Routledge's pace is too much for Armstrong and he reaches the byline and cuts inside from the right. He crosses but Federici leaps out to claim it before it can find Helguson in the middle.

72 mins - Helguson touches it onto his right foot and curls it towards the bottom right corner from 25 yards out. It's not got enough bend on it to trouble Federici though.

73 mins - Armstrong launches it into the box from the left and Kebe wins the header at the far post. He nods it back across and Lita rises yards out to try and force it over the line. Pearce is there too but somehow QPR bundle it away from their right upright. That was a good chance.

75 mins - Camp spills a lofted ball into the box under pressure from Lita. It squirms loose and Hunt races onto it first. He slips and his stabbed effort bobbles wide of the right post and he claims he was tripped. Nothing given by the referee though.

78 mins - QPR substitution. Mahon is replaced by Ephraim.

83 mins - Hunt loses out on the left wing but it falls for the overlapping Armstrong on the byline. He can pick out a cross here, but Camp cuts it out at the near post.

86 mins - QPR substitution. Helguson is replaced by Dexter Blackstock.

86 mins - Kebe nods Rosenior's throw back to Doyle and he lines up a volley. A great block prevents Camp being worked and QPR break and win a corner. Reading clear their lines well.

90 mins - QPR substitution. Lee Cook is replaced by Di Carmine.

90(+1) mins - Kebe is down and needs treatment. We are almost two minutes into the three that are due to be added.

90(+2) mins - Kebe is replaced by Gunnarsson.

90(+3) mins - Kebe turns his man brilliantly by the right corner flag and hammers a cross into the box. But there's no-one there to connect with it and it flies behind on the other side of the goal.

FULL TIME - A dogged point but not a lot of free-flowing football to admire. Honours even and whatever Birmingham do later the Royals will remain in second.

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