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16:45 23rd April 2016


HONOURS ended even at Loftus Road, as QPR and Reading drew 1-1 in the Sky Bet Championship.

Grant Hall’s first goal in Rangers colours handed the R’s a 35th minute lead, but Reading hit back six minutes later courtesy of Deniss Rakels.

In truth, a draw was probably a fair reflection over the course of the 90 minutes, with neither side doing enough to warrant maximum points.

Following the midweek loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made five changes for the visit of the Royals to W12.

Matt Ingram started in goal for the first time at Loftus Road, behind a back four consisting of full league debutant Cole Kpekawa, skipper Nedum Onuoha, Hall and James Perch.

Ben Gladwin started on the right hand side of midfield, with Matty Phillips deployed on the left wing. Massimo Luongo partnered Ale Faurlin once again in the middle of the park.

In attack, Tjaronn Chery returned to the starting XI, playing just off lone front-man Sebastian Polter.

Reading included former R’s defender Anton Ferdinand at the heart of their back four, with Royals boss Brian McDermott opting for three-pronged attack of Yann Kermorgant, Rakels and Simon Cox.

Rangers created the first chance of note in the fifth minute.

Kpekawa’s long throw found its way towards Gladwin at the back post, with the winger drifting in off the flank and forcing Ali Al-Habsi to scramble his header wide.

Soon after, Stephen Quinn’s far post cross was fired into the side netting by Kermorgant, before Rakels’ long-range volley flew wide moments later.

Reading threatened again on 15 minutes, with Cox finding space from a thro-in before firing his half-volley wide.

After a scrappy period, Polter forced Al-Habsi into a smart save with a rasping drive from an acute angle midway through the half – and the Reading keeper was at it again three minutes later, saving Chery’s curling free-kick, as the R’s began to force the initiative.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 35th minute.

It came as little surprise that Faurlin – instrumental in the opening half an hour – played his part in the goal, delivering a precise corner kick towards the back post, which Hall rose highest to meet, looping a header towards the back post and in, despite Quinn’s best efforts to clear the ball off the line.

It was Hall’s first goal in 40 QPR appearances – and reward for an impressive first season in W12 following his summer transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.

The lead lasted just six minutes, however, as the Royals drew level on 41 minutes. Rakels found time and space in the penalty area and swept home beyond Ingram to put the visitors on terms.

The same player squandered a glorious chance to notch his and Reading’s second on the stroke of half-time, breaching the offside trap before firing high and wide from 12 yards out.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Reading were on top as the half drew to a conclusion, with Garath McCleary forcing Ingram into a smart save in first half stoppage-time, as the two sides headed into the break on level terms.

And it was the visitors who started the second period in the ascendancy too, with Ingram diving full-stretch to keep out Norwood’s goal-bound free-kick with a stunning save.

At the other end, Polter cut in from the left flank and shot on target, but again, Al-Habsi was equal to it at his near post.

It was turning into quite a personal battle between the big German and the Reading keeper, with the latter again denying the R’s striker just 60 seconds later with a fine reflex save to keep out his downward header from Luongo’s cross.

Rangers were on the front foot now and when Faurlin’s sublime chipped pass found Perch, the marauding right-back saw his volley fly just over the bar from fully 25-yards.

Kpekawa almost marked his home debut with a goal shortly after the hour, but his header from another Faurlin corner was deflected over, despite the officials awarding a goal-kick.

Hasselbaink made his first change on 70 minutes, with Nasser El Khayati replacing Gladwin, resulting in Phillips moving to the right flank to accommodate the Dutchman’s arrival on the left wing.

Phillips himself was replaced by Michael Petrasso shortly afterwards, as the R’s went in search of the all-important third goal of the game with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Moments after Conor Washington entered the fray on 85 minutes, Petrasso’s cross looped up in the air and with Al-Habsi opting not to come and collect, Polter was gifted time and space inside the six-yard box, but his header squirmed wide.

That proved to be the last chance of note, however, as the spoils were shared.
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