THERE was late drama again on the road for QPR, but this time in their favour as Nedum Onuoha's last-gasp header secured all three points against Reading.
The match looked set to end goalless on a night of few clear-cut chances but Onuoha - heading home Ale Faurlin's last-minute corner - had other ideas.
Neil Warnock made one change to the side that beat Leeds United 1-0 at Loftus Road five days ago, with Leroy Fer – back following a one-game ban – replacing Yun Suk-Young on the left wing.
It meant Rangers lined up with Rob Green behind a back four of, from left to right, Paul Konchesky, Grant Hall, Nedum Onuoha and James Perch.
Sandro and Ale Faurlin continued their partnership in the centre of the park, with Fer on the left and youngster Michael Petrasso keeping his place in the team on the right.
Matt Phillips continued in attack, with the in-form Junior Hoilett playing just off the former Blackpool man.
The hosts made three changes to the team that lost 3-1 at Nottingham Forest last weekend, with Alex Fernandez, former Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand and Garath McCleary replacing injured skipper Paul McShane, Lucas Piazon and Orlando Sa.
As the Royals honoured 25 years since Sir John Madejski became involved with the club, Warnock’s QPR side arrived in Berkshire looking to be the party poopers.
Knowing victory here tonight would see them move to within two points of the play-offs, QPR had a very attacking feel to them, and pushed Reading back in the opening five minutes without creating any real chance of note.
It was in fact the hosts who nearly opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Oliver Norwood’s freekick from the right was met at the far post by Michael Hector, but the skipper’s header from a tight angle flew wide of the far post.
The Royals grew into the game after that chance, enjoying a period of possession across the centre of the park, but QPR soon wrestled control back, with Faurlin typically instrumental in some fine team play.
Warnock switched Hoilett to the left after 20 minutes, with Fer playing through the middle, looking to capitalise on the possession Rangers were enjoying.
And it was Hoilett who warmed the palms of Royals goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi on 25 minutes, brilliantly winning possession before firing goalwards from 20 yards.
At the other end of the pitch, Nick Blackman fired wide when in space, but clear chances remained few and far between for both sides as the half wore on.
On the stroke of half-time Andrew Taylor blazed over from distance.
Early in the second half Petrasso saw his shot from 16 yards well blocked after a clever lay-off by Faurlin, which came following good work on the right between Phillips and Hoilett to create the initial opening.
Just before the hour-mark, Hector went incredibly close for Reading, but his clever, looping header landed on the top of Green’s net.
And on 63 minutes, Blackman fired a thunderous freekick off Green’s crossbar from 30 yards, as the Royals came even closer to breaking the deadlock.
Meanwhile, Warnock gave the travelling R’s faithful what they wanted, with the introduction of top scorer Charlie Austin, who replaced the hard-working and once-again impressive Petrasso.
The move saw Phillips switch to the right, with Fer playing just off QPR’s number nine.
As the hosts pushed forward, and in truth looked more likely to score, Warnock made a second change, bringing on Tjaronn Chery for Hoilett.
And in the 78th minute, Rangers came so, so close to taking the lead through Onuoha. Faurlin’s freekick from the half-way line was flicked on by Austin, and Onuoha headed goalwards from eight yards but met the ball too well and it went just over the crossbar.
Three minutes later, and it was Royals sub Hal Robson-Kanu’s turn to go close – finding space on the left he powered his effort across goal, but a foot wide of the far post, to the relief of Green and the R’s players.
On 87 minutes, Austin almost stole in to nick it for Rangers after another good delivery from Faurlin, but Al Habsi was able to gather just ahead of him.
There was to be one final chance, however. Faurlin's next centre found its way to Onuoha, who made no mistake this time to power his header over the line.
Four minutes of stoppage time followed, but Rangers held out to make it two wins in a week.