QPR battled to a hard-earned point against Reading at the Madejski Stadium with Lyndon Dykes’ first-half strike cancelled out by Yakou Meite’s effort after the interval.
In an entertaining affair, both sides can argue they created enough chances to win the match but, in truth, a draw was perhaps a fair outcome.
Dykes netted just before half-time after a brilliant team move involving Ilias Chair and Lee Wallace, but that advantage was quickly lost after the restart when Meite beat Seny Dieng from close range.
Mark Warburton made three changes from the side that overcame Millwall in midweek, with Ilias Chair, Sam Field and Ossie Kakay coming into the starting XI. Chris Willock, Geoff Cameron and Todd Kane were named on the bench.
It meant Rangers lined up with Seny Dieng in goal behind three at the back in the shape of Rob Dickie, Jordy De Wijs and Yoann Barbet, while Kakay and Lee Wallace operated as wingbacks.
Field and Stefan Johansen sat in front of the defensive unit, with Chair just behind Charlie Austin and Lyndon Dykes.
The Royals, looking to protect their play-off spot, started on the front foot with Andy Rinomhota forcing Dieng into a save after two minutes while Lucas Joao saw his shot blocked by Dickie.
Rangers were looking to get their passing game going, but it was a set piece on 11 minutes which saw the visitors fashion their first chance, working a short corner before picking out Auston on the edge of the box. Unusually for the QPR striker, he was unable to make a clean connection and the ball bounced harmlessly wide.
On 19 minutes, Chair’s floated delivery from the left was plucked off the head of Dykes by host keeper Rafael Cabral, while Austin’s clever movement found space at the far post on 27 minutes but his shot went wide of the far post.
Barbet had a great chance on 35 minutes when Johansen’s corner from the right was punched out by Cabral into his path, but the Frenchman’s effort went wide, much to his own frustration.
It was an end-to-end affair in the first half, and Michael Olise really should have given Reading the lead when Ovie Ejaria managed to skip past two challenges down the left before pulling the ball back, but the Frenchman fired over from ten yards.
But on 45 minutes the deadlock was broken when Wallace played a great one-two with Chair before pulling the ball across the face of goal for Dykes to slide the ball into the back of the net.
The reaction from the QPR players towards the Scotland international showed how much it meant to everyone in the team for Dykes to score, while the man himself let out a huge “YES!” as he walked back for the restart.
It was the last real action of the opening 45 minutes and a great time for the R’s to score.
The second half was barely three minutes old before Warburton was forced into his first change of the afternoon when De Wijs picked up a knock and was unable to continue. He was replaced by skipper Cameron.
The hosts certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after the restart and thought they had taken the lead on 55 minutes when Yakou Meite’s shot from 18 yards could only be parried by Dieng into Liam Moore’s path, and he made no mistake as he converted from close range, but to the relief of the visitors the Reading skipper was ruled offside.
Unfortunately, it was only two minutes before Reading again found the back of the net, and this one stood – Meite turning inside Dickie before beating Dieng from inside the box.
The Royals were really on top at this stage, and Joao should have given them the lead when he got in behind the R’s defence, but after rounding Dieng he managed to put his shot wide.
On 65 minutes, Warburton made a double change as he looked to turn the tide of the second period, with Willock and Ball coming on for Austin and Chair.
The game remained open with both sides clearly only interested in taking maximum points from the fixture.
With Reading’s constant attacking, much of QPR’s best chances seemed to be coming on the break, although Willock had a low drive which deflected wide on 77 minutes.
With ten minutes remaining, another great burst down the left by Wallace opened Reading up, and his pullback found Johansen but his low shot was smothered by Cabral.
The visitors were certainly stronger in the final quarter of the match, and on 83 minutes they again went close when Dickie’s centre was met by the head of Ball, but his effort bounced wide.
The pressure continued from Rangers and just two minutes later, Willock was this time on the right side, and he stood the ball up to the far post for Wallace, but his downward header was easily gathered by the Reading stopper.
On 86 minutes, Ball cut in and saw his low effort deflected wide while Johansen had a shot from distance in injury time, but their search for a late winner proved to be in vain.
The R’s signed off for the international break with a solid run which has seen them pick up ten points from their last five fixtures.
After a well-earned rest, their league campaign will resume at home to Coventry on Good Friday.