Reading 1-1 QPR: Royals’ play-off hopes suffer setback

Reading v Queens Park Rangers

Reading had to settle for just a point as their hopes to finish in the Championship play-offs took another blow. 

Yakou Meite levelled early in the second-half after Lyndon Dykes broke his long scoring drought to put Queens Park Rangers ahead on the stroke of half-time.

The Royals fought to find a winner as Ovie Ejaria created several superb chances.

However, QPR also had their fair share of chances near the end as Rafael Carbal was forced into a superb save to keep out Stefan Johansen.

Reading move a point closer to fifth-placed Barnsley after they suffered a surprise defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday and now move within two points of the Tykes.

After dropping more points, Reading are now only three points ahead of Bournemouth who now have a game in hand to play.

Reading have collected a disappointing return of two points from their last three matches with just eight matches to play after the international break.

Veljko Paunović was forced into changes as both Tom McIntyre and Andy Yiadom missed out on the squad through injury.

However, there was some good news on the injury front too as Andy Rinomhota and Ovie Ejaira both returned to the starting line-up, while Lewis Gibson came into the back four in place of Yiadom. 

Meanwhile, former Reading academy graduate Rob Dickie, who made one senior appearnce for the Royals, lined-up for QPR.

Reading made a bright start and won two corners in the opening minutes when a cross was headed out only as far as Andy Rinomhota, but QPR keeper Seny Dieng got fingertips to turn his shot over the bar.

Lucas João had his first sight of goal when he took a perfect first touch in the box, feigned to shoot to work space for a better angle, but Dickie got across to make a vital block from his eventual effort.

QPR had their first attempt when they worked a corner routine to the edge of the box but Charlie Austin scuffed his shot harmlessly wide.

Omar Richards attacked down the left and looked to pick out Joao in the middle and his cross caused uncertainty for the Rangers defence before Yoann Barbet managed to beat the striker to the ball and turn it behind the post for a corner.

Ovie Ejaria was the brightest spark in attack for the Royals throughout the half and played a brilliant ball through the heart of the midfield to pick out Michael Olise in the box, but the Frenchman was tightly marked and had his shot blocked.

QPR worked a chance on the break as Lyndon Dykes knocked the ball down for his strike partner Austin, but the experienced forward snatched at his shot which whistled over the bar.

Reading’s best chance of the half came in the 37th minute through more excellent work from Ejaria who persisted to break into the box on the left flank and pulled the ball back for Olise in the box, but he fired his shot high over the bar. 

Despite having the better of the ball and chances, Reading were made to pay for their lacklustere finishing as QPR took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

QPR unpicked the Royals defence down the left as Ilias Chair played Lee Wallace in down the left and he squared the ball for Dykes who finished from close range.

The QPR striker had been on a barren run having not scored since November, but finally ended his drought to five Rangers a half-time lead.

The Royals thought they had salvaged an equaliser in the 55th minute through their captain when Liam Moore had the ball in the net, only to be flagged for offside.

More superb skill from Ejaria saw him tee the ball up for Méïté, his shot was parried out by Dieng into the path of Moore who stabbed home from close range only to be denied by the flag. 

But just two minutes later, the Royals were level.

Méïté broke behind the QPR defence, held off the challenge of Dickie as he turned onto his right foot and squeezed the ball through the legs of Dieng to equalise.

Ejaria split open the Rangers defence again with a pass to find the run of João, he took the ball past the keeper but couldn’t finish on his left foot as he hit his shot wide from a narrow angle.

Reading continued to threaten as they searched for a goal to take them in front and Tom Holmes came inches away from doing that when his shot from 20 yards flew past the post after a surging run from João to set him up.

Paunović made a double change with just over 10 minutes left as George Pușcaș and Alfa Semedo replaced João and Olise.

Rafael Cabral made a crucial save to keep the game level as he reacted to keep out Stefan Johansen after Wallace pulled the ball back for him to hit a powerful strike.

The visitors went close again just moments later as a cross into the box found Dominic Ball who glanced a header just wide of the post.

QPR looked the more likely to snatch a winner in the final 10 minutes as the chances dried up for the Royals, but the points were eventually shared.

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