No home comfort for lifeless Rangers – Report
Monday, 17th Oct 2016 14:57 by Jordan Foster
QPR's winless run at home continued after Danny Williams gave his Reading side a share of the spoils in what was another disappointing performance at Loftus Road. Jordan Foster was there for LFW.
Pawel Wszolek opened the scoring for the hosts after being found cleverly by youngster Olamide Shodipo early in the first half in what was their first meaningful attack of the afternoon.
But Reading replied soon after, the impressive Williams finishing from close range after poor defending from the home side.
Despite QPR ending the game with Sebastian Polter, Idrissa Sylla, Tjaronn Chery and Conor Washington all on the pitch it was the visitors, who had lost just once in nine Championship games, who pushed for a winner in the second half. Goalkeeper Alex Smithies denied Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens late on and his performance in general was a rare bright spark in what was a dreary afternoon in W12.
Manager Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink rewarded Shodipo for his lively cameo against Fulham with a start on the left-hand side. Karl Henry and Ariel Borysiuk sat in front of a back four made up of James Perch, Nedum Onouha, Grant Hall and Joel Lynch. Polter operated as the lone striker being supported by Wzsolek, Chery and Shodipo as Rangers lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1.
Reading some of the comments across social media, many are getting to the end of their tether with some of the displays that have been served up recently but it doesn't matter who the manager is, if players don't carry out instructions the manager becomes redundant.
Reading looked to play a fluid passing game, utilising the pace they had in wide areas and athleticism through the middle. Veteran forward Yann Kermorgant was an aerial threat all game but they had their real success in central midfield. George Evans started his footballing career as a defender at Manchester City, like many young players enjoyed a number of fruitful loan spells in the lower leagues before making a permanent switch to Reading in January of this year. Partnered alongside the 21-year-old was industrious Williams who on a number of occasions has impressed with his displays. Hasselbaink had been animated on the touchline in the first ten minutes, appealing for one of Polter or Chery to drop in and cover Evans.
For Reading's first few attempts at playing the ball out, Joey van den Berg look bewildered as QPR pressed high and cut the passing lanes into Evans. The high pressing game proved fruitful when Borysiuk made one of a number of well time tackles on John Swift and the ball ricocheted up into the air landing at the feet of Shodipo who drove at the Reading defence. On what was QPR's first real attack the youngster was able to hook the ball over the top of the defence to Polish winger Wzsolek who had made a clever run and finished well under Ali Al-Habsi.
For the opening quarter of an hour, QPR looked secure if not overly dangerous in possession, whilst ball-playing midfielder's Swift and Beerens struggled to get into the game. And then it seemed to fall away.
Jaap Stam made some subtle tactical adjustments on a rare visit to the sideline. He urged his defenders to start going long and bypassing the midfield and the pressing game that had worked so well for the hosts early on. The difference allowed Reading to get a foothold in the game, as the second-ball fell to his players further up the pitch in more dangerous areas. As they did this, Evans' influence grew. His first 40 yard pass out to the left was beautiful, one touch out of his feet and then a great diagonal pass deep into the Rangers half.
That should have been a warning for Rangers to start getting tighter around the midfielder, but unfortunately it wasn't heeded. Hasselbaink protested on the side about being tighter around Evans but it fell on deaf ears.
Minutes later, he did the exact same, this time to the other flank. Another crisp ping to McCleary who took it in his stride, QPR yet again at sixes and sevens. The winger had the freedom of west London to fake to cross before coming back inside to deliver a pin point delivery to the far post. Grant Hall, who was replaced by Steven Caulker soon after due to an injury, was caught ball watching along while Joel Lynch was sucked in by Kermongant and failed to check his shoulder for any danger. If he had, he may have seen Danny Williams sneaking in at the far post to side-foot a simple finish past Smithies.
Williams put in the type of performance that every Rangers fan has been longing for from their midfield. The American was aggressive, showed a great range of passing, covered every blade of grass and was disciplined. In truth, Henry and Borysiuk didn't really know how to deal with him and it was another display of gulf in class with our midfield and those players towards the top of the division. When was the last time you saw a QPR midfielder start a move with a 40-yard pass and his midfield colleague finish the move in the penalty box?
When the visitors went long, the QPR back four seemed to not know whether to stick or twist and often got caught in limbo between the two. This left Smithies to continually act as sweeper time and time again as the likes of Bereens and McCleary looked to get in behind through the QPR full backs.
Although both fullbacks put in below average performances, this can be forgiven. It was Perch's first game back from knee ligament damage and Lynch is a natural centre-half. He did of course play for Nottingham Forest at full-back, but with the game as it is now and more importantly Lynch being the size he is, he's no more than a stop-gap.
Just like in the Fulham game, Lynch was hesitant to go out and close his man down through the fear of being isolate with the winger - he'd rather remain compact.
Despite trying to exert themselves both teams fail to create any further chances late in the first-half as the game lumbered towards half time.
Hasselbaink went for broke soon after the break, replacing Shodipo with Washington. In truth, he couldn't have been any more 'positive' with his changes
The team's shape of 4-2-3-1 often is a talking point online, but the constant calls for 4-4-2 are tiresome. QPR just don't have the players to play it, in addition the fluidity of 4-2-3-1 into 4-5-1 out of possession stops you getting over run.
From goalkicks, both centre-half split into the wide positions, Henry drops deep to collect from short or cover the forward and the full backs push on into the other half. The wingers occupy space around the lone striker to pick up any knock downs and create an overload.
At one point midway through the second half QPR had every player bar Caulker, Onouha and Henry in the Reading half from a goal kick and three strikers on the pitch.
It would be hard for JFH to be any more positive, but admittedly as proven yesterday something isn't quite right.
Reading continued to push and Beerens literally walked around a flat footed Henry before firing a shot straight at Smithies. The former Huddersfield stopper was called into action again shortly after, this time keeping out both McCleary and Kermogant who should have done better from close range.
McCleary broke again down the right-hand side as QPR's lack of shape left them defensively frail. Not for the first time Smithies was quick off his line to produce another save as the hosts continued to make the game harder than it needed to be.
Polter nodded wide from a Chery corner on what was a rare Rangers attack in the second half, the German who has gone from being as popular as Tommy Williams post play-off final to cult hero status around Shepherd's Bush put in another industrious display.
He was a constant thorn in the side to both van den Berg and Liam Moore without really affecting the play much. Physical and willing, but lacking in a lot of areas – he's still only scored three goals this season.
Sylla would also come on for goalscorer Wzsolek as QPR in theory looked to nick that all important second goal.
In truth, the game fell apart little after the hour mark, there was little or no shape being displayed by the home side and even when they did manage to have possession there was no clue how to supply the forward line.
It just left Reading piling on the pressure and being allowed to play the type of football that has seen them sit top of the possession league in the Championship.
It was almost like JFH through caution to the wind, he's been criticised in recent weeks for his lack of strikers and defensive set up. Had his side at least stuck to their shape whilst changing the personnel they may have had more luck.
As it happened, he will be perceived as being even more clueless than he was prior to kick off. He heard the cry for strikers and he thought "I'll give you strikers!". Yet in doing so removed any real supply to them leaving four forwards being 30 yards away from the defensive midfielders.
The final whistle was met with jeers from the crowd, not surprising all things considered however one would have to question how long QPR can go on like this.
Pressure is mounting around Hasselbaink, the natives are restless.
QPR: Smithies 7; Perch 5, Onuoha 5, Hall 6 (Caulker 35,5) Lynch 5; Henry 5, Borysiuk 6; Shodipo 5 (Washington 53,6), Chery 5, Wzsolek 6 (Sylla 73, 5) ; Polter 6
Subs not used: Ingam, Gladwin, Hamalainen, Luongo
Goals: Wzsolek 11 (assisted Shodipo)
Bookings: Lynch 56 (foul)
Reading: Al-Habsi 6; Blackett 5 (Obita 66, 6), van den Berg 6, Moore 6, Gunter 6; Evans 7, Williams 8; McCleary 7 (Harriot 84, 6), Swift 7, Beerens 7, Kermogant 7
Subs not used: Samuel, Gravenberch, Watson, Jaakkola, Kelly
Goals: Williams 21 (assisted McCleary)
Bookings: van den Berg 49 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Alex Smithies 7 Another decent display by the keeper who kept the visitors at bay with a number of impressive stops. Not perfect by any means, some Rob Green-esque kicking and a nasty habit of palming a lot of nice saves into the six-yard box, but did more than most to prevent a QPR defeat here.
Referee – Steve Martin 6 A bit pedantic in truth, especially with the booking of van den Berg but didn't have a lot to referee.
Attendance – 15,048 (1,200 Reading approx) The usual muffled noise coming from Q Block but despite the #MakeSomeNoise campaign it was another dull and lifeless crowd. However, as the piece before this so eloquently put it earlier this week if you continue to play boring, unattractive football you can't attack the fans for not singing and dancing – especially when they have spent the best part of £50 on a match ticket and food.
The Twitter @JordanJFoster
Pictures – Action Images
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