Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - League Cup


Reading: Gorkss (16 mins), Shorey (76 mins), Pogrebniak (81 mins)
QPR: Hoilett (14 mins), Cisse (71 mins)

Finally, Reading beat a Premier League team this season. Ok, it was the Third Round of the Capital One Cup but when you've had as trying a start to the season as we have had then you cling to any branch. Small acorns and that.

This was an excellent game of football and a very pleasing win against a club which can certainly claim to be no bigger or better than Reading but who themselves have a hefty playing budget. Players such as Cisse, Park, Onuoha and Cesar do not come cheap and they certainly won't play for peanuts. You have to question exactly how QPR manage to balance the books given the modest crowds they attract. Football has become such a self-important industry in the past 20 years that you wonder whether lessons are ever really learned from the example of financial basket case clubs such as Portsmouth who have spent what they cannot possibly afford.

That expensive class told in the early stages of this game. QPR dominated the early proceedings and with an unfamiliar centre-half partnership of Gorkss and Mariappa chosen for this tie, Reading were once more on the back foot as we have seen far too often of late. Their quick, intricate passing finally saw an opportunity open up for the impressive Hoilett, who skipped past a woeful attempt at a tackle from the recalled Cummings and twisted back across a bemused Mariappa before arrowing a fine effort into the far corner. 1,500 Reading supporters behind that goal sunk into their seats at that familiar sinking feeling. Once again we were looking some way second best but this time at least that feeling didn't last long.

Set pieces will be so important for Reading this season. We have little creativity in the middle of the park but with the height and power we have we should be making the most of freekick and corner opportunities. It has to be said that the quality of Ian Harte's delivery in the opening weeks of the season has been mediocre but the recall of Nicky Shorey is a promising alternative and it was from a left flank freekick barely two minutes after the opening goal which brought the equaliser. Shorey's delivery was delicious and Gorkss gobbled the chance up, heading past Brazilian international Cesar. This was a good moment for Gorkss, scoring against the club with whom he also won a Championship medal but who binned him off shortly after their arrival in the top flight. On the evidence of the early weeks of this season and again taking into account another uncertain showing last night, you begin to understand why they did.

Two early goals really set this tie off and the two sides exchanged counter attacks. It is fair to say that QPR had the more threatening opportunities but these mainly came about as a result of typically sloppy Reading possession. Karacan and the forgotten man Tabb were putting in their usual midfield mileage but QPR certainly looked more tidy on the ball with Hoilett looking particularly threatening. What we did have however was more urgency and strength up front. Noel Hunt may show more brawn than brain in a footballing sense, but he did seem to link up better with Pogrebnyak than Le Fondre has done thus far and the Pog grew into the game as it drew on, holding the ball up well and providing us at long last with a very real goalscoring threat during the second half of this game. A break from Robson Kanu and a measured ball into the box was met by a Pogrebnyak snap-shot which deflected wide off the thigh of Clint Hill before Noel Hunt did well under pressure to get the ball across to our number 7 to nudge home, only for referee East to inexplicably give a foul against us.

Reading were playing with real purpose now and it was a blow to concede with twenty minutes remaining. Gorkss made a desperately poor attempt at a clearance which was charged down and the rebound landed at the feet of Cisse. In acres of space, he had time to control the ball dribble in field and smash an outstanding effort past McCarthy. It was an awesome finish and a chilling reminder of what we are up against these days, even against clubs such as QPR. The backpedalling nature of our defending for the goal is worthy of note as it is a continued concern; if we are looking like we will concede 2 or 3 in every single game then we are simply going to struggle to take enough points to stay up.

But on the night, Reading had enough purpose and momentum to win this game. Again they were not behind for long, again it was a setpiece. Shorey's 25 yard effort was whipped and it dipped in via the underside of the crossbar. Then barely 5 minutes later and with Reading on the charge, Tabb got to the byline and his pull back missed HRK but was expertly rolled past Cesar by the heel of Pogrebnyak, an exquisite finish. Pogrebnyak really was QPR's achilles heel in these closing stages; he was pulled down by Mbia who was unable to muscle Pog off the ball legitimately and although he protested his innocence in an animated fashion he was truly done all ends up. Pog's spot kick was saved well by Cesar but enough time was wasted for Reading to see the game out, albeit with the help of a last-gasp block by substitute Morrison.

Last season Reading returned a similarly lowly points tally by the end of September and went on to do pretty nicely, thank you. Cup competitions have also provided a spark of form for McDermott's teams in the past. Let us hope that we can now kick on and do this in the Premier League.
Neil Maskell

This League Cup game took place 2920 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.