Team: Mautone, Booty, Swales, McPherson, Primus, Bernal, Meaker, Robins, Asaba (Roach), Hodges, Lambert.
Another game, and another defeat that leaves the Royals far adrift at the foot of the first division table. One point from five games, and four league defeats back to back. Tonight just summed up our luck. We weren't as bad as we have been. We really should have won this game, and we would have won it if a few more of the chances we made in the first 45 minutes had been put away.
Reading's highest gate of the season so far packed into Elm Park to watch a fairly entertaining game with some lively moments. And at last: some real effort from the Royals. Reading were by far the better team for the first half and we kept creating chances. The team was pretty much the same again but with Houghton replaced by Meaker called into the team for his usual bit of determination against his old side. Hodges got booed as the teams were announced - everyone mystified with his selection again with Roach on the bench. So Hodges went mad - and played brilliantly.
Ten minutes into the game and Hodges scored his first goal for the Royals. A great ball into the box from Internet Royals sponsored James Lambert found Carl Asaba. Asaba found his luck once again had deserted him and the ball rebounded off the QPR cross bar. But there was the advancing Lee Hodges in the centre of the box to put the ball into the back of the net and give Reading a rare one goal lead. Reading just went bonkers. Inspired by such a great start we made chance after chance, put in the kind of effort we've been lacking and could have increased the lead. The tackles were going in, men were being marked up and QPR were going nowhere.
Hodges typified this sudden half decent football from the Royals, playing some decent passes and then charging through the middle towards goal in an attempt to get his second. You read it here first: Hodges looked good!! Down the other end Primus was solid as anything in the middle of defence but found he couldn't pass. Bernal was on top form. Then back up front Lambert was knocking in some great crosses but to no avail. Sign Robins - he's good! Andy Bernal tried a nice run and shot which was narrowly wide of the right QPR post. Mark Robins found the ball bouncing between his and a QPR defender's head a few times but not managing to get near the goal. Poor Carl Asaba looked like he was never going to score, and hopelessly lost the ball quite a few times. His positioning was doubtful once again but it wasn't all doom and gloom. He did almost score when Hodges tucked his away. Later on Asaba cut in nicely through the left diagonal of the box and made a clever attempt to lob the keeper which was far too easy. Asaba then thought he'd try a run but found the defence in the way.
Mautone didn't have to do much but looked a bit more comfortable despite one quick fumble. He came well for a few high balls into the box.
So half time. 1-0. The home fans are happy at last and demonstrate it by pouring their affections towards Rufus 'The Dog', the QPR number 3.
Second half kicks off with the same team. After a slower start and a few more bookings Reading take control of the game again. Robins links well with Lambert whose 1-2 move doesn't quite come off. Then Robins try's again with Asaba. Once again Asaba runs into the keeper.
Seventy-four minutes gone. Everythings looking great; we're playing some OK football, we're a goal up, we're creating chances, QPR aren't threatening, the birds are singing and the err... floodlights are shining. We're all set to soar up to 17th place in the table. Oh, hang on. QPR have put the ball in the net. Twice. And poor old Stevey Swales must want to jump off a very tall building. Firstly Swales was beaten by a run down the right. The cross came in and there was the header in the middle from short-arse John Spencer just a few yards from goal. Then about 60 seconds later the ball is played across the outside edge of the box from the left, the ball is hit, Mautone dives, Swales is in the way. The shot that was probably going wide flies into the opposite corner, off Swales' leg, with Mautone going the other way. 1-2 to the red and black hoops.
Bernal tries another decent long range effort which needs a save but we know we're sunk. In the dying moments QPR almost make it 1-3 but Mautone makes a blinding save to his left.
So a very, very dissapointing result which leaves Bullivant with a very difficult up-hill battle for the rest of the season. We didn't play too bad but you just can't lose games like this at home and expect not to go down. We didn't take our chances and it was costly. Something serious needs doing up front. I think Asaba could be good but we can't wait half the season until he produces what he can. Give Roach a full game - 15 minutes at the end is just not enough. It hard to see just what to do to turn things around.