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Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Reading | Capital One Cup match report

26th September 2012

At first glance Pavel Pogrebnyak can appear a brute of a forward, all muscular presence and upper body strength to batter opponents into submission. Yet Queens Park Rangers, a club so craving a victory over top-flight opposition, have now become the latest to fall foul of his incongruously delicate touch.

The home side were still coming to terms with surrendering a lead late on here when Jay Tabb and Noel Hunt combined in the penalty area and the Russian back-healed the Irishman’s pass across the six-yard box subtly, almost casually, beyond Júlio César. It was a goal to deflate the locals, their misery sustained even after Pogrebnyak’s penalty was saved in stoppage time. Perhaps he should have clipped that nonchalantly, too. Regardless, Reading had a victory to savour.

These clubs loiter below the cut-off in the fledgling Premier League table without a win between them, a reality that can render occasions and competitions such as this an unwanted distraction. Yet the respective managers, while embracing the inevitable changes, still recognised an opportunity to kick-start their campaigns with the line-ups boasting quality and the football ambitiously upbeat. Goals were traded in the opening quarter, QPR given no time in which to bask in the lead their early pressure had merited. The defensive frailties on show explained a lot but merely added to the entertainment.

The hosts had more reason to wonder why they had not retired at the interval ahead, Esteban Granero’s classy distribution from central midfield having unnerved his markers while the home supporters were relishing Junior Hoilett’s regular scuttles into enemy territory. The Canadian drifted across QPR’s front line, dragging Reading players out of position, and duly conjured an impressive first goal for his new club. There were quick feet to befuddle Adrian Mariappa and Sam Cummings, and a crisp finish across Alex McCarthy into the far corner.

At the time it had felt like that might prelude a thrashing, though Reading have their own bite. Brian McDermott’s had been the more experimental selection, with seven changes from the weekend, but the riposte was immediate: Nicky Shorey’s free-kick veered into the area and Kaspars Gorkss nodded in. The Latvian played 124 games for QPR earlier in his career and was a member of their team promoted to the top-flight in 2011. His unwillingness to celebrate was appreciated by the home support.

The inability to maintain defensive discipline at set-plays, even with the imposing Stéphane Mbia debuting in the heart of their defence after his deadline-day move from Marseille, would have troubled Mark Hughes though, for all that Clint Hill did remarkably well to block a Pogrebnyak attempt, the QPR manager would still have envisaged a recovery was imminent. The home side were the more urgent, McCarthy doing well to deny Djibril Cissé and Jamie Mackie with the Scot also prodding Hoilett’s clever set-up wide of a post.

Yet when Ji-sung Park, liberated by Hoilett’s pass, was also denied by the goalkeeper the anxiety audibly rose, concern borne of the fact QPR had managed to register more than once in a game this season only once, and that against Walsall of League One in the previous round. Their profligacy had felt worrying, frustration welling as Reading hinted at more of a threat on the counter, before Cissé eked out some relief.

The Frenchman was in space some 20 yards from goal when he collected possession from the left and, having briefly contemplated a pass wide to the unmarked Mackie, thrashed in a shot from distance which careered beyond McCarthy.

That should have been enough, only for sloppiness to creep back in with the tie surrendered in the chaos. Shorey’s wonderfully arced free-kick duly soared beyond a static César, kissed the bar and rebounded down and in to draw the visitors level, before Pogrebnyak’s wonderful late touch propelled the Royals into the fourth round.


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