THE battle of the R`s or the battle of the hoops, call it what you will as Rangers travel to the Madejski Stadium this weekend.
Following the thoroughly disappointing away draw with Swansea City in which the R`s only tested makeshift custodian Alan Tate once in over 70 minutes of football, they travel in trepidation to the royal county of Berkshire.
In stark contrast to the R`s decent start appearing to run out of steam, the Royals can boast an excellent recent record, with a plethora of goals at the fore-front of their success.
Reading have managed to fire themselves into third in the Championship, four points behind leaders Birmingham City, owing much to the return to form of Irish international Kevin Doyle.
Rangers in recent history have come away from the Madejski with a sinking feeling, it will take a significant improvement in performance if that statistic is to change this weekend.
View From The Bench
R`s boss Iain Dowie was far from happy at Rangers poor away performance at the Liberty Stadium:
‘We didn’t play well, we didn’t pass the ball well or retain it well enough.” Dowie told QPR.co.uk
‘We pride ourselves on our ball retention but that just didn’t happen tonight. The one team you don’t want to give the ball to is a team like Swansea. They played well; Roberto (Martinez) has done a great job here.’
The major talking incident happened just over halfway through the first half, when Martin Rowlands went in for a 50/50 challenge with Swansea stopper Dorus De Vries, which saw the keeper stretchered off:
‘Martin’s not that kind of player. The ball was there to be won but unfortunately he’s caught him. We hope he makes a speedy recovery and wish him all the best.’
‘They’ve had an outfield player playing in goal and we haven’t tested him at all and that is not good enough,’ Dowie added
‘For 70 minutes he’s not done anything. But then we couldn’t test him without the ball and Swansea moved it about well and made it difficult for us to get it back when we lost it.’
‘We’ve come away with a point and I’m pleased that we have that at least. But when we face Reading on Saturday, we have to play much, much better.’
Reading boss Steve Coppell admitted his side were there own worst enemy in their slender win over Doncaster Rovers:
‘We made it difficult for ourselves.’ Coppell admitted to ReadingFC.co.uk
‘Before the game the object is to get three points. In an ideal world you feel as though you’ve deserved them and you play well,’ the Royals boss explained.
‘Tonight I felt that we had the opportunities to deserve three points, but I don’t feel we played fluently well.’
‘I think in the second half we created problems for ourselves with some poor play, bordering on the naive.
‘The game really was tight throughout and credit to Doncaster for that – they made it very, very tough for us.
‘Very, very dilligent, defensively they kept disciplined. And considering the changes they’ve had recently it was a real hard fought match for us.’
‘We have to be more ruthless, that bit more destructive in front of goal.’ Coppell continued,
‘In creation tonight I felt we dallied too long on the ball, instead of passing and moving.
‘Defensively we were lax, although their goal came from the free kick that wasn’t.
‘There were times when we could have cleared the ball from the danger zone and we tried to play too much.
‘We were a little bit arrogant I suppose. Too relaxed. And we put ourselves under pressure.’
Reading Team News:
Marek Matejovksy and Michael Duberry could be available for selection on Saturday evening after stepping up their recovery from an ankle and calf injuries respectively.
The Royals however will be behind long-term absentees Sam Sodje and Graham Murty who have knee and calf injuries respectively.
In Kevin Doyle the Royals have a man possessed, as the Irish international has bagged nine goals this season, ably accompanied by brothers Noel and Stephen Hunt, the latter formerly of Reading.
If Rangers are to score they will have to break the formidable partnership of Ivar Ingimarsson and Andre Bikey with industrious wingers Stephen Hunt and Jimmy Kebe supplying a potent forward line.
Player to watch: Kevin Doyle
Vital QPR`s Nik believes that Irish international striker Kevin Doyle will be Reading`s one to watch at the Madjeski Stadium on Saturday.
To view his assement of the forward Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Rangers will be without ever present full back Damien Delaney through suspension, so Mikele Leigertwood looks set to deputise with no other recognised left sided defenders in the side.
Once again Damiano Tommasi could be pushing for a place on the bench. The former Italian international has come through three full reserve fixtures – one of them against this weekend`s opponents.
Iain Dowie could be set to ring the changes, with a possible start for Matthew Connolly over Peter Ramage, while there could also be a change in formation after an unadventurous 4-5-1 gave Rangers little to nothing attacking threat in Swansea.
If Dowie does revert to two forwards Angelo Balanta may get the nod, with Samuel Di Carmine in close attention.
Player to watch: Damion Stewart
Rangers` free-scoring central defender has proven himself one of the R`s most potent goal-scoring threats scoring three goals in all competitions this season.
Two goals in the Carling Cup have helped propel Rangers to a fourth round tie away at Manchester United, most notably the solitary goal away to Aston Villa in Rangers giant-killing exploits.
Whilst proving formidable opposition in forward areas, Damion has also instilled a much needed solidity in a back-line that continually faltered at the beginning of the campaign.
With Fitz Hall and Kaspars Gorkss seemingly first choice at the start of the campaign, it seemed that the Jamaican international was set to sit out on the periphery, but a string of impressive displays have forced Damion into the reckoning, and he has now made himself un-droppable at the heart of the defence.
Damion has made 94 league appearances for Rangers since joining from Harbour View in his native Jamaica. The defender has bagged three goals this season alone as he proves formidable in both boxes.
Reading: Last 5 Games: W W W L W
QPR: Last 5 Games: L D L W D
The R`s have a relatively poor away record dating back considerably – this calendar year alone Rangers have won only two away games in the Championship. Only one win in the last six games will certainly not be enough to satisfy lofty expectations.
By comparison Reading are seeking to prove that the away defeat to Preston was a blip rather than a trend, winning five of the last seven fixtures, with notable spankings over Sheffield Wednesday (6-0) and Swansea City (4-0) coming at the Madejski. That said, the Royals have conceded four goals in their last three games.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Sunday 30th April 2006 – Madejski Stadium
Coca Cola Championship
Reading 2 (Kitson 40, Murty 84pen)
QPR 1(Furlong 72)
Rangers Team: Paul Jones (Jake Cole 46), Marcus Bignot, Danny Shittu, Georges Santos, Mauro Milanese, Gareth Ainsworth, Lee Cook, Stefan Bailey (Ray Jones 68), Richard Langley, Scott Donnelly, Paul Furlong.
See also: One Day In History – Reading 1997-98.
Referee– Mr C Foy
Assistants – Mr D Bryan & Mr M Yerby
Fourth official – Mr R Beeby
Chris Foy from Merseyside will referee Rangers fixture tomorrow evening against Reading.
To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
One of Rangers toughest game to date. If QPR emulate the performance they gave midweek they will struggle to get anything from the game at all. That said the defensive performance has improved and while they don`t concede it will be a tight affair; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Who– Birmingham City
Where– Loftus Road, London
When– Tuesday 28th October: 8:00pm.