Warnock’s Reading the game perfectly
NEIL Warnock revealed that last season’s defeat at Reading had prompted his bold decision to persevere minus a defender after Bradley Orr’s dismissal on Saturday.
Orr received a straight red card after his two-footed challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu just before half-time, but Warnock refused to sacrifice an attacking player in favour of shoring up the back line.
Instead, the QPR boss dispatched Jamie Mackie to fill Orr’s position at right-back – and the tactic paid off as Rangers’ 10 men dominated the second half to secure their first win in five games.
“I learnt from Reading away last year, when we were down to 10 men,” said Warnock. “I took a striker off and went a bit negative and we ended up losing in the last minute.
“This time I kept people like [Jamie] Mackie and [Adel] Taarabt on and we went at them. With 10 men we were superb, you wouldn’t have thought we were 10 and I feel very proud when I’m manager of a team performing like that.
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“I can see why the referee sent Bradley off, but I don’t think he meant it and it wasn’t a break-your-leg job. If anything, it galvanised us and at half-time we were talking about ‘let’s not sit back, let’s go and get further goals’.”
Mackie’s performance certainly caught the eye, but the key to the Rs’ success was the faultless display of Alejandro Faurlin who, alongside Shaun Derry in midfield, stifled Reading and pulled the strings throughout.
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It was Faurlin who almost opened the scoring in the seventh minute as his left-foot drive crashed down off the underside of the crossbar and fell to Rob Hulse, but the centre-forward connected horribly with what looked an easy tap-in.
Hulse was unlucky with a header from Orr’s cross that Adam Federici dived to palm away and again, soon afterwards, when Mackie’s pull-back seemed to get stuck under his feet.
Predictably, though, the goal arrived in the 27th minute after a jinking run from Taarabt, who spurned one opportunity to take a tumble and was then felled by a genuine foul from Matthew Mills.
Taarabt stepped up to dink the resulting penalty cheekily over Federici – but, yet again, escaped punishment for making a meal of another Mills challenge soon afterwards.
Instead of booking Rangers’ skilful, but outrageously indulged captain, referee Steve Tanner showed Derry the yellow card for arguing on Taarabt’s behalf – rapidly followed by a red for Orr.
Reading never looked likely to take advantage and the home side doubled their lead on the hour when Mackie broke and unselfishly set up Hulse, who could not finish, but Faurlin gobbled up the loose ball and drove it into the net.
Mackie then pounced on Jobi McAnuff’s mis-hit ball and rounded Federici, but Andy Griffin got back to tidy up – and Shane Long suddenly reignited the Royals’ hopes with a 30-yarder that whistled past Paddy Kenny.
But QPR restored the status quo just three minutes later as Faurlin was tripped on the edge of the box and Federici clawed away Taarabt’s curling free-kick, only for Tommy Smith to steer in the rebound and claim a deserved first goal for the club.
Reading could have ensured a tense climax in the closing minutes, but Simon Church bundled over from close range and Kenny then produced a superb low stop to deny Brian Howard.