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Reading 0-1 QPR: Onuoha strikes late as Warnock bows out with victory

PUBLISHED: 01:02 04 December 2015 | UPDATED: 01:38 04 December 2015

Sandro (left) put in an excellent performance as QPR secured a hard-fought win at Reading

Sandro (left) put in an excellent performance as QPR secured a hard-fought win at Reading

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Nedum Onuoha’s stoppage time header earned QPR a second straight league win on Thursday night at Reading in what was Neil Warnock’s final game in charge of the Championship side before Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink takes over.

Hasselbaink will assume control of first-team duties on Friday, with caretaker boss Warnock and his assistant Kevin Blackwell now set to depart the club after victory at the Madejski Stadium.

Warnock said after the game: “It’s been a difficult 24 hours because I didn’t expect it to be the last game. I asked the players to give everything they’ve got and they did.

“I mean look at Sandro, he had a great game – he has never run like that before. It was emotional, the fans chanting my name. I have a special relationship with this club.

“I wanted to try and win the game with it being my last. We made substitutions to try and win and when you win right at the end, it doesn’t get much better that.”

Although it was an emotional night for Warnock, he believes QPR can win promotion under Hasselbaink. He added: “There is no reason why we don’t get in the play-offs and go up. “It’s a wide-open league, Jimmy will find it difficult but he can be successful. He needs to put his stamp on it and relish it.”

Reading had chances to win the game but failed to really test Rob Green and they were made to pay when Onuoha headed home Alejandro Faurlin’s corner but the Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi should really have done better.

The win moves QPR up to 11th place, only two points outside the play-off places, while Reading missed the opportunity to climb into the top six.

The Reading chairman, Sir John Madejski, who was celebrating his 25th anniversary in charge of the club, could only watch on in frustration as the Royals failed to register a shot on target, despite carving out numerous opportunities.

The first half was a quiet affair, with QPR dominating the opening spell of possession, but it was Reading who had the best of the chances. The home side were awarded two free-kicks in promising positions within five minutes of each other but despite the midfielder Oliver Norwood’s inch-perfect delivery, no-one could get on the end of them.

QPR’s’ best attempt came from the Canadian winger Junior Hoilett after he broke through Reading’s defence but he could only fire straight at Al-Habsi.

Former Blackpool winger Matty Phillips was a consistent threat for QPR after the break, linking well with Hoilett on the wing and causing the Reading defence headaches with his direct approach.

The home side had a clear chance to go ahead just before the hour mark when a corner found the head of their captain, Michael Hector, but he could not keep the ball down and it sailed narrowly over the bar.

Moments later Reading came within an inch of taking the lead when a superb free-kick from Nick Blackman had Green beaten but the ball came back off the crossbar.

Reading’s wastefulness was to prove costly when QPR went ahead with only a minute left on the clock. Faurlin sent a dangerous corner into the box and Onuoha met it at the far post with a downward header that Al-Habsi fumbled into the net.

Boos echoed around the ground at the final whistle as Reading’s poor run was extended to only one win in eight, with the Rs now firmly back on track under Warnock’s guidance, with Hasselbaink hoping to continue that run in his first game in charge of the club against Burnley next Saturday.

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