Sam Baldock strike earns Reading a draw at QPR
QPR and Reading played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as the hosts stayed fifth in the Sky Bet Championship.
The R’s came into the game having scored seven goals in their past two encounters and got off the mark after 29 minutes when Nahki Wells slammed home from just outside the box following good work from man of the moment Ebere Eze.
Reading hit back instantly when Ovie Ejaria’s sumptuous throughball found George Puscas and the former Inter Milan forward made no mistake when one-on-one with Liam Kelly.
Jordan Hugill popped up with his seventh league strike of the campaign 13 minutes after the restart before Sam Baldock tucked in from virtually on the goalline to take a point back to Berkshire.
The hosts’ matches in the second tier this season had produced more goals than any other side in the division coming into this encounter, but in the opening stages this game looked like it would buck the trend.
Indeed it was the struggling visitors, buoyed by a last-gasp win over Preston at the weekend in Mark Bowen’s first game in charge, who seemed more likely to break the deadlock.
First, Baldock’s close-range strike stung the palms of Kelly, before the impressive Ejaria weaved past a couple of challenges before seeing QPR’s shot-stopper tip his arrowed effort around the post.
However, Mark Warburton’s men did get their noses in front just before the half-hour mark.
Eze picked up the ball 30 yards out and slipped a neat ball into the path of Nahki Wells, with QPR’s top scorer shifting the ball onto his right foot before burying his effort past Cabral.
No sooner had the dust settled then Reading were level.
Ejaria outmuscled Eze and whipped a stunning 50-yard pass perfectly into the path of summer signing Puscas, who outsprinted Toni Leistner before steadying himself and slipping the ball past the onrushing Kelly and in off the far post.
Hugill could have opened his account for the evening five minutes before the break, firing over the bar after Leistner’s snapshot had been blocked.
Despite getting back on level terms, Reading were unable to build on that momentum and, as the game moved into the second half, it was QPR that looked more likely to score again.
That was indeed what happened when Hugill won a flick-on from Kelly’s goalkick and after Wells had cushioned the ball back into his path, the West Ham loanee’s firm shot towards goal cannoned off Liam Moore and wrongfooted Cabral.
The Royals did not become disheartened however and conjured up an unexpected equaliser with 16 minutes left. John Swift’s pinpoint crossfield pass found Andy Yiadom, and the right-back’s inviting header into the corridor uncertainty was missed by substitute Garath McCleary before Baldock poked in at the far post.
The former Bristol City marksman then almost netted his second soon afterwards, but ultimately neither side could land the killer blow.