A SUPERB 25-yard strike from John Swift ensured that Reading earned back-to-back wins in the Championship with his second half goal enough to take the points against Queens Park Rangers.
The Royals move up to 15th as a result of the win with Swift’s 52nd minute wonder strike ending the year in style in Reading’s final game of the decade at the Madejski Stadium.
John Swift returned to the starting line-up to give a boost to Mark Bowen’s side after a decent cameo appearance in the Royals 3-0 win over Derby County last weekend.
The Royals started the game brightly with the majority of possession as Swift showed his importance to the side with some neat footwork on the edge of the box as Reading probed to find the opener.
The first big chance of the game came after eight minutes as a brilliant ball sprayed out wide by Charlie Adam found Chris Gunter who crossed low for Ovie Ejaria as his shot was parried out by goalkeeper Joe Lumley, before the QPR goalkeeper kept out Swift’s long ranged rebound.
Tyler Blackett then delivered a testing cross with pace into the box which was well intercepted by Toni Leistner to turn the ball behind for a corner with a host of Reading bodies waiting in the middle for a tap in.
Gunter ventured forward on the right wing and played a quick give and go with Lucas Joao before he cut onto his left foot and fired an optimistic effort sailing over the bar.
QPR had their first shot of the game 20 minutes into the contest as Eberechi Eze took aim on the left with a 30-yard free kick which missed the target by some distance.
The Royals continued to look the more likely as another Adam long ball through the middle found Joao who chose to feed Swift instead of going for goal but his cross was easily caught by Lumley as Reading squandered a good opportunity to punish their opponents.
The visitors began to play their way into the half as Jordan Hugill flicked a header wide of the Rafael’s goal.
Rangers then had the ball in the net in the 33rd minute, but were denied by the offside flag. Bright Osayi-Samuel drilled a pacy cross into the box which was converted by the onrushing Hugill, but his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
The half came to a close with Eze having a half-hearted appeal for a penalty turned down after a strong run through the midfield before Adam’s in-swinging cross just evaded Yakou Meite in the middle.
Reading took the lead in the 52nd minute after a stunning strike from Swift. The midfielder was given time to take a touch before he rifled the ball on the half volley beyond Lumley’s reach into the top left hand corner from 25 yards to break the deadlock.
QPR’s danger man Eze looked to ignite an attack with a neat flick but a cross was well over-hit as the chance came to nothing with the Reading fans in strong voice after Swift’s stunner.
Eze almost unlocked the Reading defence moments after Joao came close to doubling Reading’s lead. The Rangers midfielder spun beautifully in the box before poking an effort goal wards which was heroically blocked off the line by Michael Morrison to keep the lead intact.
The game was quickly becoming an end-to-end spectacle as Lumley make a smart save low down to his left to parry away Joao’s first timed effort.
Bowen made his first chance of the evening in the 75th minute as Adam came off to a rapturous round of applause to be replaced by Andy Rinomhota.
QPR came agonisingly close to finding a leveller as Ilias Chair’s shot cannoned back off the bar before Rafael reacted superbly from the rebound to keep out Hugill.
Two late substitutions saw Michael Olise and Lucas Boye replace Swift and Ejaria.
The Royals were made to work for the win as Rafael made another unbelievable save as he flew to the back post to save to block Hugill’s close range effort.
Gunter then used his defensive experience to slide in and made a crucial tackle up against Eze late in the game as Reading held on for all three points in an entertaining game to make it two wins on the bounce.
The busy fixture schedule continues with two away trips as Bowen’s side travel to promotion pushing Preston North End in two days time before an away game to Fulham on New Year’s Day.
Reading: Rafael, Gunter, Morrison, Moore (c), Blackett, Pele, Adam, Swift, Ejaria, Meite, Joao.
Subs: Walker, Miazga, Rinomhota, Obita, Loader, Boye, Olise.
QPR: Lumley, Kane, Hall, Leistner, Manning, Amos, Cameron, Pugh, Eze, Osayi-Samuel, Hugill
Subs: Barnes, Wallace, Smith, Scowen, Ball, Chair, Wells.
Goals: Swift 52′