QPR made a mockery of a 17-point inferiority as they dominated third-placed Reading with a 1-0 victory at the Madejski.
Buoyed by two wins on the bounce in the league, Ian Holloway’s men were first to every loose ball, first to every header, first to bother the scoresheet and ultimately the last men standing.
Based on this performance you would think Jaap Stam’s side were in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle but no. However nine points out of nine appears to put to bed any thought of freefalling down the table for now.
Garath McCleary was the first man to get the crowd off their feet when his rasping volley from 20 yards had Alex Smithies back peddling before narrowly going over the bar.
Idrissa Sylla missed a chance after 20 minutes that could have seen him add to his six goals this term but he was off balance and off target after Jamie Mackie’s cross come shot found him unmarked at the back post.
Mackie then took it upon himself to justify the game’s opening exchanges by putting the Championship strugglers ahead. Ryan Manning’s clever disguised pass from the edge of the area found its way to Mackie and he thumped home from no more than two yards.
Stam’s men dominated possession early in the second 45 with little cutting edge to finish off their intricate passing, but their persistence at playing out from the back was beginning to hurt them and QPR’s pressing game kept Smithies untested and their forwards alert.
Pawel Wszolek broadcasted some immense pace down the right as he left two Reading defenders in his wake before cutting the ball back to Sylla, only for the striker to be denied by Ali Al Habsi in the home side’s goal.
Sylla continued to be a nuisance to Reading’s centre backs and had the ball bounced right for him shortly after his second missed chance he could have doubled the visitors lead. Nevertheless, Holloway’s men remained resolute much in the image of their battle-hardened manager who appeared to have nullified Reading’s attacking presence.
Twice in the same of as many minutes a pivotal block by a Reading body prevented first Sylla from capping off his wonderful all-round display with a goal and then a goal mouth scrammble saw another QPR effort trickle wide.
By stander for almost an hour, Smithies was then almost beaten had it not been for the crossbar as Yann Kermorgant came within inches of a thoroughly underserved equaliser for the home side.
The Reading forward then went close again as the home side continued to press. He rose highest from Roy Beeren’s cross but his header back across goal failed to hit the target with Smithies firmly planted and thankful to see his net still intact.
The home side continued to try find the equaliser but their search was in vain as the visitors headed back to west London with three deserved points. Three wins in as many matches, the first time they have achieved that feat this campaign, appears to have allowed a crescent of light to enter a season that looked set for gloom.
QPR: Smithies, Bidwell, Lynch, Onouha, Furlong, Manning (Doughty), Hall, Luongo, Mackie (Comley), Sylla (Lualua), Wszolek
Subs (not used): Ingram, El Khayati, Ngbakoto, Shodipo