Roberts double sees QPR fight back to share points with Reading
Out-of-form QPR battled back from a two-goal deficit to earn a deserved 2-2 draw at Sky Bet Championship play-off rivals Reading.
Home midfielder Jeff Hendrick, on loan from Newcastle, gave Reading a 2-0 half-time lead with contrasting efforts – the first struck from 30 yards and the second from almost on the goal line.
QPR were much improved after the interval, however, with Tyler Roberts reducing the deficit in the 66th minute and then grabbing the equaliser with 10 minutes remaining.
Rangers had won only one of their previous 10 second-tier outings and had lost 2-1 at League One Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup third round last Saturday.
Reading, three points from the play-offs, had secured four wins in seven matches in all competitions.
They defeated Watford 2-0 in the FA Cup last weekend and will meet Manchester United at Old Trafford in the fourth round later this month.
In the scrappy early exchanges, neither side managed to create any clear openings.
Reading built patiently from midfield, causing a couple of hasty clearances from the visitors’ defence, while QPR preferred the more direct route going forward.
Rangers did have an opportunity from a free-kick on the right but centre-back Jimmy Dunne nodded well wide from Kenneth Paal’s precise set-piece.
Reading responded quickly, with Hendrick giving them the lead in the 28th minute.
Shane Long’s attempted cross was deflected into the path of Hendrick and, from 30 yards out, the Newcastle loanee drilled home a low shot past goalkeeper Seny Dieng.
Rangers almost levelled when Lyndon Dykes touched narrowly wide from an Ilias Chair pullback from the byline.
But Reading increased their lead three minutes before the break.
Skipper Andy Yiadom saw his volley superbly saved by Dieng but the ball looped into the air and allowed Hendrick, a Rangers loanee last season, to tap home from close range.
As Reading sat deep to seemingly protect their advantage, QPR began strongly at the start of the second half.
Ethan Laird saw an effort deflected over and a Chair free-kick whistled just wide, with home keeper Joe Lumley struggling to reach it.
Dykes then also tried his luck from distance but Lumley did not have to move as it finished well wide of the target.
However, Rangers finally found their radar after the hour following a period of intense pressure and good work by substitute Jamal Lowe.
Roberts wriggled into the home area, turned cleverly and beat Lumley with a well-struck low cross-shot.
QPR maintained their momentum towards the end, with Dykes forcing a fine save from Lumley.
And they gained their just reward when Chair’s cross caused mayhem in the home area and, after a chaotic scramble, Roberts pounced from close range.