Preview - Reading v QPR
QUEENS Park Ranges and Reading couldn't be more evenly-matched going into tomorrow night's clash at the Madejski Stadium.
Both sides have incurred hard times this season, none more so than the Royals who were unceremoniously thrashed in W12 the last time the two sides met - but both sides have come a long way since then.
The departure of Brendan Rodgers from the managerial hot-seat had Royals supporters searching for a new leader, but little did they know he was already under their nose - chief scout Brian McDermott.
The former Arsenal midfielder has stirred the Royals once more as they not only knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup at Anfield but also propelled themselves away from relegation harm in the Championship.
Rangers by comparison hit boom and bust with Jim Magilton's reign coming to a tumoltuous end, and Paul Hart and Mick Harford unable to steady the ship - but new guidance under Neil Warnock is already baring the fruits of success.
A team in free-fall are now three unbeaten, including the dispatching of high-flyers West Bromwich Albion, but the game is poised to be keenly-contested on Tuesday night with the sides locked on the same points and the same goal difference.
Sheffield United 1 (Cresswell 44)
QPR 1 (Taarabt 49)
Team: Carl Ikeme, Matt Connolly, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorks, Matt Hill, Adel Taarabt (Ákos Buzsáky 87), Alejandro Damián Faurlín, Mikele Leigertwood, Hogan Ephraim (Lee Cook 90), Tamás Priskin, Jay Simpson.
Reading 2 (Sigurdsson 12, 22pen)
Bristol City 0
Team: Adam Federici, Matt Mills, Ivar Ingimarsson, Ryan Bertrand, Jobi McAnuff, Jay Tabb, Brian Howard, Jimmy Kébé, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Shane Long (Simon Church 88).
Reading Team News:
Reading have no fresh injury complaints ahead of the visit of Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night, with a confident team looking to win in what is their fifth successive home fixture.
Adam Federici will start in goal behind a back four of that could comprise of Brynjar Gunnarsson, Matt Mills, Ivar Ingimarsson and Ryan Bertrand - Andy Griffin remains doubtful.
The centre of the park could see Brian Howard and Jay Tabb link up once more with the scorer of two goals - Gylfi Sigurdssson playing slightly advanced of the pairing.
Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff will be the main threat down the flanks with Shane Long a useful target man in attack - Simon Church poised to come from the bench at some point.
Reading are without long-term absentees Noel Hunt and Chris Armstrong (knee), Jem Karacan (hand) and Kalifa Cisse (dead leg).
Gunnarsson - Ingimarsson - Mills - Bertrand
Howard - Tabb
McAnuff - Sigurdsson - Kébé
Player to watch: TBA
QPR Team News:
Neil Warnock has kept faith with the same line-up for three fixtures running, and there may not be a lot to change this time round either, after another spirited display.
Carl Ikeme will continued in place of Radek Černý with Matt Connolly, Kaspars Gorks, Damion Stewart and Matt Hill lining up in defence.
Alejandro Faurlín should partner Mikele Leigertwood in the middle with Adel Taarabt a sure starter once more after another stunning display, along with Hogan Ephraim vying with Lee Cook on the left.
Tamás Priskin and Marcus Bent will fight it out for the final loan spot and a spot alongside top scorer Jay Simpson - Antonio German and Rowan Vine more viable options from the bench.
Martin Rowlands (knee) and Gavin Mahon (knee) remain the only long term absentees.
Possible line up:
Connolly - Stewart - Gorks - Hill
Taarabt - Faurlín - Leigertwood - Ephraim
Bent - Simpson
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
There can be no question that Adel Taarabt remains Rangers' key player ahead of Tuesday's clash, having unlocked Sheffield United so well on Saturday.
The midfielder now has two goals in as many games and appears to be in top form under the guidance of new boss Neil Warnock.
The Spurs loanee surged through the middle of the park on many occasions and in particular gave Marcel Seip a torrid time at the centre of defence - he will hope to give Royals defenders similar worries on Tuesday.
To read his career profile Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Reading: W W L W W
Queens Park Rangers: W L W W D
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 25
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship - 20/10/2009
Queens Park Rangers 4 (Buzsáky 31, Simpson 39, Vine 71, Agyemang 83)
Reading 1 (Howard 86)
Team: Radek Černý, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Wayne Routledge, Ákos Buzsáky (Gavin Mahon 66), Kaspars Gorks, Ben Watson (Sent Off 30), Alejandro Faurlín, Jay Simpson (Rowan Vine 53), Gary Borrowdale, Adel Taarabt (Patrick Agyemang 76).
Reading 1-2 QPR - 28-03-1964
Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Reading - 07-03-1960
Referee: Mr Gavin Ward (Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Kevin Johnson (Somerset) & Simon Knapp (S Gloucestershire)
Fourth Official: Mr Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)
From the experienced Mr Bates to the inexperience of Mr Ward - a linesman until 2007 the baby-faced official takes charge of his first QPR fixture.
It will also be his first time facing the Royals in what is only his seventh Championship game. He has already caused controversy abondoning Barnsley's fixture against Plymouth with the Tykes 4-1 up. To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
This will be a tougher test than some give credit for with Reading discovering a new-found confidence and building some momentum at home.
Rangers however have displayed not only their defensive ability but their attacking prowess in recent games as Neil Warnock has instilled a steely edge into his side.
While this game will undoubtedly be tough, it's high time Rangers picked up their first win at the Madejski Stadium - and they stand as good a chance as any tomorrow night.
BEAT THE CLOCK >>>
Teams: QPR v Swansea City
Date: Saturday March 20, 2010 - 3.00pm
Ground: Loftus Road, London