Reading manager Mark Bowen revealed after the 1-0 Championship victory over QPR that he had given his players a full day off on Christmas Day – a rarity in professional football.
The home side dominated play in a poor first half, with Rangers goalkeeper Joe Lumley saving well from Ovie Ejaria and John Swift.
Reading went ahead seven minutes after the interval when Swift arrowed in a magnificent 25-yard half-volley.
Rangers finished strongly but substitute Ilias Chair struck the crossbar and Reading keeper Rafael twice saved superbly from Jordan Hugill.
“We try to put points on the board in every game we play,” Bowen said.
“That’s now back-to-back wins and that’s special.
“I said to the guys before the game that it’s been a strange week – as Christmas week is usually.
“I actually gave them yesterday off and I was beginning to wonder at times if I’d done the right thing, especially during that last 10 minutes.
“But we’d prepared and done all our tactical work on Christmas Eve, so I felt that it was important that the lads spent some time with their families and cleared their heads.
“But I warned them that when they came back in today they had to be focused and ready to go.
“So we came in this morning and did a little bit of preparation, which of course we wouldn’t usually do for an evening game.
“QPR threatened us at times, but you’ve got to have that braveness to get on the ball and play. I think our confidence is growing.
“It wasn’t good for the heart, that last 10 minutes, but I thought that we were in control for a lot of the time.”
Rangers have now only two wins in 12 matches.
“We have got to be honest, that was very frustrating,” Mark Warburton, the Rangers manager, said.
“You lose a game of football, you don’t create any chances and you give the ball away cheaply, then that’s fully deserved.
“But that wasn’t the case tonight.
“If I’ve got any criticism of our team, it’s that we didn’t get to grips with the Reading shape in the first 10 to 15 minutes.
“We should have adjusted quicker. But once we had adjusted, then I’m trying to think what our keeper had to do – apart from possibly the goal.
“And yet we created numerous chances.
“We were guilty of not putting the ball in the back of the net and their keeper has pulled off two or three worldie saves.
“We’ve also had a shot cleared off the line and another that hit the bar.
“So, frustrating, but if the players keep on creating chances like that, we know we’ll be okay.”
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