TIAGO Ilori was dealt a straight red card as Reading FC’s Championship campaign got off to a dismal start with a 2-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Royals were immediately under heavy pressure and found themselves a goal down after some tidy footwork on the wing was followed by a delightful delivery, allowing Connor Washington to rise highest and put the hosts ahead.

Reading could have clawed their way back and squandered numerous half-chances through new signings Pelle Clement and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

But Rangers dominated throughout and their pressure told when Ilori clumsily hacked down Pawel Wszolek inside the box. The defender was immediately given his marching orders and Washington made no mistake from 12-yards to score his second of the game.

Jaap Stam handed first-team debuts to Bodvarsson, Vito Mannone and Clement while fellow new signing Modou Barrow had to settle for a place on a surprising six-man bench.

Joseph Mendes made the squad after a recent spell on the sidelines while youngsters Andy Rinomhota, Omar Richards and Sam Smith were also called up to the first-team.

Reading found themselves on the back foot within seconds of the kick-off when a rare mistake by Liam Kelly allowed Rangers to break forward. Luckily Ilori was on hand with a strong block to clear the ball for a corner.

But just moments later Ilori kicked the ball against his own feet, gifting Conor Washington with a clear sight on goal. New signing Mannone did well however and managed to get a strong wrist on the ball to push it away.

Royals’ first chance came on eight minutes when Icelandic international Bodvarsson span away from his man on the half-way line and darted towards the byline. The toweing forward delivered a glorious cross towards Clement but it was well blocked by the Rangers’ defence.

Bodvarsson found himself at the centre of attention again moments later when a delightful long-ball from Liam Kelly picked out the striker perfectly in the box. Bodvarsson managed to get the ball under control before shooting immediately, not seeing the unmarked Adrian Popa beside him.

Royals’ most clear-cut opportunity came when a delightful low cross from Popa almost found Clement unmarked in the box. The Dutchman mistimed his strike however and failed to connect with the ball.

But Stam’s men were eventually unlocked on 22 minutes after some neat trickery and a cross from the right fell perfectly onto the head of Washington, who made no mistake from six yards.

Reading Chronicle:

Washington celebrates after opening the scoring

The hosts could have doubled their lead minutes later when Pawel Wszolek picked out Freeman on the edge of the box. Luckily, the midfielder dragged his shot wide of Mannone’s post.

Royals could have pulled a goal back with 30 minutes on the clock when Liam Moore released Clement down the left. The midfielder cut inside and let off a tame effort towards goal rather than squaring the ball to Bodvarsson in the box.

But the hosts continued to dominate and winger Massimo Luongo crashed a left-footed shot against the post with 35 minutes played after the ball fell kindly on the edge of the box.

Liam Kelly then had his heart in his mouth when a dreadful back-pass sent Washington clean through on goal. Mannone made himself big however and the striker blasted the ball well over the crossbar.

Royals started the second period well but a mix-up between Ilori and Evans allowed Mackie to charge towards goal. The former Reading loanee squared the ball to Freeman but the strike was always rising.

Stam threw-on latest signing Modou Barrow early in the second period as the Royals tried to break down a resilient Rangers’ defence.

And the Gambian nearly had a dream debut when he won the ball deep into the host’s half and charged towards Alex Smithies. Barrow tried to tee-up Swift who in turn found Bodvarsson but the Icelandic international’s shot was well saved by Smithies.

But Reading’s afternoon took a turn for the worse when Tiago Ilori clattered Wszolek in the box. The defender was given a straight red card for a last-man challenge and Washington made no mistake from 12-yards, sending Mannone the wrong way.

An injured Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had to be withdrawn to allow Tyler Blackett to slot in at centre-back with Omar Richards making his Reading debut at left-back.

Reading Chronicle:

New signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was forced to withdraw with an injury.

And Royals struggled to get a hold of the ball as Rangers kept possession neatly in the aftermath of Ilori’s dismissal. It would be wrong to suggest the red card was the turning point however as QPR could have been three goals to the good by half-time.

Barrow picked up the ball on the right and darted inside the box with 75 minutes on the clock. The 24-year-old twisted and turned and appeared to be pulled down to the ground but referee Scot Duncan waved away Royals’ appeals for a spot-kick.

Stam’s final throw of the dice saw Joseph Mendes replace John Swift but Reading continued to struggle against Ian Holloway’s dominant Rangers side.

The Frenchman almost made an immediate impact when a delicate ball over the top allowed him to charge towards goal, only to be flagged offside on the brink of extra time.

It signalled the end of a lacklustre Reading display as Stam’s troops slumped to a 2-0 defeat.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading FC fans were sent home disappointed.

Royals face Gillingham at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday in the first round of the Carabao cup before welcoming Fulham to Berkshire next Saturday.

Reading FC: Mannone, Gunter (c), Blackett, Moore, Ilori, Kelly, Evans, Swift (Mendes,80), Clement (Barrow,51), Popa, Bodvarsson (Richards, 57).

Subs not used: Jaakola, Rinomhota, Smith

Queens Park Rangers FC: Smithies, Bidwell (Robinson, 85), Onuoha, Lynch, Freeman, Washington (Sylla,79), Scowen, Mackie (Ngbakoto,80), Luongo, Wszolek, Perch

Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Borysiuk, Smith,

Bookings: Bodvarsson (27), Barrow (90).

Red card: Ilori.

Referee: Scott Duncan

Attendance: 14,460 (2,208 away)