Critchley backs Roberts after QPR comeback

Neil Critchley believes Tyler Roberts can be a big player for his QPR side in the second half of the season after his two goals salvaged a point at Reading – and says he expected him to score. 

Rangers were 2-0 down at half-time but fought back well in a dominant display after the restart, with Roberts scoring his first with an outstanding finish after being teed up by debutant Jamal Lowe.

He was then on hand to nod home the equaliser when he followed up the rebound from Joe Lumley’s point-blank save from Ethan Laird.

Roberts has struggled with injuries since joining on loan from Leeds, having torn his thigh last season.

However, R’s boss Critchley insists the 24-year-old’s quality is not in doubt and that he needs a run of games to get his campaign up and running.

“You know with Tyler that he has the quality but it is about getting him in the best physical condition,” Critchley said.

“It’s been a bit stop-start for him but he has shown good focus in his approach to training.

“I said to him yesterday ‘You are good for a goal and I think you’re going to score’.

“When you see his quality in training, he can score off both feet and looks so good.

“It was terrific first goal and I love those type of goals for the second – they are goalscorer’s goals.

“When he scores two goals I didn’t particularly want to bring him off because there is a chance he may get a hat-trick. But he was dead on his feet and he put a real shift in.

“We have said to him, he needs to max out and he needs to play himself into form.

“It has been a frustrating season for him but I hope we can see more of today in the second half of the season because he can be a really important player for us.”

Lowe started on the bench but made a major contribution on the game when he came on and the visitors trailing 2-0, having a major hand in both goals.

“I thought he had a big impact on the game,” Critchley said.

“There is always pressure to start a new signing but we were mindful he has not had much football, and I wanted to bring him in on for the back half of the game.

“He brings a calmness so when you give him the ball he generally keeps it and makes the right types of decisions which is something we can be guilty of not doing, as we showed in the first half.”

Two first-half goals from former Rangers loanee Jeff Hendrick put Reading in full control of the game at halft-ime but Critchley felt his side were the better team throughout.

“A point was the least we deserved. We didn’t do a great deal wrong in the first half,” he said.

“But that is us a little bit in the first half – we get into promising positions in the final third and fail to too many times with our decision-making or quality.

“From being 2-0 at half-time we had to show real fight and I said to them if we get the third goal the momentum will change to us.

“I am very proud of the second half. We played with purpose and scored two goals and if any team deserved to pick up three points it was us.”