Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - FA Cup


READING 2 WATFORD 0

Reading: K Abrefa (45), S Long (90)
Watford: --

Reading secured their first FA Cup victory in three seasons with a comfortable, but unconvincing, victory over a makeshift Watford team severely depleted by injuries. Reading fielded a strong side in spite of resting several key first choice players, and yet it took a fine goal stoppage time goal, created by McIntyre and finished clinically by Shane Long, to secure their place in the 4th Round draw. Kelvin Abrefa put Reading ahead in first half stoppage time with his first goal for the club. The flight of his intended cross caught Watford 'keeper Okoye off guard and the ball dropped over his head and into the net off the far post. Reading however deserved to lead at the interval having dominated possession from the start.

Femi Azeez looked sharp in the opening phase of the game. Cutting inside from the right he struck a fierce effort just wide from outside the box. A few minutes later he popped up on the left and Okoye had to make a good save at his near post to keep out his second attempt. Azeez looked lively throughout until he was replaced Andy Carroll in the second half. The returning Hutchinson had a solid first half wearing the captain’s armband, apart from giving the ball away inside his own half and then getting himself booked trying to undo the damage his error had caused. He was replaced by Loum at half time presumably as previously planned.

Reading’s best chance of the first half came five minutes before half time when Reading opened up the Watford defence and the ball fell to Joao in space inside the box, but his strike was poor for a player of his quality. Sadly for Reading, Joao seems unlikely to ever recover the outstanding form of his early days at the club. His overall contribution to the game amounted to little more than a couple of nice touches of link up play in midfield and his work rate remains disappointingly low.

The second half was a scrappy affair as Watford made full use of the players on the bench and the foul count mounted. The main threat to Reading remained the frequency of their own poor decision making. Abrefa lost the ball on the edge of his own box trying to beat a man instead of choosing a safer option. He could be forgiven for his lapse given the level of his overall performance. However Reading made hard work of the second half. Their passing was laboured and lacked penetration, and on several occasions, basic accuracy and timing. Not to worry. Dann looked solid at the back, as did Sarr, in spite of his worrying lack of pace, and everyone was prepared to work hard off the ball. There still remains question marks about Bouzanis in general, not least his bizarre habit of wandering around the pitch for no apparent reason.

The best moment of the game came as Watford pressed for a late equaliser. Under pressure, Tom McIntyre got his head up and knocked a perfect ball into the path of Shane Long on the half way line. Showing he still had a bit of pace left in his legs, even after ninety minutes, he raced clear and slotted the ball past Okoye to send the huge contingent of travelling Watford fans towards the exit, and Reading into the last thirty two of the competition. Just four games away from Wembley!

John Wells

This FA Cup game took place 32 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.