Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


Reading: T Ince (pen 66), J Hendrick (80)
Watford: I Sarr (30), R Porteous (48)

A stunning volley from Jeff Hendrick ten minutes from time earned Reading a deserved point against fifth placed Watford. The Royals trailed by two goals when Porteus headed home from a corner just after the interval, but manager Paul Ince made decisive substitutions and his revitalised side came back strongly. Tom Ince pulled a goal back from the spot after Shane Long burst in to the penalty area and was bundled over by Watford's Criag Cathcart before Hendrick's stunner completed the comeback. Had Meite managed to show a little more composure in front of goal in the final minutes Reading might have taken all three points. In the end I imagine most Reading fans, and manager Paul Ince, would have gone home delighted with the result.

It was a poor first half with neither team able to impose themselves in midfield with passes going astray and a lack of penetration going forward. Neither goalkeeper had much to do in the opening forty five minutes. Ince came close to opening the scoring after sixteen minutes with a direct run and a couple of step-overs before testing Bachmann with a low strike from outside the box. A good save from the Watford ‘keeper at full stretch to his right turned the ball away for a corner. Watford looked unlikely to open up the Reading defence until unaccountably they switched off momentarily on the half hour allowing Aroujo to drift into the Reading box unmarked and square the ball for Sarr to score with a tap in.

The second half started badly for Reading. It took an outstanding save from Lumley from Sarr to prevent Watford from increasing their lead within two minutes of the re-start. From the resulting corner Porteous lost his marker (McIntyre I think) and headed home unchallenged at the near post. Sloppy defending again. New Chelsea loan signing Casadei was replaced by Fornah in midfield to get a grip in midfield. Reading reacted positively to going further behind. Loum tested Bachmann with a powerful strike from outside the box. Having got away with some dubious challenges on Long throughout the first half Cathcart was finally punished for a clumsy collision with Long as he ran onto a through ball in the penalty area. Following the now obligatory ‘World Cup’ penalty antics from the Watford defence to distract the penalty taker, Tom Ince stepped up undeterred and struck the perfect penalty low inside the post giving Bachmann no chance.

With Reading pushing for an equaliser Watford had the ball in the net following a slick break but the referee’s assistant belatedly raised his flag to disallow the goal. A third goal would have killed the game so the Watford fans were not amused especially as the decision was not confirmed until Lumley had confronted the official. Azeez came on for Hoilett giving Reading a real cutting edge playing wide on the left and momentum going forward. The resulting pressure earned a corner on the left. Ince delivered a very deep cross over the crowded goalmouth where Hendrick was lurking unmarked beyond the far post. Hendrick met the ball and beat Bachmann with an unstoppable volley into the top right corner with the Watford ‘keeper rooted to the spot. In a frantic finale both sides went looking for the winner with the best chance falling to Meite a couple of yards out, but with the goal at his mercy he blazed the ball over the bar.

Watford lacked discipline throughout and in stoppage time, a nasty challenge by Pedro on Ince sparked a melee in the centre circle in which Choudhury completely lost the plot and had to be restrained by players from both teams. It was one of several tantrums by Watford players. Reading on the other hand showed composure, character and determination to earn their point, qualities which will almost certainly keep them safe from relegation this season.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 55 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.