MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Armstrong (38 mins), Noel Hunt (67 mins), Doyle (68 mins), Lita (89 mins).
Watford: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 18,072

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 27 58 +22
2 READING 27 54 +33
3 Birmingham 26 51 +11
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Armstrong, Kebe, Cisse (Gunnarsson 77), Harper, Noel Hunt (Long 75), Doyle (Lita 76), Stephen Hunt. Subs Not Used: Matejovsky, Andersen.
Watford: Loach, Hoyte, Mariappa, DeMerit, Harley, Cork, Jenkins (Rasiak 65), Williamson, McAnuff, Smith, Priskin. Subs Not Used: Lee, Bromby, Bridcutt, O'Toole.
Reading: -
Watford: -
Ref: Andy D'Urso (Essex).
On a bitterly cold evening Reading fans were rewarded with a late flurry of goals to provide a scoreline which does not paint an accurate picture of the game. There is no doubt Reading fully deserved their win, but the result was in the balance until Noel Hunt turned sharply to sweep home from close range to give Reading a two goal lead mid way through the seond half. Good finish but slack defending. From that point Watford capitulated. Doyle was able to tap the ball into an empty net a minute later as neither 'keeper Loach or his defence could decide who should take responsibility for Rosenior's cross. Lita added the proverbial icing to the cake two minutes from the end when his pace enabled him to lash a simple ball down the middle past an exposed Loach.

Reading had started the game brightly and although Watford passed the ball well at time times their goal attempts were all long range and invariably wide of the mark. Reading looked far more likely to open the scoring because they had more pace up front and were more direct.Doyle had a superb game again. His touch and passing were a feature of Reading's attacks. His excellent run created an enormous hole in the centre of the Watford defence for Stephen Hunt who unfortunately scuffed his shot when he got within striking distance.Doyle tested Loach with a swift turn and shot on twenty minutes. There were times in the first half when Reading's midfield invited pressure by sitting too deep but Watford did not have the flair to take advantage. Armstrong opened the scoring on thirty three minutes when Stephen Hunt, who improved slightly on recent poor form, had the vision to touch the ball out wide to the left back. Armstrong was rewarded for his willingness to get forward when his shot beat Loach low at the near post.

The early part of the second half gave no real indication of what was to come as Watford remained positive in their play. The second goal changed all that and they heads dropped very quickly. Reading might have added more goals . Ingimarsson brought a good save from Loach and Lita missed the target with a header when left completely unmarked in front of goal from a corner.

Kebe has not played himself back into the form he had achieved just before his unjust suspension. Although he is defending much more effectively than he used to.he is still prone to running into trouble. Rosenior had one of his poorer games. He allowed his man to go past him too often and lacked conviction with his passing. Cisse is clearly a crucial player in the centre of midfield and Federici looks all round a better 'keeper than Hahnemann. Referees will need to keep an eye on opposing forwards who are becoming increasingly subtle in the way they are blocking off his early release of the ball. Steve Coppell may not be entirely happy with the performance but the power and pace of the Royals looks set to keep them in the top two.
John Wells


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Reading manager Steve Coppell on his surfeit of strikers: "It's no headache for me to have four strikers, I can assure you of that. "It's a nice position to be in, my strikers are uncomfortable which is what I want. "Noel Hunt and Kevin Doyle both scored but so did Leroy so they can't relax. "Leroy always gets a great reception here. I have no plan as such with him."
BBC Sport