Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

19 February 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Hunt (50 mins).
Watford: Weimann (27 mins).
Half Time: 0-1.

Attendance: 16,934

Pos Team P Pts GD
11 Watford 31 46 +10
12 READING 32 45 +11
13 Ipswich 31 44 +4
Reading: A. Federici (A. McCarthy, 84), M. Mills, I. Harte, A. Griffin, I. Ingimarsson, J. McAnuff, M. Leigertwood, B. Howard (H. Robson-Kanu, 82), J. Kebe, N. Hunt (S. Church, 66), S. Long. Subs not used: Z. Khizanishvili, J. Tabb, B. Gunnarsson, M. Antonio.
Watford: S. Loach, M. Taylor, A. Mariappa, L. Hodson, A. Thompson, J. Eustace, S. McGinn (D. Drinkwater, 54), D. Cowie, M. Whichelow (R. Jenkins, 66), D. Graham, A. Weimann (M. Sordell, 52). Subs not used: R. Gilmartin, T. Deeney, P. Mingoia, D. Bennett.
Reading: Howard
Watford: -
Ref: P Walton
Reading desperately needed a win today, as did Watford, so neither teams will be entirely satisfied with this result. In spite of good performances recently, some against the top sides in the division, Reading's play-off chances have faded, largely due to conceding late goals, but also, in part due to poor refereeing. Suspensions to Liegertwood and Karacan have made it harder to hold on to a lead at crucial times. Morale has been damaged. The crowd might have helped lift the team but was quiet from the start and throughout the game today. Even the usually upbeat Brian McDermott has begun to sound resigned to another year in the Championship. The goal conceded in stoppage at Cardiff after Manset had scored what everyone believed to be the winner was a devastating blow to confidence. What must hurt the players is the feeling that they deserved better, but success depends on strong mental resolve and determination. Today flashes of inspiration came from Liegertwood and Long but against an enterprising Watford side Reading looked distinctly ordinary. In short, it looked what it was, a mid table stalemate.

Reading began brightly and McAnuff cut inside and played a diagonal ball out wide. Long took the ball but was closed down quickly. Kebe was steaming in behind him unmarked and had Long let it run he would have had a clear strike on goal. I suspect Kebe, not the World's best at reading the game and communicating, failed to let him know he was there. Watford had the better of the first half, and took the lead as Reading collectively slackened defensively. They failed to close players down and allowed crosses to be delivered unchallenged. Weimann smashed home from close range with Reading defenders sprawling on the ground in front of him. Only a brilliant save low to his right by Federici prevented Watford from increasing their lead. Leigertwood may have looked a bit rusty in the opening minutes but his superb turn and shot just before half time deserved a goal. A fine save from Loach kept it out.

Liegertwood was in outstanding form and was largely responsible for Reading regaining control of the game in the second half when at times when Watford found it impossible to dispossess him. Reading got the lucky break they deserved when Loach flapped at Howard's corner leaving Hunt with the simple task of leaping to nod the ball over the line for the equaliser. Long battled and chased but the service he received was poor. Watford had done their homework and Kebe could not find his way past the two defenders he was inevitably confronted by, and McAnuff was mainly channelled inside so also failed to get behind the visitor's defence. Substitutes Church and Robson-Kanu again made no impact on the game. Howard came off near the end having played some tidy football but also made very little impact on the game. Fedrerici went off injured following a clash with Liegertwood. In stoppage time Watford had clearly settled for a point but they never really looked likely to lose it.

Brian McDermott was, as always, entirely accurate in his analysis, identifying 'a lack of quality' as the reason for dropping two more points at home. The lack of quality was particularly evident in and around the penalty area. With Karacan and Liegertwood shielding them, the defence is effective enough, but Reading seem to run out of attacking ideas very quickly. An exceptional run will now be required to keep everyone interested. Anything other than a win against Millwall on Tuesday and the play-offs will only be a mathematical possibility. The home fans really could make a difference but if today's response was anything to go by, the burden of motivating the team is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Brian McDermott.
John Wells

The first half was defensively woeful from the central pairing, and Griffin can take his share of the blame for the opener for completely misreading the initial cross. Then just a comedy of errors, ball falls to Weimann who iirc took two or three stabs at it before getting it right. Maybe Harte had a hand in the slashing, can't remember, although collectively the defence needs to take a look at themselves for that. Watford were so on top at that stage it was unreal, and their quite superb counter attack which led to Graham's header four or five minutes later was a joy - if Arsenal had done that against Barcelona everyone would be purring. The only thing missing was the finish. By the half hour mark we could and should have been two or three down, but then suddenly out of nothing Legs produces a moment of magic and has Loach scrambling, and the last ten were all Reading with decent attacking play and were a little unfortunate (only a little mind) not to go in level.

Second half, after their 'keeper's howler, well it just resorted to classic Reading v Watford midtable clash didn't it? A lot of huff and puff from both sides, again Reading were maybe a little unlucky not to nick a second but you always felt that Watford were capable of prising open our back four at any moment.
Handbags Harris

How on earth those defenders have maintained their places is beyond me. Mills trying an overhead clearance made it look like we were watching a circus display. He has no connection whatsoever with Ivar, who I'm sorry, but has completely passed it. Great servant to the club but times change and you have to put out your best 11. The funny thing is that we have a premiership centre back sitting on the bench week in week out who, is great in the tackle, brings the ball out of the defence, and hasn't put a step wrong apart from i think 1 dodgy pass back this season. I do hope McDermott now realises the errors in his backline and plays Zurab alongside a fit again Pearce.

Is it just me or are Reading looking jaded? The present constipated inability to win games despite the fact that they're there for the taking reminds me of the condition of the side in the second half of Coppell's last season. For this reason I'd like to see changes, but not, as has been suggested, blindly towards youth. Players who've been mainly out of the team might be given a run (Tabb, Pearce, Cummings) because they should be less jaded and more motivated, while some of our regulars might benefit from being rested rather than played into the ground. Just trotting out much the same lineup for a series of largely meaningless games would seem unhelpful to me. It's not often a manager has a chance to experiment with his team without too much risk. Some of the new boys--Manset, Williams, Morrison--might benefit from a run out too.

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The point means both the Royals and the Hornets have now failed to register a win in their last six league games, and both remain in the mid-table region of the Championship. Reading looked the more dangerous early on with Jimmy Kebe lively down the right. But the visitors responded with John Eustace testing Federici before Martin Taylor headed just over the crossbar. The Royals again attacked hard but Watford held their own and got their reward when poor Reading defending allowed Weimann space in the area and the on-loan Aston Villa striker accepted the chance to open the scoring. Graham was then twice denied spectacularly by Federici as Watford applied the pressure. Reading defender Matt Mills had a header that just went wide as the Royals tried to find a way back into the contest and Watford keeper Scott Loach parried a Mikele Leigertwood shot to safety just before half-time. Loach also had to be alert a minute after the interval when he scrambled McAnuff's header away. But he was powerless to stop Hunt from heading in the leveller after a cross from Howard cannoned back off the frame of the goal. The home side pushed hard to find the all-important third goal, with Kebe and McAnuff proving to be a nuisance for the visitors' defence all afternoon. Substitute Simon Church wasted a great chance to score the winner on 77 minutes as Kebe laid the ball perfectly into the striker's path but the Wales international failed to direct his shot on target. Reading made all the running late on but were unable to find a winner.

Reading manager Brian McDermott: "It's been a frustrating time recently but I think today was a fair result. I thought Watford came with a good energy about them and played some good stuff in the first half when we weren't at our game. "We didn't do well in the final third and that makes such a difference. We had numerous crossing opportunities but didn't make the most of those. "Our keeper Adam Federici came off near the end with a medial ligament injury in his knee, but it is too early to say whether he will be fit for our game against Millwall on Tuesday."

BBC Sport