Watford Put Four Past Reading
Sat 14th Mar - 3:00pm
Watford moved up to second in the Championship table after a comfortable 4-1 home win against a Reading side who made nine changes ahead of their upcoming FA Cup Quarter Final replay. Almen Abdi fired Watford into the lead in the first minute before going off injured. His replacement Fernando Forestieri assisted the second for Matej Vydra just before half time before doing the same for Troy Deeney three minutes after the break. Jem Karacan pulled one back for Reading before Forestieri himself completed the scoring late on.
Slavisa Jokanovic made three changes from the Watford side that drew 2-2 at Wolves last weekend. Marco Motta, Joel Ekstrand and Daniel Pudil replaced Juan Carlos Paredes, Gabriele Angella and Tommie Hoban in defence.
Steve Clarke chose to select a number of young players for Reading ahead of their cup replay with Bradford on Monday. Niall Keown, Jure Travner and Jack Stacey all made rare starts while Zat Knight who signed for the club on Thursday went straight into the starting line up.
Watford started the game very quickly and took the lead after just 52 seconds through Almen Abdi. Good build up play through the heart of the Reading defence saw Troy Deeney find Abdi on the edge of the box before the Swiss drove the ball into the far corner past Mikkel Andersen.
The only downside for the Hornets early on was the departure of Abdi after only seven minutes with what looked like a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Fernando Forestieri.
Just moments after that it was nearly two nil when Marco Motta picked up the ball midway inside the Reading half. He advanced towards goal before unleashing an incredible 30 yard strike that came back off the crossbar.
Reading's first chance of the game came after 15 minutes when a corner caused confusion in the Watford box with the ball breaking to the feet of Hope Akpan but the ball was cleared just as he was about to pull the trigger from close range.
It was then Watford's turn to come close to scoring again with an incredible effort from Forestieri. Adlene Guedioura picked up a loose ball by the corner flagged and whipped in a cross which Forestieri met with an overhead kick which was flying in until Anderson got a hand on it to turn it behind.
Reading were next to test the goalkeeper when they won a free-kick 25-yards out which Yakubu hit goalwards but it was a comfortable save for Heurelho Gomes.
Five minutes later however, Watford were celebrating a second goal through Matej Vydra. Intricate play through the middle of pitch saw Forestieri pick the ball up on the edge of the box and find Vydra who smashed the ball past Anderson and into the net.
Half Time: Watford 2-0 Reading
2-0 can sometimes be a difficult score in football but Watford made it look anything but as they added a third to make the game safe just three minutes into the second half. Forestieri played a 1-2 with Vydra before collecting the return ball inside the box and crossing for Troy Deeney to score from close range.
Forestieri, who produced a man of the match display, looked to get on the score sheet himself next and tried a long range effort after controlling a long ball but didn't test the goalkeeper.
Forestieri was at the heart of Watford's next attacking move when Ben Watson's clever pass found him in the box but his goalbound effort was blocked by Zat Knight.
Reading struggled to create much going forward in the early part of the second half but did come close when Niall Keown met Danny Guthrie's corner but Gomes did well to parry over the bar.
Moments later Reading did find a goal through substitute Jem Karacan. A deep corner was not cleared by the Hornets and Karacan controlled and volleyed in from the edge of the box past Gomes.
The Royals then had a spell of pressure where they threatened to score a second goal and make things interesting. Substitute Nick Blackman got into space in the box but prodded the ball wide. Yakubu then hit an effort goalwards from the edge of the box but Gomes did well to save down low.
Having soaked up the pressure Watford then broke to make the game safe through the man of the match Forestieri. A long ball forward was controlled by Deeney who put Forestieri through on goal and the forward finished powerfully across Andersen with his left foot.
Watford came close to a fifth in the final minute of injury time when Deeney forced his way through the Reading defence and curled an effort just wide from a tight angle.
Full Time: Watford 4-1 Reading
Watford: Gomes, Motta, Cathcart, Ekstrand, Pudil, Tozser, Watson, Guedioura (Layun), Abdi (Forestieri), Vydra (Angella), Deeney
Subs Not Used: Bond (GK), Doyley, Paredes, Anya
Reading: Andersen, Travner, Keown, Knight (Novakovich), Cooper, Stacey, Guthrie, Akpan, Taylor (Karacan), Cox (Blackman), Yakubu
Subs Not Used: Lincoln (GK), Long, Edwards, Kuhl
Att: 16,660 (1,008 Reading)
Ref: Mr Darren Bond