Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
READING 1 WATFORD 0
Reading: G Puscas (41)
Today Reading chalked up their fourth successive Championship victory against a very strong Watford side. Depleted by injuries to key players, Veljko Paunovic drafted in the relatively inexperienced Holmes at full back, Aluko in midfield, and George Puscas up front. All three rose to the occasion as Reading produced a solid performance in every respect. With the quality of players available for Watford it was always going to a big test for the Royals, and there were periods when Watford put their defence under considerable pressure. However this season Reading are playing with significantly greater confidence and composure. With a combination of confident passing, disciplined defending throughout the team, and some slick passing, Reading deserved their win today. Not that it mattered, the winner came with scuffed shot from Puscas which took a wicked deflection wrong-footing Foster as it bobbled into the net.
After a tentative opening when Watford dominated midfield with their three-five-two set up, Reading eased their way into contention. They might have gone behind after six minutes when Watford full back Ngakia made an embarrassing mess of a great chance. Worryingly Watford were finding a lot of space in and around the Reading box. Watford came close to opening the scoring after twenty minutes with a Garner free kick which rattled the crossbar. Laurent and Rinomhota gradually got grip in central midfield and Reading began to play out from the back. Olise drew several fouls with his ability to go past players, but it was Aluko who caught the eye. He was simply outstanding in every respect. In possession Watford could not get near him, he picked out the right pass every time and he won possession with tackles, the like of which I have not seen from him in all his time at Reading. The only conclusion I can come up with is that he is now playing for a manager who not only has high expectations, but also believes in him. On this showing he is a strong contender for a place in the starting eleven.
Meite is also thriving under new leadership. His touch was noticeably improved today and his volley from Olise’s delightful floated free-kick was superb. Foster did well to keep it out. A minute later Holmes found Puscas inside the box and he turned smartly to make room for a shot, and although his strike was poor, the deflection off a defender took it past Foster. Watford, as expected reacted positively, but Reading were not fazed by the onslaught reaching half time a goal to the good.
With Watford pressing for an equaliser from the re-start it was an open attacking game. Puscas and Meite were offering an outlet, not only to relieve the pressure, but also pose a goal scoring threat for an increasingly frustrated Watford. Laurent broke from the halfway line, and had Puscas made the right kind of run, he might have created space or offered a passing option from which Reading could have added a second goal. Sadly he did neither and Laurent lost possession. As full time approached Watford lost their discipline helping Reading by committing a succession clumsy needless fouls. There was an intensity about Reading’s play which enabled them to nullify whatever Watford threw at them. The work rate throughout the team was remarkable. The celebration which greeted the final whistle reflected the commitment shown by every player on the pitch, and in the huddle which followed, by everyone off the pitch including the walking wounded.
It is becoming increasingly apparent Reading have found a manager who not only understands how the game should be played, but also how to build team spirit, belief and commitment. We are seeing the kind of leadership which has been sadly lacking in recent seasons. It is a pleasure to watch Reading so far this season and we can only hope we will be allowed back to watch from inside the stadium before too long.
This Championship game took place 117 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.