Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

26 September 2009: LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Rasiak (7 mins).
Watford: Graham (66 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 18,147

Pos Team P Pts GD
20 Peterborough 9 7 -5
21 READING 9 7 -5
22 Barnsley 9 5 -11
Reading: Federici, O'Dea, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Cummings, McAnuff (Hunt, 70), Howard (Robson-Kanu, 70), Kebe, Karacan, Sigurdsson (Gunnarsson, 53), Rasiak. Subs not used: Tabb, Mills, Hamer, Church.
Watford: Loach, Doyley, Mariappa, Cathcart, Hodson, Eustace, Lansbury (Ellington, 63(sent off 85)), Cleverley (Harley, 87), Cowie, Jenkins, Graham. Subs not used: Lee, Hoskins, Henderson, Bennett, Bryan.
Reading: -
Watford: Ellington (Sent off: 85 mins), Graham.
Ref: M Haywood.
In spite of failing to relieve themselves of the burden of an extremely long run without a home victory, Reading won a deserved point against a Watford side currently in a good run of form. The Royals were strengthened by the return of Ingimarsson to steady the defence and the long awaited debut of Jobi McAnuff. Both players made an impact early in the game in their respective roles. McAnuff caught the eye with his darting runs and incisive passing and was involved in the move which created an early goal for the home side. The Watford fans predictably gave Brendan Rodgers a hostile reception before the kick-off and indeed seemed preoccupied with berating their former manager throughout the game. This was in part due to their own team giving them little to get excited about, particularly in the opening fifteen minutes.

Selection was again a big talking point as Matejovsky and Pearce, having started the last game, did not even appear on the bench. Rodgers not only changed the team but also the formation reverting to a 4-1-4-1. It seemed to work well initially as Reading surged forward with Bertrand and Cummings helping to pin the Hornets back in their own half. In the second minute MaAnuff set up Howard who drove just over the bar. Bertrand crossed for Rasiak to head with some power to bring a save out of Loach. Sigurdsson followed up but his effort struck the post. Watford looked very ragged indeed and it was no surprise when McAnuff split the Watford defence with a pass to Sigurdsson who crossed for Rasiak to finish sharply giving Loach no chance. Watford recovered and there were few chances after that up to half time. Watford had a couple of long range efforts but Federici was not troubled. Just before half time Howard, ignoring the obvious ball wide to an unmarked Kebe, made room for a shot from just outside the box which Loach did well to block. It had been a promising half for the Royals.

Watford had the better of the second half and almost equalised immediately after half time. Federici deflected a shot onto the bar and Reading were lucky to survive a strong appeal for a penalty as Reading defenders threw themselves at the loose ball and a Watford forward went down. It was one of many poor decisions made by the referee. He was particularly weak in spotting a series of subtly timed nudges on Reading players as they shaped up to win the ball in the air. It seemed neither manager or players had much confidence in their ability to extend their goal advantage as Rodgers wasted little time in replacing Sigurdsson with Gunnarsson reverting to a more defensive 4-2 3-1. It didn't work. The equaliser, invited by sitting back, came in the sixty-sixth minute when a long ball caught Federici in two minds and Graham nipped in between 'keeper and defence to loop a header over the stranded 'keeper. Now Reading were looking likely to slip up again. Hunt and Gunnarsson injected a bit of urgency to keep the game in the balance, and when substitute Ellington received a red card for second silly challenge, Reading were given a chance to snatch a winner. Although one good cross required a desperate clearance, a lack of composure and quality at crucial times meant Reading had to settle for a point in spite of the advantage of an extra man.

The speculation will continue about the direction the season will take for Reading, but with some very difficult games coming up in October (against three of the top four sides!) the Royals will do well to keep out of the relegation zone by the end of the month. One thing is clear however, things are not as bad as the ranting of an over-excited Tim Dellor might indicate. Apart from a typically appalling commentary, he was sufficiently naive to expect Brendan Rodgers to reveal his selection for the next game in his post match interview. With the exception of Kebe, who simply seems incapable of making the right decision, I would not expect to see too many changes. Most of the team played well today with possibly Karacan standing out for his work rate.
John Wells

Well if the alarm bells are not ringing over the Madejski yet they certainly should be as Reading hover perilously one place above the dreaded relegation zone after another limp display against Watford. We all know we're rebuilding and starting again effectively but unless Buck Rogers gets things sorted quickly the same dreadful fate that awaited the likes of Charlton and Norwich could well happen to us. This is a very tough league and we're clearly lacking leadership on the pitch, cohesion, confidence and stability, we've not played the same team twice yet. Any weaknesses will be cruelly pounced on my our opponents and will show no mercy at all. We look very vulnerable at present and other teams know that. The club is clearly struggling at the moment, like it's sick, not well and with the chairman clearly wanting out, that uncertainty and the lack of leadership is creeping down to the pitch . We did play some good football particularly the first ten minutes but we are desperate in the last quarter with many corners and free kicks being wasted . No point having a go at players at this stage it's not fair but Rodgers picks the team and one win from nine is woeful, the buck stops with him.
Nick Newbury

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Brendan Rodgers hopes to be involved in bigger games than this, but rarely will he have to deal with more attention. The Reading manager was subjected to vile abuse from Watford supporters and revealed he had to deal with a threat before kick-off. Rodgers, who left Watford for Berkshire in June, saw Grzegorz Rasiak give his team a first-half lead. But Danny Graham headed an equaliser to leave Reading reflecting on a record of 14 home league matches without a victory. It was a strange feeling because in the lead-up to the game there was a threat from Watford supporters and I had security, Rodgers said. Im hoping there will be even tougher tests for me to face. Thats what you would want as a manager, but not too many. Malky Mackay, the Watford manager, praised Graham. He has a knack of scoring goals and is a real sniffer of a centre forward.
The Times