Reading’s aggressive approach did at least dispel any illusions Alexander Merkel may have had regarding the sort of football games he’s going to be involved in. Nominally an attacking player he sat deep in the midfield in this one, Iriney’s decent run-out at Ashton Gate obviously not pushing him back up the pecking order. The German took a while to settle, twice giving the ball away in circumstances that suggested he’d have preferred rather more thinking time. As the game went on, particularly as we got onto the front foot on the second half, he became increasingly influential… comfortable in possession, happy to receive the ball in tight corners and find space, find the pass and as he stepped forwards Reading, looking leggy after their first-half efforts, began to creak. Slight of frame, he nonetheless demonstrated early and with some gusto that he likes a tackle… already on a yellow, his silly, reckless challenge on Nick Blackman late on was always going to see him departing early – a straight red, it turned out. Irritating. As was the smattering of applause he received. Quite what was to applaud about a needless high tackle in the centre circle was beyond me.
- An infamous name who would make just one appearance for Watford over ten years later was in goal for Newport.
- This was the first game after the FA Cup defeat by non-league Northwich Victoria.
More games from 11th January at https://oldwatford.com/tag/jan11