After the death of HRH Queen Elizabeth II on the 8th September all football due to take place the following weekend was postponed. However the programme for the game had already gone to press.
Sky Sports: Watford took the lead when Kiko Femenia, Nathaniel Chalobah and Sarr linked up brilliantly, with the latter cutting the ball from his right onto his left and then curling a powerful effort and, less than two minutes later, they had a second.
BHappy: For the second, within two minutes, Chalobah robs Gibson, perhaps yet to get his head back into the game, and Philip Zinckernagel plays the pass. In both cases, they’re situations we weren’t even interested in, let alone involved in, under previous managers; we were too busy getting our shape, tucking in, locking up. They come with risk, as we’ll see, but so much reward.
The Hornets fluffed a hatful of good opportunities to score, despite dominating large chunks of the match, and drew a blank, with Reading goalkeeper Rafael rarely threatened, while George Puscas’s scrappy goal at the end of the first-half was enough for the Royals to seal their fourth win out of four.
It was all going rather well. Too well. And then two things happened. Firstly the hosts switched formation to drop an extra body into their increasingly ragged midfield. Secondly, Tom Dele-Bashiru twisted his knee awkwardly in a fall.
Referee:Andy Davies Attendance:9,265
There are certain prerequisites when it comes to the early stages of the Rumbelows Cup. Some of these are met in sunny Berkshire tonight… a half-empty stadium (albeit a respectable enough 2500 make the short journey from Hertfordshire), much-changed starting line-ups (eleven changes for the Golden Boys in the green away kit’s first outing). Check, check.
Team news was that Gracia had made 11 changes with debuts for Navarro, Masina, Wilmot and Quina and the return of Chalobah, so the starting line-up was Gomes; Navarro, Mariappa, Prödl, Masina; Femenía, Chalobah, Wilmot, Quina, Sema; Success. I have to say that looked like a pretty decent team. Reading had also made 8 changes, but the main Watford connection with the opposition was in the dug out in the person of Sir Nigel Gibbs.
Watford’s record in this competition is infamous. In the past ten seasons we’ve been knocked out by lower league opposition a total of eight times. So it’s no wonder I was surprised when Watford won comfortably away at Reading on Wednesday evening.
Goals from Almen Abdi, Matej Vydra, Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri ensured the Hornets remained level on points with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth at the top of the table, but Slavisa Jokanovic’s men moved into the automatic promotion places having scored more than Boro.
Watford would have been looking to make a strong start against a weakened Reading – Steve Clarke having made nine changes with Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final replay against Bradford very much in mind – and they took the lead with 53 seconds on the clock.