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17:44 26th September 2009

Report: Royals held by Hornets

Reading 1 (Rasiak 7)
Watford 1 (Graham 66)

Brendan Rodgers was denied victory against his former club after a second half Danny Graham strike, as the Royals battled to a 1-1 draw with Watford on Saturday afternoon.

The home side dominated the game in the early exchanges and took the lead with just seven minutes on the clock, as Grzegorz Rasiak drilled home his first goal in a Reading shirt after good work from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

But despite chances to extend their lead it was Malky Mackay's men who stole a point, as top scorer Graham found space in the box before steering a header for 1-1.

The home support were given some hope in the closing stages as Hornets striker Nathan Ellington was sent from the field after just 23 minutes on the pitch as a substitute - but despite some late pressure the Royals were unable to capitalise and make that vital late breakthrough.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Cummings, Bertrand, O'Dea, Ingimarsson (C), Karacan, Howard (Robson-Kanu 70), Sigurdsson (Gunnarsson 53), Kebe, McAnuff (Hunt 70), Rasiak
Subs: Hamer (GK), Mills, Tabb, Church

Watford (4-4-1-1): Loach,Mariappa (C), Doyley, Cathcart, Hodson, Cleverley (Harley 87), Eustace, Cowie, Jenkins, Lansbury (Ellington 63), Graham
Subs: Lee (GK), Bennett, Hoskins, Henderson, Bryan
Sent off: Ellington (fouls 67, 80)

Attendance: 18,147 (3,389 away)
Ref: M Haywood

First Half
A sizeable and extremely vocal travelling contingent contributed to what was a marvellous atmosphere at the Madesjski Stadium, on a balmy afternoon in Berkshire.

The Royals had the first effort of the game after just 90 seconds, with Jobi McAnuff's trickery on the left wing opening up space for Brian Howard - who smashed the ball narrowly over Scott Loach's bar.

From then on the home side seized the initiative. Grzegorz Raziak's header forced a stunning save out of Loach from Bertrand's pinpoint cross, before Sigurdsson's follow up agonizingly clipped the post and rolled away from danger.

It came therefore as no surprise as Brendan Rodgers' side took the lead on the seven minute mark. Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross deflected its way to Rasiak - who kept his composure to rifle home his first goal for the club.

The pressure kept on coming from the home side, as Jem Karacan's neatly placed pass found Jimmy Kebe in space on the right wing, though the Mali international's whipped pass was tipped away from the in-coming Rasiak.

The Polish targetman was seeing plenty of action, and headed over moments later after more work from Kebe.

Watford's first chance of the opening half fell to leading scorer Danny Graham, who fizzed a half volley just wide of the post ten minutes before the break.

It wasn't long until Reading pushed on once more, this time Shaun Cummings was the catalyst down the right hand side, as his run and cross found Rasiak again eight yards out though the Pole's header was straight at Loach.

The Watford 'keeper was the busiest man on the pitch in the opening period, and with forty minutes on the clock he was in action again - diving low to tip away Brian Howard's stinging long-range drive.

Second half
The visitors came out with all guns blazing after the break, and Royals fans were on the edge of their seats as Henri Lansbury's effort took two deflections before remarkably flicking off the legs of Adam Federici and onto the underside of the bar. It was a smart reaction save from the Aussie goalie, who showed great bravery to dive on the ball in the ensuing scramble as a Watford player went to ground.

As Brendan Rodgers introduced Brynjar Gunnarsson ten minutes in, Jobi McAnuff again tried to take back the emphasis for his side, weaving to the edge of the box before lashing an ambitious shot high and wide of the goal.

On 57 minutes Ryan Bertrand swung in a cross from deep, again finding the towering Rasiak, who jumped well before heading inches wide of the post with Loach stranded.

However an equaliser was never out the question, and indeed it arrived 65 minutes in. A searching ball into the heart of the Royals box caused problems for the back line - allowing Graham to nip in and steer a rising header past Federici for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Even when parity was restored the home side looked dangerous pushing forward, as Cummings drove to the 18-yard box before hitting a long range shot into Loach's arms with 11 minutes remaining.

It was end to end stuff at times as Watford substitute Nathan Ellington twisted and turned Ivar Ingimarsson before forcing Federici into another smart save, whilst a cross from Robson-Kanu swirled in the wind before being flicked over the bar by Kebe.

Reading were handed a boost in the 85th minute, as a rash challenge from Ellington earned the Hornets man his second yellow card - after being on the field 23 minutes.

The former Wigan man had already been cautioned for a late tackle on Adam Federici, and earned a red by clattering Jem Karacan on the byline.

However despite some intense pressure in the closing stages the home side were unable to find the crucial winner, and will be forced to resume their search for three points in Lancashire on Tuesday evening at Preston.

    Data provided by Press Association