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Match Previews

🔜 Ahead of the game | Vying for victory at Vicarage Road

Royals headed to Hertfordshire for Watford test

8 April 2021

As we approach what is very much the business end of the campaign, with just six games and a month left of a crazy campaign, the Royals travel to Vicarage Road to face automatic-promotion contenders, Watford.

After coming through the Easter weekend with four points from a possible six against Barnsley and Derby County, Veljko Paunovic's side will be seeking three more points on the road, when they make the short trip to Hertforshire on Friday night. 

The Hornets, our hosts for the televised contest, have won six of their last seven outings and find themselves clear in second spot going into the visit of the Royals. Victory for Reading would see them become the first team to complete a league double over Watford this season, after edging them out with a 1-0 win back in October.

How to watch

Friday evening's meeting with the Hornets has been selected for live coverage by Sky Sports, which means on this occasion supporters will not be able to watch via iFollow.

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If you’re not a Sky subscriber, you can get a Day Pass on NOW TV for 24 hours’ worth of access to all 11 Sky Sports channels.

Soccer Sight: audio descriptive commentary service

Watford offer home and away supporters who are visually impaired the opportunity to listen to audio descriptive commentary via their Soccer Sight service. This takes place via a conference call system via telephone.

In order to request to listen to this commentary, please send an SMS or WhatsApp to 07584 518 504. Please also specify what number you would like to receive the call, and what time you would like to be added to the conference call (available from 7.15pm ahead of 7.45pm kick-off).

If for any reason you drop out of the call during the match, please send an SMS or WhatsApp message to the same number to be re-added to the call.

NB. This service is specifically aimed at supporters with visual impairments.

The opposition

Having taken over from Vladimir Ivic who suffered a dismissal in December, Xisco's first few months in English football have been a resounding success, and he has lifted the Hornets from play-off contenders, to favourites to secure one of two spots securing an instant return to the Premier League. 

The Spaniard and former-winger was won 14 of his first 21 games in charge at Vicarage Road, and this impressive vain of form has seen his team surge into second with a handful games left to tick off. Watford have not suffered defeat in seven games, since a 1-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth in late February.

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Last time out, Watford were held to a 1-1 draw by Neil Warnock's Middlesbrough, as Ismaila Sarr's early effort was cancelled out with 12 minutes left on the clock. Since Xisco took to the dugout, the Hornets have tasted defeat just four times. 

One to watch: Ismaila Sarr

Having joined Watford for a reported club record fee of approx £30m in August 2019, Sarr had a lot to live up to. In his first season with the Hornets, with whom he signed from Ligue 1 side, Rennes, Sarr netted five goals in 28 Premier League outings but was unable to prevent his side from suffering relegation to the Championship.

This season, the 23-year-old Senegalese international has stepped up to become arguably Watford's star man, with 10 goals to his name in 35 appearances so far. 

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The winger began his career as part of Dakar-based side Generation Foot's academy, before making his move into France with Metz in July 2016. A year later, having proved a hit at Metz, Sarr moved to Rennes, reportedly favouring them over a switch to Spanish giants Barcelona.

While at the Roazhon Park, Sarr won the Coupe de France, and the Europa League Goal of the Season. This year, he has netted to inspire his side to wins over Stoke City, Coventry City, Norwich City, Bristol City, Blackburn and Rotherham. He also scored Watford's opener in their last outing, to earn an Easter Monday point against Boro.

Pre-match chat

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Head-to-head

The Royals have won just four of their last 15 meetings with Watford, but will take hope from this season's reverse fixture, when we ran out 1-0 winners over the Hornets thanks to an early George Puscas strike which sealed us victory in early October. 

We haven't visited Vicarage Road since March 2015, when we suffered a 4-1 defeat during which Jem Karacan was the man to find the net on a tough afternoon for Reading.

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Our last victory at the home of the Hornets came in January 2014, as the Royals put in a perfect away performance to come away with a 1-0 and all three points thanks to a single goal from Latvian midfielder Kaspars Gorkšs.

Reading have won 45 and drawn 26 of a total 119 clashes between the teams, dating back to our first meeting, a 2-1 win for the Royals all the way back in February 1921.

Ref watch

James Linington will be the man bearing the whistle at Vicarage Road on Friday evening, for what will be his second Reading game of the season.

Linington last took charge of a Royals fixture back in late January, as he officiated our 3-1 win over fellow play-off hopefuls AFC Bournemouth at Madejski Stadium.

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George Bryne and Sam Lewis will assist Linington in Watford, while Dean Whitestone will be the fourth official on this occasion.

During his 26 league games to date, Linington has brandished 58 yellow cards and three additional red cards.

Reminder

A polite reminder to our supporters that no unauthorised access will be permitted to this game, so supporters must not travel to Vicarage Road.

We can’t wait to see you all again soon – but for now it’s important that when we play, please stay away.


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