Smith pays penalty as Kelly eyes late point

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - By STEVE MOR­GAN By Harry Pratt

BRENT­FORD’S search for their first Cham­pi­onship win of the sea­son con­tin­ued as Read­ing came from be­hind to nick a point.

Josh Clarke broke the dead­lock for the Bees af­ter

16 min­utes, ex­chang­ing passes with Neal Mau­pay on the edge of the box be­fore smash­ing a ris­ing drive into the roof of the net.

But Liam Kelly lev­elled from the spot mid­way through the sec­ond half af­ter a con­tro­ver­sial penalty.

For­mer Brent­ford loa­nee Liam Moore went to ground in the box, with Rico Henry pick­ing up a yel­low card for the chal­lenge.

Brent­ford had all the pos­ses­sion and looked the side more likely to take max­i­mum points with Ro­maine Sawyers and Ryan Woods pulling the strings, but they lacked any cut­ting edge in the box.

And once again Dean Smith’s side were left to rue a se­ries of missed chances ei­ther side of the break to record their first league win since April.

Smith said: “I can’t fault our at­ti­tude or qual­ity, apart from

15 min­utes af­ter half-time. We are cre­at­ing chances and work­ing hard but the luck just isn’t with us.

“I’ve even asked the lads if any of them have smashed a mir­ror over the sum­mer.”

Af­ter Clarke’s opener, Kamo­h­elo Mokotjo al­most dou­bled their lead af­ter 21 min­utes when Ol­lie Watkins’ back­heel played him in but Vito Man­none was equal to his dip­ping 20-yard drive.

Read­ing started brightly af­ter the break and sub­sti­tute Roy Beerens forced a su­perb save from Dan Bent­ley.

Bees cen­tre-back An­dreas Bjel­land then thought he had put the hosts ahead but in­stead he saw three ef­forts blocked on the line by the legs of Read­ing de­fend­ers.

Read­ing boss Jaap Stam ad­mit­ted his side were for­tu­nate to leave west Lon­don with a point.

“We are very pleased be­cause we had a hard time in the first half and didn’t play to our usual stan­dards,” he said. “Our choices on the ball were not good enough and we gave the ball away too quickly.”

EL­TON JOHN was in town to watch this bat­tle for the sum­mit.

Well, the ex-Wat­ford owner must have felt like play­ing his old song I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues on his way home last night.

That was the pop king’s big hit of 1982 – the same year that his beloved Hor­nets led the English top flight for the only time in their his­tory.

Well, hav­ing seen them fail to re­peat that trick yes­ter­day, it sure seemed like an ap­pro­pri­ate track to be on the decks.

For, in­stead of Wat­ford, it is the blue flag of Manch­ester City cur­rently fly­ing high and mighty at the top of the ta­ble.

Pep Guardiola’s men are un­stop­pable right now. With Ser­gio Aguero and Gabriel Je­sus plun­der­ing goals wher­ever they go, they are way too hot to han­dle.

Guardiola said: “We played re­ally good be­cause it’s al­ways com­pli­cated af­ter a Cham­pi­ons League away game.

“It’s not easy to score 15 goals in a week. Some­times you have to wait weeks for that to hap­pen. The amount of goals is not so im­por­tant now – but it’s good to score them be­cause maybe that will de­cide things in the end.”

But the ex-Bay­ern and Barcelona chief was quick to play down his part in the way City are rip­ping the op­po­si­tion to shreds.

He added: “I’m a spec­ta­tor. Man­agers have good ideas but, with­out these play­ers, it is very dif­fi­cult. But we look more sta­ble this sea­son and we have a good team spirit and bal­ance.”

Aguero grabbed a hat-trick to take his tally for the sea­son to seven, while Brazil­ian part­ner in crime Je­sus made it 11 in 15 Pre­mier League starts.

With Ni­co­las Ota­mendi and Ra­heem Ster­ling also on the score­sheet, City steam­rollered Wat­ford for a third suc­ces­sive away vic­tory – and hit pole

TAP-IN: Aguero dou­bles City’s lead to fin­ish a great move ■

GIFT OF THE GAB: Je­sus makes it 3-0 just be­fore half-time ■

THREESY DOES IT: Aguero weaves his way through the Wat­ford de­fence for his hat-trick

EQUALISER: Liam Kelly

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