Watford hit back to draw 3-3 with Reading
Fabbrini pinches a point
FOR a side made up of Spaniards, Italians and Brazilians, Watford showed a very British attitude not to lie down and accept defeat.
Gianfranco Zola’s side were as good in the second half as they were bad in the first when they went 2-0 down at the break.
But with some game-changing substitutions and a never-say-die attitude Watford earned a point from a game that looked dead and buried at half time.
Zola praised his side for not losing the game, but acknowledged that his players have to learn to adapt to the fast pace of the Championship – and quickly.
He said: “There are a lot of new players in the squad and lots of them are foreign and maybe they thought that the game builds slowly like it some other leagues, but they need to learn to start games with a high intensity.
“At half-time I told the players that it was not enough. I thought we were scratching their back and they were punishing us.
“But it pleased me that we never gave up. That is the good thing about this side, sides can score one or two against us but we will not be beaten easily. I am delighted we have that quality in this side.”
Reading took the lead on eight minutes when Adam Le Fondre fired the home side into the lead in spectacular fashion.
Watford keeper Manuel Almunia came off his line to clear a cross from Jobi McAnuff and could only punch it as far as the edge of the area where Le Fondre was waiting and hit a first-time volley through a crowded penalty area into the top corner.
It was no more than Reading deserved and they should have doubled the lead on the half hour mark when Le Fondre robbed possession from Gabriele Angella on the edge of the area but fired his shot straight at ex-Arsenal Almunia.
But the second came before the break when Danny Guthrie floated a free-kick to the back post where Alex Pearce headed the ball into the six-yard box, where Jem Karacan saw his shot saved my Almunia, but the ball rebounded back to the midfielder and he bundled the ball over the line.
It looked like game over with Watford offering little in the way of attack in the first half – but that changed after the break, once Zola had got his point across at half-time.
First Marco Faraoni scored a header from an Almen Abdi corner to give them hope but Karacan soon dampened their spirits, scoring his second of the game after good work from Le Fondre and Nick Blackman.
But Watford were given a lifeline when Diego Fabbrini was pulled down in the box by Guthrie and referee Mike Jones had no hesitiation in pointing to the spot.
Troy Deeney stepped up to coolly slot the ball past Alex McCarthy from the resulting spotkick.
And with stoppage time approaching substitute Fabbrini prodded the ball past McCarthy from close range from a Lewis McGugan deflected shot to salvage a point for the Hornets and bring an end to this thrilling encounter.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins tried not to be too downbeat after the game.
He said: “It was a cracking game of football. It really was. But for a late deflection we could have won the game.
“It was an excellent goal from Adam Le Fondre and then we did well to go in at half time 2-0 up and we deserved that.
“The game was far too open and we gave possession away too easily we could not see the game out thanks to a deflection falls into the path of their player.
“There were a lot of positives going forward and we played good football, and but for a late deflection we could have been celebrating.”
PHEW: Watford’s Diego Fabbrini celebrates his late leveller
HAVE SOME OF THAT: Reading’s Adam Le Fondre scores their first goal
8 Pulled off two brilliant saves to keep his side in the lead, helpless for the goals
CHRIS GUNTER Solid at the back in the first half but undone in the second half
7 Composed performance from the experienced former England international
5 Game of two halves. Did well in the first, not so good in the second
6 Strong at the back to keep Deeney quiet and did well to set up the second goal
8 Stayed alert to take his goal well and linked up well in midfield with McAnuff
7 Played his part in the dominant midfield, good free kick that lead to the second goal
7 Good hold up play and strong on the ball, made it tough to get the ball off him
7 Good strong running in the middle of the park from the skipper
6 Booked for a poor challenge on Forestieri but linked up well with Le Fondre
ADAM LE FONDRE
8 Took his goal brilliantly shown. A natural goalscorer who has the ability to fire Reading to promotion
SUBSTITUTES WILLIAMS 6; FOR DRENTHE (69) ROBSON-KANU 6; FOR McANUFF (74) McCLEARY 5; FOR KARACAN (83) SUBS NOT USED: FEDERICI, KELLY, MARIAPPA, POGREBNYAK
6 Poor clearance lead to Reading’s opener, but made up for it with some good saves
5 Could not do anything to stop either goal, tough afternoon against the Reading forwards
5 Difficult afternoon trying to deal with Le Fondre and came off second best
5 Tough first half against a strong Reading attack. Replaced at half time
7 Got his side back into the game with a good header in the second half
6 Linked up well in midfield and crossed well for Watford’s first
6 Played well throughout and helped get his side back into the game
6 Had one chance in the first half that was comfortably saved
6 Looked positive and was happy to run with the ball and try and beat his man on the flank
7 The in demand striker did not have too many chances, but took his penalty well
5 Quite afternoon, had one chance that he flashed across goal
SUBSTITUTES BROWN 6; FOR EKSTRAND (46) FABBRINI 8; FOR IRINEY (59) ACUNA 7; FOR FORESTIERI (76) SUBS NOT USED: BOND, PUDIL, SMITH, BATTOCCHIO