The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex Smith

AL­MEN Abdi gave Steve Clarke a rough re­turn to man­age­ment as his sec­ond half win­ner edged ten-man Wat­ford past Read­ing – but the new Roy­als boss al­ready knows where his prob­lems lie on the pitch.

Swiss mid­fielder Abdi drilled un­der Adam Fed­erici in the 70th minute after Hor­nets’ cen­tre-back Gabriele An­gella was sent off mo­ments be­fore half-time for a sec­ond yel­low card.

For­mer West Brom man­ager Clarke was ap­pointed on Tues­day after Nigel Ad­kins was sacked fol­low­ing Read­ing’s 6-1 de­feat at Birm­ing­ham.

And the lack of goalscor­ing po­tency from Read­ing showed new boss Clarke the task in front of him.

“Strik­ers are there to miss chances, that is what they do,” Clarke said. “Oc­ca­sion­ally they get them in the net and that makes every­body happy.

“I’m look­ing on the pitch and I have all my ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers out there. As a coach look­ing for a goal to nick a 1-1 and your goalscor­ers are on the pitch, you aren’t go­ing to take them off.

“We had a chance to go ahead in the first minute but didn’t take it. We had another cou­ple of chances that on another day could have been goals.”

Ref­eree Gavin Ward booked the hap­less An­gella for drag­ging back a coun­ter­ing Glenn Mur­ray be­fore stick­ing out a hand while slip­ping to earn his march­ing or­ders.

Wat­ford man­ager Slav­isa Jokanovic was left frus­trated by the decision, and he said:“It was a soft chal­lenge for the first yel­low then he slid ac­ci­dently. I don’t know if he touched it with his hand.

“Some­times it is clear when a player should be sent off but I’m not too sure. For English foot­ball it was a soft red card.

“Refs some­times make mis­takes, he made a mis­take but he’ll be bet­ter in the fu­ture.”

The Roy­als should have made the pro­mo­tion-chas­ing away side pay for An­gella’s mis­for­tune but a se­ries of chances went beg­ging.

Crys­tal Palace loa­nee Mur­ray volleyed over inside the first minute be­fore he dragged wide after a low Jor­dan Obita cross late in the first half.

The striker should have scored ten min­utes after the in­ter­val as he curled his one-on-one ef­fort wide, at­tempt­ing to cap­i­talise on a Craig Cath­cart missed clear­ance.

But the chance of the game fell to Nick Black­man who in­ex­pli­ca­bly dragged his open goal tap in from two yards wide after a cross from Garath McCleary.

“It was a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult, that goes with­out say­ing,” Clarke said. “I only had two train­ing ses­sions and three or four meet­ings but they tried to put into prac­tice the prin­ci­ples I asked of them.

“By and large we re­stricted Wat­ford to longer dis­tance shots. I can only re­mem­ber Adam mak­ing two stops. In a strange way I think the send­ing off helped Wat­ford as it al­lowed them to ce­ment their game plan.

“In the sec­ond half the first goal was al­ways go­ing to be cru­cial so it’s un­for­tu­nate for us it fell to them after we missed two or three chances to make it 1-0 to us."

Wat­ford had few chances through­out but forced Fed­erici into two div­ing stops in the first half, cur­tesy of Daniel Pur­dil’s head and a half vol­ley from the lively Abdi.

But the re­sult gives Wat­ford a four-point buf­fer in the play-off places after a third straight win.

“It was very im­por­tant for us to win,” Jokanovic added. “I’m very proud of my team es­pe­cially in the last 15 min­utes where we de­fended well. It was im­por­tant to win this type of game. We played very well with ten men and that is very im­por­tant for a side in our po­si­tion.

“We had four bad re­sults in a row and now we have won three in a row. It is good for con­fi­dence for the club and con­fi­dence for the fans.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

OFF YOU GO: Gabriele An­gella han­dles and is shown a sec­ond yel­low card. In­set: Al­men Abdi cel­e­brates the win­ner for Wat­ford

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