Kaspars Gorkss scored as Reading subjected Beppe Sannino to his first defeat as Watford head coach.

The Latvian defender headed Jordan Obita's corner home early on to make Reading's only attempt on target tell.

A header and stinging shot from Troy Deeney were saved by Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, before Fernando Forestieri fired over from six yards.

McCarthy saved from Lewis McGugan late on, before Watford debutant Alexander Merkel was sent off for a poor tackle.

Since succeeding Gianfranco Zola in December, head coach Sannino had guided Watford to a win and three draws prior to the visit of Nigel Adkins's side.

The hosts created the bulk of the chances at Vicarage Road, but Reading, with McCarthy excelling, showed a resilience to earn a first win in six matches.

Despite their poor run of form, the win moves the Royals to within one point of the play-offs.

Watford, who missed promotion in the play-off final last season, remain in the bottom half of the table.

Gorkss glanced his fifth-minute header past Manuel Almunia after Obita's fine delivery and the lead was almost extended when Jobi McAnuff shot wide.

Watford responded well and McGugan's deliveries posed problems for the visiting defence before Sean Murray came agonisingly close to connecting with Daniel Pudil's delivery across goal.

Barring a wayward Adam Le Fondre shot, Reading spent much of the second period under pressure as they protected only their second goal in five matches.

Deeney's header and shot on the turn forced McCarthy into action, before the striker's cross was blazed over by the unmarked Forestieri.

It was Watford's golden chance to extend their four-match unbeaten run and when Merkel saw red for a reckless challenge on Nick Blackman, their frustrating day was complete.

Watford head coach Beppe Sannino:

"I would like to see my players always play good football, nice and easy football as well, but we were a little bit slow today.

"It was difficult to come out with the ball. We played a lot of back passes which disappointed me, that was the point I didn't like today. But it is a part of my job. What we saw in the second half is giving me a lot of positives."

Reading manager Nigel Adkins:

"I thought we played some good football in the first half against what I believe is a good side in Watford.

"We've got a lot of players out who have been out injured for a long time and obviously (it comes) on the back of a couple of disappointing results over Christmas.

"Obviously the form over Christmas with the results going against us wasn't ideal and Leicester are doing a great job now where they are in the league.

"But we're back on track for the play-off positions with 21 games to go and we're really going to enjoy the second half of the season."

Lineup, Bookings (8) & Substitutions (6)

Watford

  • 01 Almunia
  • 03 Bellerín (Forestieri - 55' Booked )
  • 18 Pudil Booked
  • 06 Ekstrand
  • 04 Angella
  • 12 Doyley (Faraoni - 78' )
  • 08 Merkel Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 16 Murray (Battocchio - 73' )
  • 20 Fabbrini
  • 09 Deeney
  • 10 McGugan

Substitutes

  • 07 Battocchio
  • 11 Forestieri
  • 17 Hall
  • 19 Faraoni
  • 23 Iriney
  • 24 Woods
  • 33 Nosworthy

Reading

  • 21 McCarthy
  • 12 McCleary (Taylor - 87' )
  • 11 McAnuff Booked
  • 05 Pearce
  • 17 Gorkss
  • 02 Gunter
  • 23 Williams
  • 16 Akpan Booked (Blackman - 82' Booked )
  • 09 Le Fondre Booked
  • 07 Pogrebnyak
  • 37 Obita (Cummings - 85' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Federici
  • 03 Kelly
  • 10 Drenthe
  • 22 Blackman
  • 24 Cummings
  • 25 Taylor
  • 35 Hector
Ref: Keith Stroud
Att: 15,725

Match Stats

Shots

19 15

On target

5 1

Corners

5 3

Fouls

16 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Watford 0, Reading 1.

90:00 +7:00 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Watford 0, Reading 1.

90:00 +6:45 Booking

Booking Daniel Pudil (Watford) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +5:42 Booking

Booking Nick Blackman (Reading) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

90:00 +5:38

Gabriele Angella (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +5:38

Foul by Nick Blackman (Reading).

90:00 +3:53 Dismissal

Dismissal Alexander Merkel (Watford) is shown the red card.

90:00 +3:40

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

90:00 +3:40

Nick Blackman (Reading) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +1:47

Attempt missed. Marco Davide Faraoni (Watford) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Diego Fabbrini.

90:00 +1:16

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Daniel Williams.

89:02

Attempt missed. Fernando Forestieri (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Alexander Merkel.

87:30

Attempt missed. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) header from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Jake Taylor with a cross.

86:47

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

86:47

Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.

86:32 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Reading. Jake Taylor replaces Garath McCleary.

85:31

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Shaun Cummings.

84:27 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Reading. Shaun Cummings replaces Jordan Obita.

82:25 Booking

Booking Fernando Forestieri (Watford) is shown the yellow card.

82:13

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) has gone down, but that's a dive.

81:19 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Reading. Nick Blackman replaces Hope Akpan.

80:39

Offside, Watford. Cristian Battocchio tries a through ball, but Marco Davide Faraoni is caught offside.

80:23

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

80:23

Foul by Chris Gunter (Reading).

79:38

Attempt blocked. Garath McCleary (Reading) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

79:34

Attempt missed. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Garath McCleary following a set piece situation.

79:32

Attempt missed. Alex Pearce (Reading) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jobi McAnuff with a cross following a set piece situation.

78:40

Foul by Lewis McGugan (Watford).

78:40

Jobi McAnuff (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.

77:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Watford. Marco Davide Faraoni replaces Lloyd Doyley.

77:11

Foul by Lewis McGugan (Watford).

77:11

Chris Gunter (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:44

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Garath McCleary.

72:04 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Watford. Cristian Battocchio replaces Sean Murray.

69:44

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

69:44

Adam Le Fondre (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.

69:12

Attempt missed. Gabriele Angella (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Lewis McGugan with a cross.

66:55

Attempt missed. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Lloyd Doyley.

66:53

Attempt blocked. Diego Fabbrini (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lewis McGugan.

65:11

Attempt missed. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Sean Murray.

64:26

Joel Ekstrand (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

64:26

Foul by Adam Le Fondre (Reading).

63:20

Attempt missed. Fernando Forestieri (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Troy Deeney with a cross.

61:47

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Alex McCarthy.

61:43

Attempt saved. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Pudil.

59:51

Attempt missed. Fernando Forestieri (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Troy Deeney.

58:26

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

58:26

Jobi McAnuff (Reading) wins a free kick on the left wing.

57:30 Booking

Booking Jobi McAnuff (Reading) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

57:25

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

57:25

Foul by Jobi McAnuff (Reading).

56:22

Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

56:22

Kaspars Gorkss (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:05

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Hope Akpan.

55:00 Booking

Booking Hope Akpan (Reading) is shown the yellow card.

54:49

Lewis McGugan (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.

54:49

Foul by Hope Akpan (Reading).

54:20

Attempt blocked. Jobi McAnuff (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

54:05 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Watford. Fernando Forestieri replaces Héctor Bellerín.

53:06

Attempt missed. Adam Le Fondre (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Pavel Pogrebnyak with a headed pass.

51:10

Attempt missed. Daniel Williams (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Adam Le Fondre following a fast break.

50:52

Attempt saved. Troy Deeney (Watford) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín.

49:00

Attempt missed. Daniel Williams (Reading) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high following a corner.

48:33

Corner, Reading. Conceded by Joel Ekstrand.

46:16

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:16

Foul by Hope Akpan (Reading).

45:00

Second Half begins Watford 0, Reading 1.

45:00 +1:26 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Watford 0, Reading 1.

45:00 +0:47

Foul by Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading).

45:00 +0:47

Alexander Merkel (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

42:56

Foul by Alex Pearce (Reading).

42:56

Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

42:27

Attempt missed. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Jordan Obita with a cross following a set piece situation.

41:42 Booking

Booking Alexander Merkel (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

41:27

Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.

41:27

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

38:38

Foul by Garath McCleary (Reading).

38:38

Joel Ekstrand (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

36:36

Attempt missed. Gabriele Angella (Watford) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín.

35:56

Foul by Kaspars Gorkss (Reading).

35:56

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:56

Foul by Daniel Williams (Reading).

33:56

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:00

Garath McCleary (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.

33:00

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

29:02

Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

29:02

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

28:26

Hand ball by Garath McCleary (Reading).

27:54

Corner, Reading. Conceded by Daniel Pudil.

23:27

Hope Akpan (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:27

Foul by Diego Fabbrini (Watford).

22:52

Attempt missed. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) header from the right side of the six yard box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jobi McAnuff with a cross following a set piece situation.

22:11

Jobi McAnuff (Reading) wins a free kick on the left wing.

22:11

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Watford).

20:29

Foul by Hope Akpan (Reading).

20:29

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.

20:06

Attempt blocked. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

19:51

Adam Le Fondre (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

19:51

Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).

18:57

Attempt saved. Alexander Merkel (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

16:43

Attempt blocked. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

16:27 Booking

Booking Adam Le Fondre (Reading) is shown the yellow card.

15:15

Foul by Hope Akpan (Reading).

15:15

Diego Fabbrini (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

14:04

Attempt missed. Jobi McAnuff (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

12:07

Attempt blocked. Diego Fabbrini (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

10:39

Attempt missed. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Daniel Williams.

8:08

Attempt missed. Lewis McGugan (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

4:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Watford 0, Reading 1. Kaspars Gorkss (Reading) header from the right side of the six yard box to the top left corner. Assisted by Jordan Obita with a cross following a corner.

4:26

Corner, Reading. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.

4:24

Attempt blocked. Jordan Obita (Reading) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Pavel Pogrebnyak.

1:25

Offside, Reading. Jobi McAnuff tries a through ball, but Kaspars Gorkss is caught offside.

0:57

Adam Le Fondre (Reading) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

0:57

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

0:17

Attempt blocked. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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