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Watford FC v Reading FC: Match Preview

Reading travel to Vicarage Road to face promotion hopefuls Watford. Phil Owtram previews the action.

Ian Walton/Getty Images

Watford FC v Reading FC 
League Championship
Saturday 14th March, KO 3PM
Vicarage Road Stadium
Referee: Darren Bond

Reading (16th)
Form (all comps): WDDLL
Reading v Brighton: 2-1
Bradford v Reading (FA Cup): 0-0
Bolton v Reading: 1-1
Reading v Nottingham Forest: 0-3
Huddersfield v Reading: 3-0
Manager: Steve Clarke

Reading secured their first win in five as they beat Brighton at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night. Jamie Mackie was the star of the show and continued his scoring form in the league by grabbing a double against the Seagulls. The win lifted Reading up to 16th in the Championship table, 13 points ahead of the drop zone as the Royals move closer to official safety. With their FA Cup quarter-final replay with Bradford to come on Monday, Reading must first concentrate on their game this afternoon at Vicarage Road which comes just 53 hours before they face the Bantams.

Watford (3rd)
Form (all comps): DWWWL
Wolves v Watford: 2-2
Watford v Fulham: 1-0
Leeds v Watford: 2-3
Watford v Rotherham: 3-0
Watford v Norwich: 0-3
Manager: Slaviša Jokanović

Watford come into this one as one of the four teams sitting on top of the Championship with 66 points. Although the battle against relegation looks now like a forgone conclusion, the fight for automatic promotion looks like it could be the most competitive we have ever seen. Watford sits level with Middlesbrough, Derby and Bournemouth who are officially in first place on goal difference alone. With key games against Derby and Middlebrough to come this is a key game for the Hornets as they seek promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since the 2006/07 season. You just feel with their FA Cup quarter-final replay to come on Monday Reading might just lose a little focus in this game and Watford may just want and need the 3 points that little bit more.

Last five meetings

20 Dec  2014 Reading v Watford L 0-1 League Championship
11 Jan 2014 Watford v Reading W 0-1 League Championship
17 Aug 2013 Reading v Watford D 3-3 League Championship
14 Jan 2012 Watford v Reading W 1-2 League Championship
10 Sep 2011 Reading v Watford L 0-2 League Championship

Head to Head
Saturday’s game will be the 116th meeting between these two sides in all competitions. With Watford holding the slightly better head to head record thanks to their 1-0 win at Madejski Stadium in December meaning they now have 45 wins over the Royals who have been victorious on 44 occasions and there have been 26 draws. Their last 10 meetings have all been in the Championship of which Reading have won 3, Watford 3 and there have been 4 draws – so pretty even. Last season the teams played out an exciting 3-3 draw at Madejski Stadium during which Reading had established a 3-1 lead only to be pegged back to 3-3 in the 90th minute. The game at Vicarage Road saw the Royals win 1-0 thanks to a Kaspars Gorkss goal.

Team News

Reading: Manager Steve Clarke will assess left back Juri Travner's fitness, after he was unable to make his debut in midweek due to injury. Anton Ferdinand is unavailable, whilst the club will wait on international clearance for new signing Zat Knight.

Watford: Watford midfielder Almen Abdi and striker Odion Ighalo (both hamstring) will be assessed ahead of the match. Defender Tommie Hoban serves a one-match ban and midfielder Sean Murray (knee) remains sidelined.

Prediction: Watford 2-0 Reading