Sky Bet Championship: Steve Clarke's Reading reign begins with Watford defeat
Last Updated: 21/12/14 7:32pm
Steve Clarke's Reading tenure began with a 1-0 defeat to 10-man Watford at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading dominated most of the Sky Bet Championship encounter, especially after Watford centre-back Gabriele Angella was sent off for picking up a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time.
Watford hung on, as Reading squandered a series of chances, and broke away to score with 20 minutes remaining through Almen Abdi.
Clarke was appointed as Reading manager on Tuesday, the day after Nigel Adkins had been dismissed, on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
The former West Brom head coach, who left The Hawthorns 12 months ago, inherited a Reading side that had lost nine games out of 15 in all competitions, culminating in the 6-1 defeat at Birmingham last Saturday.
Clarke almost enjoyed the perfect start, with Reading piercing the Watford defence after just 46 seconds. Jordan Obita crossed from the left and Glenn Murray, all alone at the far post, volleyed wildly over the crossbar.
Watford, 10 points ahead of the hosts at kick-off, had only recently emerged from their own poor run of four successive defeats with victories over Fulham and Wigan.
They were quick to respond to Reading's early thrust, with Daniel Pudil's header from an Adlene Guedioura cross forcing a smart save from home goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Reading should have done better when Angella clumsily fouled Murray on the edge of the Watford area, but Oliver Norwood's free-kick flew harmlessly over the bar.
Watford's penetration faded as the half wore on, with Reading creating several good openings.
Chris Gunter nodded wide from a Simon Cox cutback, Nick Blackman headed wide from a deep Gunter cross and Murray went close to touching in Obita's low, near-post cross.
One minute into first-half stoppage time, Watford's task became even harder when Angella was sent off for a second yellow card - just eight minutes after his first. Garath McCleary went past him and, as the centre-back fell to the ground, he deliberately handled to impede McCleary's progress.
Watford responded well to be being a man down, pushing forward positively in the early stages of the second half.
But Reading weathered the pressure and should have gone ahead when Murray burst clear. But with the angle tight, he drove across the face of the goal.
Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes then made a superb double save to keep out McCleary's 20-yard effort and then Gunter's fierce follow-up effort.
As Reading's tempo increased, it was all Watford could do to hang on. When McCleary crossed from the right, Blackman somehow missed from close range at the far post.
But, suddenly, Watford broke away in the 70th minute to go ahead. Ikechi Anya escaped along the left flank and crossed precisely for Abdi to guide home a low shot past Federici.
Watford then hung on grimly to record a third successive victory.