Reading maintain perfect start with victory over Watford
Reading stretched their 100 per cent start to the Championship season to four matches with a 1-0 win over Watford at Madejski Stadium.
Watford dominated much of the first half, with midfielder James Garner striking the home crossbar from a 20-yard free kick.
But Reading poached the lead in the 41st minute, George Puscas pouncing from close range with a deflected effort.
In a more even second period, Watford threatened only sporadically and Reading held on for a relatively comfortable victory.
Reading had won their opening three league matches for the first time since the 1985-86 campaign, when they went on to set a record of 13 victories in a row in the old Third Division – a league landmark that still stands today.
Watford, relegated from the Premier League last season, were also unbeaten in their first three games having collected seven points without conceding a goal.
For head coach Vladimir Ivic, the trip to Berkshire meant a renewal of acquaintances with Reading manager Veljko Paunovic – his former international team-mate with Serbia & Montenegro in 2004.
It was Ivic’s side who started the better, with Tom Dele-Bashiru’s well-struck cross failing to find a team-mate in the home area.
Jeremy Ngakia then spurned a great opportunity, slicing his shot glaringly wide after being set free by Kiko Femenia.
Reading gradually edged their way back into the game, with Michael Olise cutting in from the left flank before firing narrowly over the bar.
But Watford almost went ahead in the 23rd minute after winning a free kick on the edge of the Reading box.
Garner, on loan from Manchester United, sent in a fierce, curling effort that defied the leap of home goalkeeper Rafael but thumped against the bar.
Watford keeper Ben Foster did well to thwart a powerful volley from Yakou Meite but could do little soon after as Reading went in front.
Four minutes before the interval, Puscas latched on to a mis-hit Tom Holmes drive, turned sharply and guided his attempt – with the aid of a deflection – past the stranded Foster.
After scoring 14 goals last term, it was the Romania striker’s first this season.
Watford responded swiftly after the break, Rafael having to punch away a strong angled effort by Femenia.
Reading soon replied, though, when defender Holmes ventured enterprisingly upfield only to fire wildly over when in sight of goal.
Meite did then manage to find the target but drove tamely at Foster.
Garner again tried his luck from a 20-yard free kick but, this time, the ball comfortably cleared the bar instead of striking it – and Watford’s hopes of forcing an equaliser went with it.