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Watkins heads winner as Brentford continue fine form with victory over Reading

Ollie Watkins fired in-form Brentford to within striking distance of the Championship play-offs with a 1-0 victory over Reading.

The Bees racked up a fifth win from their last six matches and dealt Royals boss Mark Bowen a first defeat since he took charge last month.

Watkins’ well-taken header was his 11th goal of the campaign and, if he stays in this sort of form, Brentford could yet mark their final season at Griffin Park with a genuine promotion push.

Reading, unbeaten in their previous four outings, almost gifted the hosts an early lead when Michael Morrison’s back-pass sold keeper Rafael Cabral short.

Watkins dived in to block Rafael’s clearance and the ball cannoned back off the striker only to bounce inches wide.

Rico Henry, who needed lengthy treatment for an elbow in the mouth early on, then raided down the left and pulled the ball back for Said Benrahma, who skewed his shot wide.

Henry got in again after referee David Coote played an advantage following a foul on Watkins, but his angled drive was blocked by Rafael.

But Reading had the best chance of the first period on the half-hour mark when George Puscas burst through on goal.

The Romanian forward opted to go round David Raya rather than shoot and the Bees keeper got down well to make the save.

As half-time approached, Bryan Mbeumo’s deflected drive from the edge of the box was tipped round the past by Rafael.

After the break Henry scampered clear down the left again and crossed for Watkins, who missed his kick in front of goal.

But the breakthrough came on the hour with that man Henry in the thick of it again.

The full-back laid the ball off to Mathias Jenson, who curled in an inviting cross which Watkins emphatically headed back across Rafael and inside the far post.

Watkins was denied a second moments later when Rafael somehow kept him at bay two yards out following a goalmouth scramble.

Reading chased an equaliser but Ovie Ejaria blazed over and Andy Yiadom fired agonisingly wide as Brentford marched on.