Ighalo strikes to secure first win of the season.

13/09/2015 19:42

Heroic. Phenomenal. Fantastic. These are three words that spring to mind when you come to describe Watford's performance against Swansea on Saturday.

The Hornets had to spend the final 30 minutes with ten men, after Valon Berhami received a straight red card for a stamp on Andre Ayew, but Quique Sanchez Flores' were not deterred, as they held on to grind out a 1-0 victory over the Swans.

Odion Ighalo's strike on the hour mark proved to be the winner, as he calming slotted past Lukasz Fabianski after picking up on a Troy Deeney flick on that split the Swans defence wide open.

Quique Sanchez Flores made one change to the side, with Ikechi Anya replacing Jose Holebas at left-back. New signining Victor Ibarbo was on the bench and he was surprisingly joined by Lloyd Dyer on the subs

The Hornets' started brightly and their first opportunity came their way in the 11th minute. Jurado's disappointing free kick was cleared only as far as Ikechi Anya, who's deep cross was nodded back into the path of Sebastian Prodl, whose half volley flew just over the bar.

Watford's early dominance continued and they were so close to taking the lead in the 17th minute. 'The Professor' Almen Abdi saw a deflected effort go a wisker wide of Fabianski's post after neat build up play between the Swiss maestro, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. Fabianski was rooted to the spot and the Hornets would surely have taken the lead if Abdi's shot hadn't taken a slight deflection. It looked like it could be one of those days.

Swansea grew into the game and Bafitimbi Gomis forced a smart save from Heurelho Gomes after 21 minutes had been played.

Abdi sent an ambitious volley over the bar shortly after, before another good chance came Watford's way minutes later.

Troy Deeney was to go close this time with the Hornets' skippers shot swerving inches wide of the post, after a neat one-two with Capoue gave Deeney same space to work with.

However the Hornets promising start may have gone down the pan, should Bafitimbi Gomis have converted five minutes before half-time. Anya dawdled on the ball and was dispossessed far to easily by Ayew on the right. The former Marseille man strode towards the by-line before crossing for Gomis, who could only fire straight at Gomes in the Hornets goal.

Odion Ighalo was to see a shot from a tight angle saved by Fabianski, when a pass to the unmarked Deeney seemed like the better option, before half-time was signalled by referee, Robert Madley.

Half Time - 0-0.

Swansea dominated the opening proceedings of the first half but they failed to create many clear cut chances, something they had struggled to do all game.

The warning signs were there for the Swans in the 58th minute, when Ighalo outmuscled Federico Fernandez, before screwing a shot wide of the goal.

Swansea didn't take note and were behind just a minute or so later. A goal kick from Heurelho Gomes was flicked on by Deeney and Ighalo was found in acres of space inside the box. The Nigerian calmly slotted the ball past Fabianski, sending Vicarage Road into delirium. The Vic was rocking and the fantastic support from Watford supporters continued throughout the second half.

However, the game was to be turned on its head five minutes later, as the Hornets were reduced to ten men. Both Ayew and Valon Behrami went for a loose ball and the Swiss international stamped on the Ghanaian as he attempted to shield the ball. It wasn't intentional by the Swiss international, but referee Madley had no option but to send Behrami off, meaning that the Hornets had to face the final 25 minutes with ten men.

Flores instantly made a change, with Ben Watson replacing Almen Abdi to fill the void that had been left in the centre of the park.

Despite the Golden Boys being a man down, they continued to create chances, as Capoue fired over after Jurado saw his shot saved. Capoue went close again minutes later, forcing Fabianski into a smart save to his right.

Steven Berghuis was introduced with 20 minutes left, replacing the goal scorer Ighalo and the Dutchman was nearly found by Capoue when he was all alone in the penalty area, after the Frenchman superbly spun away
from two Swansea players.

Alessandro Diamanti replaced Troy Deeney with six minutes to go and the tension was evident in Vicarage Road, when seven minutes of extra time was signalled by the fourth official.

Swansea attacked and attacked but couldn't find a way past the Hornets resilient back-line which had been superb all game and Watford could have sealed the three points with seconds to play.

A Swans corner was cleared and Ikechi Anya charged down field. He found Jurado who played the ball across to Berghuis who fired straight at Fabianski, when it seemed easier to score.

Those long hard seven minutes was finally brought to an end by the referee and the Hornets had deservedly sealed their first three points of the season.

Full Time - 1-0

Team News and Player ratings

Watford - Gomes (GK) 7, Nyom 8, Prodl 9, Cathcart 7, Anya 7, Capoue 9, Behrami 5, Jurado 6, Deeney 8 (Diamanti 84), Abdi (Watson 66 6), Ighalo 8 (Berghuis 71 6)

Subs not used - Arlauskis, Holebas, Dyer, Ibarbo.

Goals - Ighalo 59

Yellow Cards - Capoue.

Red Cards - Behrami (64)

My Watford man of the match - Etienne Capoue - So difficult to choose as there were a number of stand out performers on Saturday, but Capoue just edges it for me. The former Tottenham Hotspur man bossed the
midfield and went about his offensive and defensive duties well.

Swansea - Fabianski (GK), Naughton, Fernandez, Williams ©, Taylor, Cork (Ki 66), Shelvey, Routledge (Montero 60), Sigurdsson (Eder 70), Ayew, Gomis.

Subs not used - Nordfeldt (GK), Rangel, Bartley, Emnes.

Attendance - 20,057 (2193 Swansea fans)

Referee - Robert Madley