Watford 2 - 1 Derby County Match Report.
Watford managed to overcome Derby County at Vicarage Road yesterday with a 2-1 win which moved them up to 2nd place in the table due to the fact that Bolton beat Hull 4-1. Goals from Top Scorer Matej Vydra and Defender Joel Ekstrand (His First in a Watford shirt) sealed the win for the Hornets. Jamie Ward scored a penalty in the 73rd minute to set up a nervy ending for The Hornets and their fans as Derby pushed for a equaliser but the Hornets managed to hold on. The Hornets flew out of the blocks in the first hal and could have easily been 4-0 up at half time if their finishing was better. But, their second half performance was not their best due to the fact that they simply could not keep possesion of the ball. Hornets boss Gianfranco Zola made three changes to the side that beat Ipswich Town 2-0. Jonathan Hogg and Fernando Forestieri were replaced by Cristian Battochio and Matej Vydra. Troy Deeney was rested so was on the bench meaning that tall striker Alex Geijo came in to make his first start in over a month. Nigel Clough made once change for Derby which was Ben Davies replacing Kieron Freeman at Right back. The Hornets dominated the first half and flew out of the blocks and could have been 1-0 up inside three minutes. Matej Vydra managed to beat Richard Keogh and John Brayford who were battling with him the whole time. The Czech strikers shot was blocked by Derby Goalkeeper Adam Legzdins. But the ball fell to the feet of Alex Geijo whose Audacious Chip went just wide of Derby's open goal. I felt that he maybe should have tried to roll the ball into the net or hit the shot with power but maybe the chip was the best option. Three minutes later and the Hornets were at it again. Ikechi Anya's cross was only cleared to Marco Cassetti and the 35 year old Italian Wing Back saw his drive blocked at the near post and the ball went out of play for a corner. Derby had their best chance of the game. Joel Ekstrand slipped and Jamie Ward capitalised on it and saw his fierce shot go just wide of the post. Then the game became flat for a period of time with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball and test goalkeepers Manuel Almunia and Adam Legzdins. Then the hornets came into life again on the hal hour mark. A lovely piece of skill by Ikechi Anya who flicked the ball over Ben Davies head before scampering away at full pace saw his cross blocked before the ball went out for a corner. From the resulting corner, the ball fell kindly to Joel Ekstrand who took a touch before needleslly balsting over when all he had to do was roll the ball into the net. Then Watford had a better chance to go ahead two minutes later. Matej Vydra scampered past the Derby defence before unselfishly squaring to the in form Ikechi Anya who was unmarked in the centre. But the wing back made any contact with the ball meaning that the ball harmleslly out of play. That was in the 32nd minute and Watford could have been easily 3-0 up if they had took their chances. But in the 35th minute, the Hornets finally made their dominance count. Alex Geijo lured the defender away with a good run meaning that the space had opened up for Vydra who carried the ball 40 yards before hitting his shot which hit the post and went in to the delight of the Watford players and fans. This was the Czech strikers 20th of the season. Also this was the Number 20's 20th goal in 20 Npower Chmpionship starts. But just before Half time, Watford were dealt a blow. Nyron Nosworthy pass was maybe a little to weak so Manuel Almunia sprinted out and hit the ball away under pressure. But after making ther clearence, the Hornets Number 1 and captain instantly went down clutching his hamstring. After a little bit of treatment it looked like the Spaniard was going to carry on. But after the ball was thrown back to the Goalkeeper he instantly threw it out of play and he signalled to the bench that he needed to come off. Jonathan Bond had been doing a warm up just in case and replaced the Captain. This was the Academy Graduate's first piece of Championship football of the season. Nyron Nosworthy was handed the captaincy by Almunia when he went off. Watford had a good chance to double their lead during added time. Almen Abdi's free kick hit the wall but the ball fell to Nathaniel Chalobah whose shot was straight at Adam Legzdins.
Half Time - 1-0.
Derby made two chances at half time. Jake Buxton replaced Michael Hoganson and Chris Martin replaced Michael Jacobs. The game stuttered in the first fifteen minutes of the second half with Almen Abdi's stabbed effort towards goal the only effort. Derby were seeing more of the ball due to the fact Watford could not keep it. Watford had some decent chances but in the 68th minute, they went 2-0 up. Almen Abdi's corner caused confusion in the box and the ball fell to Joel Ekstrand who bundled the ball home to make it 2-0. This was the Swedish Centre Back's first goal for the Hornets since joining on loan from Udinese in the summer. But in the 72nd minute Derby were awarded a penalty and no one even knew what it was for. A corner was swung in from the right and Richard Keogh went down in the box after he was apparently 'pushed' by Lloyd Doyley. I didnt think it was a penalty at the time and I certainly dont now after seeing the highlights. Referee Mark Haywood had been dodgy all afternoon with most Watford fans getting frustrated with most of his decisions. As soon as Keogh went down, he instantly pointed to the spot. Jamie Ward stepped up to take the penalty against Homegrown Hornets Keeper Jonathan Bond who had been solid all afternoon since he came on for the injured Almunia. Ward made no mistake, walloping the ball straight down the middle. Derby put lots of pressure on the Hornets Defence but Doyley, Ekstrand and Captain Nyron Nosworhty were equal to it making lots of crucial challenges and interceptions. Watford made their second substitution of the afternoon in the 75th minute when Jonathan Hogg replaced Alex Geijo. Watford had two good chances in the last ten minutes to make the game safe. Firstly, Cristian Battochio picked up the ball before unleashing a curling effort which bounced inches wide of Legzdins goal. Then soo after the Hornets counted an Jonathan Hogg played in Vydra who unusaully took a heavy touch when a goal looked on the cards allowing the Derby Defence to Cover and clear. This was his last contirbutions as he was subbed of in the 85th minute and was replaced by Troy Deeney who had been rested after playing in last Saturdays 4-0 win over Birmingham and Tuesdays 2-0 win over Ipswich. The Hornets managed to hold on in the final five minutes to hang on and move up to second place in the table. This was an improtant win for the Orns as they managed to grind out a result when they were not playing well which is what sides who want to go up need to do. Gianfranco Zola and the owners have worked wonders and the Watford of old certainly would not have won the game if they were under the amount of pressure that the team were under.
Full Time - 2-1
Watford - Almunia 5 (GK)(C) (Bond 44 6), Doyley 7, Nosworthy 8 (C)(Became Captain when Almunia went off), Ekstrand 7 , Cassetti 7 , Abdi 6 , Chalobah 7, Battochio 7, Anya 6, Vydra 8 (Deeney 85), Geijo 6 (Hogg 75).
Subs Not Used - Yeates, Forsyth, Murray, Forestieri.
Goals - Vydra (35), Ekstrand (68).
Bookings - None.
Derby - Legzdins (GK), Davies, Keogh (C), Brayford, Hoganson (Buxton H/T), Bryson, Coutts, Hendrick, Jacobs ( Martin H/T), Ward, Sammon ( Bennett 72)
Subs Not Used - Fielding (GK), Doyle, Gjokaj, Hanson.
Goals - Ward (Pen 73)
Bookings - Davies, Ward.
Possesion - Watford 44%, Derby 56%
My Man Of The Match - Nyron Nosworthy and Matej Vydra - Both of these players were solid throughout for Watford. Nosworthy was a rock at the back for the hornets and dealt with everything Derby threw at him. Showed good leadership as well when he became captain. Whilst Matej Vydra. What Can I Say? He is certainly the best finisher that i have ever seen at the club and caused Derby Problems througout. Showed another side as well which was when he came back to defend.
Attendance - 14,425
Referee - Mark Haywood.