Due to an appointment with some sharks and rays in the Indian Ocean, I missed the trip to Hillsborough and Jokanovic’s first game in charge. But having thoroughly enjoyed the highlights, particularly Vydra’s energetic display, I was eagerly anticipating this game.
Jokanovic made one change from Saturday with Paredes in for Doyley meaning that Lloyd’s 400th start had to be delayed. The starting line-up was Gomes, Pudil, Bassong, Ekstrand, Paredes, Munari, Abdi, Tözsér, Vydra, Forestieri, Ighalo. Former Watford youngster and unexpected cash cow, Britt Assombalonga, started for Forest.
Forest had the first chance of the game as the ball dropped to Antonio, but the angle was very narrow and he couldn’t turn it in. Watford then had a terrific chance as Forestieri tried to chip Darlow in the Forest goal but the keeper managed to parry the ball. Vydra lost the ball in midfield, but fought back to reclaim it, went on a run and crossed for Abdi whose shot was
blocked. Paredes went storming down the right but his cross was straight at the keeper. Watford had another great chance to take an early lead as a cross from Tözsér was cleared only as far as Forestieri who hit a belter just over the bar. After a long spell of Watford pressure, Forest countered with Antonio who broke into the box and crossed but Gomes gathered easily. Pudil and Forestieri combined to feed Vydra who broke into the box and hit a shot that required a close range save from Darlow. Following a corner, the ball fell to Paredes outside the box, but his shot was well wide of the target. At the other end, Paredes fouled Assombalonga after the youngster got in front of him. Vaughan took the resulting free kick which was met with a header from Wilson which flew over the bar. Abdi played a lovely ball out to Forestieri, he cut it back to Vydra who hit a great shot that required a good save from Darlow. Watford took a deserved lead on 28 minutes as a cross from Abdi fell to Ighalo in a crowded box and he knocked it past Darlow. The lead only lasted two minutes as Abdi gave the ball away to Antonio who advanced into the box, Gomes came out to meet him but the Forest man tapped the ball past the keeper for the equalizer. Adbi immediately left the field for treatment. Watford tried to strike back as Forestieri played a short pass to Munari but he shot just wide of the near post.
Vydra picked up a loose ball in midfield, broke forward and was through on goal when he was pushed over by Mancienne. From our vantage point it appeared that the offence took place in the box, but a free-kick was given and, despite shouts for a red card, Mancienne only saw yellow. The free-kick was disappointing bouncing back off the wall. Forest definitely got away with that one. In injury time, a corner was cleared to Forestieri who hit a brilliant shot from outside the area but Darlow pulled off an equally brilliant save to keep it out. So at half-time the scores were level although Watford really should have been ahead on the balance of play. We had played some lovely passing football and Darlow had been required to pull off some cracking saves.
Early in the second half, Jokanovic made his first substitution with Abdi, who was carrying an injury, being replaced by Murray. Vydra got on the end of a cross from Forestieri but was bundled over in the box, so the referee pointed to the spot. Vydra stepped up to take the penalty himself and coolly slotted it in as Darlow went the wrong way. On 64 minutes Deeney replaced Ighalo, both players were given ovations by the Vicarage Road faithful. Burke went on a run down the right wing, the ball appeared to go out of play and the defenders tracking him stopped briefly in anticipation of the throw-in while he continued his run and crossed for Antonio to head the equalizer. Infuriating! Watford’s final substitution saw Hoban replacing Bassong. Assombalonga tried a speculative shot that was well wide of the target. Vydra found Deeney at the near post, but Darlow was perfectly placed to block his toe poke. Tözsér found Vydra in space but the Czech curled his shot straight at Darlow. In time added on, Assombalonga was substituted and received warm applause from both sets of fans. The final whistle went with the score level. The second half had been short of incident, but overall it had been a very entertaining game and one from which Watford really should have taken all three points. It was difficult to complain, though, as there were so many good performances that bode well for the upcoming games.