Watford 0-1 Brighton & H.A
WINNING BECOMES a habit I said earlier this month, but equally losing becomes a habit too. For the second time in a week Watford were beaten, League One high-fliers Brighton their victors this time however in the F.A Cup 4th round.
Gus Poyet's men snatched victory from a Rene Gilmartin howler. Make no mistake though, Brighton deserved this victory. They showed more will, creativity, desire and tenacity than the Hornet's and if they will be in the Championship with Watford next season, though after the first half an hour you'd have been convinced they were Premier League.
Watford did not call on the services of skipper John Eustace back from injury, the 31 year-old left amongst the subs with Scott Loach who was replaced by Rene Gilmartin. Ross Jenkins was rested all together whilst Lee Hodson back from illness started at right back.
The Seagulls brought in their second-choice 'keeper in former Swindon stopper Peter Brezovan whilst dangerman Elliott Bennett was benched.
For the first forty-five minutes it was a training exercise for the Seagulls who knocked the ball around for periods without Watford threatening to take it back.
Sixteen minutes in the visitors broke the deadlock through Ashley Barnes.
Shooting from the edge of the area the young striker saw his effort underneath Rene Gilmartin and through the Irish stopper's legs to hand the visitors a deserved lead.
Chances had been at a premium for both sides though Albion had the next best chance when Barnes was nearly slipped in but for Lloyd Doyley's timely interception on the edge of the area.
Re-invigorated and with Troy Deeney subbed off for Matty Whichelow, the home side finally got a foothold in the game.
Stephen McGinn thumped just over from distance whilst Danny Graham slammed a low effort wide from a set piece. Martin Taylor was slipped in by a selfless Graham before sliding a low shot into Brezovan's hands.
Martin Taylor had a good shout for penalty turned down as he was hauled down in the penalty area whilst the general level of refereeing went to pot.
Brighton were by now on the back foot for the first time in the game and using any time-delaying tactics possible.
Gary Dicker less than cautiously jumped the control the ball with his shoulder-cum-arm and on more than one occasion Watford were denied blatant free-kicks.
All in all a frustrating afternoon. Watford were well below par and will need to seriously up their game in order to overcome struggling Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
Odd substitutions for Malky Mackay too, who saw fit to take off Will Buckley who despite not being at his best was offering miles more than any other attacking counterpart. Youthful midfielder Rob Kiernan was also brought on late on for no apparent reason.
Perhaps the only bright spot was the introduction of Andreas 'Andy' Weimann who was full of running and energy during his short cameo. Give the lad a start ahead of the poor Sordell I'd say, show Marvin there are sanctions for poor displays.
Rene Gilmartin was in a class of his own. Poor handling, a clanger for the goal and never commanded or convincingly cleared his lines. Kicking the only positive in a dour display. Would benefit from regular football a la Troy Deeney doubtlessly.
Watford: Gilmartin; Hodson, Mariappa (c), Taylor, Doyley; Buckley (Weimann), Mingoia (Kiernan), McGinn, Deeney (Whichelow); Sordell and Graham.
Subs not used: Loach (gk); Bennett, Eustace and Bryan.
Brighton & H.A: Brezovan; Calderon, Elphick, Greer (c), Painter; Sparrow (Dunk), Bridcutt, Dicker; Murray, Barnes and Wood.
Subs not used: Poke (gk); Holroyd, Bennett, Sandaza, Baz and Battipiedi.