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Middlesbrough 1-2 Watford

Middlesbrough 1-2 Watford

A MATEJ Vydra braced secured Watford's first win of 2013 at the hands of fellow Play-Off hopefuls Middlesbrough, whilst also ensuring a two-point gap between seventh-placed Millwall and Gianfranco Zola's side.

Watford took a battering in terms of chances created but as so often this season, the difference was the clinical Vydra, who took his Hornet's tally to 14 N.Power Championship goals in as many starts for the 'Orns.

Scott McDonald's last-gasp header proved to be nothing more than a consolation effort for the hosts who slip to fifth - four points behind Watford who have the luxury of a game in hand.

Zola made three changes from the side beaten at Manchester City in the F.A Cup last weekend with Manuel Almunia, Almen Abdi and Cristian Battocchio coming in for Jonathan Bond, Fernando Forestieri and John Eustace as the Golden Boys reverted to 3-5-2.

The hosts started the brighter of the two sides, with Jorge Emmanuel Ledesma testing the returning Almunia with a low left-footed effort after just two minutes.

Joel Ekstrand denied Lukas Jutkiewicz shortly after with a good block after the Australian had found some room on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

McDonald was the next to be denied when his right-footed shot was held with ease by Almunia.

Middlesbrough continued to create chances as they enjoyed the lion's share of the possession without putting Almunia under too much pressure.

Ekstrand made a thundering tackle in the 17th minute to deny McDonald with Almunia clawing the resulting corner-kick to safety from under the crossbar.

McDonald was again denied by a last-ditch block, Lloyd Doyley the man on hand in the 30th minute to block the Australian's latest goal-bound attempt.

'Boro had perhaps their best chance eight minutes later when Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran got into the penalty area before shimmying to make space and firing under the on-rushing Almunia.

Luckily for the Hornets, Doyley and Nathaniel Chalobah were on-hand to tidy up inside the six-yard box.

Ledesma tried another left-footed effort shortly before the break; Almunia at full-stretch to punch away the Argentine's strike.

On the stroke of half-time Watford scored their only notable attempt on goal, Vydra prodding past Jason Steele after beating the 'Boro number one to a shot which had been deflected into no-man's land between the two.

Half-time: 0-1

Watford were much-improved in the second period and ought to have doubled their lead immediately after the break when Battocchio's inch-perfect pass found Vydra only to be denied by Steele.

Substitute Adam Reach looked bright after coming on and nearly equalised when his left-footed strike flew narrowly wide of Almunia's left-hand post.

Reach then fed Ledesma to strike comfortably wide before Watford missed a trio of chances.

First Battocchio's pass found Vydra who was denied one-on-one with Steele before the Italian midfielder struck a firm effort towards the left-hand corner for Steele to push into the path of Deeney who slid in to direct the ball goalwards for Steele to eventually grasp.

With seven minutes left to play, Watford finally got a decisive second.

Abdi's exquisite pass found Vydra who finished with aplomb faced with Steele inside the area to double the lead.

Substitute John Eustace laid another on a plate for Vydra shortly after coming on when he skittled several of the Teessider's midfielders out the way before feeding Vydra to side-foot over the bar.

Troy Deeney had an opportunity to nudge past Steele at the near-post in the dying minutes before McDonald flicked home a consolation header from Reach's cross seconds before full-time.

Full-time: 1-2

This was your classic away-day smash-and-grab - Brighton away without the panache or style, but nonetheless an effective and important victory for the Hornets.

Second-best at home in the league versus second-best away from home in the league, it was always going to be a tough ask, and although Watford scarcely threatened 'Boro in a drab opening 45 minutes, they still found themselves ahead.

The back three, bar one or two calamitous moments, were superb throughout and showed the kind of solidity those who witnessed the season's earlier fixtures might never had dreamt possible.

In midfield there were issues as the Hornets failed to press high enough up the field to deny Middlesbrough the room to play. However, in the end it mattered not as 'Boro time and time again wasted their possession and intricate build-up play with less-than-incisive finishing.

Middlesbrough: Steele; Bailey, Williams (c), Hines, Friend, Leadbitter, McEachran (Reach), Haroun, Ledesma, (Zemmama); McDonald & Jutkiewicz (Miller),

Subs not used: Leutwiler (GK), Smallwood, Parnaby & Thomson.

Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Eustace), Battocchio, Pudil; Deeney & Vydra (Yeates).

Subs not used: Bond (GK), Forsyth, Anya, Geijo & Forestieri.

Attendance: 17 449

Referee: Mr M Brown.

Watford took a battering in terms of chances created but as so often this season, the difference was the clinical Vydra, who took his Hornet's tally to 14 N.Power Championship goals in as many starts for the 'Orns.

Scott McDonald's last-gasp header proved to be nothing more than a consolation effort for the hosts who slip to fifth - four points behind Watford who have the luxury of a game in hand.

Zola made three changes from the side beaten at Manchester City in the F.A Cup last weekend with Manuel Almunia, Almen Abdi and Cristian Battocchio coming in for Jonathan Bond, Fernando Forestieri and John Eustace as the Golden Boys reverted to 3-5-2.

The hosts started the brighter of the two sides, with Jorge Emmanuel Ledesma testing the returning Almunia with a low left-footed effort after just two minutes.

Joel Ekstrand denied Lukas Jutkiewicz shortly after with a good block after the Australian had found some room on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

McDonald was the next to be denied when his right-footed shot was held with ease by Almunia.

Middlesbrough continued to create chances as they enjoyed the lion's share of the possession without putting Almunia under too much pressure.

Ekstrand made a thundering tackle in the 17th minute to deny McDonald with Almunia clawing the resulting corner-kick to safety from under the crossbar.

McDonald was again denied by a last-ditch block, Lloyd Doyley the man on hand in the 30th minute to block the Australian's latest goal-bound attempt.

'Boro had perhaps their best chance eight minutes later when Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran got into the penalty area before shimmying to make space and firing under the on-rushing Almunia.

Luckily for the Hornets, Doyley and Nathaniel Chalobah were on-hand to tidy up inside the six-yard box.

Ledesma tried another left-footed effort shortly before the break; Almunia at full-stretch to punch away the Argentine's strike.

On the stroke of half-time Watford scored their only notable attempt on goal, Vydra prodding past Jason Steele after beating the 'Boro number one to a shot which had been deflected into no-man's land between the two.

Half-time: 0-1

Watford were much-improved in the second period and ought to have doubled their lead immediately after the break when Battocchio's inch-perfect pass found Vydra only to be denied by Steele.

Substitute Adam Reach looked bright after coming on and nearly equalised when his left-footed strike flew narrowly wide of Almunia's left-hand post.

Reach then fed Ledesma to strike comfortably wide before Watford missed a trio of chances.

First Battocchio's pass found Vydra who was denied one-on-one with Steele before the Italian midfielder struck a firm effort towards the left-hand corner for Steele to push into the path of Deeney who slid in to direct the ball goalwards for Steele to eventually grasp.

With seven minutes left to play, Watford finally got a decisive second.

Abdi's exquisite pass found Vydra who finished with aplomb faced with Steele inside the area to double the lead.

Substitute John Eustace laid another on a plate for Vydra shortly after coming on when he skittled several of the Teessider's midfielders out the way before feeding Vydra to side-foot over the bar.

Troy Deeney had an opportunity to nudge past Steele at the near-post in the dying minutes before McDonald flicked home a consolation header from Reach's cross seconds before full-time.

Full-time: 1-2

This was your classic away-day smash-and-grab - Brighton away without the panache or style, but nonetheless an effective and important victory for the Hornets.

Second-best at home in the league versus second-best away from home in the league, it was always going to be a tough ask, and although Watford scarcely threatened 'Boro in a drab opening 45 minutes, they still found themselves ahead.

The back three, bar one or two calamitous moments, were superb throughout and showed the kind of solidity those who witnessed the season's earlier fixtures might never had dreamt possible.

In midfield there were issues as the Hornets failed to press high enough up the field to deny Middlesbrough the room to play. However, in the end it mattered not as 'Boro time and time again wasted their possession and intricate build-up play with less-than-incisive finishing.

Middlesbrough: Steele; Bailey, Williams (c), Hines, Friend, Leadbitter, McEachran (Reach), Haroun, Ledesma, (Zemmama); McDonald & Jutkiewicz (Miller),

Subs not used: Leutwiler (GK), Smallwood, Parnaby & Thomson.

Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Eustace), Battocchio, Pudil; Deeney & Vydra (Yeates).

Subs not used: Bond (GK), Forsyth, Anya, Geijo & Forestieri.

Attendance: 17 449

Referee: Mr M Brown

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Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tom Bodell
Date:Saturday January 12 2013
Time: 7:32PM

Comments

0
In the grand scheme of things the 3 points today are massive, now we must take this opportunity to push on, cement our play off position, maybe push on for the top 2 places! Reading did it!
ANDY710
12/01/2013 23:49:00
0
Hear hear! Positive thoughts folks! Up the Orns!
wfc123
13/01/2013 01:19:00
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