Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday March 1 2013
BAKARY Sako`s 93rd minute equaliser punished Watford`s complacency against Wolves this evening to hand the Hornet`s promotion rivals the chance to leapfrog them this weekend.
Almen Abdi got Watford`s opener two minutes before half-time, bending a free-kick past Carl Ikeme from 25 yards.
Deep into injury time though, Wolves capitalised on Watford`s lackadaisical nature in closing the game out to find an invaluable leveller through Sako.
Wolves switched from the 3-5-1-1 system deployed against Cardiff City back to a more familiar 4-4-2, with Kevin Doyle partnering Bjorn Sigurdarson up front. Stephen Hunt came in for his first start of a season plagued by injury.
Gianfranco Zola made two changes, with one enforced as Jonathan Bond replaced Manuel Almunia whilst Troy Deeney returned in place of Alex Geijo. New signing Matthew Briggs did not sign in time to feature in the matchday squad.
Abdi had Watford's first chance after six minutes, cutting in on his let and shooting low into Ikeme's palms from an acute angle on the edge of the Wolves six yard box.
Just a minute later Matej Vydra charged down a Wolves clearance allowing Cristian Battocchio to earn a corner with a shot which deflected off of Kaspars Gorkss.
Wolves had their first opportunity after 15 minutes when a left-wing cross eluded Bond, allowing Sako to whip a low cross back across the face of goal. Luckily for Watford, Nyron Nosworthy was on hand to clear.
In the 20th minute Wolves had a great chance to open the scoring when Doyle was afforded the room to shoot on his left foot from the edge of the 18 yard box. Bond was equal to the Irishman`s initial effort, recovering impressively to deny Sigurdarson`s follow-up from close-range.
Four minutes later Marco Cassetti had enough room to send a cross in for Troy Deeney who headed comfortably into the palms of Ikeme.
Just three minutes before half-time Abdi notched his 10th league goal of the season, bending a delicious right-footed free-kick beyond Ikeme from 25 yards.
Shortly after the re-start Nathaniel Chalobah picked out Ikechi Anya on the left wing with a raking pass, the diminutive winger`s cross not ideal as Abdi could only half-volley into the feet of a Wolves defender who cleared as far as Vydra to volley over.
Anya tried his luck with Watford`s next attack, drifting in from the left-hand side before pinging comfortably wide from 23 yards.
Doyle replied for Wolves, scarcely troubling Bond with a low right-footed effort 10 minutes into the second half after working his way in-field from the left.
In the 66th minute Cassetti burst into the area from the right-hand side, pulling the ball low across the face of goal for Anya, who despite a good connection, failed to hit the target.
Seconds later Battocchio tested Ikeme with a dipping 25-yard shot which the Wolves 'keeper did well to help over the crossbar.
It was testament to how poor Wolves were that Watford spent much of the second period giving the ball away and still not being defensively stretched as Zola`s side appeared to almost be in cruise control.
Roger Johnson had a rare chance for the hosts when his header was deflected wide from a corner with 15 minutes left before a second corner dropped wide for a goal kick.
Two minutes later Sigurdarson drilled low at Bond from close-range after collecting Ebanks-Blake's right-wing centre; the Welsh youth international saving well before the rebound flashed over.
Into the final 10 minutes, sub Fernando Forestieri ought to have tested Ikeme but blazed over after being fed in by Deeney inside the host`s penalty area.
Wolves enjoyed the better of the last 10 minutes and substitute Jake Cassidy nearly caught out Bond with a cross from the right.
An equaliser had been coming, and in the third minute of injury time, Sako swivelled to meet a long throw, driving under Bond from just inside the penalty area to equalise.
With the five minutes added on elapsed, Forestieri again fluffed his line, slicing over from Deeney`s knockdown to condemn Watford to a share of the spoils.
Wolves: Ikeme; Doherty, Johnson, Gorkss, Robinson; Sako, Henry (c) (Davis), O'Hara, Hunt (Cassidy); Sigurdarson & Doyle (Ebanks-Blake).
Subs not used: Batth, Edwards, Ward & de Vries (GK).
Watford: Bond; Doyley (c), Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Hogg), Battocchio, Anya (Pudil); Deeney & Vydra (Forestieri).
Subs not used: Yeates, Murray, Geijo, Forestieri & Bonham (GK).
Attendance: 18 571
Referee: Mr P Tierney
Date:Friday March 1 2013
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Stats: Watford v Wigan Athletic (Saturday December 13 2014)
PREVIEW: Watford v Wigan (Saturday December 13 2014)
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