Hornets drag Rovers into dogfight
Sat 4th April 2009
Watford boss Brendan Rodgers reckons the 2-1 scoreline made Watford`s away day win at Doncaster sound much tighter than the game actually was - and you know what, he is oh, so right.
quickfire goals from Hird [OG] and Cowie in 5 first half minutes killed this game off as early as the 18th minute but if the Hornets had gone in 3 or 4 up then no-one inside the Keepmoat could have had any argument to air over their Bovril and pasty.
In fact, bar a rally of long rangers from Woods, Spicer and the impressive Shiels, Loach had a quieter afternoon than of recent weeks whilst Watford looked like their could score every time they went forward… and didn`t waste time in proving it.
13 minutes in fact - as Smith released Priskin (who showed off some great footwork and trickery that would have had even Ronaldo mesmerized) and the Hungarian`s drilled pull back ball from the byline took a liking to the kneecap of the unfortunate Hird [OG] and cannoned into the net.
Sullivan then defied logic and his 64 year old aging frame to brilliantly keep out a Priskin header and deny Watford a 2 goal advantage in 2 minutes.
But the rampant Hornets didn`t have to wait long. A quick throw-in saw a marauding Mariappa (yes, really) whip in a deep, floated cross (yes, really) that Cowie  guided with a deft touch into the far corner of the net.
At the other end and Watford defended in numbers and pressed the ball well with Williamson and Mariappa both looking solid. Young Adrian did ever so well to crowd out Spicer whilst a host of yellow shirts put their bodies on the line as Wilson let fly.
Jenkins struck a decent 25 yarder that flew over the bar after trading long distance belters with Shiels as Watford were comfortable and camped inside Rover`s half for 30 minutes of the first 45 - such is the confidence that Rodgers has bought to the team in recent weeks.
Second half and the Hornets were given space and freedom to break on the counter attack but substitute Shiels was an ever-increasing goal threat for Doncaster.
The former Aberdeen forward beat Reliable Lloyd all too easily down the flank and forced a strong save out of Loach and the Watford stopper was quick off his line to smother effort on the hour.
Yet it was Watford who had the best chances of the half to add to their lead.
Hoskins, replaced Priskin, and could have done with the Hungarian`s composure as he made a right ol` mess of a 1-on-1, firing wide with only Sullivan to beat.
Will also failed to really test Sullivan with a glancing header for a corner and fluffed his lines a bit in the area when fed a great ball by Rose. Maybe he`s off the pace or just lacking in confidence but Hoskins certainly didn`t look himself.
Then it was McAnuff who should have been celebrating Watford`s 3rd, combining well with Smith only to see his goal bound effort brilliantly blocked by Mills.
That all-important 3rd would have killed off a game already dead and buried but Doncaster showed some character to make it a grandstand finish on Grand National day.
Sub James Hayter  showed Woods (30 yard free kick), LuaLua (30 yards well wide) and Spicer (25 yards, Loach untested) how its done with a peach of a curler into the top corner - just 4 minutes after coming on.
A spot of late drama always ups the tension and Watford never do things the easy way but despite a Doncaster rally around for the equalizer in the dying minutes, the Golden Boys looked defensively sound and well drilled.
Doncaster boss Sean O`Driscoll reckons the 2-1 defeat to Watford drags his Rovers "back into the dogfight" whilst Brendan Rodgers is eyeing safety achieved at home to Saints on Tuesday.
In truth, both teams should be clear enough of the trapdoor to start thinking about Championship life next season.
Defensively one of his most solid performances for Watford against a frontline with plenty of clever movement. Had Heffernan in his pocket for much of the 90.
Created the 2nd goal with a cracking cross and was at the heart of 2 other great opportunities to score.