Red Card Overshadows Defeat
Sat 6th Oct - 3:00pm
Watford lost for the first time in four outings against Tony Mowbray`s Middlesbrough this afternoon at Vicarage Road, in a game that hinged on the controversial red card given to Matej Vydra moments before half time.
Watford boss Gianfranco Zola made just one change to the side that had won their last two away games with Matej Vydra returning to the starting line up in place of the suspended Fernando Forestieri. There was also a place on the bench for striker Alex Geijo for the first time this season.
Middlesbrough, who before the game had made an identical start to the season as the Hornets, were without Jonathan Woodgate through injury and found a place on the bench for striker Scott McDonald, ending his Borough exile.
Watford started the game just as they did in this fixture two seasons ago, by taking the lead inside the first minute. On that occasion Danny Graham chased down a backpass from David Wheater to give the Hornets the lead, on this occasion it was Vydra who got on the end of a poor backpass by Andre Amougou. Vydra`s shot was parried by Jason Steele and Troy Deeney was on hand to curl the ball into the empty net.
Watford kicked on from the early goal and produced an excellent passage of football that saw Middlesbrough on the back foot. First Vydra got onto a long ball forward and from a tight angle fired a fierce shot that clipped the top of the bar.
Daniel Pudil had a shot from inside the area well saved by Steele after a move which had seen a number of passes create space on the left of the box. Steele also had to be alert to parry crosses from Marco Cassetti and Pudil again.
Middlesbrough equalised after half an hour with a move that came out of the blue. Cassetti was beaten easily down the right by George Friend and his shot by pushed behind for a corner by Almunia. From the resulting corner a bouncing ball could not be cleared and Marvin Emnes hooked the ball in over his shoulder.
The game was petering out towards half time when the games moment of controversy took place. A bouncing ball on the halfway line was contested by Vydra and Borough captain Nicky Bailey. The referee penalised what appeared to be a fair challenge between both players and then to everyone`s amazement pulled out a red card for Vydra whilst indicating a stamping motion.
Half Time: 1-1
For the second time in five days Watford had to play the second half of a game with ten men, and they came close to achieving another result in this game.
Middlesbrough dominated possession in the second half and created a few openings. Josh McEachran found himself in space inside the box but fired over the bar and Almunia made a good save from close range from substitute Scott McDonald.
Despite not creating a great deal in the second half Middlesbrough took the lead after 77 minutes through McDonald. He initial shot on the edge of the area was blocked by Tommie Hoban but the ball rebounded to the striker and he weaved his way across the box before placing his shot into the bottom corner.
Watford did miss a great chance to equalise late on. Substitute Mark Yeates` free kick was spilled by Steele and a combination of Cassetti and Hoban could only fire the rebound against the stoppers legs.
So, Watford suffered their first defeat in four and will have to wait until a fortnights time to put it right when they host Peterborough Utd at Vicarage Road. The headlines however, will be made by the performance of referee Steve Rushton.
Watford: Almunia, Hoban, Hall, Neuton (Murray), Cassetti, Pudil, Hogg, Chalobah, Abdi (Yeates), Vydra, Deeney (Geijo)
Subs Not Used: Bond (GK), Doyley, Ekstrand, Smith
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte (McDonald), McManus, Amougou, Friend, Leadbitter, Bailey, McEachran, Haroun (Ledesma), Jutkiewicz (Williams), Emnes
Subs Not Used: Leutwiler (GK), Hines, Halliday, Smallwood