Breathtaking Encounter Ends In Hornets Victory
Attendance: 14,230 (750 Watford Fans)
What a breathtaking afternoon both teams, sets of fans and managers were about to encounter, as the Hornets had to take the lead three times in this game against a clutched Bolton team, to make sure they return to Hertfordshire with all three points in the bag.
A brave team selection from Slavisa for this game you could say, making three changes from the side that dramatically beat Brentford 2-1 in midweek, by choosing to drop Troy Deeney who saw a tame penalty saved against the Bees, and opting to start Matej Vydra in his place. The other two changes saw Almen Abdi exchange places in the midfield with Daniel Tozser and after a lengthily spell out, Joel Ekstrand slotted into the back three, leaving young Hoban on the bench.
The hosts made one change to the side that beat Fulham at the Macron midweek by three goals to one, with hot prospect Zach Clough replacing the experienced Eidur Gudjohnson up top.
The early stages of the game saw Bolton, who are unbeaten under Neil Lennon at home since the former Celtic boss took charge in October, earn a corner despite some decent Watford possession, and then for Adam Le Fondre to slice a shot over Gomes' bar, being allowed to turn and get a shot on goal.
Craig Cathcart found himself in the referee's book after eight minutes on the clock, for blocking off a clean through run for Trotters winger Liam Feeney.
Watford had chances from then on, with Anya being at the heart of most of it, the Scot getting crosses across Bolton's goal however they weren't harmful enough, and Bolton's back line managed to deal with them.
The hosts were causing the travelling Hornets some problems, with skipper Wheater watching his header drift wide from a corner.
When another Hornets chance arose however, that man Odion Ighalo took it, after he picked up a long ball over the Bolton defence, to then weave in and out of David Wheater and curl the ball deliciously into the bottom right hand corner past Andy Lonergan.
That's now fifteen goals in fifteen starts for Ighalo, eight in his last twelve.
After another distinct Ighalo goal, Bolton were then left to try and make a response and did so after Watson was left to clear the ball off the line, when Le Fondre had a gasping chance, and then with Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan warming the palms of Gomes minutes later, seeing a long range effort tipped over the bar by the Brazilian.
After a few promising chances, Neil Lennon's side got the equalizer out of the bag through youngster Zach Clough, a controversial one at the time, with the ball being played through to Feeney on the right flank who was standing alongside Le Fondre, who was in an offside position, the linesman flagged despite the on loan Cardiff striker not making a touch on the ball, and the flag meant the Hornets defence switched off and saw the nineteen year old tuck away a Feeney cross.
It was the lineman's decision which left Jokanovic and his players fuming, but it was another cross let into their box and another goal which was conceded.
Le Fondre must of been licking his lips when he knew Watford were the team he was facing next, scoring twice against the Hornets this season, which were two out of his three for his parent club Cardiff City this season, and another Feeney cross, this time from the left flank left him to strike home a second Bolton goal to get his side in the lead for the first time in the game.
Half time came, and the Hornets were no doubt disappointed with the way they conceded them two Bolton goals.
Slavisa made no changes to his team for the beginning of the second half, despite having Deeney, Tozser, Munari and Forestieri all on the bench.
Watford came out second half looking the much better team at the Macron, and won themselves a free kick just on the edge of the area after Vydra was fouled by Vela.
Tozser was probably pulling his hair out whilst sitting on the bench, as we have seen the Hungarian convert from this range on numerous occasions this season, but we have seen the same from the professor, Almen Abdi, who curled the ball towards the bottom right hand corner, only for Lonergan to divert away.
Lonergan was then tested once again, with the former Preston shot stopper clawing away a shot from Anya who did well to cut inside the Bolton defence.
Slavisa then opted to make a change and went for a flat back four, taking off Angella and bringing on Deeney, in the hope of tipping the game in the Hornets' favour.
Now it was for Gomes to be tested, the former Spurs keepers kept out shots from Le Fondre, whilst he watched a golden opportunity from Clough who was against two Watford defenders ,sail over the bar.
More new Hornets faces were then introduced, as Watson and Vydra made way for Forestieri and Tozser.
After some inspired keeping from Lonergan, he was finally beaten as deja vu occurred from the Fulham game, Abdi from outside the area curled a right footed shot into the back of the net.
It was then Gomes' turn to inspire, as the inform shot stopper made a triple save against youngster Clough, straight after the Swiss' goal.
A great game which you couldn't take your eyes off, and within minutes later, Slavisa's side had regained their lead after Abdi's cross was there for the returning Ekstrand in the box to cushion a header past Lonergan and into the bottom right hand corner.
What a way for the Swede to return, the centre back's first goal since a 2-1 win over Derby at Home back in February 2013.
Abdi then went to try and make sure all three points are secure, having an ambitious effort from thirty-yards out saved by Lonergan.
But the Trotters were not backing down, and another Feeney cross from the right ended up in other goal for Zach Clough, who was unmarked in the area, a disappointing goal for the Hornets to concede as Bolton made it 3-3 with five minutes left of normal time, after constant counter attack play from Wanderers in the second half.
This game was goal after goal, chance after chance, save after save, but it was one late chance which grabbed the headlines.
Odion Ighalo in possession of the ball on the edge of the Bolton area, worked out it into the feet of the unaccompanied Troy Deeney, and the skipper put the result to bed by drilling into the bottom corner, making it an emphatic 4-3 away victory, and putting an end to Neil Lennon's unbeaten home run.
This was surprisingly Ighalo's first assist in a Watford shirt, and what a crucial one it was.
Great win, and an amazing team spirit to clinch the victory, and the next game is a big one at home to Norwich City, with the Canaries currently in 6th position, three points below the Hornets.
Match stats to follow.....