Out of form striker gives
LEICESTER drew first blood in a match defined by the contrasting fortunes of two out-of-form strikers.
Prolific over Christmas, Watford’s Czech hitman Matej Vydra has ground to a halt in recent weeks, the fearsome pace that once terrified defenders sapped from his legs by 40-odd gruelling games.
Though he was named Championship player of the year in March, the 20-year-old hasn’t scored since a 2-1 win over Derby on February 23.
For Leicester’s David Nugent, the barren run has been drier still, with none of his 15 goals coming this side of January.
Yet while Vydra’s struggles continued, capped by a scuffed mishit when clean through, Nugent chose the perfect moment to rediscover his touch, heading home Anthony Knockaert’s free-kick with just eight minutes left.
It was hardly majestic. Replays showed that the ball looped awkwardly off the back of the striker’s head. But with the Premier League a step closer, neither he nor his club will care much about that.
“Hopefully it will give Nuge that extra bit of confidence,” said Leicester manager Nigel Pearson. “But what I will say is he gives you a lot of enthusiasm, great work-rate and always affects the game.
“Normally, when he gets one, he goes on and gets two, three or four. It’s been a while, but you always feel he’s capable of scoring. You wouldn’t look at him and think: ‘He’s going through a hard time’, because he always works so hard. I’m pleased for him, but I’m more pleased he’s got us that lead.”
In fairness, it didn’t look like it was going to be Nugent’s night either. Despite plenty of clever link-up play, the former England man missed a sitter when he shanked Lloyd Dyer’s pull back wide from 10 yards.
It was one of several decent openings spurned in a bright opening from the home side, who also so saw Michael Keane volley wide from a fine ball by makeshift left-back Jeff Schlupp.
“We started exceptionally well,” added Pearson. “The danger with starting well and not scoring is that frustration can creep in, but I think we kept our composure very well.”
Watford – agonisingly denied automatic promotion on the final day – were neat and tidy but looked very much like a side still licking their wounds. Though their counter-attacking was dangerous – Ikechi Anya
HIGH FIVE: Leicester’s Ritchie De Laet and Nugent