Hor­nets find the right for­mula

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Scott Wil­son To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

THE play-offs caused Wat­ford plenty of heart­break last sea­son, but you won’t find any­one at Vicarage Road com­plain­ing if the cur­rent cam­paign ends in an­other end-of-sea­son shoot out.

A third win in the last four league games took the Hor­nets back into the top half of the ta­ble and within six points of the play­off places, and with a trip to bot­tom club Yeovil com­ing up on Tues­day, Beppe San­nino’s side can jus­ti­fi­ably tar­get a re­turn trip to Wem­b­ley af­ter last year’s play­off fi­nal ended in de­feat to Crys­tal Palace.

They have leapfrogged Middlesbrough, who have now gone more than eight hours with­out scor­ing as their own play-off hopes have faded since the turn of the year.

Troy Deeney’s penalty in­flicted the Teessiders’ lat­est de­feat in a game that ended with both sides play­ing with ten men fol­low­ing the sec­ond-half dis­missals of Samba Di­akite and Ben Gibson.

San­nino said: “I think we have to be happy as a club about the re­sults and the per­for­mances that the lads are show­ing to us.

“My play­ers know that we can still im­prove, but since I joined the club, the play­ers have adapted very quickly to the right men­tal­ity in terms of how they have to be on the pitch to­gether. As men, not only as foot­ball play­ers.

“I’m not watch­ing the ta­ble – I’m watch­ing what we are do­ing in the games, and that means we are able to move up the ta­ble. This vic­tory en­ables us to go to Yeovil in good spirit and we need to en­joy the three points and keep go­ing.”

Wat­ford ini­tially strug­gled to find their rhythm, but Middlesbrough failed to trans­late their first-half dom­i­nance in terms of pos­ses­sion into a goal threat.

For­mer Tot­tne­ham Hot­spur de­fender Jonathan Woodgate had a goal dis­al­lowed for off­side, be­fore the hosts broke the dead­lock from the pe­nal- ty spot four min­utes af­ter the break. Fer­nando Forestieri gal­loped clear into the left-hand side of the penalty area, only for his run to be halted by a reck­less slid­ing chal­lenge from Gibson.

Deeney stepped up to dis­patch the penalty, but Wat­ford were re­duced to ten men three min­utes later when Di­akite made an over-the-ball chal­lenge on Dean White­head.

It was ten-against-ten shortly af­ter as Gibson re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low card for at­tempt­ing to pre­vent goal­keeper Jonathan Bond from clear­ing, and while Danny Gra­ham came close with a stop­page-time header, Wat­ford never re­ally looked like ced­ing their ad­van­tage.

Boro boss Ai­tor Karanka said: “I’m dis­ap­pointed be­cause this was a game that we had to win.We had the game un­der con­trol in the first 30 min­utes, but af­ter that, I don't re­ally know what hap­pened.

“We lost the game, lost a player and lost our iden­tity. We lost a lot of things.We had a lot of pos­ses­sion, but that is not what wins the games.

“You need goals to do that, and in the last five games now, we have not scored goals. If you don’t score goals, then it is not pos­si­ble to win.

“I don’t think it’s con­fi­dence. I think it’s about work, and maybe some play­ers start­ing to think now that they are bet­ter than they are.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

SPOT ON: Troy Deeney scores the only goal of the game for Wat­ford with a penalty

MATCH WIN­NER: Troy

Deeney

STAR MAN MARCO CAS­SETTI Wat­ford

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