RYAN’S FIRST GOAL LEAVES OSCAR SICK AS A PARROT
Tunnicliffe snatches late leveller
RYAN TUNNICLIFFE’S first ever goal ensured it was a miserable return to work for Watford’s fit-again boss Oscar Garcia.
Garcia, 41, spent a week in hospital after complaining of chest pains on September 14, but was released on Sunday after being given the all-clear.
However, the former Barcelona midfielder – whose only game since taking charge of the Hornets was a 1-0 defeat to Charlton – has spent the last five days convalescing at home and watched events from the stands at Ewood Park.
He was treated to a rip-roaring affair as goals from Matej Vydra and Daniel Toszer put Watford ahead, only for Rudy Gestede and then Tunnidliffe to snatch a dramatic draw.
But for the Hornets’ assistant-boss Billy McKinlay – appointed only on Thursday – the most important thing was the health of his new gaffer, whose exact condition has not been disclosed.
“Oscar’s doing fine,” he said. “It’s good news that he’s on the road to recovery and we’re looking forward to seeing him back for the game on Tuesday.
“He came in to see some of the players on Friday and he was in contact throughout the game with little messages.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and so are the players
because they haven’t really had that opportunity since he came in. But he’s on the mend and he’s all good to go.”
Certainly Garcia will have been cheered by a first half in which Watford – shorn of star turns Troy Deeney and Almen Abdi through injury – showcased their customary lethal finishing.
Come the half-hour, Vydra had barely touched the ball but when Craig Cathcart’s dipping ball over the top sent him searing clear, the Czech recovered from a heavy touch to beat Shane Duffy and thun- der a vicious left-footed effort beyond Jason Steele.
And Vydra was the architect of the second, drawing a free-kick on the edge of the box that Toszer whipped home off the far post.
If Watford deserved their lead, 2-0 was a touch harsh – and just moments into the second half the arrears were duly reduced. Marcus Olsson, dangerous all day, looped in a dangerous cross and Rudy Gestede powered his way past three Watford defenders to head in.
Thereafter, all the qualities that Watford had displayed first half – clinical finishing, composure on the ball, energy on the break – vanished into the Lancashire air.
Gary Bowyer’s substitutions utterly turned the tables and by the time an hour had passed the hosts were raining fire and brimstone on the Watford box.
The Hornets did fashion chances, most notably when Vydra fluffed a one-on-one. But it was Rovers, orchestrated by the movement and vision of the impressive Tom Cairney, who drove the pace.
And it was the Rovers winger who fashioned the equaliser, feed- ing Gestede who in turn picked out the 21-year-old Tunnicliffe to nod home his first goal in professional football.
And Blackburn could easily have snatched it, with Cairney hitting the bar from a free-kick and both Rhodes and Gestede missing decent chances.
“We were actually very calm at half-time,” said Bowyer. “I thought we’d played very well and found ourselves 2-0 down to two outstanding strikes. And I’ve spoken before about the passion and commitment these players have. I wasn’t at all surprised by the comeback. We know we’ve got goals throughout the team and the contribution of everybody was massive.”
Bowyer also hailed the contribution of man-of-the-match Gestede, whose bustling presence gave Watford nightmares.
“Rudy was excellent,” he said. “He and Jordan Rhodes showed towards the back end of last season what a formidable partnership they could become.They’ve started off in the same vein of form and I would hate to play against them.”
MAN OF THE MOMENT: Ryan Tunnicliffe celebrates after scoring the equaliser
PICTURE PERFECT: Daniel Tozser scores the second goal for Watford from a free-kick. Inset: Rudy Gestede heads home for Blackburn