Tun­ni­cliffe snatches late lev­eller

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

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

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

PIC­TURE PER­FECT: Daniel Tozser scores the sec­ond goal for Wat­ford from a free-kick. In­set: Rudy Gest­ede heads home for Black­burn

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