Wat­ford striker con­tin­ues fine run

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ra­jan Man­gat

WAT­FORD boss Slav­isa Jokanovic ad­mit­ted his side rode their luck af­ter Odion Ighalo’s late win­ner snatched all three-points against Black­burn Rovers at Vicarage Road.

Ighalo hit the win­ner in the 83rd minute – his ninth league goal in six games – af­ter re­act­ing first to Miguel Layun’s cor­ner to hook the ball past Ja­son Steele.

Hor­nets’ keeper Heurelho Gomes pro­duced a string of fine saves to deny Rovers, and Jokanovic con­ceded that his team didn’t play their best but showed great team spirit.

“We didn’t play a bril­liant game, Black­burn cre­ated a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties, but we were strong enough and showed re­solve to get through it,” he said.

“We fought hard, we showed great team spirit, and I knew if we cre­ated a chance we could win the game. I would pre­fer to play nice foot­ball and score many goals but some­times you win games when you’re not play­ing well and we got a bit lucky.

“I am happy with how the team bat­tled, we didn’t play a great game, we were a lit­tle lucky but this is foot­ball.

“Heurelho made some spec­tac­u­lar saves but this is part of his job and he helped us to win the game.

“Ighalo scored the win­ner, but that’s also his job, so it was a team ef­fort.”

Both sides were pos­i­tive from the start but it was the Hor­nets who should have gone ahead in the ninth minute when Ikechi Anya teed up Miguel Layun, but the Mex­i­can’s ef­fort was bril­liantly tipped wide by Steele.

Black­burn had their own op­por­tu­ni­ties, as Jor­dan Rhodes hit a half-vol­ley over be­fore Chris Brown headed a free-kick nar­rowly wide of the far post.

The vis­i­tors also had an­other good chance in in­jury-time at the end of a goal­less open­ing pe­riod, but Gomes tipped Ben Mar­shall’s free-kick around the post.

Rovers be­gan the sec­ond half in the as­cen­dency and Rhodes missed a glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­nity just be­fore the hour.

Gomes’ short punch fell to the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional, but Gabriele An­gella de­nied the striker with a won­der­ful block to keep the scores level.

Black­burn con­tin­ued to threaten but were once again de­nied by hero­ics of Gomes.

First, the Brazil­ian de­nied Rhodes from point-blank range be­fore tip­ping a Craig Con­way shot wide.

The vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to press and Gomes was called into ac­tion once more to deny Con­way’s free kick in­side the fi­nal ten min­utes.

How­ever, against the run of play it was the Hor­nets who stole it when Ighalo popped up with a late win­ner – his 12th league goal of the sea­son. The Nige­rian thought he had his sec­ond of the game deep into in­jury time but it was ruled out for off­side.

Rovers boss Gary Bowyer was left de­flated by de­feat, and said de­spite play­ing well, his side needs to be more clin­i­cal in front of goal.

“We didn’t take our chances, we weren’t ruth­less enough in front of goal and we didn’t de­fend the scruffy cor­ner well enough, but over­all per­for­mance-wise we were by far the bet­ter team,” he said.

“It’s hard to take. We were much the bet­ter team through­out and I’m sure Heurelho Gomes will be man of the match.

“He made one out­stand­ing save from a free-kick first-half, but I thought in the sec­ond half we cre­ated chances which we should have taken.

“When you take the emo­tion out of it, the per­for­mance gives us con­fi­dence that we’re not go­ing to be too far away from the play-offs.

“Peo­ple talk about the gap be­tween us and Wat­ford, but if we per­form like that from now un­til the end of the sea­son, we’ll be very close.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

DEADLY: Wat­ford’s Odion Ighalo (left) looks for space

SPRAWL: Black­burn’s Ja­son Steele is left flat on his back by Odion Ighalo’s goal

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