HOR­NETS STRIKE LUCKY AT LEEDS

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Steven Chicken

SU­PER­STI­TIOUS Wat­ford fans may feel for­tunes are in their favour af­ter they de­fied all the odds to move just three points off the top spot with victory over Leeds.

All of Satur­day morn­ing’s top three dropped points to al­low the Hor­nets to make ground on their pro­mo­tion ri­vals: Derby and Mid­dles­brough lost at Ful­ham and Sh­effield Wed­nes­day re­spec­tively, while Bournemouth drew with Black­burn.

As if the odds of those re­sults go­ing Wat­ford’s way were not long enough, Slav­isa Jokanovic’s men also had to over­turn a twogoal deficit se­cured by Leeds af­ter just 19 min­utes.

But that was ex­actly what they did thanks to fan­tas­tic per­for­mances up front from Troy Deeney and Matej Vy­dra, who scored twice af­ter com­ing into the side for the in-form but ham­strung Odion Ighalo.

Jokanovic said: “We made some mis­takes in the be­gin­ning of the game and gave them many presents.

“We started the sec­ond half in a sim­i­lar way, and in this sit­u­a­tion we must con­trol the game a lit­tle bit more.

“I must be happy how we re­solved the prob­lems we solved in the game. I’m not think­ing about pro­mo­tion, about what’s go­ing to hap­pen in May.

“I have dreams, our sup­port­ers have dreams and the club too, but now is not the time to be in bed sleep­ing; now it’s time for work­ing.

“That is what I want to do. My dreams are not im­por­tant now. My real sit­u­a­tion is to rest my team and be ready and pre­pare and be ready for the next three points which are in front of us against Ful­ham.”

Leeds looked good for much of the first half af­ter be­ing gifted the first goal through a mix-up be­tween Ikechi Anya and Heurelho Gomes, whose fail­ure to hold the de­fender’s way­ward header back al­lowed Billy Sharp to score.

There was no luck in­volved as Rodolph Austin dou­bled the lead out of nowhere on 19 min­utes, strik­ing a per­fect half-vol­ley over Gomes from the cor­ner of the box.

Wat­ford took heart when Deeney pulled one back six min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val af­ter shrug­ging off Scott Woot­ton to meet Vy­dra’s through ball.

Leeds could have re­stored their two-goal buf­fer im­me­di­ately in the sec­ond half af­ter Sharp put Austin one-on-one with Gomes, but the keeper saved and Gabrielle An­gella cleared Austin’s fol­low-up.

Vy­dra pulled Wat­ford level on 56 min­utes af­ter more good linkup play with Deeney gave the striker an easy fin­ish at the far post.

A win­ner seemed in­evitable in light of the fact that Wat­ford have not drawn a game since Oc­to­ber, so it was un­sur­pris­ing when Vy­dra held off Sol Bamba to con­vert an­other great Deeney through ball.

It was no less than the te­na­cious Hor­nets de­served, but Leeds boss Neil Red­fearn was rightly con­cerned about his side’s de­fend­ing.

He said: “You can’t af­ford to de­fend like that. I thought we were the bet­ter side for 40 min­utes. We got the game plan right, and I thought we played some good stuff.

“It was 2-0 and it could have been three or four at that point, but you’ve got to re­mem­ber they’re a good side and if you give good sides room to play, they’ll hurt you.

“We talked about the de­fend­ers hav­ing to de­fend one v one at times be­cause Wat­ford do counter attack and we needed to make good de­ci­sions, but we didn’t.

“I think if you look at Wat­ford, they’ve done that to two or three teams.They’re a free-scor­ing side and you can only leg­is­late for so much. But they’ve spent a lot of money, and if you do that you’re go­ing to cre­ate chances and score goals.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

MAT FIN­ISH: Wat­ford’s Matej Vy­dra cel­e­brates scor­ing their cru­cial third goal with team­mates

SAM THE MAN: Leeds’ Sam Byram and Ikechi Anya

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