HOR­NETS TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

Pro­mo­tion con­firmed while they’re on M25

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Alex Smith

HOT-SHOTS Troy Deeney and Matej Vy­dra net­ted to send Wat­ford back to the Pre­mier League with a game to spare – much to manager Slav­isa Jokanovic’s sur­prise.

Deeney smashed in af­ter a de­fen­sive mix-up in the first half be­fore sub­sti­tute Vy­dra added a sec­ond in stop­page time.

The Hor­nets have won their last five games and de­feat for Mid­dles­brough in a seven-goal thriller at Ful­ham, plus Nor­wich con­ced­ing late at Rother­ham sent Jokanovic’s team up.

Wat­ford – who heard of their pro­mo­tion as they rode their coach home down the M25 – can seal the ti­tle at home to Sh­effield Wed­nes­day next week and Jokanovic could not hide his de­light.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble. I’m very, very happy for my play­ers, for my staff, for the peo­ple that work in the kitchen and for our sup­port­ers,” he said.

“I’m a lit­tle sur­prised be­cause I didn’t ex­pect ev­ery­thing to be all over here.We made a great job of it and many peo­ple around me helped me so much.

“The play­ers did a great job and the sup­port­ers helped us and be­lieved in the pos­si­bil­ity of us get­ting pro­moted.

“The Cham­pi­onship is a crazy com­pe­ti­tion and many things can hap­pen in the last five min­utes like it did here.”

Victory for Wat­ford at home to Sh­effield Wed­nes­day will guar­an­tee they go up as cham­pi­ons and Jokanovic urged his play­ers to claim the ti­tle with a win in front of the ir own fans.

“Next sea­son we are go­ing to play in the Pre­mier League which is even more im­por­tant than the Cham­pi­onship,” he said.

“That rep­re­sents a big suc­cess for us and we have to be happy. But there is one more week left and we must try and win the tro­phy.We must con­cen­trate and try and get one more win in front of our sup­port­ers.”

Deeney was a danger­ous pres­ence right from the be­gin­ning, forc­ing David Stock­dale into a low block af­ter find­ing space in the box.

The piv­otal mo­ment of the first half came when manager Jokanovic brought on Ben Tozser and switched to a di­a­mond in mid­field, and it worked al­most im­me­di­ately when Deeney fired in.

The 26-year-old striker cap­i­talised on Odion Ighalo’s skil­ful back heel af­ter a de­fen­sive mix-up in the box to give Deeney his 21st goal of the sea­son.

Both keep­ers traded good saves as Heurelho Gomes got a strong hand to O’Grady’s long-range ef­fort, be­fore Stock­dale thwarted Ad­lene Gue­dioura’s side-footed shot af­ter Ighalo had rounded the for­mer Ful­ham stop­per.

Brighton at­tempted to help out Bournemouth and Boro by go­ing all guns blaz­ing to find an equaliser, and stop Wat­ford’s run of eight games un­beaten away from home.

O’Grady rose high­est in the box to meet sub Inigo Calderon’s cross but the ball bounced ag­o­nis­ingly wide, be­fore Dale Stephens scuffed his golden chance straight at Gomes.

Gomes made a timely dou­ble save in stop­page time to block Craig Mack­ail-Smith and then Joe Bennett’s fol­low up.

Wat­ford coun­tered up at the other end and bagged a sec­ond as Deeney squared for his ninth as­sist of the sea­son to set up Vy­dra.

Wat­ford have scored over dou­ble the goals Brighton have man­aged this sea­son – with Deeney and Ighalo both netting more than 20. And Seag­ulls boss Chris Hughton is jeal­ous of their at­tack­ing op­tions.

He said: “As the sea­son has gone on we have been able to keep a clean sheet.

“But we have found it dif­fi­cult to get the goals, it has put pres­sure on the team. The first goal they scored was a poor goal from our point of view. But at this mo­ment they have two strik­ers who have 20 goals apiece this sea­son.

“The type of goal they scored, they found a way of do­ing it. We’ve found that dif­fi­cult to do. They just have that knack of find­ing goals.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

JOY RID­ERS: Troy Deeney cel­e­brates his open­ing goal at Brighton which helped Wat­ford seal pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League in the early kick-off Inset: The play­ers hear they are pro­moted while on the coach home

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

GO­ING UP: Troy Deeney cel­e­brates scor­ing Wat­ford’s first goal

CRU­CIAL GOAL: Deeney fires home the opener

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