HORNETS TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
Promotion confirmed while they’re on M25
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.”
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
GOING UP: Troy Deeney celebrates scoring Watford’s first goal
CRUCIAL GOAL: Deeney fires home the opener