REPORT: ALBION 0 WATFORD 2
- Chris O’Grady and Dale Stephens come close to scoring an equaliser.
- Albion lose a home game against Watford for the first time since 2012.
- The Seagulls remain 20th in the league.
- Troy Deeney scores his 21st league goal of the season for Watford.
Brighton & Hove Albion lost their final home game of the season to promotion-chasers Watford.
Goals from Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra kept the Hornets top of the Championship table and within a win of promotion to the Premier League.
The boisterous 3,000 travelling fans arrived at the Amex in anticipation and saw their side create the first clear-cut chance of the game when Deeney unleashing a volley, which Albion keeper David Stockdale was equal to.
Albion then countered through Chris O'Grady, who made a purposeful run through midfield before playing a beautifully weighted pass to Mustapha Carayol. The on-loan Middlesbrough winger then hoisted in a cross for Joe Bennett, but the full-back failed to trouble Heurelho Gomes with an under-hit left-footed strike.
Bennett was at the heart of things once more and following a lapse in concentration from Juan Paredes, he darted in behind the defender and was subsequently fouled in the penalty area - only for Albion’s pleas for a penalty to fall on deaf ears.
With Albion posing an attacking threat, Watford boss Slavisa Jokanovic duly abandoned his tactics when he switched to a flat back four, bringing off Ikechi Anya for Daniel Tozser. His introduction brought much-needed aggression to Watford’s midfield, which was telling in the way the away side broke the deadlock.
Ben Watson led the Hornets' breakaway and squared it to Matthew Connolly down the left flank. The midfielder floated in a cross, which was half cleared by Greg Halford, and the ball then fortuitously ricocheted off Gordon Greer. It fell into the path of Deeney, who was on hand to smash home from close range.
Jokanovic’s men started the second half in the same vein as the first but their profligacy in front of goal denied them from establishing a two-goal advantage when hesitancy from Adlene Guedioura at the back post enabled Stockdale to make the save.
The Watford boss had the lovely conundrum of replacing one in-form striker for another when he brought off Odion Ighalo for Vydra.
And the striker had an immediate effect when he laid the ball on a proverbial plate for Almen Abdi, who could only curl his effort past Stockdale’s post.
Late on, Albion almost equalised when substitute Inigo Calderon floated in a great ball to the near post and O’Grady’s driving header bounced up off a patch of sand and agonisingly wide of the post.
Another sub, Craig Mackail-Smith - playing his last game for Albion at the Amex - then had a chance to sign off in style as he honed in on goal, but Gomes showed great anticipation to race off his line and punch the ball to safety.
With Albion throwing men forward, Vydra sealed three vital points for the Hornets in added-on time when he latched onto Deeney's pass and coolly slotted his effort past the despairing dive of Stockdale. The result puts Watford four points clear at the top and a win on the final day against Sheffield Wednesday will secure promotion.
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GOAL TIME 29 min