Derby County 0 Watford 1 – Match verdict on another home defeat for the Rams
Derby County 0 Watford 1 – match verdict –
One moment of brilliance in an otherwise forgettable Championship contest sank Derby County at Pride Park Stadium.
Joao Pedro struck a fine winner 14 minutes from time to give Watford a 1-0 victory and continue the Rams’ poor home form.
This was a fifth consecutive home defeat in the League stretching back to last season and the results in the early part of this season are worrying, as is their shortage of goals.
They have lost four of their five league fixtures and have managed to score only twice.
They did not deserve to lose an evenly-matched encounter, but nor did they do enough to win.
The endeavour outweighed the quality in the first half, it was fair to say.
There was determination and snap from both teams, but no efforts on target.
Derby’s energy levels were high, their pressing good, but the creativity and spark needed to fashion chances was missing and so promising forays in the final came to nothing.
Their one and only chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to Duane Holmes. Jason Knight intercepted a loose Watford pass, Wayne Rooney pulled a low centre back to Holmes on the edge of the area but he lifted an unconvincing shot over the bar.
Knight, so impressive in central midfield against Norwich, played on the left in Kamil Jozwiak’s absence, but his willingness to fight for every ball was one of the features of the half, as was Matt Clarke’s strong defensive work in what was a Rams back three.
The pattern of the first half continued into the second half with both teams struggling to create an opening.
The Watford players screamed for handball and a penalty when George Evans blocked a drive. The referee waved away the claims, and Derby made a change just after the hour when they sent on Tom Lawrence for Holmes. Lawrence, in his first taste of action after recovering from shoulder surgery, had the Rams’ first attempt on target when he drove forward and hit a low shot that Ben Foster gathered but Watford took the lead after 76 minutes with a stunning strike from Joao Pedro, who curled the ball high beyond Marshall’s dive and into the top corner.
A blow to Derby, but they had an opportunity to level matters a minute later. Lawrence released Rooney and the skipper put his shot wide. There was still time for Rooney to go agonisingly close with a free kick in added time, but time ran out on the Rams.
DERBY COUNTY: Marshall; Byrne, Davies, Evans, Clarke, Buchanan (Whittaker, 86), Shinnie (Hector-Ingram, 80), Bird, Knight, Rooney, Holmes (Lawrence, 63). Subs: Roos (gk), Wisdom, Forsyth, te Wierik
WATFORD: Foster; Ngakia, Troost-Ekong (Cathcart, 71), Kabasele (Garner, 88), Wilmot, Femenia, Cleverley, Chalobah, Quina, Sema, Joao Pedro (Murray, 86). Subs: Bahmann (gk), Stevenson, Phillips, Hungbo
REFEREE: G Eltringham
SCORER: Pedro (76) 0-1
BOOKINGS: Derby County: Evans (58) foul on Sema; Watford: Wilmot (90+3) foul on Knight