Watford vs Barnsley Match Report

Watford edge out 1-0 winners against a spirited Barnsley side at Vicarage Road thanks to a Troy Deeney penalty in the first half. The win sees the Hornets climb up to third in the league and keep their impressive home form going. The defeat means its three losses in a row for Ismael’s men in 2021 but they stay in tenth for now but have now played a game more than those around them.

Barnsley made one change to the side that lost at the weekend to Swansea with Romal Palmer coming in to replace Herbie Kane in the midfield. Carlton Morris was left on the bench despite looking lively during his debut and there was also a first appearance on the bench for young Ali Omar who takes the place of Luke Thomas who departed on loan to Ipswich today.

Barnsley made a really fast start to the game and were well on top for the opening 10/15 minutes. They almost made that early pressure count as Conor Chaplin came very close to opening the scoring but he was denied by a last-ditch tackle.

Mowatt picked out Adeboyejo with a lovely ball down the right and the powerful forward put in a low cross, Chaplin looked destined to tap it home but a last-ditch tackle sent the ball out for a corner.

Soon after Barnsley had another chance and again Chaplin was involved, this time he was the creator as he crossed for Woodrow but the tykes top scorer sent his header over the bar.

After this early spell of Barnsley pressure, Watford began to get a foothold in the game and they started to control possession and were knocking the ball around nicely. Soon into this spell of pressure, they took the lead.

Deeney was found in the box, he got his head up and looked to clip a cross towards the back post. Callum Brittain made himself big to block the cross and the ball hit his outstretched arm and the ref pointed straight to the spot.

Deeney himself took the spot-kick and he smashed his effort down the middle, Barnsley keeper Jack Walton got his hands to the ball but the strike had a little too much power on it and he could only push the ball into the roof of the net. The young keeper will be disappointed not to have saved it given the fact he got something on it.

The goal gave the hosts a much-needed lift and they were by far the better side until the break and should really have scored at least one more before the break. Andre Gray however didn’t seem to have his shooting boots on as he wasted several good chances.

The first came when he was picked out in behind, he looked to be offside but the flag stayed down and he took the ball round the keeper but his goal-bound effort lacked any real power and was cleared by Helik.

Soon after Gray again found himself in behind after some nice footwork and a precise pass from Ken Sema sent the striker through. He got to the ball first but Walton rushed out quickly and made a crucial save.

Just on the stroke of halftime, Gray had his best chance but yet again he wasted it. From a Barnsley corner, the home side broke quickly with Sarr bursting down the right-wing at pace. The tricky winger got his head up and put in a perfect cross for Gray who tried to lift the ball over the diving Walton but instead, he sent it over the bar. A huge chance again goes begging and you would expect better from a striker who dominated at this level in the past.

Half Time – Watford 1-0 Barnsley 

 

Watford started the second half as they ended the first as the better side and Sarr, in particular, was proving a threat as his pace was causing all sorts of issues for Mads Andersen. The winger got in behind not long after the restart but his cut-back was handled in the area by Gray and the chance again went begging.

Watford thought they had extended their lead after Will Hughes’ shot bounced back off the post, Gray tapped the ball home but he was offside so the goal was rightly ruled out.

Barnsley then pushed to level the game, Carlton Morris and Dom Freiser were introduced to add more urgency up top as well as the long throw option that the Austrian forward has up his sleeve.

Alex Mowatt who Barnsley are still hoping will sign a new deal was having a good game in the middle for the visitors and his free-kick from deep fell to Andersen in the box. The big Dane took the ball down on his chest and looked to shoot but it was blocked, the ball fell to Styles but he fired wide from the edge of the area.

Barnsley thought they had levelled when Woodrow headed the ball back across goal for Morris but the ref blew for what looked to be a very soft foul on Deeney in the box. The whistle had gone before the substitute headed his shot straight at the keeper.

Not long after this, the influential Mowatt put in a fantastic cross from the left-hand side. Watford defender Sierralta tried to head it clear but he inadvertently headed the ball towards his own goal and forced his keeper into a fine save. It was an intervention the defender had to make with Woodrow lurking behind him ready to pounce.

With time running out Watford looked to see the game out and were aiming to slow the game down at every opportunity. They did come close to extending their lead late on when a cross from the right was poked towards goal by Ekong but it went just wide.

There was a shout late on for a penalty for Barnsley as Woodrow went down under a challenge from Cathcart, the ref waved it away and the hosts held on for the win.  Woodrow was adamant it should have been a penalty but it was not given. Personally, it looked soft with little contact but I am yet to see a replay so hard to say for certain if it was a foul or not.

Full Time – Watford 1-0 Barnsley

MOTM – Alex Mowatt, a real captain’s performance.

Again it’s a defeat for the reds against a side in the top six. There is no shame in losing to the top sides but they will be disappointed here given the fact that they more than matched the hosts for large parts of the game. Watford had a strong spell leading up to the goal and then after this until half-time but after that, they were happy to settle for the 1-0 win and Barnsley just lacked the cutting edge to break them down and create any clear chances.

It’s now three defeats in a row in 2021 but Barnsley stay in the top half thanks to the impressive results earned in 2020. But even though they have lost their last three, they all have come against the current top three teams in the league and they can take positives from all three games. Morris again looked lively off the bench and must be in line to start in the next league game against Cardiff.

 

 

 

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