Nottingham Forest shot down by Matej Vydra again as Watford romp to victory
MATEJ Vydra returned to haunt Nottingham Forest for the second time this season, as another double from the Czech striker helped Watford claim an easy 3-0 success at the City Ground.
Vydra netted both goals as Watford triumphed 2-0 at Vicarage Road and, either side of a goal from Troy Deeney, he again fired twice to secure three points for Gianfranco Zola's side.
Forest had hoped to demonstrate their promotion credentials by beating one of the sides in the top six. But it was the Hornets who suggested that they may be equipped to challenge for a place in the top flight, as they comfortably swept aside Alex McLeish's side.
The Scotsman will be hoping that, before he heads back to former club Birmingham next weekend, Forest will be able to strengthen their squad in the transfer market again, following a match that suggested there is still room for improvement.
Darius Henderson, the striker signed from Millwall on Thursday, did make his debut as a late substitute. But, by that point, Watford had already all but secured the points.
There was a cagey start to the game, with neither side managing to carve out an opportunity of note in the opening ten minutes.
Forest had named an attacking side, with Simon Cox playing just behind the pairing of Billy Sharp and Dexter Blackstock up front. But, with Watford fielding a three man central defence, the Reds were finding the Hornets hard to break down.
The home side did win two early corners, but did not manage to threaten Manuel Almunia's goal.
It was Watford who should have taken the lead when Troy Deeney turned Danny Collins too easily on the edge of the box, before surging through on goal, where he stabbed a shot wide with the outside of his right boot, when he should really have scored.
But, in the 20th minute, Watford did break the deadlock, via an incisive flurry of passing football. Nathaniel Chalobah threaded a neat ball down the right for Deeney, who was allowed the room to cut the ball back into the centre, where Vydra was well placed to side-foot home from close range.
Almen Abdi would have doubled Watford's advantage, if not for a fine save from Darlow, who got a hand to his powerful, driven shot.
Then Forest had to produce some desperate defending, as Watford piled the pressure on their goal. Abdi's corner was crisply volleyed at the far post by Nyron Nosworthy, with Collins forced to clear off the line. Then Billy Sharp had to clear off the line when Joel Ekstrand connected with the loose ball, driving it back towards goal.
But it looked like a second goal was coming – and that proved to be the case. Chalobah again delivered the defence splitting ball, this time to send Vydra racing clear, with the striker unselfishly squaring for Deeney to fire into an empty net, with Deeney having rushed out to close down the Czech.
Collins came close to reducing the arrears with a towering header from a Cohen free kick that looped narrowly wide of the post. While Almunia dived nervously across goal as Cox angled a shot that flashed just the wrong side of the opposite upright.
Blackstock also missed a great opportunity in injury time, volleying wide after a Cohen cross had been flicked on.
Forest made a change at the interval, with Andy Reid brought on in place of Simon Gillett.
But it was Cox who almost engineered an immediate breakthrough, with a driving run and clever cross causing chaos in the Watford defence, where Marco Cassetti produced a vital clearance as Sharp stood poised at the far post.
Watford continued to carve out chances as well, however, with Chalbobah testing Darlow with a crisp shot, following a swift counter attack. A similar quick break saw Deeney sent racing into the box again, but he was again off target with his shot, fortunately for the home side.
A flash of skill from Halford took him into space down the left and his cross found Cox in the centre, but the striker could not muster the power to test the keeper. While Blackstock shot over the bar, having created the room for a shot on the edge of the box.
Radi Majewski was then introduced off the bench, in place of Cox. Sharp forced a diving save from Almunia with a volley, driven into the ground, that bounced up awkwardly for the keeper.
But it was Vydra, the man who had netted twice against Forest in the game at Watford, who again found the net, with an outstanding finish. When Ward's headed clearance fell to the striker, he played a simple one-two with Abdi, before lifting a clever shot over the advancing Darlow.
Henderson was handed his Forest debut when he was brought on in place of Blackstock, but the striker would have needed to make a truly remarkable impact to drag Forest back into a game that had already been decided.
Forest: Darlow, Jara, Ward, Collins, Halford, Gillett (Reid 45), Cohen, Lansbury, Cox (Majewski 61), Blackstock (Henderson 77), Sharp. Subs: Evtimov, Harding, McGugan, Greening.
Watford: Almunia, Deeney, Doyley, Pudil, Vydra, Abdi, Cassetti (Hall 70), Nosworthy, Battocchio (Hogg 78), Chalobah (Yeates 86), Ekstrand. Subs: Eustace, Bond, Geijo, Forestieri.
Referee: Andy Haines, Tyne and Wear.