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Watford's poor away form and their tendency to concede goals in the last ten minutes of games may ultimately cost them a play-off spot
Beppe Sannino always highlights the need to improve. And despite Watford ending their 14-game winless away run with an emphatic victory, the head coach used his post-match press conference to highlight the Hornets’ ongoing problem of conceding late goals.
Sannino was pleased on Saturday evening, understandably, after watching his team secure a 4-1 away win at Sheffield Wednesday.
When he was asked what was different compared to other away games, he initially stated the obvious: “We scored four times.”
But the answer was later qualified when he recognised his team’s struggle at holding on to leads.
He explained: “I am pleased that we scored four goals because our problem has been the last minutes of games as we always concede [late] goals.
“The last ten minutes of matches have cost us a lot in terms of points.”
Sannino also highlighted that Watford had more confidence when passing and moving the ball against Wednesday.
Prior to Watford’s trip to Hillsborough, the last time the Golden Boys had secured all three points on their travels was on October 5 at Huddersfield Town.
They had come close, most notably at Leicester City when only a Danny Drinkwater equaliser in the fourth minute of injury-time denied the Golden Boys.
But Saturday was comfortable. Gabriele Angella, Lewis McGugan and a Troy Deeney brace made sure of that.
Sannino said: “It is very good because it has been a long time since Watford won away – too many lost and too many drawn.
“Today I am very happy for our fans and my players.”
Watford are eight points below the Championship play-off places, with a game in hand, but they would be in the top six if they did not have the frustrating habit of conceding late.
Since that trip to Huddersfield back in October, Watford have lost eight points after conceding eight goals in the final ten minutes of league games.
Against Middlesbrough, Leicester City (away) and Blackburn Rovers, potential victories ended in disappointing draws after late goals.
Against Derby County and Doncaster Rovers potential draws turned into heartbreaking defeats.
While against Yeovil Town, Leicester City (home) and Nottingham Forest, conceding goals in the closing stages only compounded heavy losses.
In contrast, Watford have scored just twice in the last ten minutes in the same period. An 81st-minute Deeney strike against Ipswich Town resulted in Sannino’s first game ending in a draw while Cristian Battocchio’s goal two minutes from time at home to Blackburn Rovers was cancelled out soon after by a Rudy Gestede leveller.
The Hornets’ problems away from Vicarage Road have been well documented and they have certainly harmed the club’s bid to reach the play-offs.
But at home, it’s a different story. Watford have scored 20 goals and have conceded 15 on home soil since the beginning of October, collecting 20 points from 14 league games and keeping seven clean sheets.
On the road, the Hornets attack wasn’t heavily affected during their winless run with 18 goals scored in 13 matches.
It was in defence where their problems lay. The Golden Boys conceded 21 times and kept only two shutouts. Watford fans will hope Saturday’s win at Sheffield Wednesday will bring a change of fortune. The Hornets maintain slim hopes of securing a play-off place but they will need an impressive run of form to secure a spot in the top six.
Their travel sickness must not continue. Four of Watford’s remaining eight Championship matches are away from Vicarage Road, including games against promotion challengers Queens Park Rangers and Derby County.
The Hornets have only taken 21 points away from home, the 13th highest total in the league. Conversely, they have secured 31 points at Vicarage Road which is the eighth highest.
There has certainly been no place like home for Watford this season – well at least in recent months.
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