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Watford humbled at Pride Park as Derby County thump visitors 5-1
Watford suffered an embarrassing 5-1 defeat away to Derby County this afternoon.
The Hornets were without centre back stalwart Martin Taylor following his sale to Sheffield Wednesday and it was a difficult afternoon for the back four of Lloyd Doyley , Nyron Nosworthy, Carl Dickinson and Daniel Pudil.
The Hornets were 3-0 down before half-time thanks to goals by Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Connor Sammon – the first two coming from set pieces.
Will Hughes added a fourth soon after the restart and Jamie Ward scored Derby’s fifth.
Matej Vydra grabbed a consolation strike with 16 minutes remaining but Watford were poor across the pitch and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the contest.
Watford have made 16 summer signings but only four started this afternoon. The club brought in six players yesterday but Cristian Battocchio was the only one in the match day squad, as he took his place on the bench.
Dickinson in for Taylor was the only change from the side which impressed in the victory over Birmingham City last weekend.
It was an uneventful opening quarter of an hour but Derby went ahead when Keogh headed in Jamie Ward’s free kick at the far post.
Derby were the better side and on the front foot, without creating much of note.
Watford had to wait until the 35th minutes for their first chance as Iwelumo did well before laying the ball off to Abdi, who beat a couple of players and then shot wide of the near post from 18 yards.
But it wasn’t long before Derby extended their lead and once again it was from a set piece. This time Paul Coutts’ delivery was headed in from close range by Hendrick, who looked like he may have climbed on Jonathan Hogg.
Derby were now controlling the game and went agonisingly close when Watford failed to clear their lines and Sammon turned and shot. Almunia got a faint touch on the shot to send it wide.
The lead was extended to three before the break though as Sammon outmuscled Dickinson and despite the defender’s best efforts, the Derby striker’s effort dipped over Almunia into the bottom corner. Dickinson may have helped the strike deflect over his goalkeeper with a deflection.
Hopes of a second-half fight back from Watford quickly vanished as Derby increased their lead to four seven minutes after the restart.
Watford conceded another free kick, this time just outside the area. Ward’s low drive was tipped on to the post by Almunia and Hughes scored from the follow-up, with the help of the upright.
Watford went to three in defence as they chased a way back into the match and whilst Abdi had a shot go over the bar, Derby remained the better side.
With 25 minutes remaining, Watford made a double change with Marco Cassetti and Ikechi Anya coming on for Daniel Pudil and Sean Murray.
But it did little to stop the onslaught and, after a jinking run by Coutts, Cassetti was nudged off the ball in a 50-50 challenge and the Derby midfielder teed up Ward for a simple tap-in.
Watford enjoyed a positive ten-minute spell and pulled a goal back, with the two substitutes playing their part. Cassetti slotted the ball through to Anya and his pull-back resulted in an easy finish for Vydra.
More neat play from the Hornets led to Abdi shooting well wide but it was a poor performance from start to finish by Watford – in all areas of the pitch.
Anya had an opportunistic effort go over and Battocchio came on for his debut late on but the game fizzled out as Watford were comfortably, and deservedly, beaten.
Derby: Fielding; Brayford, Keogh, O’Connor, Roberts (Buxton 66); Coutts, Bryson (Doyle 89), Hendrick, Hughes (Jacobs 83); Ward, Sammon.
Subs: Legzdins, Tyson, Robinson, Gjokaj.
Watford: Almunia; Doyley, Nosworthy, Dickinson, Pudil (Cassetti 64); Hogg, Abdi, Yeates (Battocchio 85); Murray (Anya 64), Iwelumo, Vydra.
Subs: Bond, Hoban, Forsyth, Beleck.
Attendance: 20, 608 (832).
Referee: Paul Tierney.