Watford’s difficulties away from home continued with another drab 0-0 draw this time at Nottingham Forest.

Only one shot on target was mustered during the entirety of the match, that fell to Joao Pedro in the first half, but was comfortably dealt with.

The Hornets made just one change to the team that beat Preston North End 4-1 the weekend before, with Pedro coming in for the injured Andre Gray, who had also got himself in a spot of bother with Surrey Police recently, following a lockdown-breaching get together at his home.

In the build up to the game, head coach Vladimir Ivic had said he saw no reason why his players were not able to maintain the intensity they had shown in that win over Preston, but they struggled to replicate their display in an open start to the game, that saw few chances created by either side.

Harry Arter sliced a volley over the top for the hosts while at the other end, Jeremy Ngakia and Ismaila Sarr combined well repeatedly out on the right but were unable to set up any opportunities of real value.

Pedro might have done better when Domingos Quina’s cross from the left was punched his way by Brice Samba in the Forest net, but the goalkeeper responded quickly to his mistake and closed the Brazilian down. 

With the temperature dropping as low as three degrees during the first half, both keepers may have hoped they were at least a bit busier, with neither called upon to do any real work.

The closest Ben Foster got to making a save came when a silky rabona cross from Cafu picked out Joe Lolley on the far side of the penalty area with ten minutes of the half remaining, but Ngakia blocked the shot and sent it behind for a corner, which was comfortably dealt with by the Hornets shot-stopper.

There were early signs that both would have their workload increased shortly after the restart, with Ngakia’s last-ditch interception taking the ball away from an otherwise unmarked Lolley in the centre, only for the clearance to find Lyle Taylor on the edge of the box. His shot was rushed and flew over the bar.

Sarr almost got in behind down the right moments later, but Samba was again quick off his line and smothered the loose ball at the feet of the winger.

Neither side were able to dominate possession in the centre of the park, which created something of a febrile atmosphere that bred plenty of mistakes and did not allow moments of quality to manifest prior to the hour mark.

Both teams managed to deliver a rare dangerous cross each during that period, but Lolley’s ball from the left was headed over by Taylor, while Sarr’s dink from the right was completely missed by Quina.

Forest then stepped up their efforts and started to look a bit more likely to take the lead, however crosses from Cafu and Anthony Knockaert were simple enough for Watford’s defenders to turn behind, with the home side unable to make the most from the set pieces.

While the home side may not have done enough to deserve a lead, they were well within their rights to feel aggrieved to have not taken a numerical advantage. Two late challenges from Nathaniel Chalobah, first on Ryan Yates, then on Cafu, resulted in only a yellow for the midfielder, when other officials may have decided both were deserving of bookings. Quina joined him in the book soon after for an equally agricultural foul on Lolley.

Further controversy came when Chalobah flew into yet another challenge moments later, this time on Arter, but again escaped punishment with referee David Webb showing more leniency and not even awarded so myuch as a free kick. Deeney lashed wide after pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box following the tackle.

Watford Observer:

Ivic had introduced Stipe Perica prior to the third of Chalobah’s challenges, but his addition was not enough for Watford to create any clear sight of goal and the game finished goalless meaning the Hornets missed out on a chance to climb to top of the league, with table toppers Norwich City losing away at Luton Town.