Watford were plunged deeper into relegation trouble in the Championship following Neil Warnock's decision to field a full-strength Queen's Park Rangers team after already securing his team's survival.
Warnock had wanted to blood some of his younger players but admitted he feared a backlash from sides threatened by relegation if he weakened his starting XI. Instead he wants to do so against Barnsley and Newcastle.
Akos Buzsaky scored the only goal last night with a penalty, denying Watford the three points they needed to ensure they will not drop into the third tier of English football for the first time since 1998. The benefactors of the result were Crystal Palace, the club Warnock left earlier in the campaign, and Sheffield Wednesday.
"I would have like to have played one or two of the kids, but by Monday I knew it was the wrong time to get accused by the media of changing my team," Warnock said. "I asked them to be professional – let's make sure Sheffield Wednesday and Palace knew we gave everything."
QPR's winner came seven minutes before the interval when Dusko Tosic burst down the left, with his run getting halted by Adrian Mariappa pulling him back when inside the area. "I was a little disappointed looking at the penalty, there was little contact," said the Watford manager, Malky Mackay. "The referee looked at it for a long time."
Buzsaky sent goalkeeper Scott Loach the wrong way from the penalty spot, the Hungary midfielder's 11th goal of the season brightening up a first half short on action and quality.
Mackay's response was to introduce Marvin Sordell at the interval and the 19-year-old forward led the visitors' rally in the second period, starting by setting up Danny Graham for an effort ruled out for offside. Sordell also crossed from the left but Graham's diving header went wide, then he attacked the opposite flank and Jon Harley's finish from close range was blocked by QPR goalkeeper Radek Cerny.
"They showed a bit more character and Marvin was certainly involved in that," Mackay added. "We felt his pace would trouble them. From half-time onwards we threw everything we had at them and on another night we would have scored a goal." Jay Simpson came on and missed the chance to make the points safe for QPR when he raced through, his effort getting saved.
Next for Watford is Reading at home on Saturday, followed by a trip to Coventry, with the 51-point mark their target. "We have to show that we deserve the right to stay in this division," Mackay said. "We have to show no fear and show what we did in the second half."
QPR (4-4-2): Cerny; Ramage, Gorkss, Leigertwood, Tosic; Vine, Buzsaky (Oastler, 71), Faurlin, Ephraim; Taarabt (Cook, 41), German (Simpson, 72). Substitutes not used Putnins (gk), Brown, Parker, Priskin.
Watford (4-4-2): Loach; Mariappa, Bennett (Doyley, h-t), Taylor, Hodson; McGinn (Sordell, h-t), Eustace, Jenkins (Bryan, 82), Harley; Lansbury, Graham. Substitutes not used Lee (gk), Hoskins, Henderson, Oshodi.
Referee P Miller (Bedfordshire).Reuse content