Adrian Boothroyd, freshly installed as Watford's manager, was handed a stark reminder of the task facing him at the relegation-threatened club when Leeds United, the side he left two weeks ago, consigned them to yet another defeat. The spectre of relegation looms ever larger over Vicarage Road.
Boothroyd was presented to the crowd for his first home game, secretly relishing a victory over his former club, but the anticipated effect a win could have had over the increasingly agitated supporters failed to materialise as the side slumped to their seventh defeat in eight matches.
The new man at the helm confidently declared that the club will survive to fight another year in the Championship. "If I was going to be in a fight that is the group of players I want to be with," he said. "We will get on with it this week, we will keep on going and I am convinced that we will be OK."
Boothroyd would have been pleased with the way that his players started. Just three minutes in, Heidar Helguson pounced on a defensive error by Clarke Carlisle, but the Icelandic striker's shot was well-saved by Neil Sullivan.
On 28 minutes, though, the visitors found the breakthrough. The midfielder Sean Gregan supplied the cross for Rob Hulse. The Leeds striker stole in front of Danny Cullip before nodding a looping header over Richard Lee in the Watford goal. Just as it looked like Leeds would have the advantage going into the break, Helguson popped up on 41 minutes to put his header past Sullivan after the midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson's shot was parried.
Watford came out for the second half looking jaded and on 52 minutes they were dealt a severe blow as their American defender Jay DeMerit was sent off for his second bookable offence. It would now be a test of how much, with the odds stacked against them, Watford wanted what would have been just their second win in 11 games.
It was the visitors who flickered sporadically, with Rub Hulse blazing his 58th-minute drive wide as Leeds looked to make their one-man advantage tell. Nine minutes later Watford's resolve was finally broken. Matthew Kilgallon swung over a fine cross, and Carlisle rose highest to power his header home.
Watford looked dispirited following that blow and Boothroyd, the former Leeds first team coach, used all his substitutions as the relegation-threatened side desperately looked for a way back into the game. However, it was never to materialise.
Blackwell said: "I really feel for Adrian, but it is my job to look after Leeds United and I asked my players not to give Watford the lift that they needed. I am proud of the way that they have turned the season around."Reuse content