Watford 1 Leeds United 2 match report: Jack Bonham left in private hell as he lets Watford's chances slip

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Calvin Report: He was the club's most unlikely recruit since wine waiter Gary Plumley

An afternoon which began portentously with thunder and lightning ended in bitter anticlimax and undisguised anxiety for the welfare of two young Watford goalkeepers. One was in the hospital adjoining the Vicarage Road ground, and the other was in a private hell.

The worrying facial injury to goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, sustained halfway through a first half which stretched to 62 minutes, was a moment of brutal perspective which introduced Jack Bonham to the pitiless realities of the professional game.

Watford's third-choice keeper, dragooned into his debut, was culpable for both of the goals which condemned them to defeat, and a Championship play-off semi-final against Leicester. They will be without striker Troy Deeney, sent off for a scything foul on that enduring irritant Michael Brown, for the first leg at the KP Stadium on Thursday.

Bonham may be pressed into service again because, in keeping with the surreal nature of the occasion, Watford lost first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in the warm-up with a recurrence of a hamstring injury. Bond's season is surely over, although his manager, Gianfranco Zola, suggested, somewhat improbably, that he might be able to play in a protective mask. Bond had demonstrated the requisite bravery of his trade, throwing himself into the path of the ball, and into harm's way, just before the Leeds substitute Dominic Poleon appeared to push the defender Ikechi Anya into him at pace.

It was a sickening collision, and the alarm signals from the players around him were stark and immediate. The goalkeeper was attended by seven medical staff and two paramedics for fully 12 minutes. He was given oxygen and taken away on a stretcher to a standing ovation.

Bond had broken his nose, badly, and left Zola awaiting the results of scans. "The way he went down looked very bad," Zola said. "It looked like he wasn't responding." Staff had to clear the pitch of bloodied tissues and pour water on a bloodied patch of turf before play could resume.

Bonham consequently became a central character in a game he assumed he would be watching from the stand. A gangling figure in a silver-grey shirt that was a little too short for his torso, he looked unkempt, and on the verge of hyperventilation. He was Watford's most unlikely recruit since Graham Taylor selected Gary Plumley, a wine waiter, for the 1987 FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham. They lost 4-1 that day, and, with a place in the Premier League at stake, Bonham did not have long to discover the limits of romanticism.

He had touched the ball only twice when he failed to command his area and clear out a hopeful punt forward. He collided with the defender Joel Ekstrand, who could only hook his attempted clearance into the face of Poleon, who blinked before walking the ball into empty net. Watford's equaliser was worked across the box by Anya into the path of the outstanding Almen Abdi, whose driven shot into the top corner was a mark of genuine quality.

Everyone then entered a parallel universe of hope and hysteria. Watford's players were confronted by sudden opportunity when they were still in the sanctuary of the dressing room as Cardiff took the lead at the KC Stadium, but hope appeared to die when Hull scored twice in five minutes.

News that Hull had eventually drawn was greeted with frenzy. Watford, reduced to 10 men when Deeney picked up his second yellow card, had almost a quarter of an hour to score the goal which would have earned them a promotion popularly assumed to be worth £120 million.

"At that moment, I thought we could do it," said Zola, whose optimism was undermined by Paddy Kenny. The Leeds goalkeeper showed remarkable agility for someone so heavily boned, and made three outstanding saves before, with 35 seconds of regulation time remaining, Aidan White sent Ross McCormack clear.

A goalkeeper with greater experience than Bonham would have come out assertively and narrowed the angle. But Bonham hesitated, and could only paw McCormack's chip into the net. Zola refused to apportion blame, but the dream was over, in nightmare fashion.

Watford (3-5-2): Bond (Bonham, 24); Doyley, Ekstrand, Cassetti; Anya (Vydra, 63), Hogg (Yeates, 83), Chalobah, Abdi, Pudil; Forestieri, Doyley.

Leeds (4-4-2): Kenny; Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Drury; Green (Hall, 90), Brown (White, 62), McCormack, Tonge; Varney, Morison (Poleon, 10).

Referee Graham Salisbury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions