Watford 2 Coventry City 1: Boothroyd's men keep cool heads to reheat push for promotion
Monday 07 April 2008
Never mind the quality, just feel the points. Despite an extremely poor performance, this win lifted Watford to within one point of second place in the Championship and given their recent run, Aidy Boothroyd will take victory any which way it comes.
The Hornets have won the fewest home games of any of the top six but this result – their first home or away triumph in nine games – banished, possibly only temporarily, fears that their automatic promotion hopes had disappeared. Given their poor form at Vicarage Road, the fact they have three more games there in the run-in is little cause for comfort. Goals here by Nathan Ellington and Tommy Smith, with Coventry's Leon Best scoring in between, were enough.
You can guarantee that the Hertfordshire side will be involved in a scrap at one end of the table or other at this time of year. In Boothroyd's three years in charge, his CV reads: avoided relegation, won promotion, and relegated. Instant promotion is expected now, but he himself has mixed feelings about that.
He said: "Sometimes experience in these situations helps, and sometimes it can make you anxious. Here we kept a cool head and ground out a result and we have to make sure we keep winning.
"Compared to 2006 [when they were promoted via the play-offs] we're a better team than then. We're also a team that's expected to get promotion. In the Premiership last year I set the ceiling too high but that's the guy I am and this year we're experiencing expectation which is different again. All the emotions and every different thing a team has, we've had in a very short space of time. I think that's helped me and helped the players too."
Boothroyd himself is looking for that something extra – "I'm trained in certain aspects of sports psychology" – to squeeze his team into the top two. He said: "As for finding an edge, there are lots of things I think we can do and we've had a meeting about that. It's a tense time, everybody thinks they can win it, everybody knows if they're not right they can lose it."
Coventry could lose their Championship status if they are not careful, something manager Chris Coleman reminded his players of after their dire first-half showing, but they only lost due to a defensive misjudgment by Dan Fox, letting in Smith for his late winner.
Goals: Ellington (7) 1-0; Best (59) 1-1; Smith (80) 2-1
Watford 4-4-2: Lee; Doyley (DeMerit, 87), Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith, Williamson, O'Toole, McAnuff (Stewart, 83); Ellington (Mariappa, 83), Kabba. Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), John.
Coventry City 4-4-2: Schmeichel; Duffy (Mifsud, h/t), Ward, Dann, Fox; Osbourne, Doyle, Hughes, Gray (Thornton, 89); Best, Simpson (Hines, 72). Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Hall.
Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire)
Man of the Match: Ellington.
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