Watford fears eased by inspired Priskin

Watford 2 Swansea 0
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The Independent Football

Neither of these teams caused an upset in the FA Cup at the weekend, although both had their moments. Watford took the lead against Chelsea before losing and Swansea City have a replay next week against Fulham. But this Championship win for the Hornets last night was a genuine shock and the sort that Watford’s manager, Brendan Rodgers, was much more in need of. Indeed, this took them out of the relegation zone.

For Roberto Martinez, the Swansea manager, it represented a first defeat in 17 games and a setback in City’s attempt to reach the top six and the play-off places. The Spaniard was concerned by many aspects, not least their failure to compete on and off the ball. Moreover, they managed only one shot on target.

Martinez did not hide his feelings. “It was a disappointing performance from our point of view,” he admitted. “We didn’t have what we needed to win the game.

“Watford had a huge desire and we are now at that stage of the season when the table really affects performances,” Martinez added.

Tamas Priskin had started as a substitute in Watford’s last game, but it is funny what beating a goalkeeper like Petr Cech can do for your standing in the eyes of your manager. So it was that, having come off the bench on Saturday to give the Hornets the lead against Chelsea, Priskin was given a start here at Vicarage Road.

Dorius De Vries may not be of the same quality as Cech but he had just as little chance as the Czech Republic goalkeeper of stopping Watford’s opening effort. Both of the Hungarian’s goals, on Saturday and last night, came from counter-attacks and he offers something different to Grzegorz Rasiak, who started against Chelsea.

Rodgers might have expected evidence of fatigue after what had been a gruelling game at the weekend but there was certainly a spring in their step when they broke away down Swansea’s right, after a City corner. Tommy Smith got his cross in and Priskin was at the far post after 23 minutes.

Ten minutes later and the visitors were heading towards their first away defeat in over four months. Jobi McAnuff made it to the byline and, although De Vries blocked excellently from Don Cowie’s drive, the clearance went only as far as Smith, who thumped it low into the corner from 18 yards.

Watford then looked more likely to extend their lead than Swansea to cut the deficit.

Lee Williamson timed his volley from 18 yards but only slightly mis-directed it after 71 minutes. Four minutes earlier Priskin had broken into the penalty area only to hit his pass behind the onrushing Smith, but both had already played a decisive part in the game.

Watford (4-5-1): Loach; Mariappa, DeMerit, M Williamson, Doyley; Cowie, Jenkins (Williamson 53), Smith, Cork, McAnuff; Priskin. Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Hoyte, L Williamson, Harley, Hoskins.

Swansea City (4-5-1): De Vries; Serran, Britton, Williams, Tate (Bassone 57); Dyer (Orlandi 82), Britton, Gomez (Bauza 57), Allen, Butler; Scotland. Substitutes not used: Orlandi, Gower, Bessone, Rangel, Bauza.

Referee: A Taylor (Greater Manchester).