On their last visit down south earlier this month, Derby lost control of the game at Brentford after leading at half-time, were beaten 2-1 and dropped from first position to fifth. Arriving in Hertfordshire as Championship leaders once again, they briefly seemed in danger of a repeat as Gianni Munari equalised Jordan Ibe’s first-half goal, but this time Derby claimed the winner, from substitute Craig Bryson.
So Watford’s unbeaten home record was ended. After a shaky start in which they seemed intimidated by their visitors and Jonathan Bond, standing in for the injured Heurelho Gomes, only just managed to push Jeff Hendrick’s shot onto a post, Watford’s Hornets began buzzing. Jack Butland was in excellent form, saving low down from Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri in quick succession.
Forestieri was a clever playmaker from wide on the right, but the tendency of right-back Juan Carlos Paredes to go missing often required him to track back too far and in the 39th minute cost a goal. Paredes was caught out of position and Forestieri could not bail him out as Ibe, on loan from Liverpool, took down Johnny Russell’s diagonal pass and curled his shot perfectly into the far corner of the net.
Watford’s manager Slavisa Jokanovic appeared to have worked a clever double substitution when leading scorer Matej Vydra was joined by Munari and set up the Italian to thump an equaliser. But after Bond thwarted left-back Craig Forsyth, the resulting corner fell for Bryson to curl in the third excellent goal of the afternoon, which was decisive.
Watford: (4-4-2) Bond; Paredes, Ekstrand, Bassong, Doyley; Forestieri, Andrews (Munari, 62), Tozser, Dyer (Anya, 75); Ighalo (Vydra, h-t), Deeney.
Derby: (4-3-3) Butland; Christie, Keogh, Shotton, Forsyth; Hendrick, Mascarell, Hughes (Bryson, 65); Russell (Coutts, 89), Martin, Ibe (Dawkins, 75).
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Man of the match: Jack Butland (Derby)
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content