Michail Antonio scored twice for Nottingham Forest either side of a Matej Vydra penalty as Watford were forced to settle for a point after failing to close out this Championship game.
Odion Ighalo had given Watford the advantage in the first half with a close-range finish, but they were pegged back by Antonio’s fine solo run and goal, before the winger’s second-half header past Heurelho Gomes rescued a point for a fortunate Forest side.
Before this game Slavisa Jokanovic admitted it was a little “strange” to be Watford’s fourth head coach of the season, after he took charge last week. Beppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia and Billy McKinlay have all previously occupied the hot seat this season.
Striker Troy Deeney began on the bench for Watford, just as he had in the 3-0 win away to Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, as did the Scotland winger Ikechi Anya, who returned to the squad following a calf injury. Yet the front three of Ighalo, Fernando Forestieri and Watford’s top scorer, Vydra, are enough to leave any Championship defence quivering in fear.
Ighalo’s opener came after a sustained period of Watford dominance. After Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow blocked Vydra’s initial effort, Ighalo capitalised on a scramble in the Forest box to smash home from close range.
Given the home side’s dominance, Forest’s quick reply was a surprise. Antonio picked the ball up midway inside the Watford half before skipping past a series of increasingly shoddy challenges, to fire low past Gomes’ left glove.
Watford responded well, Dan Harding’s shot from the edge of the box bouncing wide with Darlow scampering across his line. Then Vydra turned on the jets again, bursting into the box before he was clipped by Michael Mancienne. It appeared to be a penalty, but referee Dean Whitestone merely produced a yellow card and instructed that a free-kick on the edge of the area be taken.
Forest were not so lucky early in the second half. Forestieri twisted his way into the box but was denied by a last-ditch Kelvin Wilson challenge before the same defender clipped Vydra’s heels. This time the referee did award a penalty and Vydra was nerveless in netting the spot-kick to put Watford ahead again.
Yet Forest crept back into the game. Chris Burke’s deep cross from the right should have been cleared, but Antonio showed great desire to meet it with a thumping header into the roof of the net to rescue the visitors .
Watford (4-3-2-1): Gomes; Paredes, Ekstrand, Bassong (Hoban, 84), Pudil; Tozser, Abdi (Murray, 50), Munari; Forestieri, Vydra; Ighalo (Deeney, 65).
Substitutes not used: Bond, Doyley, Dyer, Anya.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Lichaj, Mancienne, Wilson, Harding; Tesche, Vaughan; Burke, Osborn, Antonio; Assombalonga (Fryatt, 90).
Substitutes not used: De Vries, Fox, Hunt, Lascelles, Paterson, Blackstock.
Referee: D Whitestone (Northamptonshire)Reuse content