There was little for Roy Hodgson or anyone else to enthuse over, when those hoping to impress the England manager, like strikers Troy Deeney of Watford and Under-21 international Benik Afobe of Bournemouth, found it was a defender’s day.
Max Gradel, making a welcome return for the visitors after his a serious knee injury in August, did add some inventiveness and was on the end of two chances. He still could not beat Heurelho Gomes, who also saved a penalty in the 1-1 draw between the teams earlier this season.
Gradel first headed Matt Ritchie’s fine cross down into the ground, allowing the goalkeeper to parry, and then swivelled smartly to shoot, giving Gomes greater difficulty in nudging the ball onto the top of the net.
“Gomes has been superb against us this season,” said Bournemouth’s manager Eddie Howe, who also saw Harry Artur’s 25-yarder appear to be swerving in before Gomes pushed it round a post.
Keeping Odion Ighalo and Deeney quiet was a good day’s work by defenders Steve Cook and Simon Francis, who performed so effectively that Ighalo’s shot in the second minute, pushed away by Artur, was the home team’s only effort on target. Watford’s consolation was another point towards the total at which manager Quique Sanchez Flores will finally have to admit the season’s primary target, of avoiding relegation, has been achieved. “At the moment we are not safe. But we are sure that we have the capacity that it is coming soon,” he said.
Watford: (4-3-2-1) Gomes; Paredes, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Capoue (Suarez, 56), Watson, Behrami; Amrabat (Abdi, 83), Deeney; Ighalo.
Bournemouth: (4-4-2) Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie (Murray, 85), Artur, Surman, Stanislas (Gradel, 22); King, Afobe (Gosling, 74).
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Cook (Bournemouth)
Match rating: 5/10Reuse content