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Watford vs Coventry City
 2 - 3 
Tue Sep 29 19:45:00 BST 2009
Vicarage Road Stadium
Andre Marriner

DESPITE some fantastic attacking play, Watford's unbeaten home record was broken at Vicarage Road as visitors Coventry claimed all three points.

The Sky Blues took the lead but the Golden Boys showed plenty of spirit again and got themselves in front through strikes from the impressive Tom Cleverley and Will Hoskins.

The game turned again though after half time as Chris Coleman's men overturned the deficit and got themselves in front late on.

Cleverley claimed his fourth goal for the Hornets, while Hoskins bagged his first of the season, but that good first half work was undone by City as they took advantage of some uncertainty in the Watford defence during the second half. 

After the meeting with former boss Brendan Rodgers last weekend in Berkshire, it was back to home territory this evening as the Hornets hosted Coventry City at Vicarage Road.

A virus had got the better of some of Malky's Mackay talented youngsters though and three missed out on the starting XI.

The trio of Craig Cathcart and Henri Lansbury as well as the Hornets' Academy product Ross Jenkins were all struck down.

Lansbury however was well enough to take a place on the bench.

Into the side came young defender Dale Bennett, who started alongside captain Adrian Mariappa.

The youngster was getting another taste of first-team action after deputising for Jay DeMerit earlier this month. 

Jon Harley slotted into the wide position on the left of midfield, while Will Hoskins took his opportunity with both hands as he partnered Danny Graham in attack.

On the visiting team sheet, there was the well-known name of Jack Cork to Watford fans, after the Chelsea midfielder had spent the second half of the season on loan in WD18.

On a calm evening in Hertfordshire the sparse stadium slowly filled up in the few minutes before the teams entered the field of play. 

Watford wasted no time from the kick off and almost immediately won a corner.

With less than a minute on the clock, the quick-thinking duo of Cleverley and Don Cowie combined from the set piece with Cleverley cutting inside and fizzing a curling shot the wrong side of Kieren Westwood's post.

The referee saw a deflection though and the Golden Boys forced another corner kick.

This time it was taken from the opposite flank, a ball was played in to the six yard box and after Cowie got the slightest of touches, it came through to Hoskins and he somehow managed to direct the ball over the crossbar.

It was a let off for the Midlands side and Hoskins held his head in his hands in front of the on-looking Rookery Stand. 

It wasn't all one way traffic though, as the Sky Blues hit back with venom.

Scott Loach had to be on his guard from a corner kick and midfielder Michael McIndoe's free kick was well saved by the England U21 stopper. 

The visitors took the lead inside the first quarter of an hour as a low shot from midfielder Sammy Clingan hit the back of the net.

His low crisp shot nestled in the bottom corner past the dive of Scott Loach as the travelling fans celebrated in the stand behind the goal.

Players appeal for a penalty
The Watford players appeal

The Watford bench wasn't happy though as they felt a number of Coventry players were interfering with play and blocking the view of stopper Loach. 

The Golden Boys took a while to react to the City goal but once digested they struck back.

Cleverley had been at the heart of Watford's best play and fully deserved his goal.

Cowie's cross from the right was aimed towards Danny Graham but he couldn't quite get his head to it.

Tom Cleverley celebrates his goal
Tom Cleverley celebrates his fourth goal for the Hornets with his teammates

Instead, the defender could only clear as far as the on-loan Manchester United midfielder and Cleverley struck the ball first time and it whisked past the 'keeper and low into the net.

His quick thinking allowed Westwood no time and the defenders in front of the stopper would have probably infringed upon his vision too.

That equaliser boosted the 'Orns as the side stepped up a gear.

Tom Cleverley shoots
Manchester United loanee Tom Cleverley scores

Graham had started to link-up with Hoskins and a cross from the forward couldn't quite connect with the former Rotherham striker at the far post.

On 37 minutes the home side took the lead.

Hoskins laid the ball forward to Graham and he tussled with the defender before getting his effort in on goal.

Will Hoskins celebrates his goal
Will Hoskins celebrates his first Watford goal of the season with strike partner Danny Graham

Westwood was equal to it but Hoskins hadn't switched off and was alert enough to react to the save and bury the ball into the back of the net.

It sparked the crowd into life and Hoskins showed how much it meant to him by celebrating with his team mates in front of The Rookery.

Hoskins showed good character by taking the goal, especially after a couple of things in the game hadn't gone his way early on.

In truth the Golden Boys should have added a third before the half time interval and possibly even more.

The main reason they didn't was mainly down to the excellent saves of Westwood in the Coventry goal. 

A tremendous break away saw Cowie and Graham bearing down on goal, after Hoskins had intelligently decided against interfering with play, when he was in an offside position.

Cowie took the ball towards the 18 yard box and selfishly squared the ball to Graham.

It looked a certainty for a third with just Westwood to beat but somehow his effort went the wrong side and the Sky Blues were let off the hook.

Two minutes of extra time was added on at the end of the first half as Jack Cork received treatment from the Coventry physio.

Watford carried on attacking until the whistle and could have easily added a goal but again Westwood was equal to it.

His legs kept the ball out after Cleverley's low free kick was played into the near post and Hoskins' cheeky effort was aimed at goal.

With 52 minutes on the clock there was a brief scare for the 'Orns as Loach and Bennett went for the same ball, the loose ball came back in at goal but Loach had time to backtrack and save low down.

The Sky Blues continued to press the Hornets as the second half progressed, just gently probing, hoping the youngsters at the back would buckle.

Aron Gunnarsson has been impressive all evening on the right side of midfield for the visitors.

His ball into the back post nearly found a lurking striker but the Hornets sensed danger and cleared the ball, but only as far as Cork whose dinked effort went the wrong side of Loach's post.

City were starting to put more and more high balls into the Watford area and John Eustace was often dropping back and covering, clearing and winning plenty of balls in the air.

On 62 minutes Graham had time and space to increase the lead after a long ball forward but the covering Stephen Wright was alive and produced a fantastic challenge to stop the former Carlisle man in his tracks.

Cleverley blocked Patrick Van Aanholt's goal bound shot on 66 minutes inside the penalty area but the Golden Boys were alive enough a minute later after another scramble in the 18 yard box.

Watford didn't clear the ball soon enough and after the ball was put back across the six yard area, Leon Best was there to scramble the ball into the net past Loach.

Liam Henderson is gutted as he misses a shot
Liam Henderson with his head in his hands as he misses a chance

Liam Henderson was introduced with 20 minutes to go as Hoskins started to flag, while the Sky Blues also made a change with Martin Crainie coming on in place of Jordan Clarke.

At this stage of the game Coleman's side looked the more likely to take the lead as they pressed the Golden Boys, who had started to run out of steam in attacking areas.

However, with 15 minutes left the crowd started to sing for the 'Orns and this picked the team up.

Henderson's low cross from the right was played into a dangerous area and a combination of Harley and a covering defender sent the ball goal bound but again Westwood was on top form and kept the ball out.

Lee Hodson was forced from the field late on and Academy second year scholar Eddie Oshodi came on to make his debut.

Almost immediately after his entrance the 'Orns broke and from Harley's cross, Graham struck a great shot at goal, but the flag was already up on the touchline.

With six minutes of normal time left Best grabbed his second of the evening and Coventry's third.

Again he fired in from close range in front of The Rookery after further uncertainly in the home defence.

Late on Eustace saw his header well saved by Westwood as he continued to deny the home side another goal.

There was late drama in time added on as the Hornets threw balls and bodies into the area.

Westwood was again the saviour for the Sky Blues - Graham was denied while another excellent opportunity was blasted wide of the post.

WATFORD: Loach; Hodson (Oshodi 78), Mariappa (c), Bennett, Doyley; Cleverley, Eustace, Cowie (Lansbury 57), Harley; Graham, Hoskins (Henderson 70). Subs not used: Lee (gk), Severin, Bryan, Sordell. 

COVENTRY CITY: Westwood; Clarke (Cranie 69), Ward, Wright (c), Van Aanholt; Gunnarsson, McIndoe (Eastwood 72), Clingan, Cork (Osbourne 86); Best, Morrison. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos (gk), Jeffers, Cain, Walker.

GOALS: WATFORD; Cleverley (21), Hoskins (37). COVENTRY CITY; Clingan (14), Best (67, 84).



ATTENDANCE: 12, 833 (749 away supporters).




Watford v Coventry
Sky Blues produce second half fight back
 Match Information
  Watford Coventry
Goals : 2 3
Possession : 50% 50%
Shots On Target : 6 11
Shots Off Target : 7 4
Corners : 9 7
Fouls : 7 15
Most Fouls : Harley (3) Best (3)
Yellow Cards : 0 0
Red Cards : 0 0
Scorers :
Cleverley 21
Hoskins 37
Clingan 14
Best 67
Best 84
 Team Line Ups :
Scott Loach   
Lee Hodson 78
Adrian Mariappa   
Dale Bennett   
Lloyd Doyley   
Don Cowie 57
Jon Harley   
Tom Cleverley   
John Eustace   
Danny Graham   
Will Hoskins 70
Substitutes :
Eddie Oshodi 78
Richard Lee   
Scott Severin   
Henri Lansbury 57
Liam Henderson 70
Michael Bryan   
Marvin Sordell   
   Keiren Westwood
69 Jordan Clarke
   Stephen Wright
   Elliott Ward
   Patrick Van Aanholt
   Sammy Clingan
86 Aron Gunnarsson
   Jack Cork
   Leon Best
   Clinton Morrison
72 Michael McIndoe
   Dimitrios Konstantopoulos
72 Freddy Eastwood
69 Martin Cranie
86 Isaac Osbourne
   Adam Walker
   Ashley Cain
   Shaun Jeffers
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