Championship
Nottm Forest1Watford3

Nottingham Forest 1-3 Watford

Matthew Connolly (right) celebrates scoring with Odion Ighalo
Watford have won 13 of their last 18 matches
  • Watford on 82 points, Norwich 82, Bournemouth 83
  • Middlesbrough in fourth on 81 points
  • Hornets have suffered just one defeat in 11 games
  • Forest remain 10th in the table

Watford have gone level on points with second-placed Norwich in the Championship after a comprehensive win over 10-man Nottingham Forest.

Odion Ighalo's fourth-minute header and a Matthew Connolly strike put Watford in charge before Forest's Kelvin Wilson was sent off for tangling with Ighalo.

Gary Gardner's free-kick gave the 10 men hope of getting back into the game.

But Almen Abdi's low drive made sure of the win for the Hornets, who are now third only on goal difference.

After wins for Bournemouth, Norwich and Middlesbrough on Tuesday, Watford knew a victory was important to keep them in the hunt for automatic promotion.

A 3-0 win would have taken them above the Canaries into second but they remain well placed and have now sealed a play-off spot at least off the back of a third successive win before their remaining fixtures against Birmingham (h), Brighton (a) and Sheffield Wednesday (h).

Ighalo firing for Watford
Odion Ighalo has scored 16 league goals in 2015, two more than any other player in the top-four tiers (Tottenham's Harry Kane is second with 14).

Hornets boss Slavisa Jokanovic made the decision to drop Matej Vydra, who has scored six goals in his last nine games, in favour of Ighalo and was quickly rewarded as the striker rose highest at the far post to nod in Abdi's corner for his 20th of the season.

After Abdi had squandered a superb chance by prodding wide with just keeper Karl Darlow to beat, Connolly doubled the advantage by turning in from close range after Ighalo's shot had been saved.

Forest's hopes of a comeback were hit just before the hour mark when Wilson was shown a straight red card for aiming a kick at Ighalo after tangling with the striker near the halfway line.

However, despite being a man down, the hosts gave themselves a lifeline through on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Gardner, who fired home a superb free-kick after Eric Lichaj had been fouled on the edge of the box.

Down to the wire
2014-15 is likely to see the highest points tally by a fourth-placed Championship team since Charlton finished on 88 in 1997-98.

Forest came agonisingly close to an equaliser when Antonio somehow toe-poked wide from six yards out with the goal at his mercy following Heurelho Gomes' save from Gardner.

Watford took advantage of the costly miss to wrap up the points at the death when Abdi fired home after Adlene Guedioura's effort was parried by Darlow.

Watford boss Slavisa Jokanovic: "I have to be happy and it was a big three points and a very important step for us. We scored a quick goal, which was vital and then we played with confidence.

"There was a 20-minute period in the second half when we didn't do what we wanted to do, but we eventually got the ball back and scored a third goal."

"We arrived here under pressure after last night's results. Forest are a tough team and this stadium is not the easiest to play in and it was a good step for us to come through."

Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman: "I am very disappointed with the result, but the spirit and commitment could not be faulted.

"Their goalkeeper was man of the match and all in all, if the game was based on chances, we would have won.

"We upped our game, didn't lie down and had a right go at them. I think they were proud to wear the jersey tonight. The difference was what we did in our box and they were a bit more ruthless than us. I think the crowd appreciated the effort as well.

"I have no complaints on the sending off, although the players seemed to think there was an injustice at the time."

Line-ups

Nottm Forest

  • 1Darlow
  • 17Kane
  • 25Hobbs
  • 6WilsonBooked at 59mins
  • 2Lichaj
  • 4Mancienne
  • 22Gardner
  • 38OsbornSubstituted forLansburyat 85'minutes
  • 27Burke
  • 31AkpomSubstituted forWalkerat 57'minutes
  • 18AntonioSubstituted forBarrowat 90+1'minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Lansbury
  • 13Fox
  • 19Barrow
  • 23Blackstock
  • 24Vaughan
  • 26Evtimov
  • 34Walker

Watford

  • 1Gomes
  • 15CathcartBooked at 71mins
  • 4Angella
  • 39ConnollySubstituted forHobanat 62'minutes
  • 47MottaBooked at 65minsSubstituted forParedesat 71'minutes
  • 5Guédioura
  • 23Watson
  • 22AbdiBooked at 55mins
  • 21AnyaSubstituted forTozserat 73'minutes
  • 9DeeneyBooked at 52mins
  • 24Ighalo

Substitutes

  • 3Munari
  • 7Layun
  • 8Tozser
  • 14Paredes
  • 20Vydra
  • 30Bond
  • 31Hoban
Referee:
Paul Tierney
Attendance:
20,723

Match Stats

Home TeamNottm ForestAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home22
Away23
Shots on Target
Home11
Away10
Corners
Home4
Away8
Fouls
Home8
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Watford 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Watford 3.

Attempt missed. Almen Abdi (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ben Watson.

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Modou Barrow replaces Michail Antonio.

Attempt missed. Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is too high. Assisted by Henri Lansbury.

Goal!

Goal! Nottingham Forest 1, Watford 3. Almen Abdi (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner.

Attempt saved. Adlène Guédioura (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Tözsér.

Hand ball by Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest).

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Henri Lansbury replaces Ben Osborn.

Attempt missed. Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right.

Attempt saved. Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ben Osborn.

Attempt blocked. Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Todd Kane.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Karl Darlow.

Attempt saved. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Odion Ighalo.

Attempt saved. Odion Ighalo (Watford) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ben Watson.

Attempt missed. Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right.

Foul by Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford).

Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Eric Lichaj.

Attempt blocked. Daniel Tözsér (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Adlène Guédioura (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest).

Attempt blocked. Almen Abdi (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Odion Ighalo.

Attempt missed. Gabriele Angella (Watford) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Odion Ighalo with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Michael Mancienne.

Attempt blocked. Tommy Hoban (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ben Watson.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Daniel Tözsér replaces Ikechi Anya.

Goal!

Goal! Nottingham Forest 1, Watford 2. Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the high centre of the goal.

Foul by Craig Cathcart (Watford).

Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Juan Carlos Paredes replaces Marco Motta.

Foul by Adlène Guédioura (Watford).

Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Marco Motta (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Marco Motta (Watford).

Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ben Osborn.

Attempt saved. Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Todd Kane with a cross.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Bournemouth432411890434783
2Norwich432410983443982
3Watford432571187493882
4Middlesbrough432491064333181
5Derby4321121078463275
6Ipswich4321111167491874
7Brentford432181471571471
8Wolves4320111264531171
9Blackburn421514135652459
10Nottm Forest431513156662458
11Sheff Wed431416133944-558
12Charlton431318125255-357
13Cardiff431413165258-655
14Birmingham421315145163-1254
15Leeds431410194758-1152
16Huddersfield431313175269-1752
17Bolton431311195261-950
18Reading421211194464-2047
19Brighton431016174350-746
20Fulham431210215576-2146
21Rotherham431014194365-2244
22Millwall42912213767-3039
23Wigan43812233759-2236
24Blackpool43413263487-5325
View full Championship table

Top Stories