A look back at last season month by month…
March will be remembered as the month that could have been among Watford supporters as the Hornets passed up a number of opportunities to take control of the race for the automatic second spot in the promotion race.
There was just one win in the five games played in March although further successes were well within the Hornets grasp. As Hull continued to stutter their way to the finish line Watford were so close to taking advantage on a number of occasions.
The month started with a Friday night trip to Wolves in front of the Sky cameras. With Manuel Almunia ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury, Jonathan Bond started his first league game of the season and impressed with a couple of top notch saves. Watford took the lead in the first half through Almen Abdi’s well placed free kick. In the second period Watford had a number of chances to kill the game off but were sloppy with their final ball. And they were made to pay as Bakary Sako equalised for Wolves in the final minute of stoppage time to grab the hosts a point as the game finished level 1-1.
Watford bounced back from the late disappointment with their only win of the month under the lights at Vicarage Road beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1. After a mix up between Marco Cassetti and Jonathan Bond lead to Michail Antonio giving Wednesday a first half lead, Gianfranco Zola moved to plan B in the second half and it paid off. With Fernando Forestieri introduced the game changed with the Argentinean scoring two goals, the second a cracking strike, which gave the Hornets a vital three points.
However, that winning feeling wouldn’t last long as Watford stuttered to a rather unfortunate home defeat the following Saturday against Paul Ince’s Blackpool going down 2-1. Despite taking the lead towards the end of the first half through Cristian Battocchio Watford were never able to convert their domination into goals. They had two clear penalty appeals on Troy Deeney and Lloyd Doyley turned down as Blackpool came back. Late goals from Thomas Ince and Gary MacKenzie saw Blackpool make an unexpected fightback and return north with all three points.
If Watford were unlucky to lose against Blackpool, the same cannot be said about the defeat the following week at Barnsley. The Hornets lost the game 1-0 but it could have been more if it had not been for the string of saves pulled off by Bond. As it was a 35th minute goal from Bobby Hassell was enough to settle the game. Watford showed little sign of a second half onslaught with Matej Vydra coming closest to an equaliser.
Watford had two weeks to recover from the Barnsley defeat before taking on Burnley and former boss Sean Dyche on Good Friday at Vicarage Road.
The match was one of the games of the season, although Watford were left to rue more poor defending as they conceded a late goal which saw the game finish 3-3. Watford got off to a dreadful start conceding after just 40 seconds to Charlie Austin. However they responded quickly with Deeney firing in from the edge of the box just five minutes later. Burnley re-took the lead through an Austin penalty after Cassetti had been penalised for a trip but again Watford hit back quickly through Forestieri to go in level at the break. Watford looked to have scored the decisive goal with 20 minutes to go when Forestieri curled in a shot from the edge of the box, but poor defending saw Sam Vokes nip in late into stoppage time to steal a point for the Clarets.
The feeling of frustration would be a familiar one to Watford by the end of the season…