WATFORD FOUGHT hard to earn a point in a wet and wild south Wales after falling behind to a sucker punch header from Kenny Miller.
Miller opened the scoring for Malky Makckay’s side minutes before half time. However Watford emerges for the second half with renewed vigour and were rewarde for their pressure when Nyron Nosworthy levelled from close-range.
Sean Dyche made two changes from the side which lost to Blackpool on good Friday. Mark Yeates dropped out the match day squad altogether, replaces by Prince Buaben in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Chris Iwelumo was sacrificed for Britt Assombalonga.
Cardiff started the brighter of the two and thought they had scored when a header crashed into the stantion behind the goal from a corner.
Watford huffed and puffed but were unable to truly carve out and opening of note.
The Goldenboys best opportunities came through Cardiff errors – Mark Hudson dithering on the ball just long enough to give Troy Deeney a sniff before Sean Murray attempted to lob David Marshall following a mis-placed free kick.
With the Hornets finally building a bit of momentum before the break, Cardiff broke with deadly efficiency to register their first notable effort on target and open the scoring.
A break down the right hand side resulted in ex-Hornet Don Cowie crossing for Miller to plunder home a header.
Carl Dickinson had perhaps the ‘Orns best opportunity of the half when he crahsed an effort narrowly over via a huge deflection off a Cardiff player.
Half time: 1-0
Watford re-emerged from the break with more urgency and were more keen to keep the ball on the deck.
As a result, the chances began to flow for the Hornets who dominated the second period. A string of opportunities came the way of Dyche’s side who really should have levelled the game up when a low ball in found it’s way into the path of Deeney for 10 yards out.
The former Walsall hit man stretched in the wet conditions, sliding to meet the low centre but somehow diverting it over.
A succession of set-piece opportunities went astray before in the 82nd minute substitute Chris Iwelumo won a free-kick just outside the Bluebird’s penalty area.
A perfectly delivered set piece from Sean Murray was met by centre-back Nosworthy who notched his second goal as a Hornet with a powerful header that left Marshall beaten.
Iwelumo could have won the game for the Hornets late on but after receiving the ball in space the big Scot was unable to loop an 18-yard effort into the corner having held off Hudson.
A good point for the Hornets and one of their better 45 minute displays this season in the second half. In conditions that were hardly conducive to a good game of football, referee Mr Darren Deadman showed great sensitivity on occasion for the conditions, but still managed to book seven in a very clean game. That’s 197 bookings this season.
Cardiff City: Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson (c), Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Gunnarsson, McPhail (Kiss), Whittingham, Conway (Lawrence (Earnshaw)); Miller.
Subs not used: Heaton & Blake.
Referee: Mr D Deadman.
Tomasz Kuszczak – 7
Dealt well with the few chances he had to.
Lloyd Doyley – 8
Was put to the test throughout but came through with flying colours.
Nyron Nosworthy – 7
Commanding at the back and secured a share of the spoils.
Martin Taylor – 7
Compliments Nosworthy well despite a lack of mobility.
Carl Dickinson – 6
John Eustace (c) – 7
As dependable as ever in the engine room.
Jonathan Hogg – 8
Got to grips early on with the Cardiff midfield and fought like a trojan.
Britt Assombalonga – 5
Clearly not ready for Championship football yet.
Prince Buaben – 6
Found wanting all too often.
Sean Murray – 6
Not his most effective game but worked hard and gave Kevin McNaughton a hard time all the same.
Troy Deeney – 7
Knackered by the end, but only because he’d put in yet ANOTHER shift.
Chris Iwelumo – 6
Made a nuisance of himself & won the critical free-kick.
Joe Garner – 7
Hard work and endeavour down the right hand side.
Malky Mackay (6) – His side kept the ball very nicely but failed to really test Kuszczak on more than a handful of occasions. By the end they were lucky to have taken a point and a failure to score more than one goal is always dangerous.
Sean Dyche (8) – The 4-2-3-1 really helped the Hornets match Cardiff man-for-man in midfield and although Assombalonga did not contribute it was good to see Dyche giving the young man a run-out.
Another half-time rocket no doubt contributed to an excellent second-half display which really and truly failed to yield the true reward for the side’s endeavour.