Watford slipped to yet another away day defeat yesterday as they were beaten comfortably by Nigel Clough`s Derby County at Pride Park. The home side, who have been the very definition of inconsistent this term ran out 2-0 winners to complete a league double over Malky Mackay`s Hornet`s having won 1-0 at the Vic` only recently.
Mackay kept faith with the same starting eleven that was beaten 2-1 by league leaders Newcastle the week before whilst Derby were able to call upon loanee midfielder Michael Tonge who had been suffering with a virus throughout the week. Striker Chris Porter made just his seventh league start for the Midlands outfit following injury since signing from Motherwell last January and it was he who grabbed the clincher with just 13 minutes to go.
After just twelve minutes the decision to start with the former Sheffield United midfielder paid dividends as he opened the scoring with his first goal in Ram`s colours since joining on loan from Premier League outfit, Stoke City.
Given time and space twenty-odd yards out the tricky midfielder let fly on his trusty left peg and saw the ball fly past Scott Loach, off the underside of the bar into the net, the first goal of Tonge`s career for two and a half years.
The second goal saw a return to the sloppy form Jay DeMerit showed before the arrival of Martin Taylor, the American international never getting to grips with a header into his path which he attempted to steer back to his centre half partner. Having only succeeded in putting Scottish forward Chris Porter through on goal, DeMerit watched as Porter slid past Loach for his third of the season and his second against Mackay`s men.
In reply Danny Graham saw a golden opportunity spurned as a long ball from Aidy Mariappa into the former Derby loanee`s feet was only poked tamely at the feet of stopper Stephen Bywater who prevented Graham a scoring return to Pride Park.
Derby County: Bywater; Hunt, Buxton, Barker, Moxey; Tonge (Anderson), Savage (c), Green, Pearson; Hulse (S. Davies) and Porter (Martin).
Subs not used: Deeney (gk); Leacock, Pringle and Sunu.
Watford: Loach; Mariappa, Taylor, DeMerit (c), Doyley (Henderson); Cowie, Lansbury, Eustace, Harley (McGinn); Helguson; Graham (Hoskins).
Subs not used: Lee (gk); Bennett, Jenkins and Hodson.
Bookings: Hunt and Moxey (Derby); Eustace (Watford).
Referee: Mr G Horwood.