Watford finally claimed their third three points of the season after a hard-fought nintey-five minutes against Preston and the officials. Once again, the men in black were seemingly defiant in their attempt to leave Watford hard done by, but no such luck.
The Hornets goals both came after Watford fell behind abysmally to a goal from Sean St Ledger. The former Peterborough defender was on-hand, unmarked at the far post to sweep the ball past Richard Lee on his 100th Watford appearance after Aidy Mariappa’s slip. The ball had been headed clear by Priskin from Ross Wallace’s corner before a comedy of errors culminating in St Ledger’s neat finish.
However, Watford, deservedly snatched an excellent leveller through Jon Harley. The hard-working midfielder notched his first Hornets goal having had two disallowed this season since his arrival from Tuesday’s victors, Burnley. A good ball through the middle was rushed onto by Tamas Priskin who cleverly lofted it over St Ledger to the left hand side of the are where Harley waited to blast home on the half volley to level superbly.
And, with more hapless defending from the Lilwhites, Tommy Smith stole into the Preston penalty area from a long-ball to shoot low at Andrew Lonergan. The PNE ‘keeper saw the ball strike his foot but trickle kindly to Smith who slotted into the empty net with ease. His fiftieth Watford goal in contrast to Harley’s first.
Watford had deserved their lead having been on top for most the first half, Tamas Priskin, impressing with a natural strike partner, stole down the right before guiding a low cross in and perilously close to the net.
John-Joe O’Toole, omitted from Ireland’s forthcoming squad, despite his 5 goals in 8 games saw his limp header agonisingly close before Lonergan snatched to safety. Bouyant from his first Hornet’s strike, Jon Harley came close as he slid into the far post only to be denied a second by brave defending from St Ledger.
The second half saw Preston in the ascendancy with a change of striker seeing the hapless Neil Mellor replaced by Stephen Elliot at half-time. However, the effect in the change was minimal despite the improvement from Alan Irvine’s men.
Watford’s lack of defensive cohesion wasn’t highligted by any Preston chances of note, indeed Richard Lee’s ton appearance was scarcely marked with a save of note. Hopefully the short stopper will enjoy more easy afternoons like this in the near future as Watford look to move away from the relegation zone.
Full Time 2-1
Preston North End
Lonergan; Jones, St Ledger, Mawene, McEveley; Sedgwick, McKenna (c) (Jarrett), Nicholson (Parkin), Wallace; Mellor (Elliot) and Brown.
Referee: Mr K W Wright
Richard Lee – 7
A nice, easy way to celebrate his 100th Watford game.
Aidy Mariappa – 4
At fault for goal and given a torrid time.
Jay DeMerit – 7
Darren Ward – 7
Looked neat, tidy and unfussed on home return.
Mat Sadler – 6
Not as his best after injury.
Tommy Smith – 7
Worked as hard as ever and read the ball well for goal.
Lee Williamson – 6
Did his best to replace John Eustace.
John-Joe O’Toole – 6
An accomplish display.
Jon Harley – 8
Made things tick nicely in midfield with excellent vision, bravery, work ethic and passing. Goal capped performance.
Tamas Priskin – 7
Much improved with partner alongside him.
Will Hoskins – 7
Ran his backside off.