Date: 15th March 2014 at 7:53pm
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WATFORD won their sixth consecutive home game in all competitions without conceding a goal as they comfortably overcame a poor Barnsley side.

Cristian Battocchio and Troy Deeney both scored in the first half to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead with substitute Alex Merkel adding a third in the second half to put the gloss on the scoreline.

Beppe Sannino made three changes to the Hornets side that lost late on at Doncaster on Tuesday with a fit again Manuel Almunia returning in goal in place of Jonathan Bond. Davide Faraoni came in for Alex Merkel with Lewis McGugan making his first start since his return from injury in place of the suspended Mathias Ranegie.

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson made five changes to the side that lost 3-0 at home to league leaders Leicester on Tuesday with Lewin Nyatanga, Jean-Yves Mvoto, Emmanuel Frimpong, Liam Lawrence and Nick Proschwitz all brought into the starting line-up.

However, things got off to a dreadful start for Barnsley as Watford took the lead after five minutes thanks to a wonderful goal from Battocchio. A good move from the hosts found Daniel Pudil in space on the left. His cross was only half cleared and Battocchio controlled and volleyed from 25 yards into the far corner past Luke Steele.

Watford continued with great intensity and Troy Deeney shot wide on the volley from inside the box and Faraoni was brilliantly denied by Steele when he got on the end of another Pudil cross.

The Hornets didn’t have to wait long however, as they doubled their lead after 16 minutes.

Watford put together another good move down the left through the impressive Pudil and with the Barnsley defence all over the place, Ikechi Anya had time to find Deeney in the box and his shot went in despite the best efforts of Mvoto on the line.

Barnsley did occasionally threaten going forward and missed a good chance to pull a goal back midway through the first half when Stephen Dawson got the better of Lloyd Doyley and found Lawrence with a cross but the midfielder missed his kick.

Watford took the sting out of the game for the remainder of the half with little goalmouth action. Deeney had a shot saved by Steele after good work from Battocchio while the closest Barnsley came was a long range effort by Dawson that went well wide.

Half Time: 2-0

The second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first half as Watford were content to keep Barnsley at arm`s length with the visitors unable to test the Hornets defence.

McGugan had an effort that was easily saved by Steele while Daniel Tozser headed wide from a good position following Anya’s cross.

Watford did make it three after 74 minutes when substitute Merkel scored his first goal for the Hornets.

Anya broke into the box from the left hand side and his cross found Merkel eight yards out and his low shot found the net despite Steele’s best efforts.

Barnsley did come close to a consolation on two occasions. Firstly, when substitute Chris O’Grady hooked wide from inside the box and secondly when a long ball forward found Proschwitz but his lob over Almunia came back off the bar.

Full Time: 3-0

Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley (Neill), Cassetti, Angella; Faraoni, Battocchio, Tozser, McGugan (Merkel), Pudil (O’Nien); Anya & Deeney.

Subs Not Used: Bond (GK), Belkalem, Hoban & Ekstrand.

Barnsley: Steele; Hunt, Mvoto, Nyatanga, Kennedy; Lawrence (O’Grady), Dawson (c), Frimpong (Noble-Lazarus), Mellis, Jennings; Proschwitz.

Subs Not Used: Turner (GK), Woods, Rose, McCourt & Cywka.

Attendance: 14,531

Referee: Mr G Salisbury.