WATFORD WERE pegged back at the Vic’ this afternoon thanks to an Adrian Mariappa own-goal 10 minutes from time after Prince Buaben had handed Watford the lead.
Bauben drove the hosts into a 62nd minute lead before Mariappa nodded past on the on-rushing Scott Loach who came out for a right-wing cross.
Sean Dyche made no changes to his side following a run which has seen just one defeat in nine prior to kick off, whilst Malky Mackay handed Joe Mason a start up front alongside Kenny Miller.
The visitors started the brighter of the two, and it was former Hornet Don Cowie who saw the best chance of the opening exchanges fall his way. Meeting a left-wing cross the Scottish winger saw his header clawed out by Loach who was at full stretch.
Cardiff continued to asset themselves from set-plays in particular, centre-half Ben Turner proving especially dangerous from Peter Whittingham’s far-post deliveries.
Whittingham himself then came close when he crashed a half-volley narrowly over Loach’s crossbar following a half-cleared corner.
The former Aston Villa winger then saw another excellent opportunity go to wast when he thumped another half-volley against the base of Loach’s right-hand post after an initial effort had somehow stayed out.
Watford created chances of their own however with Troy Deeney and Jonathan Hogg coming the closest for the Goldenboys.
Hogg saw his half-volley pushed wide by David Marshall after a Watford breakaway saw Mark Yeates pick out Marvin Sordell whose cushioned header teed up the midfielder.
Deeney had previously troubled Marshall with a distance drive that was pushed into the path of the offside Sordell.
Having enjoyed the last 10-15 minutes of the first period, Watford picked up where they left off in the second period.
Seemingly camped in the Bluebird’s penalty area, the ‘Orns were unable to convert their territory into goals until the 62nd minute.
Collecting Sordell’s centre from the left-hand side, Buaben controlled and fired past Marshall to register his first goal for the club, and in English football.
Shortly after seeing a Yeates free-kick blocked, Cardiff grabbed the leveler.
As Loach came to meet a cross from the right, Mariappa flicked a header past the Hornet’s No.1 under pressure from Turner.
Cardiff could have grabbed a late winner with Kenny Miller causing a constant menace; Loach redeeming himself with a good near-post block to deny the Scot.
A fair result on balance, Cardiff had the better chance but Dyche’s side had the better of the game. We are really looking like a decent side now and although we will miss Michael Kightly and Nyron Nosworthy, there are hungry players waiting in the wings.
I was disappointed personally to see Don Cowie booed every time he got the ball. I think in this day and age, very few players genuinely love the club they’re at and although I’m sure Cowie was happy in WD18, the opportunity to press on towards the Premier League (with better wages), is a hard one to turn down.
The same goes for Mackay really, who was largely ignored with a few scattered boos.
Cardiff City: Marshall; McNaughton (Blake), Hudson (c), Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Kiss (Gestede), Gunnarsson, Whittingham; Mason (Conway) & Miller.
Subs not used: Heaton (gk) & Gerrard.
Scott Loach – 6
An error offset against a couple of excellent stops.
Lee Hodson – 6
Never worried defensively, got up the line to support Mark Yeates well.
Adrian Mariappa (c) – 6
Solid and very unlucky with the own-goal. Made on sublime halfway-line tackle on Aaron Gunnarsson.
Nyron Nosworthy – 6
As solid as ever.
Carl Dickinson – 6
A couple of first-half slips but re-composed himself well.
Mark Yeates – 6
Worked hard without providing a telling cross at any point.
Jonathan Hogg – 8
As Sean Dyche recently noted, the boy has a bucketful of heart.
Prince Buaben – 7
Got more involved after his goal, but wasn’t affecting the game too much beforehand.
Michael Kightly – 6
Worked hard but end product too predictable too often.
Troy Deeney – 8
Worked very hard, held the ball up well; brought others into play nicely too.
Marvin Sordell – 7
Had a couple of chances go to waste, a good foil for Deeney.
Sean Dyche – Stuck to his guns and has every right to be pleased with his side. Started the game slower, but came good and stuck with Buaben when I would’ve taken him off. Five minutes later he got the Hornet’s goal.
Malky Mackay – Started with an extra man in midfield and saw his side dominate possession early on much like his Watford days. Set-pieces proved dangerous but the ‘Orns defence prevailed.