WATFORD HELD on for a point in a dull encounter with Hull City, despite being down to 10 men for a quarter of the game thanks to Adrian Mariappa’s dismissal.
Mariappa’s 20-minute cameo and subsequent sending-off was the main talking point in an otherwise forgettable end-of-season affair.
The Hornets were quickly behind when Tiger’s centre-back James Chester nodded his side ahead inside four minutes. However, the lead lasted just eight minutes before Troy Deeney poked home his eighth of the season for the ‘Orns.
Mariappa was dismissed for two yellows in the 65th minute, exactly 20 minutes after replacing Martin Taylor.
Watford made just one change to the side that drew at Cardiff – Joe Garner replacing Britt Assombalonga down the right-hand flank with the DR Congo winger taking a place on the bench. Mariappa replaced Dale Bennett amongst the substitutes.
Watford had started the brighter of the two sides, however that fact was quickly overshadowed by the visitor’s early strike.
From an inswinging corner, former Manchester United defender Chester stooped to power a header beyond Tomasz Kuszczak at the near-post.
Not to be disheartened, the Hornets quickly set about fashioning themselves an equalizer, and, in the 12th minute Deeney levelled the scores.
Following a corner of their own, Sean Dyche’s side were level when Deeney scuffed home skipper John Eustace’s effort.
Garner had previously gone close for the Goldenboys in the run-up to Deeney’s goal, thrashing a right-footed volley wide of Vito Mannone’s right-hand post.
Hull were not without chances of their own and twice Kuszczak had to be extremely alert to athletically palm away two headed efforts.
With Taylor twice leaving the field during the first period to receive attention to a head wound, it was unsurprising that the Geordie defender failed to return for the second-half, Mariappa making his first-team return after a spell out.
With 15 second half minutes gone, Mariappa received his first caution for a challenge from behind on Hull sub, Cameron Stewart.
Just five minutes later the defender picked up the the second red card of his professional career when he clumsily went through marauding Tiger’s full-back, Liam Rosenior.
Elite list referee Phil Dowd wasted no time in gleefully tearing over to end Mariappa’s afternoon.
A defensive shuffle saw Lloyd Doyley move to partner Nyron Nosworthy at centre-back whilst Prince Buaben slotted in at right-back.
The Ghanaian had not been enjoying his most impressive display in the heart of midfield but revelled in his makeshift defensive role and applied himself excellently as Watford comfortably dealt with what Nick Barmby’s side threw at them.
Deeney was hard done-by when Hull skipper Andy Dawson stretched well to block the forward’s powerful low effort whilst ‘Orns substitute Chris Iwelumo was quickly into the action.
The Scot saw his first touches tee himself up for a thumping volley which ended up in the upper regions of the Rookery before a second effort a few minutes later cannoned off the covering defender for a corner.
In a particularly quiet affair Watford more than held their own with a player less. A lack of efforts on target for the hosts rendered the draw a fair result for both sides in a game which was distinctly lacklustre.
Hull City: Mannone; Rosenior, Cooper, Chester, Dawson; Garcia (Brady), Cairney, Koren, Evans; King (Stewart) & Fryatt.
Subs:Oxley (gk); Bradley & Olofinjana.
Referee: Mr P Dowd
Tomasz Kuszczak – 7
Little or no chance with the goal but made an excellent save for the first
Lloyd Doyley – 6
Never overly stretched. Provided one lovely pass squarely onto the chest of Garner
Martin Taylor – 6
Solid before removal due to injury.
Nyron Nosworthy – 6
Worked well with Taylor, slightly more haphazard alongside Doyley.
Carl Dickinson – 7
His usual aggressive display.
Joe Garner – 7
Dangerous down the right despite being out of position.
John Eustace (c) – 7
Typical display from the captain.
Jonathan Hogg – 5
Quiet and careless in possession.
Prince Buaben – 6
Weak in midfield, better at right-back.
Sean Murray – 6
Quiet in the second half after a bright first.
Troy Deeney – 7
Tireless as ever, right place at the right time kind of goal.
Chris Iwelumo (Garner)
No time to judge.
Sean Dyche (7) – His side were positive from the outset and the early goal was not enough to knock the stuffing out his side, impressively. Held on well with 10 men and the decision to put Buaben into the right full-back slot was certainly justified.
Nick Barmby (6) – His team never took advantage of their extra man and did not look desperately threatening other than from set plays.