WATFORD ENDED 2011 on a high, thumping 10-man Doncaster Rovers with Marvin Sordell bagging a brace for the Hornets.
Sordell opened the scoring a minute before half-time, doubling his tally after the break. Substitute John Eustace got the third shortly after coming on before Michael Kightly wrapped up the win with a parting gift to the ‘Orns.
Sean Dyche named the same XI that drew with Cardiff City on Boxing Day, whilst Doncaster brought in Pascal Chimbonda. Rovers’ trio of new signings were ineligible.
Watford were immediately out of the traps with Kightly feeding Sordell down the left to test Gary Woods at his near-post.
The Hornets were on-top in a scrappy encounter without troubling Rovers too much in terms of efforts on goal.
Nyron Nosworthy went close with a looping header in front of the watching Martin O’Neill, whilst Troy Deeney just failed to connect with a low cross along the face of goal.
The visitors had few attempts on goal of their own, though talismanic forward Billy Sharp went close on a couple of occasions. Latching onto a through ball, the nippy forward came close when he looped a cute lob onto the roof of the net before sliding a low effort wide.
A minute before half-time though, Watford did take the lead when Sordell collected a pass before nudging the ball onto his left foot before placing coolly past Woods from the edge of the area.
Despite offering little in the first period, Rovers quickly found a second-half equalizer thanks to frontman Sharp.
Captain El-Hadji Diouf danced down the left before teeing up an inch-perfect cross for Sharp to nod past Scott Loach from close-range.
Dyche’s side resumed their dominance but were handed the opportunity to fully assert their superiority when Donny midfielder Herald Goulon saw red for a second yellow in the 63rd minute.
Just five minutes later, Sordell got his second to put the ‘Orns back in front.
After heavy Hornet’s pressure, Mark Yeates whipped a perfect left-footed cross onto the forehead of Sordell who steered home from just outside the six-yard box.
Troy Deeney came close when he flashed a header comfortably wide from a similar range whilst Sordell saw a pile-driver spooned away uncomfortably by Woods.
Lee Hodson also came close with a far-post header when was well blocked as he found himself free at the back post.
Watford were well on-top of the 10 men by now and substitute Eustace made the result safe when he thumped a left-footed drive past Woods first-time from the edge of the area.
Sub Chris Iwelumo nearly turned home from close-range, but saw his low effort smothered by the onrushing Woods.
Now in total control, Watford put the result beyond doubt in injury time when Kightly signed off following a successful loan spell driving on and on before planting a right-footed effort home from the edge of the area.
A very comfortable win for the ‘Orns who fully deserved everything they got.
As good as the ‘Orns were, Rovers were poor and shot themselves in the foot with their ill discipline. Goulon’s red was coming and despite fears that Dean Saunders’ side would sit back and try to keep themselves tight, Watford’s quality shone through.
Kightly and Nosworthy will be missed as they return to Wolves and Sunderland in the next few days but hopefully at least one will return on loan.
Doncaster Rovers: Woods; Chimbonda (O’Connor), Hird, Beye, Ilunga; Coppinger, Barnes, Gillett (Bennett), Goulon, Diouf (c) (Hayter); Sharp.
Scott Loach – 6
Nothing to do.
Lee Hodson – 6
Supported Mark Yeates very well.
Aidy Mariappa (c) – 7
Solid and commanding, won every header.
Nyron Nosworthy – 7
Exemplary once again. Has formed a real partnership with Mariappa.
Carl Dickinson – 7
Good work both on and off the ball, one crucial header to deny the man at the far-post.
Mark Yeates – 7
Effective in the second-half after a quiet first.
Jonathan Hogg – 8
Imperious once again, the transformation following John Eustace’s injury has been unbelievable.
Prince Buaben – 6
Quiet in all aspects.
Michael Kightly – 8
Always looked likely to make something happen and got his reward.
Marvin Sordell – 8
Two well-taken goals, looked dangerous throughout.
Troy Deeney – 7
Worked his socks off; unlucky not to score.
John Eustace (for Prince Buaben)
Well-taken goal, cool customer back in midfield.
Chris Iwelumo (for Troy Deeney)
Good link-up with Mark Yeates
Sean Dyche – Has every right to be delighted by his side who played excellently and created more chances than normal. Decision to bring in Eustace worked out in more ways than expected!
Dean Saunders – Will be fuming with his side’s poor discipline after Goulon’s red effectively cost his side the game. Diouf as captain is an odd, odd choice…