Watford 2 Blackburn Rovers 1

Last updated : 24 January 2007 By Gary Holmes

Most pundits already had Watford as good as down but perhaps a few of those opinions will be revisited after the Golden Boys picked up only their second Premiership victory of the season at the expense of Blackburn Rovers on a freezing evening in Hertfordshire.

The Vicarage Road men are still seven points adrift of safety but, if they can win their game in hand, the great escape may just be on for Aidy Boothroyd's battlers.

There was certainly no shortage of spirit and commitment against Mark Hughes' side, a team that came into the game having scored ten goals in their previous three away outings, but for once Watford got the breaks as well.

Brett Emerton's own goal gave the home side the breakthrough they needed and, after they had been pegged back by Benni McCarthy's leveller on the stroke of half-time, Jay DeMerit made the most of a decent spell of pressure following a second-half free-kick to score the decisive second.

Dermot Gallagher
But do not be surprised after this victory if the ever optimistic Boothroyd starts a petition at Vicarage Road to have Oxfordshire based official, Dermot Gallagher in charge for every one of Watford's remaining games this season, because he was also the referee who oversaw their only previous victory, against Middlesbrough, 12 league matches ago.

After David Bentley had fired the game's first decent opening wide, Watford began to take charge and took the lead with a slice of good fortune that has eluded them for so much of the season.

Adrian Mariappa found Tommy Smith in the inside-right channel, and the former Derby County winger did well to reach the by-line, before standing up a cross that was slightly deflected en route to the far post. Emerton had to challenge Damien Francis and duly got up above his opponent but only succeeded in heading down inside Brad Friedel's right-hand post.

Hameur Bouazza and Francis, either side of a good opportunity for McCarthy, both had good chances to extend Watford's advantage before the interval, but the home side paid the price for switching off on the stroke of half-time.

The impressive Bentley latched on to a throw from the right and easily by-passed a couple of half-hearted challenges before sending over a cross which McCarthy superbly dispatched over Ben Foster with a looping header that went in off the underside of the bar.

Boosted by getting back on terms, Blackburn upped their game after the break but Morten Gamst Perdersen failed on three occasions to test Foster with free-kicks from around the 25-yard mark and Shabani Nonda also blazed horribly over.

Rovers also suffered a blow when Robbie Savage was stretchered off following a clash with Al Bangura, but the visitors were made to pay for their profligacy after 70 minutes.

Jay DeMerit: Grabbed the winner with a terrific header.
Jordan Stewart whipped in a free-kick from the right, Will Hoskins got the near post flick but the ball fizzed across the face of goal before a stretching Malky Mackay cleverly kept it in play and found Bouazza.

The Frenchmen sensing a wonderful opportunity then delivered an exquisite chip for DeMerit to flick wide of Friedel and inside the far post to send the majority in a sparse crowd of 13, 760 into raptures.

Watford should then have made the game safe when Stewart missed an excellent opportunity to present Hoskins with his first Watford goal on a plate, but pulled the cross slightly behind his team-mate and the former Rotherham United striker only managed in clipping the ball straight into the grateful arms of Friedel.

That miss was almost punished when in-form Rovers substitute Matt Derbyshire headed a glorious chance over following a Bentley cross but it was not to be for Blackburn and a deserved three points was Watford's.

Golden Boys man of the match: Jay DeMerit, replaced the unfortunate Dan Shittu but defended stoically and headed home the all important match winner!

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