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Match Reports

Watford v Norwich City

21 February 2015


THREE second half goals fired Norwich City to victory over promotion rivals Watford at Vicarage Road.

Lewis Grabban struck twice and Cameron Jerome netted an exquisite half volley as the Canaries secured a crucial 3-0 win.

Before Grabban's penalty midway through the second half there was nothing to choose between the two sides, but Alex Neil's team raised their game after going ahead.

At the final whistle, it was a fully deserved three points that edged them to within four points of the automatic promotion spots in the Sky Bet Championship.

Neil made two changes to his eleven prior to kick-off, strengthening his central options by bringing in Wes Hoolahan for Nathan Redmond.

Jerome was the other fresh name on the teamsheet as he replaced Gary Hooper, while Sebastien Bassong started against the side he played 11 games on loan for earlier in the season.

Graham Dorrans was among the substitutes after completing his loan move from West Bromwich Albion on Thursday.

The first half unfolded in the manner to be expected with both sides occupying play-off spots prior to kick-off.

It was a tight affair with neither side able to build a steady stream of pressure, despite both using wholly different tactical shapes. There were no shots on target.

City started as the brighter outfit but didn't truly trouble Heurelho Gomes in between the sticks for Watford, who had the first real opening on 22 minutes.

Bassong was caught in possession by Odion Ighalo, who quickly spotted Troy Deeney's run, but the Hornets captain flashed his shot across goal with John Ruddy appearing to have all bases covered.

Neil and his staff were growing frustrated with the officials, especially after Jerome appeared to be hauled down by Joel Ekstrand when chasing Jonny Howson's pass but nothing was awarded.

Alex Tettey and Bradley Johnson then picked up bookings after the latter complained at the caution dished out to Tettey for a foul on Almen Abdi, with referee Carl Berry to centre of attention for the away supporters.

Watford finished the half the stronger, but Russell Martin and Bassong were doing a professional job of dealing with their dynamic front pair of Deeney and Ighalo.

HALF-TIME: Watford 0-0 Norwich City

Howson stepped in with some crucial defending five minutes into the second half to prevent Ighalo shooting.

Ruddy then had to be on hand to keep out Abdi's strike after Ikechi Anya's pace had taken him past Whittaker, but the match remained evenly poised.

Then, on 65 minutes, City were given the opportunity that would lead to them taking a crucial advantage.

Hoolahan jinxed into the box, stepped inside and was brought down, with the referee electing to point to the spot.

And it was Grabban who took on the responsibility, slotting calmly beyond Gomes into the right corner for his third goal in as many games.

Five minutes later, their lead was then doubled in superb fashion by Jerome, with Hoolahan at the centre of it once more.

The Ireland midfielder moved forward confidently before being challenged, but the ball looped up to Jerome, who curled a volley over Gomes and in.

The forward's stunning strike gave City some breathing space but Gomes was soon to deny them a third after Grabban pounced on Craig Cathcart's error.

Johnson then saw a downward header kept out miraculously by Gomes, and it was Neil's men who looked like being the next scorers - even though their opponents' need was much more.

Dorrans entered the fray for his Norwich debut, and there was still time for Grabban to add the finishing touch five minutes from time.

Whittaker was the provider, floating a perfectly weighted ball into his path, and the striker slammed it home first time to complete the job for the Canaries.

FULL-TIME: Watford 0-3 Norwich City

GOALS: Hornets: - Canaries: Lewis Grabban (pen 65, 85), Cameron Jerome (70)

WATFORD: Gomes; Ekstrand (Vydra 73), Cathcart, Angella; Paredes, Watson (Tozser 77), Abdi, Layun (Munari 69), Anya; Deeney (c), Ighalo. Subs not used: Bond (GK), Forestieri, Pudil, Hoban.

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson; Tettey; Howson, Johnson; Hoolahan (Redmond 81); Jerome (Dorrans 80), Grabban (Hooper 88). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Cuellar, Andreu, Garrido.

REFEREE: Carl Berry


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