Hulse snatches late success
Rob Hulse struck in the 83rd minute to secure a much-needed victory for Derby against Watford.
Last Updated: 20/12/08 5:47pm
Rob Hulse struck in the 83rd minute to secure a much-needed victory for Derby County against Watford at Pride Park.
The Rams had gone six outings without a Championship success heading in to the encounter but climbed above Saturday's opponents with a late triumph.
Both sides created numerous chances in an entertaining contest, and the game looked to be heading for a goalless draw before Hulse's late winner.
The former Sheffield United frontman was on hand to nod home a right-wing cross from fellow substitute Nacer Barazite after the hosts had launched a swift counter attacking move.
Teenage midfielder Miles Addison took the captain's armband for Derby in the absence of the injured Paul Connolly, while Giles Barnes was once again named among the substitutes after making his comeback from a long-term injury lay-off against Charlton.
Jobi McAnuff replaced the ill Mat Sadler in Watford's only change from their 2-1 victory over Coventry, with Jon Harley switching from midfield to defence as a result.
The Rams started brightly, with Luke Varney firing over the bar from 25 yards and James Tomkins seeing a header cleared off the line from a corner.
However, Watford responded well and McAnuff had two chances to put the visitors ahead in the space of four minutes. First, his low drive from the edge of the area was tipped around the post by Stephen Bywater, before a quick break from the Hornets culminated in McAnuff volleying high and wide.
Varney and Tamas Priskin both saw shots well saved as the game continued to ebb and flow, but neither side was able to find the breakthrough.
The Hornets then suffered a blow shortly before the break as Priskin picked up an injury and was replaced by Will Hoskins.
Derby began the second half in the same manner as they had the first, with Nathan Ellington seeing a close range header brilliantly saved by Loach.
The visitors were then forced into a second substitution, with Jay DeMerit coming on in place of the injured Adrian Mariappa.
Rams boss Paul Jewell replaced Gary Teale with Barazite as the hosts continued to press and the on-loan Arsenal youngster almost made an immediate impact as his right-wing cross flashed across the Watford goalmouth.
Soon after, Commons grazed the post with a curling long-range effort while Ellington saw his appeals for a penalty rejected following a tangle with DeMerit.
Hulse and Barnes were then introduced in place of Varney and Przemyslaw Kazmierczak, while Watford replaced John Joe O'Toole with on-loan Chelsea youngster Liam Bridcutt.
As the game entered its closing stages Derby seemed to have lost their earlier momentum and it was the visitors who came close to breaking the deadlock with 12 minutes remaining as a shot from McAnuff took several deflections before eventually bouncing harmlessly wide.
However, it was to be the home side who took the points courtesy of Hulse's seventh league goal of the season, with Watford unable to respond in the dying moments despite the best efforts of the lively McAnuff.