Hornets head to The Premiership
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Watford secured promotion to the Premiership with an impressive 3-0 win over Leeds.
Watford secured promotion to the Premiership with an impressive 3-0 win over Leeds in the Championship play-off final at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Jay DeMerit headed Watford into a first half lead and an unfortunate own goal from Neil Sullivan and Darius Henderson's late penalty were more than enough to give Watford the victory and end their six-year exile from England's top-flight.
The win caps a remarkable season for Hornet's boss Adrian Boothroyd in his first season in management, as he confounded his critics who tipped his side to struggle this season.
Watford started brightly and could have taken the lead after just two minutes when Henderson got on the end of Ashley Young's corner, but Leeds captain Paul Butler made a vital interception to divert the ball over the crossbar.
Leeds went close to scoring on eight minutes when Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster failed to deal with a long throw-in, with the ball dropping to the feet of Shaun Derry who fired in a shot which was deflected just wide of the goal by Young.
Young had a sight of goal himself on 13 minutes when he worked a one-two with Marlon King on the edge of the box, but he sliced his shot well wide of the target.
Rob Hulse tried his luck from long-range on 20 minutes, but his shot flew well wide of the target.
Watford broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when DeMerit escaped the attentions of Hulse to powerfully head home Young's corner.
Watford's physical approach was giving Leeds all sorts of problems and a dangerous free kick from Jordan Stewart caused confusion in the Leeds defence before Gary Kelly cleared the danger.
Leeds tried to hit back and Sean Gregan headed just wide from Kelly's pass two minutes before half time.
King forced Neil Sullivan into a good save right on the stroke of half time with a snap shot from the edge of the box.
Leeds had the final opportunity of the first half when Derry was upended on the edge of the box and Eddie Lewis curled the resulting free kick just over the top.
Watford started the second half in the ascendancy and Henderson forced Sullivan into a good save with a fierce left-footed shot which the former Scottish international did well to tip over the crossbar.
Boothroyd's side doubled their lead on 57 minutes when James Chambers' shot deflected off Lewis onto the post before catching Sullivan and squirming into the net.
Leeds tried to rally and brought on Northern Ireland international David Healy to add options to their attack.
Healy had a shot on goal with his first touch when he latched onto Robbie Blake's clever dummy, but Foster got down well to keep out his low effort.
Gregan wasted a good opening on 66 minutes when he rose highest to meet Lewis' free kick only for the big defender to head over the crossbar.
Leeds were unlucky not to pull a goal back three minutes later when Derry ghosted into the box to meet Blake's corner and he saw his header kicked off the line by Chambers.
A minute later Lewis fired in a shot past a crowd of players which Foster just about managed to gather at the second attempt as Leeds piled on the pressure on the Watford defence.
Former Leeds man Matthew Spring had a chance to grab a third for Watford on 71 minutes when King picked him out unmarked inside the box and he drove in a shot which Sullivan turned round the post.
The Championship's top scorer King fizzed a free kick just over the top on 75 minutes as Watford looked to put the game beyond Leeds.
Malky Mackay went close to scoring nine minutes from time when he saw his header from Stewart's corner headed off the line by Lewis.
Watford made the game safe on 84 minutes when Derry felled King in the box and Henderson coolly struck home the resulting penalty.
The final whistle was greeted by sheer delight by the Watford players as they prepare to face the Premiership's elite next season, while for Leeds they face another campaign in The Championship.
|Leeds United||Team Statistics||Watford|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||3|