Watford 0-0 Middlesbrough: Hosts play out stalemate as Graham Taylor remembered
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 14/01/17 5:52pm
Watford were held to a 0-0 draw by Middlesbrough on an emotionally charged afternoon at Vicarage Road following the death of Graham Taylor.
Tributes were paid to the former Watford manager, who died on Thursday, with chants of ‘One Graham Taylor’ ringing around the ground before and throughout the match.
And while Watford’s homage to Taylor will live long in the memory, the action on the pitch will be quickly forgotten in what was ultimately a drab affair.
Substitute Tom Cleverley, making his second Watford debut, came closest to finding a winner but he could only hit the post following his introduction after the break.
The draw leaves Watford without a victory in six Premier League matches, while Middlesbrough are winless in four.
Before the match, fans left messages, shirts and flowers outside the ground in tribute to Taylor, who guided Watford from the old Fourth Division in 1978 to second in the First Division five years later.
And with Taylor’s wife, Rita, and two daughters Joanne and Karen in attendance, the match was preceded by a minute’s applause to remember the ex-England manager.
In a sluggish first half, Etienne Capoue had an early chance for the hosts, but failed to control a high ball with Victor Valdes rushing out to clear the danger.
Abdoulaye Doucoure then went close after latching onto Stefano Okaka’s flick-on, but the Frenchman shot straight at Valdes.
Cristhian Stuani could have broken the deadlock for Boro, but his lobbed effort could only find the roof of the net.
After the break, Okaka headed straight at Valdes before the visitors went on the counter, and Heurelho Gomes could only parry away a long-range effort from Fabio.
The game was in desperate need of some vigour, and Cleverley’s introduction 13 minutes from time appeared to do just that.
A long throw was nodded down by Troy Deeney into Cleverley's path six yards out, but his strike ricocheted off the post before falling to Capoue, who showed little composure when in firing over.
Cleverley almost then turned provider as he chipped a ball over for Deeney, but the Watford skipper saw his effort trickle wide with Valdes getting the faintest of touches on it.
Watford simply could not find a winner, and a few jeers met the players at full-time following a result which leaves them 14th, two places above Boro.
Watford: Gomes 6, Kaboul 6, Prodl 7, Britos 7, Kabasele 6, Doucoure 7, Behrami 6, Capoue 7, Holebas 6, Deeney 6, Okaka 6. Subs: Pantilimon 6, Zuniga 6, Cleverley 7.
Middlesbrough: Valdes 7, Chambers 7, Bernardo 6, Gibson 7, Fabio 6, De Roon 6, Leadbitter 6, Forshaw 6, Friend 6, Stuani 5, Negredo 6. Subs: Gestede 6.
Man of the match: Victor Valdes (Middlesbrough)