Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Watford and Nottingham Forest at Vicarage Road as Adam Masina scored the only goal of the game to send Xisco Munoz's Hornets up to second in the table
Saturday 6 March 2021 17:38, UK
Watford climbed into the Championship automatic promotion places after a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest at Vicarage Road.
Adam Masina scored the only goal of the game with a fizzing drive after Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba had struggled to deal with a cross from Ismaila Sarr (17) and, while Lyle Taylor had a late strike ruled out for offside, the visitors could not mark their second-half improvement with an equaliser.
Xisco Munoz's Hornets move above Brentford - whose game against Rotherham was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Millers' camp - on 66 points after 35 games, while Forest drop to 17th on 40 points, eight points off the bottom three.
With Brentford not in action, victory for the Hornets would ensure their ascent to second and they started with a spring in their step, with Andre Gray heading into Samba's arms after connecting with a teasing Kiko Femenia delivery from the right.
Watford continued to pose a threat and took the lead after 17 minutes, when Forest were the architects of their own downfall. Gaetan Bong afforded Sarr too much time to flash the ball across the six-yard box and when Samba failed to claim, the ball broke for Masina, who took a touch and rifled into the back of the net.
Chris Hughton's men offered little in the way of a response, though perhaps should have done better as Filip Krovinovic struck over the bar from inside the D, shortly after full-back Cyrus Christie had sent a searching ball across to the far post which was just calling out to be attacked.
Gray had the chance to take his tally for the week to three - following his double against Wycombe - 10 minutes after the break, but failed to apply the finishing touch to another wicked cross from Femenia.
Before the hour mark, Chris Hughton brought on Cafu and Joe Lolley in an attempt to spark his side into life, which worked almost immediately. Forest gained some composure in the final third and went close when the former's shot took a deflection off Will Hughes and looped inches wide of the right-hand post.
They thought they had gone one better in the final 10 minutes, when substitute Taylor beat Watford 'keeper Daniel Bachmann with a clinical strike after Glenn Murray poked the ball clear, but celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag.
Watford's Xisco Munoz: "Masina is a big player, right now he's in a good moment. Now is the time to push to change different things, but most importantly he has very good ambition. He wants to give the best for the team, sometimes he thinks more about the team than the individual .
"I'm happy with him, we've tried him more in attack and we want to see him in offence. I want to say congratulations to the players, I know we have done very hard work, but I think we can be better and have more control of the game. I think I have a very good squad, and right now it doesn't matter who I put in the first 11, everyone is in the high level."
Nottingham Forest's Chris Hughton: "There wasn't a lot in it, and that's one thing I continue to speak to the players about - we look at why Watford are where they are and we are where we are. That's the difference. We've had games against top six where the level of performance has been good and not too far away from the opposition.
"But it's finding the way to get that win. That's what the top teams do, and unfortunately that was the case today. They've got the goal today and probably in the final third they look more threatening. The difference is they find a way of winning."
It was another eye-catching performance from the 23-year-old Senegal international, who threatened often on the right and put the ball across the box that led to Masina's first-half winner.
Both sides are next in action at 3pm on Saturday, March 13. Watford travel to South Wales to face Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium, while Nottingham Forest host Reading at the City Ground.