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Blackburn Rovers' Jordan Rhodes sends Watford to second league defeat
9:55pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in Latest Sport
Watford succumbed to their second league defeat of the season tonight as Blackburn Rovers edged a tight contest at Ewood Park.
There was little for the supporters to get excited about in the first half and Rovers went ahead on 65 minutes through a Jordan Rhodes header – his ninth goal in seven matches.
Ikechi Anya had a good opportunity prior to the goal and the Hornets had a few nearly moments – with Diego Fabbrini making a positive impact from the bench - but clear-cut openings were few and far between as the Golden Boys were unable to secure a fourth consecutive league victory.
Gianfranco Zola has been rotating his side with regularity in recent weeks; in the previous four matches before tonight he had made eight changes twice, five alterations and six changes.
It was five at Ewood Park as Essaid Belkalem and Marco Cassetti joined Gabriele Angella in the back three, Cristian Battocchio replaced Sean Murray in midfield, Davide Faraoni was in for Daniel Pudil, with Ikechi Anya switching to the left, and Javier Acuna partnered Troy Deeney up top.
Blackburn won 3-1 away at Bournemouth at the weekend and manager Gary Bowyer decided to stick with the same team, which was led by Rhodes who netted twice on Saturday.
Watford started the opening few minutes brightly but fans had to wait a quarter of an hour for the first real chance as a heavy touch from Lewis McGugan allowed Rhodes in but he dragged wide of the far post.
Watford then immediately went up the other end and Acuna laid the ball off to McGugan who sliced wide from 18 yards.
The visitors enjoyed some more patient build-up for a spell and Acuna may have troubled Jake Kean with a header, following a cross from Faraoni, had it not been blocked by Scott Dann.
Blackburn then had a period of dominance however the next half chance also went the Golden Boys’ way as Deeney headed a corner back towards the six-yard box and Angella nodded wide.
It was a largely uneventful first half but the home crowd were shouting for a penalty five minutes before the break when they believed Rhodes had been climbed on by Watford defenders. The move ended with Tom Cairney volleying wide from 18 yards.
They were appealing again in injury-time, albeit quieter, when Dann claimed Belkalem lent into him at a corner.
Acuna had been injured midway through the first half and was replaced at the break by Fabbrini, who made an impact from the off.
Watford arguably should have taken the lead – or at least tested Kean - when Deeney picked out the totally unmarked Anya at the far post but the winger slipped before hitting his shot into the ground and it rebounded over the bar.
McGugan did force Kean into a save soon after as his powerful shot was deflected into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Blackburn then had two very good opportunities in quick succession when the ball fell to Rhodes and soon after when King cut inside the visiting defence. On both occasions their shots were too close to Almunia and he saved comfortably.
Rovers had a third penalty appeal turned away around the hour mark when Angella stabbed the ball away from King who went down under pressure from Belkalem.
The deadlock was broken 20 minutes into the second half though when a long throw from the left was flicked on at the near post and Rhodes was allowed to head past Almunia from around eight yards out.
Watford responded immediately as Anya had a 35-yard strike which went narrowly wide of the far post.
For a while the Hornets’ work off the ball seemed to lack urgency but they were playing nice football in brief passages. One of those led to Forestieri creating half a yard in the box but his shot was over and wide of the near post.
It was a poor spectacle for much of the match but there was a lively conclusion to the contest.
In the final minute of normal time, Fabbrini created space on the edge of the area but his low drive was blocked.
There was five minutes of injury-time and in the third of those Fabbrini crossed for Angella but his header was central and saved by Kean.
Blackburn could have cemented victory moments later when Rhodes was released but his shot from the corner of the area was parried by Almunia.
The Watford goalkeeper also needed to palm away a Marshall cross in what was to be the final attack of the match.
Blackburn: Kean; Kane, Dann (Kilgallon 90), Hanley, Spurr; Cairney, Lowe, Evans, King (Olsson 83); Best (Marshall 61), Rhodes.
Subs: Eastwood, Williamson, Marrow, Judge.
Watford: Almunia; Belkalem, Angella, Cassetti; Faraoni,Iriney (McEachran 61), Battocchio (Forestieri 72), McGugan, Anya; Deeney, Acuna (Fabbrini HT).
Subs: Bond, Doyley, Murray, Pudil.
Bookings: McGugan for foul on Cairney (26), Best for handball (24), Evans for a foul (84).
Referee: Scott Duncan.
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