WATFORD 1, EVERTON 0
By Omar Moore
February 9, 2019
On a damp day at Vicarage Road Watford exorcised the bad taste of Marco Silva’s yearning for Everton and punished his new club with a 1-0 win courtesy of substitute Andre Gray.
Until Gray’s 65th minute-winner Watford scuppered and scraped, laboured and battled, but made it over the line. Everton marksman Cenk Tosun’s astonishing miss with about three minutes to play matched Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue’s blunder from point-blank range in the first half.
With the home fans fueling a rabid atmosphere, including donning inflatable snakes for their former manager Silva, Watford pushed and prodded growing into the second half of the first 45 minutes after Everton enjoyed most of the first half possession but did little with it. Former Watford man Richarlison, who departed for Everton last summer, was booed every time he touched the ball and when Watford players fouled their ex-teammate and passed the ball around him Hornets fans cheered.
Watford’s midfield looked more stout with the return of Abdoulaye Doucoure from a knee injury but despite stellar play he and Capoue couldn’t get a grip on a lively Everton passing game. Hornets manager Javi Gracia made a halftime adjustment by bringing Will Hughes more central in the field from the right-wing side, and with Gray also on as a halftime sub the tweaks worked. With a largely ineffective Ken Sema watching from the bench Watford grew into the proceedings in the second half and got the goal their persistence earned.
Chants of “Javi Gracia, he’s better than you”, “You’re getting sacked in the morning” and numerous others peppered the Saturday afternoon as Marco Silva often stood in amazement that his Everton team missed open chances. Everton may have had possession but they simply couldn’t capitalize against a robust Watford defence, which continued its good form with two consecutive clean sheets and three in the last four matches in all competitions.
Speaking of defence, Craig Cathcart laid on a great pass for Will Hughes to slide across the Everton goalmouth for Gray to simply tap-in from a yard out. Vicarage Road erupted in euphoria. From there Watford rode the energy and grit of its spirited fan base for their first home win since December. And for good measure Everton defender Kurt Zouma was sent off with his second yellow card in injury time.
WATFORD (out of 10): Foster 8, Cholevas 8, Cathcart 7, Mariappa 8, Janmaat 7, Sema 6, Capoue 8, Doucoure 7, Hughes 7, Deeney 7, Deulofeu 5.
Substitutes: Gray 8, Cleverley 7, Chalobah 7.
Everton (out of 10): Pickford 7, Kenny 6, Keane 7, Zouma 6, Digne 6, Gueye 6, Gomes 7, Richarlison 6, Davies 7, Sigurdsson 6, Tosun 7.
Substitutes: Walcott 6, Bernard 7, Calvert-Lewin 6.
Referee (out of 10): Lee Probert 5.
(Photo: Watford striker Andre Gray celebrates his goal with his teammates during Watford’s 1-0 win over Everton at Vicarage Road.)