Watford picked up another important home win on Saturday afternoon as they defeated Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Vicarage Road.
Adam Masina’s first-half strike was enough for the Hornets to record back-to-back home wins in the space of four days, with Forest struggling to open up their opponents and cause any real danger in the final third.
Hoping to build on Wednesday’s win over Wycombe, Andre Gray will have been keen to impress and add another goal to his tally after netting a brace in midweek. The striker had his first sight of goal on five minutes, but headed straight at Brice Samba after good work from Kiko Femenia down the right-hand side.
Forest did have their first attempt straight down the other end, with Anthony Knockaert doing well to turn away from Masina before cutting inside and drilling an effort across goal and well wide.
But that was to be Forest’s only real meaningful chance in the opening 45 minutes, with Watford’s attacking quintet of Gray, Philip Zinckernagel, Joao Pedro, Ken Sema and Ismaila Sarr causing plenty of problems for Chris Hughton’s side.
On 17 minutes, it was Sarr who carved out a chance and inspired an opening goal. The winger’s pace proving too much for Gaetan Bong as he burst past the left-back before pulling the ball back to Adam Masina, who fired low and beyond Brice Samba. A deserved lead for Xisco Munoz’s men.
There were concerns from the Forest camp over Samba, who picked up a head injury shortly before Masina’s strike, but the goalkeeper stayed on and witnessed his teammates struggle to cope with the Hornets’ attacking firepower.
In the 38th minute, Sarr caused havoc again. A powerful run down the right channel resulted in a cross being driven into the danger area, striking Joe Worrall’s arm and prompting cries for a penalty from the Watford technical area. Jonathan Moss, though, waved play on, after the ball was adjudged to hit the defender’s knee first.
Forest had to be patient but clever on the ball if they were to find a way back into this one, but struggled to carve out any real clear-cut chances throughout the first half. Cyrus Christie did deliver an inviting cross into the area, but there were no takers despite Glenn Murray and Luke Freeman lurking.
Filip Krovinovic also fired over the bar from the edge of the area following good ball control, but the half-time whistle eventually blew, with plenty of work to be done in the second half from a Forest perspective.
Watford, though, picked up from where they left off in the second half. Shortly after Joao Pedro forced Samba into a close-range save, the hosts missed a glorious opportunity to double their lead. Sarr found Femenia on the overlap before firing across goal, but with the goal at his mercy, Gray was unable to apply the finishing touch from six yards out.
Hughton, undoubtedly looking to add a bit of inspiration in the final third, made his first changes of the afternoon soon after, with Joe Lolley and Cafu replacing Freeman and Ryan Yates respectively. Knockaert did fire another dangerous left-footed effort narrowly off target soon after, as the visitors pushed for an equaliser.
With only 15 minutes remaining, Forest came close again when a flurry of corners culminated in Cafu having a dangerous effort deflected wide. But as the Reds began to push for that equalising goal, this left space for Watford to exploit.
A quick break saw Ken Sema cut in from the left and force a good block out of Cyrus Christie, before Zinckernagel fired over from the edge of the area.
Two more changes were made by Hughton in the final 10 minutes of the contest with Lyle Taylor and Tyler Blackett replacing Krovinovic and Bong, The Reds did find the net late on, but Taylor was adjudged to be offside before firing a powerful first-time effort into the bottom corner.
But with three minutes added on at the end of the half, that was to be that. Back-to-back wins for Watford, and back-to-back defeats for Forest after a game which was very much decided by the hosts’ quality in the opening 45 minutes.