The game matched the weather on a drab Manchester night. Watford don’t apologise for their route one, ale-house tactics so no one should have been surprised that City found it difficult to break them down.
Pearce started with the same eleven that had performed so admirably at Villa. Andreas Isaksson found himself on the bench in what was his first glimpse of first team life for the blues. Perhaps sensing the new threat to his position, Nicky Weaver was perhaps City’s pick of the first half. One save in particular from a Francis header reminded me of the Weaver of old before injury took its toll.
Whether Francis should have still been on the pitch was a matter for debate, his deliberate elbowing of Barton was clear for all but the referee and his assistant to see.
City struggled to come to terms with Watford’s style throughout the first half with both forwards being starved of the ball and City creating little of note.
Watford keeper, Richard Lee, was forced into one fine save from a Richards shot which gave a warning that another visiting keeper was on fine form.
The second half consisted of more of the same although truth be told City did compete better. As a result they created a number of chances but found Lee in fine form throughout the second period.
City had a late shout for a penalty turned down by the referee, perhaps if Corradi hadn’t fell so theatrically the ref may have given it as there was a definate foul.
All in all though a draw was the least Watford deserved. Perhaps everyone had one eye on Saturday’s derby game but regardless it was an opportunity missed. It’s now 41 games since the blues strung back to back wins together, a shocking statistic.
Pearce warned of complacency against a side of Watford’s limited ability. Perhaps City would have lost this fixture in the past but the defensive record at home remains excellent. A poor night at the office perhaps but the point moved us into the top half.
Watford are not a pleasure to watch but they play to their strengths and don’t apologise for it. Unlucky not to score in the first half but thankful for a keeper in form and some iffy refereeing to secure their point.