Championship
WatfordWatford4PrestonPreston North End1

Watford 4-1 Preston North End: Hornets thrash struggling Lilywhites

Nathaniel Chalobah
Nathaniel Chalobah netted his first goal for six years to put Watford in control

Watford moved up to third in the Championship with a thumping victory against struggling Preston North End.

Domingo Quina smashed Ismaila Sarr's cross past Declan Rudd on the volley before Joao Pedro's tap-in from Troy Deeney's cross was ruled out for offside.

The lead was doubled when Deeney smashed a penalty through Rudd's hands after Sarr went down under Jordan Storey's challenge before Tom Barkhuizen's heavily deflected shot halved the deficit.

But Nathaniel Chalobah quickly restored the Hornets' two-goal lead with a fine half-volley after a one-two with Deeney, and Pedro plundered a fourth via James Garner's corner and Craig Cathcart's flick-on.

Watford made it 19 points from a possible 21 at Vicarage Road this season, but had to overcome a side which boasted the second-best away record in the division, with all but three of their 16-point total earned on the road.

Ben Foster had to tip over Sean Maguire's fierce shot from the edge of the box and then had to be out quickly to save from Patrick Bauer after a mix-up at the back.

But the hosts bossed the first half and almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Rudd made a fine save to tip over Sarr's fierce drive.

Deeney had a big impact after being recalled to the starting XI, despite seeing striking partner Andre Gray limp off midway through the first half, and could have added to his penalty, but headed over unmarked from six yards.

Preston are the only Championship team to have scored in every away game this season and did threaten a second-half comeback through Barkhuizen, but it was quickly snuffed out as Vladimir Ilic's side stepped up and made it 14 goals in their last five home matches.

And while Watford extended their unbeaten run to five matches, the Lilywhites' fifth defeat in seven matches dropped them to 18th.

Watford boss Vladimir Ivic told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"We started today like we want to start every game, but today a lot of things were positive.

"Troy (Deeney) is captain of this club; all of us know he is one of the most experienced players and we don't need to speak about his quality - everyone knows that. His mentality can help us, his quality, his assists, his goals.

"After a long period being injured we must be smart now how we use him because we see what has happened today with Andre Gray - he has one injury, stay out two months, play two games and again injured."

Preston manager Alex Neil told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"We don't have a fit full-back, or even cover for a full-back available, so we felt it best to go with a back five and put our quickest players in there to counter their threat out wide.

"To be honest, I thought it was a good, competitive match for about 60 minutes and then we just don't defend some basic stuff in our box well enough, and when you give Watford goals quite cheaply then you find it doubly difficult to get into the game.

"We then have a penalty shout which I was too far away to see, but if we do get it, it potentially goes to 3-2 and we're back in the match, but as soon as the fourth goal goes in really the game's over."

Line-ups

Watford

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Foster
  • 3Ngakia
  • 27Kabasele
  • 15CathcartSubstituted forSierraltaat 87'minutes
  • 21FemeníaSubstituted forWilmotat 71'minutes
  • 23Sarr
  • 14Chalobah
  • 16GarnerBooked at 23minsSubstituted forPhillipsat 87'minutes
  • 20Quina
  • 18GraySubstituted forJoão Pedroat 31'minutes
  • 9DeeneySubstituted forPericaat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Troost-Ekong
  • 6Wilmot
  • 10João Pedro
  • 25Perica
  • 26Bachmann
  • 31Sierralta
  • 32Navarro
  • 49Crichlow
  • 52Phillips

Preston

Formation 3-1-4-2

  • 1Rudd
  • 14Storey
  • 5Bauer
  • 6DaviesSubstituted forHuntingtonat 82'minutes
  • 4PearsonSubstituted forLedsonat 65'minutes
  • 31Sinclair
  • 44Potts
  • 11JohnsonSubstituted forBaylissat 79'minutes
  • 29Barkhuizen
  • 19Riis JakobsenSubstituted forStockleyat 79'minutes
  • 24Maguire

Substitutes

  • 7Bayliss
  • 18Ledson
  • 20Stockley
  • 23Huntington
  • 25Ripley
  • 27Holland-Wilkinson
  • 30Baxter
  • 32O'Reilly
  • 34Coulton
Referee:
Jarred Gillett

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamPreston
Possession
Home59%
Away41%
Shots
Home26
Away9
Shots on Target
Home11
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away2

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Watford 4, Preston North End 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Watford 4, Preston North End 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Domingos Quina (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nathaniel Chalobah.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Paul Huntington.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Christian Kabasele (Watford) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Phillips with a cross.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Tom Bayliss.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Francisco Sierralta replaces Craig Cathcart.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Daniel Phillips replaces James Garner.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jeremy Ngakia.

  11. Post update

    Offside, Watford. Christian Kabasele tries a through ball, but Domingos Quina is caught offside.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Paul Huntington.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jeremy Ngakia (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ismaila Sarr.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Paul Huntington replaces Ben Davies.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Domingos Quina (Watford).

  16. Post update

    Scott Sinclair (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Tom Bayliss (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Brad Potts with a cross.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Tom Bayliss replaces Daniel Johnson.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Jayden Stockley replaces Emil Riis Jakobsen.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Domingos Quina.