Shane Codd

Always On My Mind

Watford 1-0 Millwall Match Report: Hornets Promoted to the Premier League

. Watford achieved automatic promotion to the Premier League despite a nervy affair at Vicarage Road. Ismaila Sarr's first half penalty was the difference in a 1-0 win over Millwall.

Watford's starting lineup was largely as expected; Kiko Femenia returned to the XI having served a one-game suspension. Craig Cathcart dropped to the bench. 

As for Millwall, they made three changes but retained their 3-5-2 formation. Kenneth Zohore, Alex Pearce and Ryan Woods were those replaced following a 4-1 midweek loss to Bournemouth. Mahlon Romeo, Mason Bennett and Tom Bradshaw entered the fold.

Following Brentford's victory over Bournemouth in the lunchtime kick-off Watford required no less than a win to secure promotion. The result also ruled Bournemouth out of the race for the top 2, making Brentford and Swansea the only threats to Watford's second spot.

Watford started the game with a lot of the ball, setting the tempo and enjoying possession. 

It's been two months since Watford's last penalty, which is surprising considering the Hornets had accumulated ten so far this season. Referee Dean Whitestone broke the duck, pointing to the spot after ten minutes. Ismaila Sarr, brought down by young midfielder Billy Mitchell, and Watford's Senegalese Star made no mistake in beating Bialkowski from twelve yards. Watford have the crucial opener, and an opportunity to build on an early lead.

Kiko Femenia appeared to pick up a groin injury by Xisco Munoz's technical area. The returning Spaniard had to be replaced after half an hour by Craig Cathcart, who filled in for him in midweek.

It was by no means a result of the substitution, but Millwall began to grow into the game just before half-time. Billy Mitchell had two efforts impressively stopped by Daniel Bachmann, and threatened from set-pieces. Watford went into the break deserving of their lead, but at risk of losing it if they allowed Millwall more opportunities in the second 45.

Watford started the second half with a higher intensity, but continued to give away needless fouls, allowing The Visitors to stay in the game. Millwall may be safe from relegation and unable to reach the play-offs, but they were definitely motivated, perhaps by the prospect of raining on the Watford parade.

Xisco Munoz knew he had to make changes, Andre Gray and Nathaniel Chalobah replaced Joao Pedro and Dan Gosling, in a bid to up the intensity and create more stability. 

Not long after that, Ismaila Sarr broke through, and Millwall defender Mahlon Romeo brought down the winger. This time, the referee wasn't as eager to award a spot-kick, to the frustration of the Watford dugout.

Bachmann was again forced to make a save on the hour mark, batting the ball away from goal amid chaos in the Watford box. 

Ken Sema did find the back of the net for The Hosts, but Millwall's impressive offside trap caught out the Swedish International.

The nerves seemed to be affecting Watford going into the final ten minutes, but they defended and attacked as a unit. Carlos Sanchez's introduction suggested a desire to see out the game at 1-0. Millwall continued to create problems and dangerous chances, and looked comfortable on the ball. Their shooting boots weren't on however, mustering several off-target efforts. 

Four agonising minutes awaited Watford at the end of the 90; Millwall retained the ball and looked capable of breaking Watford hearts. The Hornets saw it out though, and secured all three points to guarantee a return to the Top-Flight of English Football.

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