Wednesday’s outside chance of Championship survival suffered another setback with a single goal defeat at second-placed Watford this afternoon.
An early Tom Lees own goal was the difference between the two sides and, with Birmingham getting an added time penalty winner at home to Swansea this evening, we are now seven points from safety with eight games remaining.
Manager Darren Moore was an absentee at Watford after testing positive for Covid-19, while on the field we missed a handful of good opportunities to score in a low-key affair and the only goal was the subject of some controversy.
The all-important strike came after just seven minutes when Lees turned a low cross from Ismaila Sarr into his own net. The assistant referee initially flagged Isaac Success offside as he waited behind Lees to pounce in the box but referee Chris Kavanagh gave the goal after a short consultation.
Wednesday continued to complain, presumably saying that Success was interfering with play when the ball was initially played into the box, but all to no avail.
The home side dominated in the opening stages after the boost of that goal but we also failed to convert two excellent chances in the space of five minutes.
On 24 minutes, the outstanding Barry Bannan played a trademark slide rule pass through for Josh Windass in the penalty area but he delayed his shot as he tried to get the ball onto his right foot and allowed keeper Daniel Bachmann to block the effort.
Then a Bannan free kick was only half-cleared by Watford, ending up at the feet of Julian Borner, but he fired wildly over from 12 yards.
At the other end, Watford almost doubled their lead in added time before the break, Joao Pedro’s low angled drive across goal looking to have been well saved by Joe Wildsmith but the referee signalling a goal kick as it just missed the far post.
While Watford generally looked in control of the game, we continued to pose a threat or two after the interval.
Callum Paterson quickly hit a speculative 25-yard looping volley just over the bar before Joey Pelupessy sent Windass clear and when he delivered a low cross, Jordan Rhodes was thwarted by a home defender.
Then, on 64 minutes, Rhodes missed our clearest opening of the game. Sam Hutchinson’s diagonal cross was flicked on by Paterson to find the striker with space at the far post but he blazed over from six yards.
There were few further clear-cut chances at either end, although we might have been reduced to 10 men when the already booked Borner brought down Sarr after he lost the ball to the Watford dangerman.
Overall, despite those openings created, we looked like a team lacking the intensity and belief to cause an upset at Vicarage Road – albeit against an in-form and promotion-chasing side.
Wildsmith, Urhoghide, Lees (Shaw 85), Börner, Reach, Paterson (Green 82), Pelupessy (Palmer 77), Hutchinson, Bannan, Windass, Rhodes. Unused subs: Jackson, Penney, Hunt, Brown, Harris, Kachunga.