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23:33 21st June 2012

Owls denied


The Owls went down 2-1 to Watford at Vicarage Road in controversial circumstances on Tuesday night.


After taking an early lead through Michail Antonio, Dave Jones’ men felt a key handball decision in the area went the way of the hosts.


A Lewis Buxton header appeared to be just sent off course by a stray hand almost on the line but the resulting claims for a penalty were waved away.


To compound matters, substitute Fernando Forestieri promptly bagged a second half brace to secure all three points for the hosts.


With the Hornets sitting pretty in third place and Wednesday looking to pull clear of the danger zone, an intriguing encounter was always on the cards in Hertfordshire.


Jones tinkered with his tactics to take the game to one of the most productive sides in the division, adapting a 4-3-3 system spearheaded by Connor Wickham and aided by Jeremy Helan and Antonio in the final third.


But the first chance of what proved a thoroughly entertaining contest came at the other end when Troy Deeney sped into the box on the angle and fired a low shot across Chris Kirkland that whistled wide.


The Owls, though, hit back and on 13 minutes almost took the lead.


Antonio did well to fend off the attention of two defenders and find Wickham, who span to unleash a fierce half volley that Jonathan Bond acrobatically tipped over the crossbar.


Two minutes later, it was Watford’s turn to go close when Ikachi Anya raced down the right and found Matej Vydra only for the striker to shoot wide from close range.


As the game grew more and more open, the visitors took advantage and opened the scoring on 19 minutes.


A defensive mix-up between Marco Cassetti and goalkeeper Bond allowed Antonio to profit at the far post with a simple tap-in.


With their tails up, Wednesday had four chances to double their lead in an incident-packed spell.


First, Buxton came within a whisker of nodding home after Bond parried a Miguel Llera free kick and the referee ruled no infringement had taken place when Nyron Nosworthy seemingly diverted the flight of the ball with his hand.


Then Jeremy Helan forced a fine diving save from Bond before Kieran Lee smashed the rebound wide and from the next attack, the Hornets’ custodian kept out a stinging drive from Danny Pugh.


The action continued with Daniel Pudil bringing the best out of Kirkland, moments before Bond denied Wickham with another crucial save.


Still there was time before the interval for Joel Ekstrand to blast narrowly over the bar, Almen Abdi to see a snaphot deflected past the post and Bond to keep out a daisycutter from Giles Coke.


After a breathless opening 45, the second period started as the first had ended – and Watford levelled on 53 minutes.


Abdi’s corner was flicked on by Cassetti and hitman Forestieri was on hand to drill high into the net.


The goal gave the Hornets the lift they needed and from that point on, it was near one-way traffic.


The Wednesday defence had to hold firm but buckled on 63 minutes.


Forestieri picked up possession a yard outside the penalty area and looked up to pick his spot in the far corner beyond Kirkland.


The Owls introduced Jermaine Johnson in a bid to up the ante and the wideman produced bursts of trademark pace to rattle the Watford defence.


But try as they might, Wednesday could not find an equaliser and made the long journey home without anything to show from an all-round spirited but fruitless performance.


Watford: Bond, Hogg (Chalobah 46), Deeney, Pudil (Forestieri 46), Vydra, Anya (Doyley 83), Abdi, Cassetti, Nosworthy, Battocchio, Ekstrand


Unused substitutes: Bonham, Yeates, Doyley, Murray, Geijo


Owls: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Pugh (J Johnson 66), Antonio, Prutton (Lita 76), Coke (Semedo 40), Helan, Lee, Wickham


Unused substitutes: Bywater, Taylor, McCabe, Madine


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.