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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Vicarage Road

Watford run Leeds close to give Cleverley a decent first home start in charge

Watford (2) 2 Bayo 31, Dennis 44

Leeds United (1) 2 Summerville 37, Joseph 85

Watford turned in a performance that made a mockery of their also-ran status this year, as they so very nearly claimed a first home win since November.

There will have been a feeling of regret for many fans watching their side play like this because had they showed more of this fight and intensity since August, the league table might be looking a whole lot different for them.

As it was, they savoured a fine display and two excellent first-half strikes from Vakoun Bayo and Emmanuel Dennis which asked questions of Leeds in Tom Cleverley's first home game as interim coach.

It needed a late goal from a sub to give the Yorkshiremen a share of the spoils.

Not so long ago, we might have been thinking of this as a match being a likely fight between equals. The reality is Watford are reduced to casting envious glances at the promotion battle unfolding without them.

Mid-table malingering has been their lot for this campaign. A game like this was far more like it.

Unexpected defeat for Leicester City earlier in the day at Bristol City ensured there would be an extra spring in the step for Leeds - as if any added motivation were needed.

There was also the need to claim a win to reclaim top spot in the Championship - Ipswich Town having assumed a place at the summit after an early evening win at Blackburn.

Daniel Farke's team are scenting a return to the top flight at the first time of asking without the need for nervy play-offs but this will have raised a few doubts.

The Hornets' win at Birmingham City before the international break was only their second in 13 League and cup games and, of course, they have ditched another manager.

They are on their 11th in little more than four years.

That Pozzo family vault in the cemetery crypt must be struggling for space to fit them all in by now.

So now it is the turn of former Man United starlet Cleverley to take up the poisoned chalice - albeit on an interim basis - and see out the last knockings of a largely forgettable season for the Hornets.

Watford looked in the mood to make life as uncomfortable as possible for a Leeds side who thumped them 3-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season and their bright attacks found reward after half an hour.

Jamal Lewis freed Yaser Asprilla down the left for a cross and although Emmanuel Dennis' powerful shot was superbly saved by Ilan Meslier, the rebound was gobbled up by Bayo.

Leeds responded when Crysensio Summerville drifted in from the left flank to bend a superb right footer beyond a despairing dive from Daniel Bachmann.

The keeper had done well to save the winger's shot from a similar angle earlier in the half. This time he had no chance.

But a thrilling half ended with the hosts on top when Emmanuel fired a low left-foot shot across Meslier after cutting in from the right. Anything Summerville could do.....

The striker celebrated with a carefree cartwheel and lapped up the applause.

The Hornets defended well after that and Leeds struggled for clear openings to get back on level terms. They has to wait until five minutes from time as sub Mateo Joseph scored from close range seconds after coming off the bench.

Jadon Anthony, who was brought on at the same time, then almost put Leeds ahead, but Bachmann managed to get a leg in the way to block the effort.

There was justice in that as this is a game Watford did not deserve to lose.

Hornets: (5-4-1) Bachmann - Andrews, Porteous, Sierralta, Pollock, Lewis - Asprilla (Ince 80), Kayembe, Dele-Bashiru, Bayo (Rajovic 90) - Dennis (Kone 58)

Leeds: (4-2-3-1) Meslier - Gray, Rodon, Cooper (Firpo 64), Byram (Anthony 84) - Kamara (Joseph 84) , Ampadu - James, Rutter (Piroe 74), Summerville - Bamford

Attendance: 20,236


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