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  • By Yann Tear at Vicarage Road

Watford up to second after Masina strike sees off Forest

Watford (1) 1 Masina 17

Nottingham Forest (0) 0

Adam Masina’s first goal of the season was just enough to secure a precious win for the Hornets – who took full advantage of Brentford’s inactivity to move above them into the second automatic promotion place.

It is the first time since November that Watford have been in the Championship top slots and reward for a run of six victories in seven outings.

Masina’s winner came after a teasing run down the right from Ismaila Sarr, who got the better of Gaetan Bong to reach the byline before pulling the ball back for his team-mate.

Masina, in oceans of space on the edge of the area, steadied himself before drilling smartly across keeper Brice Samba into the bottom corner of the net.

Xisco Minoz’s team would have hoped to build on that fine start to make their lunchtime outing more comfortable, but they seldom looked like repeating the goal bonanzas of recent home games.

Andre Gray was very nearly back on the scoresheet in the opening minutes, getting on the end of a fine cross from Kiko Femenia but heading straight at keeper Samba and missed an even better chance early again the second half when he contrived to completely miss another perfect ball in from the defender.

It was typical of a performance that was far from scintillating but they got the job done.

Gray bagged a double in the midweek win against Wycombe – his first goals since November – and he was keen to make his mark again, but could not add to his three for the campaign so far and was withdrawn in favour of debutant Carlos Sanchez for the final 20 minutes.

Joao Pedro might have extended the lead at the start of the second half, getting in behind the Forest defence after being slipped through by Philip Zinckernagel, but his left-foot shot lacked power and was straight at Samba.

Pedro and Sarr worked the ball for Zinckernagel to shoot over – the chance coming after a fine bit of wing play from Ken Sema down the left flank.

The threat from Chris Hughton’s men was sporadic. Fulham loan signing Anthony Knockaert tried his luck from outside the area but his shot was always drifting wide. Their veteran goal-poacher Glenn Murray had very few genuine sniffs at goal.

But sub Cafu did cause palpitations with a deflected shot which was just a fraction wide and a few crosses needed to be watched carefully. Ex-Charlton man Lyle Taylor also had the ball in the net late on, but a linesman’s flag cut short the striker’s celebrations.

Watford will be hoping to consolidate their status in away games at Cardiff City and Rotherham next week (provided Rotherham have recovered from a Covid-outbreak with caused their game at Brentford to be postponed today). They end the month with a home match against Birmingham City.

Hornets: Bachmann – Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Masina – Pedro (Success 87), Hughes, Zinckernagel (Hungbo 80) – Sarr, Gray (Sanchez 66), Sema. Subs not used: Elliot, Ngakia, Wilmot, Cathcart, Perica, Navarro

Forest: Samba – Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall, Bong (Blackett 81) – Garner, Yates (Cafu 57) – Knockaert, Krovinovic (Taylor 81), Freeman (Lolley 57) – Murray. Subs not used: Smith, Mbe Soh, Colback, Ameobi, Jenkinson


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