MATCH REPORT: Ipswich Town 1 Watford 1

Watford players remonstrate with the referee following his award of an Ipswich Town penalty. PHOTO:

Watford players remonstrate with the referee following his award of an Ipswich Town penalty. PHOTO: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich v Watford: Ipswich Town missed a golden opportunity to secure their first home win against Watford since 2004 in an instantly forgettable 1-1 draw.

In a dire match short on quality and goalmouth action, the Blues broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when David McGoldrick scored from the penalty spot.

Troy Deeney slid in to convert Marco Cassetti’s deflected low cross to level things up in the 81st minute, with that the visiting side’s second shot on target of the match.

A draw was probably the right result on an afternoon when both sides were as bad as each other, but Town really should have won it in the 87th minute when Luke Hyam headed against the crossbar.

After Manuel Almunia had pushed McGoldrick’s powerful shot straight up in the air, the unchallenged midfielder only had to nod into an empty net from 10 yards out.

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The draw means that Ipswich have now gone five games unbeaten, while Watford’s winless streak stretches to 10 matches. The Hornets are, however, unbeaten in six away from home.

Ipswich move up a place to ninth in the table and remain three points adrift of the play-off places, having lost just three of their last 17.

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In a completely forgettable first half, Watford passed the ball better but it was Ipswich who had the slightly better of the half chances.

The first shot of the game finally arrived in the 22nd minute when Gabriele Angella fired wildly over the bar from long-range.

Three minutes later, out of nothing, lively Italian striker Diego Fabbrini smacked the outside of the near post with an effort from the narrowest of angles.

The first shot on target of the match finally arrived on the half hour mark when Manuel Almunia – one of seven players recalled to the starting line-up by new manager Giuseppe Sannino – sprung to his right to turn McGoldrick’s curling effort around the post.

Ipswich had given away the ball cheaply on numerous occasions but could take encouragement from the way they finished the half.

McGoldrick blazed over after a well-worked free-kick routine on the edge of the box which saw Aaron Cresswell dummy and Cole Skuse roll the ball to his left.

Then, in the 43rd minute, Frank Nouble bundled his way past Joel Ekstrand down the right before hitting a powerful shot towards the near post which Almunia beat away.

If the first half was bad, the second half wasn’t a great deal better.

Sean Murray had a near post effort beaten away by Dean Gerken in the 56th minute, with little goalmouth action either side of that incident.

You couldn’t see either side breaking the deadlock until Town were gifted a penalty in the 71st minute, defender Gabriele Angella leaning his arm into a Nouble cross. Watford players surrounded the referee, Ekstrand was eventually booked for his protests and – almost two minutes after it was awarded – McGoldrick coolly rolled home the penalty as Almunia dived the wrong way.

Watford boss Sannino – who passionately gesticulated on the edge of his technical area all game – made two substitutions after the goal and his side responded well.

Christophe Berra and Gerken got away with a moment of mis-communication, Watford pressed on and grabbed an equaliser in the 81st minute as Deeney slid in at the near post to convert Cassetti’s deflected low delivery from the right. It was a real poacher’s finish.

The game suddenly came to life and it was Ipswich who should have won it in three minutes from time as Hyam missed a golden chance. After Almunia pushed a powerful McGoldrick drive straight up in the air, the unchallenged Blues midfielder was left with an empty net to nod into. However, he got too much on the header and it came back off the crossbar.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Skuse, Hyam, Tunnicliffe; Nouble, McGoldrick, Murphy.

Unused Subs: Loach, Mings, Edwards, Tabb, Anderson, Graham, Taylor.

Booked: Smith (12)

WATFORD (3-5-2): Almunia (cpt); Doyley, Angella, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Murray (Battocchio 77), Thorne, McGugan, Pudil (Anya 80); Fabbrini (Forestieri 83), Deeney.

Unused Subs: Bond, McEachran, Iriney, Nosworthy.

Booked: Thorne (77), Ekstrand (72)

Attendance: 16,385 (1,027 away)

Referee: Graham Scott

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