Alex Neil made arguably the biggest selection call of his Norwich City career here as he dropped John Ruddy to the bench and replaced him with Declan Rudd.
It was something that many City fans had been clamouring for, for a few weeks now but it seems that JR’s shanked clearance last week broke the final straw.
Other than that, Alex Tettey returned with Nathan Redmond with Wes Hoolahan (presumed injured) and Gary O’Neil making way.
City started well enough in terms of possession but without any real threat to the Watford goal but the Hornets were also struggling. Rudd and Gomes had little to do in the first half hour as both sides battled some awful windy conditions.
The first goal (which Alex Neil always tells us is crucial) went to the home side on 30 minutes when Alex Tettey was caught trying to turn on the edge of the City box.
Instead of just clearing it, Tettey tried to turn and was dispossessed with the ball played immediately to Ighalo who surged in on goal. Tettey tried to make up for it and flew in, he got a bit of the ball but also scissor tackled Ighalo. In my opinion, Mike Dean had no choice but to point to the spot.
Deeney took it and gave Rudd no chance with a powerful effort, his fifth goal in six games. It was a poor goal to concede and equates to ‘pressing the self destruct button’ which is another of Neil’s recent quotes.
It could’ve/should’ve been 2-0 before the break when Ighalo ‘scored’ only for the replays to show he was level and therefore onside. It wouldn’t have flattered the hosts who had much the best of the first half without ever looking sensational.
Deeney and Ighalo though were already proving the difference.
Nathan Redmond, who had been very quiet in the first half was replaced at the break by Dieumerci Mbokani as Neil tried to provide more of a threat – it didn’t really work.
Mbokani had little to work with other than the odd Robbie Brady set piece. Brady’s free kicks were either great or shockingly bad, failing to beat the first man. It was about 50/50 today.
The best chance Mbokani had was when a Brady free kick found him at the back post, hit his thigh and bounced up but the striker couldn’t control it.
City’s best chance of the whole game fell to Brady who was found in space on the edge of the Watford area with only one defender in attendance. He elected to shoot early and his effort went three yards wide when he had time to take a touch.
That was our best chance.
At the other end, Declan Rudd had a very good game and has made himself very hard to drop for the visit of Everton on Saturday.
He continually denied Ighalo with his feet and hands. The pick of the bunch was when lying on the floor and Ighalo was lifting the ball over him, he somehow swatted the ball away with one hand.
Ighalo (and Deeney) were the difference with the Nigerian giving Seb Bassong a torrid afternoon. Seb was last seen in Ighalo’s back pocket.
Graham Dorrans had City’s only shot on target late on when he fired a 30 yard effort straight at Gomes but that was the Canaries done.
Ighalo had had a frustrating afternoon with many things (mostly Declan Rudd)conspiring to stop him scoring. In the 91st minute he finally did it though as he outmuscled Bassong (again) and slipped the ball under the onrushing Rudd.
It was a poor game from a Norwich point of view. Alex Neil said afterwards that he didn’t think there was much between the two teams. To a point I can understand that comment as Watford weren’t sensational BUT their front two were.
The two Watford strikers harassed the City back four and Bassong was near on terrorised by Ighalo. They were the difference.