Watford 0 Cardiff 0: Zola's men lose ground on Hull after goalless draw against leaders
18:37 GMT, 6 April 2013
18:45 GMT, 6 April 2013
Watford lost ground in the race for automatic promotion as they were held to a goalless draw by npower Championship leaders Cardiff at Vicarage Road.
Following their 1-0 win over second placed Hull on Tuesday, Gianfranco Zola's side failed to keep pace with their rivals following a frustrating evening.
The point for City leaves them requiring a maximum of seven points from their remaining six games as they take a step closer to the Barclays Premier League.
Promotion chasers: Watford and Cardiff played out a 0-0 draw in a top-of-the-table clash at Vicarage Road
Watford: Almunia, Doyley, Cassetti, Ekstrand, Abdi, Battocchio (Hogg 51), Chalobah, Briggs, Anya, Deeney, Vydra (Forestieri 60).
Subs Not Used: Bond, Yeates, Pudil, Thompson, Geijo.
Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly (McNaughton 10), Turner, Barnett, Taylor, Kim, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Conway (Smith 69), Mason (Gestede 56), Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Lewis, Whittingham, Cowie, Helguson.
Booked: Gunnarsson, Mutch.
Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
The latest Championship table, results and fixtures
Zola made two changes to the side
that edged past promotion rivals Hull on Tuesday. Former Arsenal
goalkeeper Manuel Almunia returned between the posts while stalwart
defender Lloyd Doyley was also recalled.
The Bluebirds made just one change
following their 3-0 win against lowly Blackburn over the Easter weekend.
Striker Joe Mason came in to replace the injured Fraizer Campbell.
Malky Mackay's preparations suffered a
huge blow 10 minutes into the game though when Kevin McNaughton was
forced to replace Matthew Connolly at the back.
However, they started the brighter of
the two sides and Bo-kyung Kim soon forced Almunia into a fine save as
he blocked a low effort with his feet.
Craig Conway then fired just wide from the edge with the hosts struggling for a response as they waited for a chance to counter.
Cardiff came closer still as Ben Turner headed over the top before Zola's gameplan began to pay dividends.
On the up Cardiff are five points clear of Hull with a game in hand while Watford sit third in the table
TOP SIX – AS IT STANDS
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Top-scorer Matej Vydra nodded down
for strike partner Troy Deeney but he inexplicably blazed his strike
over the bar from no more than 10 yards.
The Hornets penned their opponents
deep in their own half and with the game bubbling nicely things
threatened to boil over on the touchline.
Zola's assistant, Giancarlo
Corradini, had to be pulled away by the little Italian after clashing
with Mackay as they argued over Aron Gunnarsson's challenge on Cristian
Referee Mark Halsey kept his cards in
his pocket and Cardiff managed to keep the ball out of their net as
they survived a late onslaught before the break.
The visitors responded positively
after the restart and Almunia did well to save Joel Ekstrand's blushes
pushing away Joe Mason's strike after he seized on an error by the
Contest: Cardiff captain Craig Bellamy comes under pressure from Watford's Matthew Briggs
As the game began to open up David
Marshall was forced into action at the opposite end making a terrific
fingertip save to keep out Deeney's header.
Conway fired a volley narrowly wide
before Hornets substitute Fernando Forestieri lashed one inches over the
crossbar as the game continued at a frantic pace.
The former Udinese man then
squandered another promising opportunity as he dragged another effort
wide from the edge after a clever flick by Nathaniel Chalobah.
On the touchline: Watford manager Gianfranco Zola and Cardiff boss Malky Mackay
Cardiff were forced to try and
utilise Gunnarsson's long throw in the closing stages and it very nearly
paid off when Kim's close-range effort was deflected wide of the post.
Mackay's former charges looked as
though they might have the last word when Deeney found a way through but
he was crowded out before he could get a shot away.
Forestieri also saw his shot bravely
blocked over the top during a frantic final few minutes but in the end
both sides were forced to settle for a hard-fought point.