Watford 4 (Deeney 10,66, Yeates 59, Vydra 83 pen)
Reds 1 (Tudgay 90+4)
After a promising first half, a defensive horror show ensued as Watford ran riot to hit Barnsley for four and condemn them to yet another Championship defeat – meaning the Reds had found one victory from 13 outings.
The Reds started brightly with three men in attack, Davies, Tudgay and Sinclair were patrolling the final third but it was the hosts who had the first chance after Golbourne slipped in the box but Steele parried Cassetti’s vicious strike.
Barnsley countered immediately and should have scored themselves through Sinclair. The Peterborough loanee was in down the left but just couldn’t wrap his foot around the ball and fired straight at Almunia on six minutes.
It was end to end stuff and Sinclair once again was involved in a Reds attack, expertly bringing down a long ball before allowing Davies a cross-come-shot that was well dealt with by Almunia.
Watford found the lead as the Reds were, once again, undone by a corner. Deeney got his head to the out-swinging corner on 10 minutes as Barnsley conceded another sloppy goal.
Barnsley responded positively, as they had done in their previous two matches, but Buzsaky failed to set his sights properly and hammered wide from 25 yards.
Buzsaky took matters into his own hands with another shot from just inside the area this time, but probably should have put Davies in away to his left. Moments later Craig Davies forced Almunia into a wonderful save with a 15-yard header. Remarkably, from the resulting corner Almunia again somehow kept the Reds out when Tudgay reacted quickest to a clearance off the line with a powerful header.
Luke Steele denied Watford a second as Forestieri hammered a low strike towards goal on 27 minutes, with Ekstrand going close from the resulting corner on the volley.
The ball was given away by McNulty to a Watford striker for the second time in the space of five minutes, with Cranie having to come to his rescue the second time as he denied Forestieri a certain goal in the area.
Barnsley threw on a substitute with Stephen Dawson replacing Jacob Mellis who limped off on 35 minutes.
Greening was caught out on halfway and Forestieri surged forward and wanted a penalty after Cranie somehow got in front of him with a brilliant challenge.
Somehow Barnsley were not level when Sinclair pounced on Buzsaky’s perfect through-ball and rounded the ‘keeper. The striker was practically off celebrating as he fired in but Hoban somehow cleared off the line. It was breathless stuff as Barnsley piled forward and were by no means deserving of being behind as the clock ticked towards half time.
The first chance of the second half fell the way of the Reds as Buzsaky fired a free-kick wide after winning the initial foul. Barnsley kept up the pressure and enjoyed a good couple of minutes in possession, penning the Hornets deep in their own half.
Tudgay controlled a Golbourne cross well into the path of Sinclair but he volleyed wide from 12 yards on 57 minutes.
After all of Barnsley’s play, they let in another. Mark Yeates took advantage of some defensive hesitation and virtually walked his way towards goal and tucked in from an acute angle a minute before the hour.
It was all over. Barnsley’s defence was asleep at best as Denney made it 3-0 after a quickly taken free-kick, tucking into the far corner from 18 yards on 65 minutes.
Noble-Lazarus came on for the Reds with just less than 25 minutes left to play, replacing Emile Sinclair on the left of the three-pronged attack. Buzsaky volleyed in a shot on target but it was more or less routine for the former Arsenal stopper.
Watford weren’t finished and were after a fourth, Deeney hammered at Steele who had to batter the ball away from goal. At the other end Tudgay put pressure on Almunia as the Spaniard flapped at the Forest loanee’s header and Hogg put his face on the line to block Buzsaky’s volley from Hall’s clearance on 75 minutes.
McNulty’s afternoon was summed up when he got the wrong side of Vydra and hauled him down in the box. Vydra stepped up to send Steele the wrong way for 4-0.
Steele retained some pride with a phenomenal save to deny Cassetti a wonder-goal from a full 25 yards. Foster then spared McNulty’s blushes by blocking another shot on goal.
Some more pride was salvaged as Marcus Tudgay took advantage of a defensive slip and went one-on-one with Almunia, smashing home in the fourth minute of stoppage time for what was virtually the last kick of the game.
Watford: Almunia, Hall, Yeates, Hogg, Deeney (Geijo 82), Pudil, Cassetti, Hoban, Chalobah (Battocchio 71), Ekstrand, Forestieri (Vydra 66).
Subs: Dickinson, Murray, Bonham, Bia.
Attendance: 11,335 (311 Reds)
Subs: Alnwick, Stones, Wiseman, Cywka.
Reds: Steele, Cranie, Foster, McNulty, Golbourne, Greening (O’Brien 81), Buzsaky, Mellis (Dawson 32), Tudgay, Sinclair (Noble-Lazarus 70), Davies.