Ten man Watford fought bravely to earn a draw against fellow promotion-chasers Derby County at the iPro Stadium, but missed the chance to top the table themselves.
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Much like during their defeat to Wolves last time out, it was Derby’s defending that proved their downfall early on. Indecision amongst the back four allowed the ball to fall at the feet of Matej Vydra. The Czech striker rifled past Lee Grant in the Rams goal to give the away side the lead after 23 minutes.
There was controversy just before half-time, as Watford centre-back Marco Motta was dismissed. The referee adjudged that the Italian had denied Steve McLaren’s side a goalscoring opportunity, with the defender bringing down Johnny Russell inside the penalty area. Darren Bent celebrated his return from injury with a composed finish to level things up at the break.
Ipswich’s point against Bournemouth had knocked Derby out of the play-off places before kick-off, but they looked to be heading back into the top six when Thomas Ince put them ahead twelve minutes into the second-half. He was slightly fortunate to ride the challenges of the Watford defence, but his finish gave former Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes absolutely no chance.
With fifteen minutes to go, and with their numerical advantage, it appeared that the Rams would hold on. However, Odion Ighalo made sure the points were shared with his eighteenth Championship goal of the season. An exquisite pass from Adlene Guedioura played Ighalo in, and the 25-year-old had no problem levelling the scores.
The point moves Derby back into the play-off positions at the expense of Ipswich on goal difference, whilst Slavisa Jokanovic’s side failed to get into the top two. They now sit two points behind leaders Middlesbrough, and perhaps more crucially, one point behind Bournemouth who occupy the second automatic promotion position.