Cardiff City

1

Watford

1

Vakoun Bayo’s fourth goal of the season earned Watford a first point in four games, as a hard-fought clash against Cardiff City finished 1-1 in the Welsh capital.

Ivory Coast international Bayo and fellow attacker Yáser Asprilla had arguably the best chances for the away side in a first half lacking a cutting edge, while a close-range Mark McGuinness strike secured the lead for the Bluebirds 26 minutes in.

A mistake from Cardiff goalkeeper Jak Alnwick gifted Bayo his equaliser nine minutes after the interval, and while there continued to be chances for both teams, the scoreline remained all-square.

A draw on the road lifts Valérien Ismaël’s charges one place to 20th in the Sky Bet Championship standings after 11 games, with a home clash against Sheffield Wednesday next up (Saturday October 21, 3pm KO) after the second international break of the campaign.

Head Coach Ismaël made four changes to the XI that started the defeat to Sunderland in midweek, with Jake Livermore, Edo Kayembe, Matheus Martins and Asprilla coming in for Ryan Porteous, Imrân Louza, Tom Ince and Giorgi Chakvetadze.

Following a tentative start to proceedings, the first sniff of a chance fell to the Golden Boys in the 13th minute, though Martins’ in-swinging cross bobbled straight into the arms of Alnwick in the aftermath of some nice link-up play involving Jamal Lewis and Livermore.

Home defender Perry Ng had to be alert to steer a Tom Dele-Bashiru through-ball away from danger moments later, following a clever run from the latter, but Cardiff then demonstrated their threat when Karlan Grant forced Daniel Bachmann into a good save to his right.

Grant was at the centre of a big opportunity for the Bluebirds in the 22nd minute, after profiting from a mix-up involving Kayembe and Francisco Sierralta, but the former Huddersfield and West Brom forward could only blaze his effort over the bar one-on-one.

Ollie Tanner was next to have a go with a deflected shot from range, as the Welshmen continued to build momentum, and from the resultant corner, McGuinness clinically lashed home at the back post to make it 1-0.

A spell of possession and a miscued Bayo attempt shortly after the half-hour spearheaded the Hornets’ hopes of a quick response, and Asprilla should have perhaps done better when heading a Wesley Hoedt flick-on off-target seven minutes before the break.

A cynical Sierralta pull-back earned the frustrated Chilean defender the game’s first yellow card out on the right, yielding a free-kick in a dangerous area from which the ball just evaded the Bluebirds’ goalscorer McGuinness.

On the stroke of half-time Bayo did well to latch on to a loose Cardiff pass, though he couldn’t squeeze a shot past the on-rushing Alnwick from a tight angle, and the hosts duly maintained their slender lead up to referee Gavin Ward’s whistle.

Ismaël opted not to make any substitutions ahead of the second 45, and after Watford enjoyed much of the ball in the opening five minutes of the half, Hoedt stood up well to beat Iké Ugbo in the air and snuff out any danger of a second home goal.

The visitors continued grafting and Bayo’s pressing duly paid off in the 54th minute, with the 26-year-old robbing possession off Alnwick deep in Bluebirds territory and bundling the ball into the net to make it 1-1.

Louza and Ince were soon introduced to the action, in place of Dele-Bashiru and Asprilla respectively, and with the team gradually growing in confidence some bright play by Martins on the left produced a succession of dangerous balls in.

Ince wasted a good chance to gain the lead for Watford when he skewed his effort over with the goal gaping in the 79th minute, and though sub Mileta Rajović added to the Golden Boys’ threat late on, stern defending meant both teams were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

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