Coventry City




Two goals from Mileta Rajović on his full debut helped earn Watford a share of the spoils away to last season’s Sky Bet Championship play-off finalists Coventry City, with a pulsating game at the CBS Arena finishing 3-3.

Danish native Rajović - who arrived at the club late last month - opened the scoring with a poacher’s finish 10 minutes before half-time, only for Milan van Ewijk to equalise with a smart free-kick minutes later.

Brazilian starlet Matheus Martins restored the lead for the Hornets with his second of the season in the 52nd minute, and though a Wesley Hoedt own goal temporarily levelled the scores, Rajović put the Golden Boys back on the front foot in the 79th minute.

Coventry top scorer Matty Godden had other ideas though, and did well to convert a pull-back three minutes from time, forcing Valérien Ismaël and his squad to settle for a well-earned first point in four games.

Head Coach Ismaël made four changes to the XI that started the narrow defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers last time out, with Rajović and Tom Ince handed their first starts for the club, and Francisco Sierralta and Imrân Louza returning to the midfield.

The hosts enjoyed the first sniff of a chance when a long Ben Wilson ball found Kasey Palmer deep in Watford territory, though Hoedt and Ryan Andrews protected their backline comfortably, and then at the other end, a tame Ince shot was deflected out for a corner.

A string of scrappy fouls gifted Coventry chances to work their way into dangerous positions inside the first 10 minutes, but the Golden Boys looked dangerous on the break, with Louza and Martins looking particularly lively.

A marauding run by City No.11 Haji Wright saw him battle past Ryan Porteous and Hoedt, only for Ben Sheaf to miss the target after the pull-back, but the Sky Blues were soon awarded a penalty when Porteous was penalised for a handball just shy of the 20-minute mark.

Skipper Daniel Bachmann kept out Godden’s fierce spot-kick with a strong save to his right, and the Hornets immediately went on the attack, Martins spearheading a move that resulted in an away corner.

For Mark Robins’ charges, Josh Eccles shot weakly at goal in response, and the latter was involved in another home shout for a penalty in the 24th minute - following a challenge from Ken Sema - only to be booked for diving.

With Coventry growing in confidence, Wright demonstrated his quality again with some tricky footwork that got the better of Porteous, but Hoedt was there to cover all bases and temporarily weather the storm.

And it was Watford who duly took the lead on the 35-minute mark, Ince being found in space on the right before swinging in a low cross that found the on-rushing Rajović at close range, with the recent arrival celebrating next to the visiting fans.

A driven Palmer attempt seconds after the restart required Bachmann to be alert - while serving a reminder of Coventry’s threat - and it wasn’t long before a curling, 30-yard van Ewijk free-kick beat the Austrian goalkeeper to make it 1-1.

Godden went close to snatching the lead in the dying moments of first-half injury time after being neatly fed by Palmer, but Hoedt was on hand to block his shot and ensure the game remained all-square at the interval.

The second period began at the same ferocious pace that the first had ended, with Martins and Sema working well down the left and initiating chances for Watford, and the former etched his name on the scoresheet within seven minutes of the whistle with an impressive angled finish from just inside the box.

With the wind in the Hornets’ sails, Ismaël made a triple change in the 56th minute, with Yáser Asprilla, Giorgi Chakvetadze and Jeremy Ngakia coming on in place of Ince, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Andrews respectively.

Asprilla immediately introduced himself to the action with a great link-up run alongside Martins, and after the latter was fouled by Kyle McFadzean, home-stopper Wilson had to be at full stretch to keep out a sumptuous Louza set-piece.

City were soon back on terms however, largely against the run of play, when Hoedt misjudged a backpass to Bachmann and the ball trickled over the line to make it 2-2 with little over 25 minutes of normal time to play.

Despite there being a freshly-buoyant atmosphere inside the CBS Arena, Watford continued to push forward, and Louza fired a wild attempt off target just shy of 70 minutes when he should have perhaps laid off to Chakvetadze in a central position.

Another loose pass from a man in yellow and black - this time Martins - initiated a good Coventry chance, but Porteous did well to get in the way of Godden’s shot and maintain the scoreline.

Vakoun Bayo and Mattie Pollock came on in place of Martins and Sierralta with just a quarter-of-an-hour to go, and Bayo soon did well to intercept a short pass back to goalkeeper Wilson and set up Rajović for a second goal of the afternoon.

The Hornets’ latest lead lasted just eight minutes, as Godden fired in his fourth goal of the season close to the death, and though both teams battled for the winner throughout seven minutes of added time - including an Asprilla rocket - it remained all square at ref David Webb’s final whistle.


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