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Hornets defeated by late strike in training ground friendly

Report | Watford 1-2 Rangers


Watford were denied by a late Rangers winner despite a much-improved second-half display in today's behind-closed-doors training ground friendly.

Daniel Candeias handed the Scottish Premiership side the lead shortly before half-time, but Stefano Okaka was on-hand to equalise midway through the second-half after Nathaniel Chalobah's driven shot had rebounded off the cross-bar.

The Hornets went close to taking the lead on a number of occasions as the game wore on, but it was Rangers' Martyn Waghorn who settled affairs with just two minutes remaining.

Pedro Caixinha's side nearly took a first-minute lead through Kenny Miller, who drew a close-range save from Costel Pantilimon as Rangers raced out of the blocks.

Chalobah had Watford's first chance with quarter-of-an-hour played. The ex-Chelsea midfielder's free-kick from just outside the area was palmed away by Rangers keeper Jak Alnwick.

Sebastian Prödl headed just over the target after Etienne Capoue swung over a free-kick from the left-hand side with 36 minutes played, then moments later Nordin Amrabat saw a curling effort saved.

Just three minutes before the break, Candeias converted Lee Wallace's deep cross via the near post to hand Rangers the lead.

Marco Silva opted to introduce Daniel Bachmann, Kiko Femenia, Younes Kaboul and Will Hughes at the start of the second-half, with Pantilimon, Daryl Janmaat, Prodl and Capoue making way.

Alnwick kept out substitute Hughes' control and volley after some clever link-up play down the right between Amrabat and Femenia, who impressed going forward during his first appearance in a Watford shirt.

Watford drew level in the 59th minute thanks to Okaka, who reacted quickest to convert from close-range after Chalobah's long-range effort cannoned off the bar with Alnwick beaten.

Femenia's cross then found Isaac Success at the far post and the Nigerian's header was well saved by the Rangers goalkeeper.

There was a welcome return to action for Roberto Pereyra with 25 minutes left to play. The Argentine playmaker replaced Success for his first game-time since December.

Ben Watson, Steven Berghuis and Jerome Sinclair also came on Chalobah, Amrabat and Okaka.

Sinclair's impact was almost instant. The former Liverpool forward beat his man and struck the top of the near post after running onto a clever flick by Pereyra.

Substitute keeper Bachmann was twice called into action late on - first tipping an Alfredo Morelos header wide at full stretch, then getting down well to deny the Colombian one-on-one.

Charlie Rowan replaced fellow Under-23 defender Brandon Mason with six minutes to go in the Hornets' final substitution.

Just as the game seemed destined for a draw, Waghorn found the bottom right-hand corner with a clever finish from inside the area to hand Rangers a late winner.

HORNETS: Pantilimon (GK) (Bachmann, HT); Janmaat (Femenia, HT), Prödl (c) (Kaboul, HT), Kabasele, Mason (Rowan, 84); Doucouré, Chalobah (Watson, 64); Amrabat (Berghuis, 64), Capoue (Hughes, HT), Success (Pereyra, 64); Okaka (Sinclair, 64).

Come and pay tribute to Watford's greatest ever manager at The Graham Taylor Matchday on Sat Aug 5.



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