Match Report: Watford FC 1-0 Sunderland AFC

Watford registered their first home league win since November, as Sunderland’s poor end to the season continued with a 1-0 defeat at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Andrews’ 64th-minute strike added to the Black Cats’ misery, as Watford leapfrogged Mike Dodds’ side in the table – meaning that a bottom-half finish is guaranteed for the Wearsiders.

Sunderland’s form in 2024 has contributed to their dramatic slide away from the play-off positions, with their current run now extending to only two wins from their last 14 matches.

2WM6C1Y Sunderland Coach Mike Dodds looks dejected during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Swansea City at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Saturday 24th February 2024. (Photo: Michael Driver | MI News) Credit: MI News & Sport /Alamy Live News

Dodds made two changes from the side that produced a “boring” 1-0 defeat to Millwall last weekend, with Adil Aouchiche and Trai Hume replacing Bradley Dack and Timothee Pembele.

And, despite the hosts dominating possession, it was the Black Cats who saw the better of the openings.

Dan Ballard’s back-post header was cleared off the line by Ryan Porteous, before Chris Rigg’s right-footed effort was blocked by the outstretched leg of Daniel Bachmann.

The first half was typical of an end-of-season contest with two sides involved in a cagey affair that struggled to spark itself into life.

Hume missed a great opportunity just before the interval, as after Jobe’s flick-on over the Watford defence, the wing-back’s finish was deflected onto the roof of the net.

It was the away side who began the second period stronger, and how they weren’t ahead could only be answered by Jack Clarke, with the winger missing two clear-cut chances at the start of the half.

After pulling out his trademark move by cutting in from the left, he uncharacteristically wrapped an effort around the right post, before firing straight into the midriff of Bachmann from a good area, only minutes later.

Watford’s openings were occasional, but tested Anthony Patterson when Edo Kayembe’s ferocious volley was hit straight off the Sunderland goalkeeper.

However, the game was there for the taking for both sides, and it was the Hornets who eventually found the match-winning breakthrough.

Ismael Kone’s neat through-ball carved the away defence open finding Andrews, before his finish across Patterson made its way into the bottom left corner.

Unlike recent weeks, the Black Cats created some great opportunities, and their best one fell to substitute Patrick Roberts.

Clarke led a quick counter-attack and freed Luis Hemir on the right, before the striker’s cut-back was weighted perfectly for Roberts, but at the key moment, slipped over the ball.

It was the scenario that summed up Sunderland’s afternoon and, indeed, their season, but they head into their final-day clash with relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday with their miserable run of form seeming to be never-ending.