Watford 0 – 0 Everton

Everton missed the chance to move further clear of the bottom three after a tepid goalless draw with already relegated Watford at Vicarage Road.

On the same day Watford confirmed Rob Edwards as their new manager for the start of next season in the Championship, the home side collected their first point on home soil since beating Manchester United in November.

Chances were at a premium with Ben Foster’s fine save to deny Richarlison in the second period the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock – but Leeds’ 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea edges Everton further away from the danger zone.

The result means Everton move on to 36 points in 16th place, while Watford are 19th on 23 points after a first home clean sheet of the campaign ahead of their final fixture in front of supporters against Leicester on Sunday.

Player ratings

Watford: Foster (7), Ngakia (7), Kabasele (8), Samir (7), Masina (6), Kalu (7), Sissoko (7), Sema (6), Gosling (6), Kayembe (6), Pedro (7).

Subs: Cathcart (n / a), Etebo (n / a).

Everton: Pickford (6), Mykolenko (7), Holgate (6), Keane (6), Coleman (7), Gordon (5), Delph (6), Doucoure (7), Iwobi (7), Gray (5), Richarlison (6).

Subs: Allan (n / a), Calvert-Lewin (n / a).

Man of the match: Christian Kabasele.

Everton’s survival hopes still in balance

Frank Lampard reiterated how his Everton team have always tried to remain positive during their tough spell in the relegation battle prior to kick-off, but there were very few openings in the first half an hour. Demarai Gray had a shot blocked while Anthony Gordon skied a cross from Alex Iwobi.

Forest Green chairman Dale Vince accused Watford of “doubling down on deceit” after Edwards left the club earlier on Wednesday and entered advanced talks for the position at Vicarage Road, where the club are preparing yet again for a year in the second tier.

Team news

Everton made just one change to the side that won 2-1 at Leicester on Sunday with Michael Keane coming into defense as Yerry Mina missed out with a calf strain. That meant Allan, Dominic Calvert-Lewin were on the bench once more while Vitalii Mykolenko overcame cramp at the end of the King Power Stadium contest to retain his starting berth.

Joao Pedro shook off a setback to start but there were seven changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace. Jeremy Ngakia, Pedro, Adam Masina, Ken Sema, Dan Gosling, Christian Kabasele and Samuel Kalu all started. Out came Kiko Femenia, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Ismaila Sarr, Josh King, Emmanuel Dennis and the suspended Hassane Kamara.

Roy Hodgson used his program notes to apologize for not acknowledging supporters who had witnessed the confirmation of Watford’s relegation at Crystal Palace on Saturday, but there was plenty of pride shown from the home side here with Samuel Kalu a bright spark, combining well with Ken Sema down the left and firing over after 18 minutes.

In truth, there was very little quality throughout the first half as misplaced passes and unnecessary fouls were the constant feature. Kalu’s free-kick in a dangerous position cleared Jordan Pickford’s crossbar but the hosts were applauded off for their improvement on the Palace display.

Dan Gosling in action against his former club

There was further encouragement not long after the restart when another foul from Michael Keane allowed Sema to deliver from the left but Mousa Sissoko rose unopposed to glance his header wide.

It sparked Everton into life as Richarlison wriggled free inside the box only to see his deflected shot clawed away by Ben Foster’s outstretched hand. A better chance would fall Gray’s way just after the hour-mark when Salu’s slack lay-off allowed the forward to exchange passes with Iwobi before poking wide.

There were other half chances as Michael Keane headed straight at Foster from a corner while Gray sliced ​​horribly wide from range at the midway point of the second period as the moment of star quality continued to desert the visitors.

Adam Masina rises above Demarai Gray
Adam Masina rises above Demarai Gray

Lampard turned to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the final 13 minutes as he sought to turn one point into three, as Gordon’s tame effort was easily gathered by Foster.

Another tentative approach fell Vitalii Mykolenko’s way in the closing stages following Richarlison’s touch but his tame shot into the gloves of Foster summed up this stale affair that leaves Everton’s hopes of survival still in balance.

Fan power driving Everton on

Frank Lampard walks off at the final whistle
Frank Lampard walks off at the final whistle

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds at Vicarage Road:

There was a real lack of quality but no lack of fight on show at Vicarage Road as Everton earned another point towards their safety mission.

It may seem small against a Watford side who had lost their previous 11 home league fixtures – a new club, Premier League and English top-division record – but given the events at Elland Road, and the next two home fixtures, avoiding defeat could prove priceless come the final reckoning.

Everton took their full allocation of 2,500 fans but there were far more flanking the segregated area to keep the soundtrack of the Spring – the Spirit of the Blues – going from Finch Farm the day before all the way to Hertfordshire.

A 328-mile round trip on a Wednesday shows there is a unity Frank Lampard has fostered in these past few weeks that their relegation rivals have struggled to replicate.

This was a performance not at the same level as witnessed at Leicester, who were far superior opponents than this heavily-depleted Watford outfit, but the stakes are so high now.

Lampard felt he couldn’t change a winning formula as he stuck to the back five system that served him so well during those wins over Chelsea and the Foxes, but with Brentford and Crystal Palace coming up now at Goodison Park, this stalemate will have made him consider whether a more offensive formation is needed to clinch the two wins that could guarantee Everton’s top-flight status.

What’s next?

Sunday 15th May 4:00 pm

Kick off 4:30 pm

Watford host Leicester on Sunday in their final home Premier League game; kick-off 2pm. Everton are back at Goodison Park on the same day hosting Brentford, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.

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