Match analysis: Watford 3 Rotherham United 0

The inquisition starts as the Millers go two down at Watford
The inquisition starts as the Millers go two down at Watford

Before the match the Vicarage Road sound system blasted out Sir Elton John songs in homage to their one-time owner and most famous fan.

“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside,” went one of many well-known lines.

Funny must have been the last thing Millers centre-half Kari Arnason and goalkeeper Adam Collin were feeling inside as their gifts handed Watford all three points.

Arnason, who has been so impressive for the Millers for much of the season, slipped over when under no pressure in the 18th minute and home striker Odion Ighalo didn’t need asking twice to run on to the ball and stroke it past Collin for his 16th Championship goal of the season.

After half-time Collin was the culprit as two spills allowed Troy Deeney and then Ighalo to score in quick succession.

He failed to hold Daniel Tozser’s 30-yard free-kick in the 54th minute to allow Deeney a tap-in and Ighalo could hardly believe his luck when another Collin fumble gave him his second present of the night.

Not what you need when you’re scrapping for points to stay above the drop zone.

It was tough on Steve Evans’ men who battled hard, took the game to their play-off-chasing opponents and enjoyed more than their fair share of territory in the first half.

At just 1-0 down, Rotherham rightly changed nothing at half-time, except perhaps Arnason’s footwear, but 11 minutes later the match was over as Watford scored twice in quick succession.

Collin’s two errors allowing Deeney and Ighalo to make the match safe.

Manager Evans, on the day it was confirmed he was staying at Rotherham after being linked to the Peterborough vacancy, made four changes to the team which had lost at Wolves, starting with Ben Pringle just behind the front pairing of Conor Sammon and Matt Derbyshire.

His side were neat and compact for the opening quarter of an hour and there had been no shot on target until the Kari calamity.

After Watford’s opener, Derbyshire almost conjured up an instant response when he was just wide from a narrow angle.

But Collin had to be at full stretch to keep out a Deeney shot in the 24th minute and from the ensuing corner the Millers keeper deflected a Joel Ekstrand flick and Jack Hunt cleared off the line.

Seven minutes later, with the Millers enjoying plenty of possession, Derbyshire missed a golden chance to equalise, shooting straight at former Spurs No 1 Heurelho Gomes as he broke clear on the left.

Arnason could have atoned for his earlier misfortune in the 35th minute, but he headed straight at Gomes when he had a clear sight of goal from another of several Rotherham corners.

After the third goal, Tozser was close with a curling free-kick in the 77th minute, substitute Adam Hammill and Derbyshire had deflected shots, Paul Green flashed a header wide and Matej Vydra tested Collin and then later hit the post.

Thus ended Rotherham’s toughest spell of the season – a five-match run which saw four points earned from games against sides chasing automatic promotion or a play-off spot.

Next up are seven games mostly against teams around them in the table, with five of them at home, beginning this Saturday with a huge six-pointer at AESSEAL New York Stadium against Millwall.

Those encounters will decide whether the Millers remain in the Championship, not last night.

Watford (4-1-2-1-2): Gomes, Cathcart, Ekstrand, Angella, Hoban, Layun (Munari 68), Watson, Tozser, Abdi, Deeney (Forestieri 83), Ighalo (Vydra 74). Subs not used: Bond, Paredes, Pudil, Anya.

Rotherham United (4-3-1-2): Collin, Hunt, Morgan, Fryers, Green, Smallwood, Milsom (Ward 65), Pringle, Derbyshire (Clarke-Harris 86), Sammon (Hammill 74). Subs not used: Loach, Broadfoot, Bowery, Richardson.

Referee: Andy Davies