Valerien Ismael insists he remains “comfortable” about his position despite Huddersfield’s comeback 2-1 victory consigning his side to a seventh straight home league game without a win – with the Watford boss calling on his players to look at their own performance to find the root cause.

The home fans made their displeasure abundantly clear as Watford struggled through the early going, prompting Ismael to make a pair of first-half substitutions.

That had the desired effect, but only to a point, with Emmanuel Dennis smashing home the opener shortly after the break from Yaser Asprilla’s square ball.

The hosts wasted a fleet of chances to kill the game off, repeatedly opening Huddersfield up only for their finishing to be found lacking, with Tom Ince particularly profligate against his former club.

Huddersfield substitute Danny Ward punished that wastefulness, scoring twice to secure a vital win for the relegation-battling visitors.

Ismael said: “After 20 minutes the feeling was we had to do something to have an impact.

“I picked two players but I could have changed all 11 players. It was still 0-0 but a bad performance, and we spoke clearly to the players at half-time.

“From 21 points at home now we’ve taken only two points. It’s a difficult situation to understand why it’s like that.

“The performance was not there and that’s what we have to analyse and especially the players, because as a manager I’m responsible for the result, but the players are all responsible for their own performance.

“They need to look inside themselves and give an answer to themselves about why they’re not performing as a team.

“I am still comfortable where I am. I enjoy my work every day with the staff and I think the most important thing is we give everything. That’s what I do from early in the morning to late in the evening.

“I would have been frustrated myself as a fan.”

New Huddersfield boss Andre Breitenreiter, meanwhile, hailed the determination his side showed to win in his first game in charge, with sub Ward heading in Yuta Nakayama’s excellent cross from the left before flicking home Tom Edwards’ low delivery from the right.

That comeback win already looks vital for Huddersfield, who remain just two points outside the relegation zone but have also overtaken Stoke to move up a place to 19th.

Breitenreiter said: “On the pitch and outside it, after Danny Ward scored [his first] we had the belief that we could win this game. This is what I want to see and what I like to see.

“We played further to attack and to press high, and had the conviction to score again. The players, the team, they deserved to win this game, absolutely.

“Celebrating the win after the game with the fans…they gave us a lot of good support and we have to really say thank you to them. It was absolutely fantastic watching smiling faces, from the supporters and from the players. I’m very happy.

“I’ve collected so many impressions this week. Some things are different from Germany or Switzerland, but I like it because the mentality is very high. This is a really traditional stadium, and it was special – and it’s really good for me to start with a win.”

Andre Breitenreiter got off to a winning start as Huddersfield boss thanks to Danny Ward’s brace from the bench, which gave the visitors a 2-1 victory after Emmanuel Dennis had opened the scoring for Watford.

The German head coach started work with the Terriers on Tuesday after being unveiled as Darren Moore’s permanent replacement the previous week, and had acknowledged at his first press conference that the relegation-threatened club were in a “dangerous” position.

Valerien Ismael’s Watford were meanwhile without a Championship win in six at Vicarage Road and desperate to generate some momentum for the final stretch of the season to prevent their faint play-off hopes from ebbing away altogether.

Huddersfield had the better of the early going, with Delano Burgzorg and Josh Koroma both unleashing goalward efforts that needed deflecting wide – and only very narrowly, in Burgzorg’s case.

Ismael evidently shared the fans’ extremely vocal frustration at his side’s inability to get out of their own half in the face of a tenacious high press, and made his first pair of substitutions as early as the 27th minute with Edo Kayembe and Ismael Kone hauled off for Giorgi Chakvetadze and former Huddersfield man Tom Ince.

That produced the desired improvement in his side’s play, and they mustered their first shot on goal just after the half-hour as Mattie Pollock headed wide from a Ken Sema corner.

Yaser Asprilla’s fabulous through ball later gave Ince the most clear-cut chance of the first half, but Lee Nicholls was equal to his first-time strike on goal.

The goalkeeper had no chance the next time Watford threatened up the right, however, with Asprilla getting the better of Brodie Spencer to get into the box before squaring for Dennis to fire Watford ahead – virtually his last action of the game as he went off injured moments later.

Watford should have put the game to bed twice within a few minutes of that opener, but neither Mileta Rajovic nor Ince capitalised on very presentable openings produced from left-wing crosses.

Huddersfield punished that by showing them how it was done in the 71st minute, with centre-back Yuta Nakayama getting forward to cross for substitute Ward to head past former team-mate Ben Hamer, despite the goalkeeper getting a touch.

Both sides wasted chances to go ahead with the score at 1-1, with Burgzorg failing to find an unmarked Ben Wiles at the end of a Huddersfield counter-attack and Ince again shooting off-target for Watford from Sema’s cross.

But Ward showed great instincts once again to finally decide the game seven minutes from time, reacting fastest to get to Tom Edwards’ low cross and flick into the far bottom corner.

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael admitted feeling some relief after his side ended their losing streak with a 1-0 win at Rotherham.

Neither side entered the contest with much confidence following three straight defeats apiece but it was Watford who snatched the points thanks to Yaser Asprilla’s second-half strike.

Ismael said: “We were ready for the battle. We spoke about it before the game.

“It was all about the result. We had to be solid and to do the basics right.

“Finally it was another clean sheet. It was very difficult but we managed well.

“Our focus was all about the result. We have had to stay positive. There is no excuse any more – we had to act on the pitch.

“Yaser is a player who has learned a lot this season and he is ready now to have an impact on games. I am very pleased for him.

“We were stronger in the line-up because we expected (a physical) game. We had to protect our goal and we defended well. We knew the ball would be coming in the air.

“It’s a big relief to get three points. The next challenge is to win the next home game.”

Both sides created decent opportunities in the first period. The nearest Watford came was through Asprilla but his deflected effort was just over the bar.

Rotherham’s Peter Kioso looked the dangerman early on and tested Ben Hamer with a header.

Watford went ahead just before the hour-mark, with Asprilla showing real quality to smash beyond Viktor Johansson after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the area.

Rotherham then did all the pushing. Seb Revan fired just off target and Sean Morrison and Hakeem Odoffin came close with headers.

Watford were defending desperately come the end and it took timely blocks from Jake Livermore and Wesley Hoedt to deny Rotherham.

Millers’ head coach Leam Richardson still only has one win in the hotseat at the New York Stadium and his side are now 14 points from safety.

However, he is managing to remain positive.

He said: “You’re judged on the final result; I think we are up on every stat within the game apart from the result which counts.

“I am disappointed for the players. They gave enough effort and endeavour to get a positive result out of the game. That is where we are.

“I have said it before and I will probably be repeating myself a lot now until the end of the season, I knew the challenge coming in.

“There is no reason why we can’t give a good account of ourselves whether that be on a Saturday or Tuesday or Monday, Thursday, Friday. We have still got points to play for and an end goal.

“It is important we remain positive. It’s easy to ask negative questions.

“The lads know they have got to give a good account of themselves at Ipswich on Tuesday.

“The players were on the floor at the end but you have got to pick them up. There is nothing to gain by being negative.

“We are not kidding ourselves because we know it’s a tough division.

“I have been in worse situations than this and come through it.”

Watford gave their season the much-needed boost it required with a 1-0 win at struggling Rotherham.

Both teams went into the fixture out of form and on the back of three straight defeats but Yaser Asprilla’s second-half winner helps Valerien Ismael’s team to look up again.

Watford won the reverse fixture 5-0 but were happy to walk away from this one with a much narrower winning margin and were clinging on by the end.

Neat interplay between Hakeem Odoffin and Peter Kioso led to Rotherham’s first chance with Odoffin just firing off target from Kioso’s pull-back.

Andy Rinomhota also shot off target on the volley after Sean Morrison’s long throw dropped nicely for him.

Watford’s first effort came from lone striker Mileta Rajovic but his header, from Asprilla’s cross, dropped wide of goal.

Asprilla then came close himself with his effort from the edge of the box deflected onto the roof of the goal.

Kioso tested Ben Hamer for the first time in the match as he got on the end of Ollie Rathbone’s free-kick.

The home side started the second half on top and strongly appealed for a penalty when Rinomhota went down in the box.

Giorgi Chakvetadze was brought on by Ismael and he almost had a swift impact as he slipped Rajovic through but quick-thinking from Viktor Johansson stopped the attack.

Watford took the lead in the 58th minute when a corner eventually found its way to Asprilla on the edge of the box and he lashed an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner.

Rotherham boss Leam Richardson made a treble change in the hope of getting back into the game but it was starter Seb Revan who twice tried his luck in as many minutes.

The first effort was slashed at but the second would have temporarily worried Hamer before it trickled just wide of the post.

One of the new men, Jordan Hugill, could not get enough of a contact on a backpost header which again drifted wide.

An intervention from Jake Livermore denied Rotherham a leveller as he blocked a header from Tom Eaves after a Sam Clucas free-kick. From the resulting corner Morrison headed just off target.

Tom Ince had a good chance to put the game to bed after being slipped through by Livermore but his effort was wildly off target.

Watford skipper Wesley Hoedt was then in the perfect position to deny Rinomhota’s driven effort from going in.

Rotherham continued to push into added time and a looping header from Odoffin landed on the roof of the net.

Norwich head coach David Wagner was critical of a section of the club’s support after watching his side recover from losing a two-goal lead to beat Watford 4-2.

Late goals from Gabriel Sara and Christian Fassnacht saw the Canaries move into the play-off places on goals scored, after enduring an uncomfortable opening to the second half.

Wagner’s decision to substitute Onel Hernandez and Josh Sargent drew chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” from some fans – and the edgy atmosphere seemed to play a part in Watford battling their way back into the game.

“We are talking about a small group but I think they should stay at home if they are going to be like that, because it clearly affected the players on the pitch. It was just unacceptable in my view,” said Wagner.

“Both Onel and Josh were struggling with injuries and that is why I took them off – I think the players who came on deserved more respect, they shouldn’t have heard booing when they came on. And I think I deserve more respect too.

“We know the target in front of us, we know the chance we have got and we need all the supporters to be behind us. Hopefully the bigger group can be louder and we don’t hear what the small group are saying.

“I thought it was a big result tonight – in the first half I thought we were outstanding.

“And after it went to 2-2 we kept playing our football and scored two more goals. I am very proud off all the players.”

Norwich opened the scoring after 20 minutes when goal-line technology ruled that Ashley Barnes’ far-post  header had crossed the line before Ben Hamer clawed the ball away.

Eight minutes later the Watford keeper made another save that counted for nothing as he kept out Sargent’s penalty, awarded for a foul by Wesley Hoedt on Kenny McLean, only for the American striker to nod home the rebound.

Watford got themselves back in it just before the break when Mileta Rakovic tapped home Ken Sema’s cross from close range, and equalised in sensational fashion after 71 minutes as substitute Yaser Asprilla beat Angus Gunn with a screamer from 30 yards.

But it was Norwich who went on to take all three points. Six minutes later Barnes fed the overlapping Sara to make it 3-2 with an unerring low finish into the far corner and substitute Fassnacht quickly made the points safe with a close-range effort which took a big deflection off Ryan Porteous.

Watford boss Valerien Ismael felt his side had wasted a good opportunity to get back to winning ways.

“It is very frustrating – we are scoring goals at the moment  but we are conceding too many as well and that makes it very difficult,” he said.

“After finding ourselves 2-0 down we then got ourselves back in it. From that moment I thought the momentum changed and we had a great chance to equalise just before half-time through Matheus (Martins).

“In the second half I thought we got on top  and Yaser (Asprilla) equalises with an incredible shot.

“But from then on it was very disappointing – all the players on the pitch need to be 100 percent committed to helping their colleagues.

“You need to win your duels in football, that is one of the basics of the game, and we lost the control that we had.

“The players have had their say in the dressing room and all we can focus on now is going out and trying to win our next match.”

Norwich recovered from losing a two-goal lead to beat Watford 4-2 at Carrow Road and maintain their Championship play-off push.

The Canaries appeared to be in command  after scoring twice in eight first half minutes through Ashley Barnes and Josh Sargent, only for Hornets to hit back as Mileta Rajovic netted just before the break and Yaser Asprilla scored a long-range stunner to equalise midway through the second period.

But the home side kept their nerve and two quick goals from Gabriel Sara and Christian Fassnacht sealed a hard fought win that made it nine home games without defeat, while dealing another blow to Watford’s rapidly receding hopes of finishing in the top six.

Norwich made a bright start and deservedly took the lead after 20 minutes, with a little help from goal-line technology.

When Barnes got his head on Onel Hernandez’s cross to the back post it appeared as though Ben Hamer had made a spectacular one-handed save to keep it out.

But it was all to no avail, with referee Stuart Atwell signalling a goal after being informed that the ball had crossed the line before the keeper’s last-gasp intervention.

Hamer made another save which counted for nothing eight minutes later as the Canaries doubled their advantage.

This time he parried Sargent’s penalty, awarded for a foul on Kenny McLean by Wesley Hoedt, only for the ball to rebound kindly for the American to nod home his seventh goal of an injury-hit campaign.

Norwich looked in complete control at that stage but Watford got themselves back in it through Rajovic after 42 minutes.

Ismael Kone picked out Ken Sema’s run down the inside left channel and what appeared to be an attempt at a shot turned into a perfect cross for Rajovic to poke home from inside the six-yard box.

The Hornets might have got back on level terms a few minutes later after Barnes was caught in possession in a dangerous area but Matheus Martins delayed too long and his shot was blocked.

Watford wasted another good opportunity seven minutes into the second period when Sema dragged his shot wide from a good position after being set up by Martins’ cutback.

Despite being in front Norwich were beginning to look more than a little nervous, with the crowd getting edgy too, and the mood slumped still further as the visitors scored a quite brilliant equaliser after 71 minutes.

The home defence were guilty of failing to close down substitute Asprilla as he made ground towards their goal down the left and the Colombia international took full advantage, beating Angus Gunn from all of 30 yards, with his searing effort going in off the woodwork.

It was the second time this season that Watford had come from 2-0 down to level against Norwich – but this time it was the Canaries who scored the fifth goal of the game.

With 77 minutes on the clock Barnes did well to control the ball and switch it to the overlapping Sara, and the Brazilian burst into the box before beating Hamer with a low shot into the far corner.

Five minutes later Norwich gave themselves some breathing space by making it 4-2, with Jack Stacey’s cross being turned in from close range by substitute Fassnacht via a big deflection off Ryan Porteous.

Enzo Maresca said his Leicester side delivered a “complete performance” following a 2-1 victory at Watford that maintained their 11-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

Patson Daka’s 10th-minute penalty and a 55th-minute effort from Ricardo Pereira appeared to have put Maresca’s team on course for a comfortable victory.

But a mistake by Foxes midfielder Harry Winks gifted Watford substitute Emmanuel Dennis the chance to reply in the 63rd minute and the visitors were forced to go on the defensive to protect the points.

And Maresca – who insisted he had got everything he wanted on his 44th birthday – said the combination of his side’s forward efforts together with their late resolve summed up their progress this season.

“We got three points and yes we are happy because it has been a complete performance in terms of we play when we have to play,” he said.

“And we suffered together, after the goals we conceded we lost a bit of confidence but overall I’m happy.”

He added: “It has been a complete performance because when we needed to play, we played the way we want to play. It’s part of the season we are trying to change some things.

“I can understand that the only thing that people can see is just get promoted. But for me get promoted is just at this moment.

“This was a club in transition last summer with lots of important players leaving.

“There are many more thing we have done. But I can understand the focus is on promotion, but we are changing many things.”

And the manager was adamant he would not criticise Winks for the misplaced pass that set Dennis up for the Watford reply.

He added: “The mistake is part of the process. I always said that if they try to do what we work on everyday and make a mistake, then it doesn’t matter. But if they don’t try, then they are not going to play.

“At the end Harry was a bit sad and upset, but it’s not any problem. And we are very happy with the second goal. It was very nice and the performance was good as well.”

Watford boss Valerien Ismael was pleased with his side’s efforts against the league leaders, and in particular ending a run of three games without a goal – even if he was unhappy at the decision to award a penalty after Leicester’s Dennis Praet went to ground after a challenge from Giorgi Chakvetadze.

“I’m really proud of the players and pleased with the performance and mentality they showed,” he said.

“In this game, you saw we had bad luck. After one minute, Bayo was injured and we needed to change the plan. After that, a soft penalty. I’ve been many years in English football and that was a soft penalty.

“Even when 1-0 down, we were disciplined and we were aggressive.

“I said at half-time it was still 1-0, and we had to be patient. It would have been wrong to have lost our heads and pushed too much.

“We had two or three situations on the edge of the box when we should have taken one or both to get back into the game.”

Patson Daka set Leicester on course for a 2-1 win against Watford at Vicarage Road that maintained their 11-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

But Enzo Maresca’s side were grateful for the cushion provided by Ricardo Pereira’s second-half strike after a Harry Winks mistake gifted Emmanuel Dennis the chance to fire up hopes of a Hornets comeback.

Daka converted a 10th-minute penalty for his third goal in three games since returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Zambia.

And the Foxes stood firm to protect their lead after Winks’ misplaced pass allowed Dennis to score his first goal since returning to Watford on loan from Nottingham Forest last month.

Watford came into the game having failed to score in their three previous outings – and without a goal from open play in five games.

But they were soon forced to rethink their forward plans when striker Vakoun Bayo pulled up just 75 seconds into the game.

Maresca’s side assumed control, displaying the confidence expected from a side with such a commanding lead at the top of the table.

And it took them just 10 minutes to make the break after Dennis Praet outwitted Giorgi Chakvetadze to win a 10th-minute penalty.

The Foxes midfielder broke into the box to collect a pass before cutting inside Chakvetadze who stuck out a trailing leg.

Referee Oliver Langford immediately pointed to the spot and Daka beat goalkeeper Ben Hamer with a powerful low shot.

Watford had made little impression on the game at that point and might have found themselves two down had Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall not shot over the bar after being set up by Daka.

Valerien Ismael’s side did manage to grow into the game as the half progressed and finally managed to test Leicester keeper Mads Hermansen when Wesley Hoedt shot from long range in the 33rd minute.

That proved to be a rare moment of threat from the home side in the first half but they had shown signs of developing some momentum before the break.

Leicester once again took the initiative at the start of the second half.

And Maresca’s men doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart when Pereira slotted home after a sweeping counter-attack.

The move was started by Hermansen and, when the ball was rolled out to Pereira, the Foxes skipper was allowed to run from deep before exchanging passes with Abdul Fatawu and placing his finish beyond Hamer.

Watford almost responded immediately when Ken Sema’s left-wing cross was deflected dangerously close to his own goal by Leicester defender Wout Faes.

But it was an even more glaring error that gifted them the 63rd-minute strike that fired up hopes of a home comeback.

Hermansen played the ball out to Winks, who completely miscued a first-time pass and succeeded only in finding Dennis, who was standing unmarked by the penalty spot and finished into an empty net.

Watford pressed for an equaliser but were unable to prevent Leicester from seeing out a third successive league win.

Russell Martin’s half-time hairdryer set up Southampton’s second-half surge to send them to a 3-0 FA Cup replay win over Watford and a fifth-round clash with Liverpool.

Saints were dismal in the first half before Sekou Mara bagged a brace of well-hit strikes and Che Adams secured a 24th game unbeaten for the Championship promotion hunters.

“I wasn’t happy with the first half and told the players that,” said Martin.

“It is the first time in some time I have done that. My throat was a little bit sore.

“The team is built on being really brave with the ball but really aggressive without and we lacked aggression.

“We were just a bit too nice, we’ve been horrible to play against for a while but we weren’t in the first half.

“At half-time it was about mentality and energy. Second half we were relentless and could have scored one or two more.”

Adams diverted a ball through to Mara and the Frenchman sent Daniel Bachmann the wrong way to finish at the near post and get Saints moving in the 52nd minute.

Six minutes later, Mara bagged his fifth goal of the season when he emphatically finished a counter-attack by thumping into the near post again, this time from outside the box.

Adams finally got the goal his persistence deserved when he calmly diverted Joe Rothwell’s sumptuous free-kick from the left flank past substitute Ben Hamer.

Saints could have made it a wider margin when Samuel Edozie and Sam Amo-Ameyaw struck the post.

The reward is a trip to Anfield, something to which Martin is looking forward.

“It will be exciting, it will be brilliant but we have five games before then,” he said.

“It is a great place to play football and to play against one of the best managers in the world in his last season there will be amazing.

“It holds a special place for me because I scored there on the day my son was born, probably the only point we ever took at Anfield in a fair few visits.”

Watford boss Valerien Ismael said: “It was disappointing, for sure.

“After the first half we were actually in the game. We knew coming here against a team with a lot of confidence and haven’t lost a game in a long time, we knew we had to be strong and solid.

“We grew up in the game and created some situations and told the guys we needed to step up and push for more.

“But in the second half after the first goal we mentally dropped quickly and had tiredness. We started to make mistakes and it became difficult for us to come back into the game.”

Sekou Mara’s first brace in English football fired Southampton to a 3-0 FA Cup replay victory over Watford and a fifth-round meeting with Liverpool.

Mara smashed two strikes into the near post to score his fourth and fifth goals of the season.

Che Adams added gloss to the victory to take Saints to a 24th game undefeated and set up potentially Jurgen Klopp’s last FA Cup tie before he leaves the Reds in the summer.

Both sides made seven changes a piece from their weekend exploits in the Championship and that showed in an opening 20 minutes devoid of quality.

Hornets defender Wesley Hoedt, against his former club, and winger Matheus Martins had off-target efforts at one end, and Saints teenager Tyler Dibling dragged wide at the other as the rain swirled around St Mary’s.

The deluged pitch meant Saints’ usually slick passing was impacted, although midfielder Flynn Downes forced a tricky moment for Daniel Bachmann after slipping in behind.

The game livened up when Southampton goalkeeper Joe Lumley was left rooted as Ismael Kone’s long-range drive deflected up and skidded onto the cross bar.

Lumley was equal to Kone a little later when the Ivorian midfielder diverted Martins’ cross towards goal.

And at the other end, Bachmann’s feet improbably denied Adams from five yards in the 28th minute before Mara fired an effort wide from a corner.

The hosts continued to dominate the ball without much cutting edge, although Joe Rothwell swung a shot wide and Bachmann smothered at Will Smallbone’s feet.

Adams and Mara switched positions in the second half and it proved the perfect alteration seven minutes after the restart.

Adams, now on the left, diverted the ball through to the central Mara and the Frenchman sent Bachmann the wrong way to finish into the near post.

Adams reverted to the middle after the goal and controlled over his shoulder and then volleyed over the bar as Saints pushed for a second.

And it came six minutes after the first as Mara emphatically finished a counter-attack by thumping into the near post again, this time from outside the box.

Bachmann walked straight off following the goal, having felt his head in the first half and pointed to his eye as he was replaced by Ben Hamer.

Samuel Edozie came off the bench and should have firmly put the game to bed when brilliantly threaded through by Rothwell but he stumbled and eventually scuffed a shot straight at Hamer.

Adams finally got the goal his persistence deserved when he calmly diverted Rothwell’s sumptuous free-kick from the left flank past Hamer.

Mara curled a late effort wide but could not add the match ball as a reward for his sparkling performance, while Edozie and Sam Amo-Ameyaw both struck the post.

Southampton forward Sekou Mara’s quickfire second-half double in the 3-0 FA Cup replay victory over Watford booked a fifth-round trip to Liverpool.

The Championship high-fliers extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 24 matches when Che Adams teed up the 21-year-old Frenchman in the 52nd minute.

Mara, who had been linked with Sheffield United in the January transfer window after making just one league start this season, doubled his tally six minutes later with his fifth goal in nine appearances, before Adams wrapped things up 14 minutes from time.

Coventry coasted to a home tie against non-league Maidstone after three goals inside nine second-half minutes dispatched Championship rivals Sheffield Wednesday 4-1.

Kasey Palmer’s early opener for the hosts had been cancelled out by Bailey Cadamarteri’s 10th-minute equaliser but the game turned immediately after half-time as Callum O’Hare scored twice, with Haji Wright adding the fourth.

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut felt rest and recuperation was behind his side’s 1-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Bulut gave his squad an extended break from training last week and their extra energy proved vital in holding off a late Watford onslaught.

Josh Bowler’s superb 43rd-minute strike gave Cardiff a first win since New Year’s Day and moved them to within five points of the Championship play-off places.

Bulut said: “After a few weeks of not winning points we were disappointed, so the three days off that we gave the players refreshed our team.

“Everybody came back with a clear mind and an analysis about themselves and about what they need to do to play much better.

“I think the whole team did really good work today. When you do your job well as a team, it makes it easier.”

Bulut also credited the club’s greater strength in depth following the January transfer market.

The Welsh club brought in six players in the final two days of the transfer window, with David Turnbull and Josh Wilson-Esbrand coming on substitutes to see out the victory.

“In the past I also spoke about only having 16 players, but now at least we can make changes,” Burut said.

“Before, when we had a few injuries, we were fighting in matches, but sometimes even fighting in matches was not enough, not everything. Now it looks much better.

“We worked with the new players, but they still need to know our playing style better. In the coming days and weeks, the qualities of the players will show up much, much better. They will help us a lot in the next 17 games.”

Watford, who sit a point above Cardiff, have not won a league match at Vicarage Road since November 28 and have not scored a goal from open play in their past four games.

Manager Valerien Ismael said: “There’s a big frustration tonight. I have the feeling that over 90 minutes, we should win the game. Yes, our opponents were disciplined, but they had one shot on target and scored the goal.

“It’s painful to lose at home again because we want to give something to our fans. This is a setback for us because we need to use the home games to be strong. So today for me is a tough one to take.

“We said to the players at half-time. ‘You need to step up and believe in yourselves because I believe in you and we believe in you’.

“After the substitutions it was much better. We dominated the ball and we created chances, but in the final third it’s more about desire.

“We need to be nasty in the opponents’ box to get in front of defenders, to make sure you are always there.”

A stunning Josh Bowler strike two minutes before half-time gave Cardiff a 1-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Bowler held off one Watford player, cut inside another and sent a delightful curler beyond the outstretched hand of Ben Hamer and into the far corner.

The result means that in the past 14 meetings between these teams, only two have been won by the home side.

While Erol Bulut’s Cardiff looked assured throughout, Watford are beginning to look like a team lacking the attacking flair to force their way into the Championship play-off positions.

The match gathered momentum as the first half progressed. After a quiet opening 20 minutes, 19-year-old full-back Ryan Andrews almost sliced the perfect pass through the Cardiff defence only for Vakoun Bayo to be squeezed out of room.

At the other end, Bowler thudded a shot into the advertising hoardings in what was effectively a sighter for his fine strike later in the half.

Andrews then brought a full-length save out of Cardiff goalkeeper Jak Alnwick before Watford’s patient approach almost earned its reward in the 27th minute.

Ismael Kone sent in a diagonal cross which was headed back across the area by Jamal Lewis for Yaser Asprilla to force Alnwick into a save with his legs.

The impressive Andrews then took it upon himself to try and give his side the lead six minutes before the interval, opening up his body to attempt a driven lob over Alnwick, which the keeper managed to tip over the bar.

The opening goal arrived three minutes later with Bowler’s superb effort.

Cardiff had been largely passive in the first period, but they began the second forcing Watford back as they searched for a second goal.

Rubin Colwill was always ready to run at defenders, with one forcing a free-kick from which Perry Ng curled narrowly wide.

Watford, by contrast, had lost any first-half impetus. That was until a Lewis cross just before the hour was steered against the outside of the post by Kone.

Sensing the moment, Watford manager Valerien Ismael made a triple substitution and pressure increased on the Cardiff goal in the final half-hour.

Asprilla and substitute Emmanuel Dennis shot over the crossbar, Wesley Hoedt saw an effort deflected into the side netting while Tom Dele-Bashiru was denied by a flying Alnwick save.

A succession of goalmouth scrambles preceded the final whistle which was greeted by a chorus of boos from home supporters as Cardiff held on.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Danny Rohl vowed his team “will fight for everything” to stay in the Championship after their winless run reached three matches with a 0-0 home draw with Watford.

Rohl felt his team deserved to win a game which saw both teams hit the woodwork in the first period and Di’Shon Bernard denied a second-half opener by the impressive Watford goalkeeper Ben Hamer.

The Owls had 19 shots throughout the contest but failed to score against a Watford side who picked up their first clean sheet since November.

Rohl insists his team’s display was not one of a team five points adrift in the relegation zone.

He told a press conference: “We did well as a team but I believe if we do this in the next 17 games we will achieve our goals because this performance is not a performance from a relegation side.

“Of course we need some luck to win some games and the decisions today were not easy to take, but this is football.

“When I arrived the club had no belief, the club in trouble, no positive energy… whereas now my team goes into every game with the conviction we can take something.

“Everyone should be proud of what we have done since I arrived here. As long as I am the manager we will fight for everything.”

The Owls travel to fellow relegation battlers Huddersfield at the weekend and would move within two points of their Yorkshire rivals with victory.

Rohl admits it is an important match but does not think it will decide their fate.

“It’s a big game and we have to be ready for the fight,” he added.

“I also believe this game will not decide whether we stay in the league or not. It’s just another game with three points up for grabs. There is a lot in the game but after we have 16 games to go.”

Watford boss Valerien Ismael blamed the poor conditions as his side missed an opportunity to go within a point of the play-offs and drew for the fourth time in five league outings.

He said: “We will take the point, the pitch was awful and difficult to play football.

“We knew that before and prepared the guys but it was really bad. That’s why it was difficult for us to control the ball as usual and struggled a bit more than usual.

“Nonetheless we had some great chances in the first half to score but we were disciplined, calm and focused on our game.

“It was a tough away game but we finally have a clean sheet after two months and 15 games, but we take what we can get at the minute.”

Sheffield Wednesday’s winless run extended to three matches as they recorded a 0-0 draw at home to Watford in the Championship.

The Owls sit five points from safety after failing to take a number of chances at Hillsborough, while the visitors’ fourth draw in five league games left them three points off the play-off places.

Both sides looked eager to return to winning ways in an entertaining first period in which they each hit the woodwork, firstly the visitors through Matheus Martins before Ike Ugbo rattled the inside of the post for Wednesday.

The hosts went within inches of a breakthrough in the second half when Di’Shon Bernard was denied by Ben Hamer, but they could not find a winner.

Watford looked the more dangerous through the early stages down the right side and Vakoun Bayo’s deflected goal-bound effort tested the concentration of James Beadle.

The Yorkshire side settled into the contest and skipper Barry Bannan let rip with a rocket from 25 yards which was tipped behind by a diving Hamer.

Watford were denied an opener by the frame of the goal on the half-hour mark.

After Tom Dele-Bashiru was brought down just outside the box, Martins’ central free-kick deflected off the wall and Beadle could only watch on as the ball hit a post.

Watford were knocking on the door and should have taken the lead when Dele-Bashiru slipped through Bayo, he passed beyond the onrushing Beadle into the path of Martins who somehow hit the side-netting with an empty goal at his mercy.

It was Wednesday’s turn to strike the post just before the break when Ugbo rifled an effort on to the inside frame of the goal. Anthony Musaba could only guide his rebounded header into the grateful grasp of Hamer.

The chances continued in the second half and Watford went close when Ismael Kone drilled just wide of the target.

Wednesday’s decision making in defence allowed the visitors to put pressure on the goal and the Hornets came close once again when substitute Yaser Asprilla dispossessed Pol Valentin before firing straight at Beadle.

Wednesday thought they had finally opened the scoring midway through the second half. Bannan’s inswinging free-kick found Bernard at the back post who thought he nudged beyond Hamer, only for the Hornets keeper to stop the ball on the line at the second time of trying.

Bannan’s set-pieces were causing problems for the away side and the Owls captain delivered a floater on to the head of Michael Smith who diverted wide.

Wednesday continued to fight until the final whistle but Hamer was once again the saviour for Watford who magnificently kept out Musaba’s 20-yard strike which looked to be heading into the top corner.

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