Hull boss Liam Rosenior saw Daniel Bachmann dent the Tigers’ play-off hopes – then heaped praise on the Watford keeper after the 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road.

Bachmann saved Ozan Tufan’s 11th-minute penalty to rob City of vital points in their push for the top six.

Rosenior spared Tufan any criticism for the miss, insisting Bachmann deserved all the credit for keeping City at bay.

The manager said: “Their keeper was magnificent. You just have to hold your hands up. There was the penalty stop and three or four other world-class saves.

“But no blame on Ozan. He’s been brilliant all season. He’s brave and he will take the next penalty.

“I was pleased with the response of the whole group after that. We never gave up until the final whistle. I can’t fault this group – I’m so proud of them.

“The players worked themselves into the ground and never gave up. They’re a credit to this club and a credit to the shirt.”

Hull continue their quest for the top six on Wednesday away to FA Cup semi-finalists Coventry.

They lie six points behind sixth-placed Norwich having played a game less and Rosenior added: “Norwich dropped points today and they will be as flat as we are.”

Turkish forward Tufan, rejected by Watford in 2022 after a loan spell, faced a barrage of abuse as he prepared to take the kick in front of the home end.

Watford’s defenders also encroached as they complained that the ball was not on the spot.

But Austrian stopper Bachmann remained calm and dived low to his left to save.

Watford interim boss Tom Cleverley, beaten just once in his seven games in charge, restored Bachmann to the team when he took over last month.

He said: “I don’t know how much homework has gone into that or whether Dan dived into the archives of penalties against us, but it was a fantastic save.

“He showed his real worth today. I knew his worth from playing alongside him for all those years – not only on the pitch but in the dressing room.

“He’s massive for me. He’s come in for some unfair criticism but we have full belief in him and we know how important he is to the squad.”

But Cleverley was not happy with a Watford performance that saw the Hornets fail to get a shot on target in the first 60 minutes.

They have not won at home in the league since November 28 – 12 matches – and Cleverley said: “We were flat for an hour. We need to make things happen, not wait for them to happen.

“I must change the mentality. From the first minute we must grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

“But we’ve played five of the top seven and we’ve made them all work hard to get points off us.”

Ryan Lowe believes the point his Preston side gained in a 0-0 draw against Watford at Vicarage Road could still be a valuable one in securing a Sky Bet Championship play-off spot.

Lowe said: “We got a valuable point which hopefully will help us but I thought we did enough to win the game.

“At this stage of the season you need three points. We came here to win and had some great chances but we just didn’t have that clinical edge at the top edge of the pitch today.

“We had to make it a bit dogged because Watford have got some Premier League quality players. We had a goal threat, but just couldn’t put it in the back of the net.

“It’s been difficult all season, it’s not just now. All we have tried to do is stay in the top half of the division as long as we can.”

Lowe had a word of sympathy for central defender Richard Hughes, who missed Preston’s most glaring opportunity just before half-time when he skewed his shot so badly it almost went out for a throw-in.

Lowe added: “I’ve seen him score them in training, but in fairness he’s the left-sided centre-half and we have players who are more capable of putting the ball in the back of the net than he is. He was in the right area and on another day he would put it in.

“We had a discussion about it as we were coming off the pitch. He said: ‘I’ll be thinking about that chance.’ I don’t want that, though, because you can’t turn the clock back, can you?”

While Lowe and Preston continue to eye the play-offs with home fixtures to come this week against Huddersfield and Norwich – the club currently occupying the final play-off position – he is aware that other, larger Championship clubs are still involved in the relegation battle.

He explained: “It says a lot about where the club is that we are still looking up. For us, Preston North End, to still be in the mix with six games to try and get in the play-offs is a massive achievement.

“We’ve got two massive games coming up this week. And we’ve got an opportunity to get six points because we’re playing at home.”

For Watford, whose four-match unbeaten run under interim manager Tom Cleverley now appears to have secured their Championship status, it is all about next season.

He has impressed since taking over from Valerien Ismael but is mindful that Watford’s winless run at Vicarage Road now stretches to 11 league games.

Cleverley said: “No, I don’t take the result in the end. It’s not where I want us to be. That’s the honest answer.

“I would much rather three wins and one defeat than what we’ve got in these four games.

“We have to try and find the balance of going for the winner and not risking the loss.

“Maybe we were a bit conservative today. It’s about finding that balance in the team.

“I was a bit concerned thought we lacked that little bit of killer edge around the box. But the game just never really got any rhythm and we just could not sustain the pressure on them.

“We just didn’t have the answers to break them down so we will analyse that. It’s not a question of quality if you look at the players we had out there.

“It’s a question of mentality to keep banging on that door and having that ruthless edge. We have to make it happen because we still didn’t get that first home win of the year.

“The one thing I have felt is that the belief (is) coming back. We’re fearless now.”

Cleverley admitted that, although he feels comfortable in the dugout, becoming a manager was not in his thoughts when he first arrived at Watford as a teenager on loan from Manchester United.

He added: “Yes, I feel comfortable. I’ve got a lot of belief in myself.

“It’s not something that was on the horizon until I came back to the club as a 27-year-old, when I thought I had a role to play in developing and helping players.”

Coventry manager Mark Robins was a relieved man after his side came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 with two Haji Wright goals at Vicarage Road.

Robins admitted he considered making changes in the first half, such was the disjointed nature of his side’s display.

But Wright’s penalty in the 40th minute cancelled out Ryan Porteous’ headed opener before the United States international completed the turnaround.

Robins said: “Watford played well in the second half the other night and carried that on. They have got some really talented individuals with a lot of pace and power who can hurt you. Thankfully they didn’t.

“But I thought we were poor in the first half. We didn’t start well enough. We didn’t have enough of the ball and then they scored out of nothing when we didn’t really compete for the header.

“Their goalkeeper bringing down Josh Eccles for the penalty gave us a lifeline. I was contemplating making changes before half-time before that because there were too many times when they had two-v-ones.

“The second half followed a similar pattern, except we were a little bit better. Then we scored with the best bit of play in the game.

“Haji has the confidence to take on that shot and thankfully he found the corner of the net.”

Robins acknowledged his team’s FA Cup quarter-final away at Wolves next Saturday made victory imperative in order to keep pace with their play-off rivals. Coventry now have a 20-day hiatus between Championship fixtures.

Robins added: “I’m delighted with the three points at this stage of the season. That’s what it’s all about.

“The Championship is so much better this season with the quality it has, so your levels have to be higher to get anything from games.

“Three points was a must today and I’m grateful that we got them. We’ve got the FA Cup next week while other teams play, so you have to think that they’ll pull away a bit and we will have to play catch-up after the international break.”

For Watford manager Valerien Ismael, the frustration at another home defeat was obvious. His side’s last league victory at Vicarage Road was on November 28.

Ismael said: “Finally we started strong in a home game and we continued from the second half against Swansea. We took the decision to have a mobile midfield again and had a great start with lots of chances.

“We should have scored a second goal, but then from nowhere they got the penalty. In the second half we continued to push, but they scored from their only shot on target, so it’s a real pity today.

“But we saw good energy and good dynamic on the pitch to change the way things are going at the minute.

“We had some crosses too high, some crosses too low, some crosses blocked, but at least we tried and our game was back.

“We didn’t see anything from Coventry today. It was just one of those days when things run against you.

“We kept pushing and we were dangerous, but when things don’t go your way, you start to think too much again. We know that we can compete, but it is about confidence, too.”

Haji Wright scored twice as Coventry came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road.

The FA Cup quarter-finalists do not play another Championship fixture until March 29 and needed the three points to remain in the Championship play-off picture.

United States international Wright converted a 40th-minute penalty to cancel out Ryan Porteous’ headed opener and then struck a composed 72nd-minute winner from the edge of the area.

The result was harsh on Watford, whose vibrant and energetic display belied their recent poor run of form.

Valerien Ismael’s side have now won just one of their past 10 league games and are in danger of being sucked into the increasingly-congested relegation battle.

Watford began positively, with an Edo Kayembe shot through the legs of a Coventry defender that was tipped away by the outstretched left hand of Brad Collins.

After Ismael Kone had pushed another effort just wide, the home side took the lead in straightforward fashion after 20 minutes.

A Ryan Andrews long throw found the head of Porteous, whose flick dropped over Collins and into the far corner.

At the other end, Wright took advantage of two Watford players running into each other, but he could only find the midriff of Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann with his shot.

Having been outplayed for most of the half and looking disjointed, Coventry suddenly drew level.

Josh Eccles received a short pass from Ellis Simms before beating Porteous and then having his legs taken away by Bachmann, who had come rushing rashly out of his goal. Wright struck his spot-kick firmly into the corner.

The equaliser meant Watford extended their remarkable record of leading at half-time on just two occasions this season, the fewest of any club in England’s top four divisions.

With an FA Cup quarter-final at Wolves next weekend giving them a 20-day league hiatus, this felt like a match Mark Robins’ side needed to win.

Instead, it was Watford who continued to create the clearer opportunities, with another Kone shot followed by a Wesley Hoedt header that was held by Collins.

The Coventry keeper then stood firm at the near post to stop a strike from the impressive Yaser Asprilla.

But, just as they had in the opening period, Coventry conjured up a goal out of nothing.

Eccles played in Wright on the edge of the area and his shot was low and true into the bottom corner for his 13th league goal of the season.

Watford continued to press but lacked the ability to carve out any clear-cut openings before the final whistle that was greeted by boos from those home fans who remained inside Vicarage Road.

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.”

Valerien Ismael hailed a “great performance” after his Watford side heaped further misery on struggling Rotherham with a 5-0 thumping at Vicarage Road.

Watford endured a tricky start to the campaign, but are now six games unbeaten and charging up the Sky Bet Championship table after their biggest victory of the season.

Despite just six places separating the two sides heading into the game, the gulf in class was evident throughout, with Mileta Rajovic scoring twice before second-half goals from Edo Kayembe, Tom Ince and Matheus Martins.

“We came out of the challenge of losing three games very well,” said Ismael. “I think now we have built something strong.

“We need to recover because the next massive block will come in the big December games. But now we feel more ready.

“We know the players better and what type of players we need for each game. It was a learning process, but we feel we are moving in the right direction. Now the results show up.

“With the feeling we’ve had from the beginning that we are on the right path and now the results are showing, it will help to build our confidence.”

Watford’s two first-half goals came in near-identical fashion, with Ken Sema providing perfect deliveries from the left flank for Rajovic to finish inside the six-yard box.

Kayembe added the third after 54 minutes, turning his defender after Ryan Porteous had driven at the Rotherham defence.

Substitutes Ince and Martins then completed the rout late on with the visitors paying the price for making all of their changes and playing the final 10 minutes a man down after Cafu added to their long injury list.

“The first two goals were exactly what we wanted, to come around the block of the defender,” said Ismael. “We have to cross more, to shoot more, to force the opponent to defend more, just to keep the pressure on.

“Today was a team performance because the bench, the players who came in, gave us another breath and got their reward. Another clean sheet and five goals, a great performance.”

Defeat leaves Rotherham four points adrift of safety and without a win on the road for more than a year – a run that stretched to 21 league games.

Already battling a lengthy list of absentees, they lost Cafu, Daniel Ayala and Sam Clucas to worrying hamstring injuries.

“It’s a painful result, but the end is even more painful,” said Rotherham manager Matt Taylor. “The result is a big blow, but to lose three players of that calibre, for a team like Rotherham, is massive for us.

“I didn’t think there was much in the first half, but the game was past us before we could do anything about it.

“We’ve not trained since Tuesday so people can’t say we’re working them too hard. This league, to a team like Rotherham with our personnel, really highlights our weaknesses.”

On his side’s dreadful away record, he added: “We’ve not been good enough away from home. Last season we ground out enough points for survival. I didn’t see enough of that grind and stubbornness today.

“It’s tough at the moment. If you get anything away from home for Rotherham United you’ve done really well.

“Our fans can sing and shout whatever they want – I totally understand that because when you’re getting beaten every away trip. Why should you spend your hard-earned money to watch us?”

A resurgent Watford continued their march up the Sky Bet Championship table with Mileta Rajovic’s double helping the hosts heap further misery on Rotherham with a 5-0 thumping at Vicarage Road.

Valerien Ismael’s side endured a difficult start to the campaign, but are now six games unbeaten and eyeing up the top half after their biggest victory of the season.

Despite just six places separating the two sides heading into the game, the gulf in class was evident throughout as Rajovic’s brace and second-half goals for Edo Kayembe, Tom Ince and Matheus Martins proving no more than the hosts’ domination deserved.

Injury and illness had forced Ismael into three of five changes made from the goalless draw at Huddersfield, including a first league start this season for goalkeeper Ben Hamer after regular shotstopper Daniel Bachmann was ruled out due to a concussion in training.

Rotherham manager Matt Taylor opted for a rare two-man frontline in an unsuccessful bid for elusive goals.

Starting the day four points adrift of safety and without a win on the road for more than a year, Rotherham’s hopes were dealt a blow after just 10 minutes when Watford scored with their first shot on target.

Ken Sema provided the perfect delivery, whipped from the left flank across the six-yard box, where Rajovic was able to burst through the defence and turn past the helpless Viktor Johansson.

Having offered little attacking threat, the visitors were forced into a change in the 33rd minute when Cafu replaced the injured Sam Clucas. The Portuguese midfielder immediately went closer than any of his team=mates had managed, smashing a 25-yard free-kick with his first touch of the ball which Hamer beat away.

In the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, the same Watford combination that made the opening goal struck again. Sema outmuscled his defender, turned on the afterburners and squared in almost identical fashion to the opener, with Rajovic tucking home from close range.

Watford added their third in the 54th minute when Ryan Porteous drove at the Rotherham defence and played the ball to Kayembe. The Democratic Republic of the Congo midfielder’s expert right-foot control allowed him to turn his marker before firing home with his left.

With all of their substitutes used, Rotherham were forced to play the final 10 minutes a man down after Cafu went off injured, allowing Watford to add two more to the scoreline.

Substitute Ince provided the fourth goal after Ryan Andrews broke rapidly down the right and eluded two Rotherham defenders with his assist.

Martins then wrapped up proceedings in the fourth minute of stoppage time, drilling home after Rhys Healey had turned his defender to work some space on the edge of the Rotherham box.

Watford manager Valerien Ismael believes Mileta Rajovic’s injury-time header in a 2-2 draw with Millwall at Vicarage Road could prove a key moment in his side’s season.

Ismael said: “The morale, the mentality we showed again tonight was something great. It has been a good week for us with two wins, one draw.

“For sure you want more, but we are showing the mentality of a team that supports each other. At the end of the season, maybe we will talk about this day being a massive point for us.

“The Championship is a long run and these are all the values you need, either to win games or at least not to lose, to stay in the game. We made it perfectly this afternoon.

“For sure we are at home and you want to win the game, but our fans pushed us until the very end and gave us the belief we needed. They believed that something can happen. The team needed that.

“The feeling was there from the crowd and it lifted the players. We showed that we are able to score at any time in the game. We’ve got the squad – we are fit and we believe in ourselves.

“In this league anyone can beat anyone so you need the mentality, the desire, togetherness and belief from the beginning. Then you just need the structure and some quality to make the difference.

“We keep improving. I see the positive side from our work and we are coming. The stability is back in our squad.”

Ismael also hailed the impact of his substitutes Imran Louza and Rhys Healey.

Louza supplied the cross for Rajovic to head home, but Rhys Healey had earlier headed Jake Cooper’ s goalbound effort up and against his own bar with Millwall holding a 2-1 lead.

Ismael added: “I was pleased to see the mentality of the players and the impact from the bench. Louza made the assist, Rajovic scored the goal, but just before that Rhys Healey made a massive save. This is why I’m pleased.

“For the first 60 minutes we were excellent, but then we lost control and the game became hectic.

“Millwall put us exactly where they wanted to put us. Our build-up wasn’t as clinical and our clearances were sloppy.

“Short clearances, another throw-in, another free-kick and they started to build momentum and it was difficult to take control. But at the end we showed with the quality we’ve got we can score at any time.”

Millwall conceded an early goal from Yaser Asprilla only for Zian Flemming to equalise before Wes Harding’s 85th-minute header appeared to have won it for the visitors.

It was the central defender’s second goal in as many games.

Caretaker Millwall manager Adam Barrett said: “I’m delighted for Wes. He’s a great pro. He has come into the group in recent weeks and is a bit of a leader.

“It was nice to see someone attacking that ball with real intent. Hopefully. there is more to come from him. He’s really stepped up.

“I’m definitely disappointed after we got ourselves in a wonderful position there to go 3-1 up with Jake’s header and somehow the ball stayed out.

“Obviously at the end, there, it’s a real sickener to take. I was very disappointed to see their goal go in the back of the net. It was a kick in the teeth.

“We have a good bond in there. We just need to be a little bit braver. You can see it in spells. There’s been a lot of upheaval in the club in the last week or so, but the boys have stuck together.

“It would have been nice to take the confidence from a win into next week on the training pitch.”

Barrett admitted he has heard nothing about the managerial situation at The Den.

He said: “No, I haven’t heard anything. I’ve just about had some sleep in the past seven days. It’s been a hectic week and as far as I know I’m coming on Monday as normal.”

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick praised local boy Josh Coburn after the 20-year-old scored his side’s winning goal in the 3-2 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Coburn, who almost moved away from the Riverside to Plymouth on loan during the transfer window, scored the winner as Boro made it back-to-back victories following a seven-game winless run to begin the Championship season.

Carrick said: “I’m delighted for Josh. It was a big goal for him. Being a local lad coming through, it’s great and what he’s dreamt of for a long time.

“His performance this week has been really good for what he’s given the team and how he’s stepped up. He’s improving all the time so it’s really encouraging.”

Riley McGree’s double put Boro 2-0 up after 12 minutes but they were pegged back to 2-2 before Coburn secured a second successive victory.

Carrick added: “It was a very good win. A bit of all sorts in there. We started well and then let them back into it out of nowhere.

“But we managed to find a way. Being 2-2 after going 2-0 up and still winning shows a lot of character and a lot of heart. I thought we dug in well after half-time. It’s not easy when you start the game so well and then lose the flow.

“It’s been a big week in terms of results. Winning games does give you extra zip, extra energy and a little bit of confidence.

“I did feel it was coming. We’ve probably played better in games and lost this season. It just shows that you’ve got top go through that spell and earn it really, to come out on top.”

One worrying note for Boro was an injury to midfielder Lewis O’Brien which Carrick admitted may be serious.

He said: “We are fearing the worst for Lewis. We’ll have to wait for scans on the bottom of his shin bone, but it doesn’t look good and he could be out for a bit of time.”

Watford manager Valerien Ismael blamed himself for his side’s defeat and for a tactical change that led to Middlesbrough’s early two-goal lead.

McGree took advantage of too much space in the home defence to side-foot home passes on both occasions.

Vakoun Bayo raced clear to reduce the Watford arrears before Wesley Hoedt equalised with an outrageous half-volley after 51 minutes.

Ismael said: “I’m not very happy with myself. Today is on me, the first half, because we tried to change the shape and tactically.

“It didn’t work out like I expected, especially when the opponents score goals quickly. Then the confidence goes low. I cannot blame the players.

“Out of possession was difficult today and we struggled to control the midfield due to my decision.

“We came back but if you start the game two down, it takes a lot of energy to come back into the game. I made the wrong call in the first half. It was my responsibility and I’m frustrated with myself.

“We are still seeking the flow you get when everything goes in the right direction. It’s a process we need to go through, but it’s clear that we are conceding too many goals at the minute.

“The good thing is that are creating a lot of chances and scoring. We have to find the right balance now.

“We are on a difficult run, but the good thing is that the next game is on Wednesday.”

Watford travel to Sunderland on Wednesday with Ismael admitting that he needs to turn his side’s confidence around.

He added: “We want to win games and when you don’t, it’s painful and frustrating. It’s always the same in the Championship. The games come quickly.

“When you win games, you’ve got momentum and you enjoy the next game. When you don’t, the confidence isn’t that high and the next game becomes difficult.

“But it’s only September so there’s still a long way to go, but I don’t have the feeling that we are powerless or that we have no idea.”

An entertaining goalless draw between Watford and Plymouth at Vicarage Road ultimately left both sides frustrated at a spurned opportunity to head the early Sky Bet Championship table.

While the visitors could at least take an unbeaten start to their first second-tier campaign in 14 seasons back with them to Devon, there was scant consolation for Watford who managed to hit the target with just three of their 20 goal attempts.

There was little wrong with the attacking ambition of Valerien Ismael’s side, yet for all their dominance, they were thwarted by both their own profligacy and defiant Plymouth defending.

Having taken the lead in their opening fixture against QPR after just 33 seconds, Watford went in search of an early goal again. With just over seven minutes gone, Matheus Martins clipped over a cross which fell invitingly for Vakoun Bayo to strike on the swivel. His volley missed the post by inches.

Imran Louza went even closer in the 12th minute with a curling left-footed shot, which struck the outside of the Argyle post.

In reply, Morgan Whittaker had a shot deflected wide. A sloppy clearance by Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann then almost let in the visitors before Ryan Porteous timed his tackle brilliantly on Ryan Hardie.

Bachmann’s carelessness did not stop there as he dallied on the ball and was almost embarrassed by a Hardie block, falling on the ball just in time.

For all Watford’s dominance of possession, the visitors always looked menacing on the break with Hardie finding space and testing Bachmann low down as half-time approached.

Plymouth were entertaining travellers during last season’s League One title-winning campaign, a testimony to manager Steven Schumacher’s attacking principles which brought Argyle 11 wins away from Home Park.

That openness went largely unpunished in League One, but they were frequently caught out at Vicarage Road. Both Ryan Andrews and Ken Sema ought to have put Watford ahead with shots just before half-time.

An intricate Plymouth interchange after 53 minutes ended with Hardie slipping in Adam Randell, whose shot was blocked superbly by the onrushing Bachmann.

Watford manager Valerien Ismael’s immediate response was to make a quadruple substitution three minutes later.

The home side’s pressure intensified with Andrews forcing Conor Hazard into a save low down by his post.

As hard as they pressed for the opening goal, it took until the 83rd minute for Watford to fashion a clear chance, but when it fell to Bayo running straight at Plymouth keeper Hazard, the striker wastefully struck his low shot wide.

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