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Watford and Sheffield Wednesday played out a scrappy goalless draw at Hillsborough with clear cut chances few and far between for both sides.
The Owls had the better of the first-half as the Hornets struggled to implement head coach Vladimir Ivic’s build from the back philosophy before a second period that saw Cameron Dawson make two key saves to keep the visitors out.
Ivic made one change to the team that beat Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season, with Glenn Murray replacing the unwell Kiko Femenia and Ken Sema dropping into the left-back position.
From the off, Watford did not look comfortable playing within their own half and mistakes from defenders invited some unnecessary pressure.
Josh Windass fired straight at Ben Foster from an acute angle after a loose pass from Craig Cathcart relinquished possession cheaply, while Jordan Rhodes volleyed over after Christian Kabasele’s weak header ended up at the feet of the striker.
Windass dragged wide from the edge of the area soon after as Wednesday continued to press while Kadeem Harris might have done better after picking Sema’s pocket, but instead curled over.
Watford looked ponderous on the ball and attempts to build from the back were easily broken down by the hosts. There was little surprise that, on 25 minutes when the Hornets finally created their first chance, it came from a long delivery over the top.
Cathcart’s hiked pass was initially nodded clear by a Wednesday defender, but only as far as Murray, lurking on the edge of the area. The striker fired straight at Dawson, who parried to the feet of Joao Pedro, but the Brazilian put the rebound wide from an offside position.
Wednesday then immediately had the visitors on the back foot and almost created the opening goal. Izzy Brown’s free-kick from the corner of the area landed on the head of Massimo Luongo, but the defender guided the ball well wide.
Shortly after, the home side had a half-hearted shout for a penalty waved away by referee Jarred Gillett as Windass tumbled under pressure from Kabasele in the box, fumbling his effort straight at Foster as a result.
One final opportunity went Wednesday’s way before the end of the first-half, with Rhodes nodding a free-kick onto the foot of the post.
After the break, it took quarter-of-an-hour for a chance of note to finally be created and it fell to Watford substitute Stipe Perica.
Some neat link up play between Nathaniel Chalobah and Joao Pedro saw the former burst into the box and float a cross to his right for the Croatian, but his headed effort lacked power and Dawson was able to palm it away to his left.
The Hornets had all-but snuffed out any of the attacking threat Wednesday posed in the first-half and looked most likely to score as the game wound towards its finish.
Dawson had to be alert again with 15 minutes remaining when Pedro created a chance for Tom Cleverley out of absolutely nothing with some wonderful skill, but the Watford skipper’s effort was turned away by the goalkeeper.
The final chance of the match went to Wednesday, but Brown’s header was well wide as he got on the end of Liam Palmer’s stoppage time cross.
Ivic can be happy with a point earned on the road, but there was plenty in the performance in need of work ahead of a difficult week with Newport County on Tuesday evening and then a home derby against Luton Town next weekend.
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