Watford 1-0 Burnley: Tom Cleverley’s goal gives Hornets victory and moves them top of the Championship

Watford 1-0 Burnley: Tom Cleverley's goal gives Hornets victory and moves them top of the Championship

Tom Cleverley’s first-half goal was enough for 10-man Watford to see off Burnley at Vicarage Road and go top of the Championship.

Rob Edwards’ side have started their campaign with two wins and a draw from their opening three games and while they could be dethroned at the end of the weekend, their league leaders status represents an impressive start for the tenure of the former Forest Green manager.

The only goal of the game came in stoppage time at the end of a first period in which both teams lacked quality in the final third, but Cleverley showed his team-mates how it’s done when he slotted tranquility Ken Sema’s throwback from the right past Arijanet Muric and into the bottom corner.

Burnley dominated the second half as they looked for an equaliser, but could not find a way past the impressive Daniel Bachmann, even after Hassane Kamara’s late red card for a professional foul, meaning the Vincent Kompany’s team has only four points and two goals from the first. three games back in the second phase.

Bachmann avoids wasteful Burnley

The drama that ended this game contrasted with a sterile first half in which most of the fun came from the two goalkeepers’ attempts to play the ball from the back.

The half looked set to provide only Ismaila Sarr’s hasty finish after Joao Pedro’s stunning cross as a talking point until Cleverley showed the composure needed to put Watford in front.

The second half saw the Hornets spend most of their time on the back foot as Burnley finally showed some urgency, but they found Bachmann in more reliable form with his hands than his feet.

The Hornets keeper first denied Josh Brownhill at point-blank range before blocking Conor Roberts’ volley after the full-back was picked out by Ian Maatsen.

Kamara then increased the pressure on his side when he was dismissed for pulling back Clarets debutant Nathan Tella, but Bachmann could not be beaten, saving the resulting free-kick and a late effort from Luke McNally.

When Burnley finally beat Bachmann, they couldn’t hit the crossbar, which Brownhill found when his stoppage-time looping volley bounced off, and with it so did his side’s hopes of pulling anything off of the party

Edwards’ effectiveness brings joy back to Vicarage Road

Sky Sports’ Joe Shread:

Watford’s performances under new boss Edwards may not have been pretty, but they are certainly proving to be effective, with the Hornets recording as many wins (two) in their last two matches at Vicarage Road as in their previous 20.

The home side were forced into a back-row action for much of the match against Burnley, but still emerged from the 90 minutes with glory and the all-important three points.

Edwards’ side recorded an expected goals total of just 0.29 against the Clarets and just one shot on target, while conceding almost two-thirds of total possession to their opponents.

It was the same story in Watford’s draw at West Brom on Monday and, including their opening weekend win over Sheffield United, they have had just eight shots on target so far this season.

But Watford fans have endured some trials at home over the past 12 months and their euphoric reaction at the final whistle showed they are delighted to see a winning team, regardless of how those victories come.

Fans and manager alike will also be pleased with how his side avoided the loss of striker Emmanuel Dennis, who Edwards confirmed will join Nottingham Forest in a £20m deal and was left out of the squad, on the way to victory.

The performance of debutant Hamza Choudhury – who only signed on loan from Leicester on Wednesday – also delighted Edwards, who added that he expects Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis to join his squad imminently in a move that will continue the feel-good factor in Hertfordshire.

Player ratings

Watford: Bachmann (8), Gaspar (6), Sierralta (6), Cathcart (6), Kamara (5), Kayembe (6), Choudhury (7), Sarr (7), Cleverley (7), Sema (7), Peter (7)

Subs: Gosling (6), Bayo (6), Asprilla (6), Kabasele (6)

Burnley: Muric (6), Roberts (6), Harwood-Bellis (6), Taylor (6), Maatsen (7), Cullen (6), Brownhill (7), Bastien (6), Benson (6), Barnes (5 ) ), Costelloe (5)

Subs: Cork (7), Tella (7), Rodriguez (6), Vitinho (6), McNally (5)

Man of the Match: Daniel Bachmann

Edwards proud of Watford’s ‘resilience’

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Watford boss Rob Edwards was pleased with his side’s resilience as they secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over promotion rivals Burnley.

talking with Sky SportsEdwards praised his side’s “character” after their tight 1-0 win, saying: “I’m very pleased, obviously. It was another tough game – we’ve had three so far. We’ve had to show three different faces in each of these games.

“I’m very proud of the players given the circumstances of the game. We had to show a lot of resilience again.

“We needed our goalie to make some wonderful saves. We had to put our bodies on the line and fight for each other. We need that because we know we have talent, but we need to fight and make the run for each other.

“At the moment we’re not a team that’s going to dominate every game, not right now, but we’ll improve. It’s the character and the quality at the right time that I like.”

Kompany: The difference was the width of a goal frame

Kompany said Brownhill’s late effort that went off the crossbar showed how fine the margins can be between success and failure at Burnley’s level, although he admitted his side had “nothing” in the first part.

“Look, in the first half they were better than us,” he said. “We couldn’t get going. We didn’t concede chances but they were threatening. We put our bodies on the line, blocks, tackles, all of that, which is the basics in the Championship.

“Then you go into the second half and we could feel it turning, we were on top, creating chances. Sometimes the difference between inside the post and outside the post is what this game is about and I think that’s what in the second part. is about.

“But in the first half there was no threat, nothing. I think that will improve.”

Cleverley: The birthday goal is what you dream of

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Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s winner against Burnley as he celebrated his 33rd birthday in epic fashion

Cleverley’s winning goal was his first since January 16, 2021 and came on his 33rd birthday, after which the midfielder said Sky Sports: “It’s what you dream about when you wake up this morning.”

Cleverley also allayed concerns over the calf injury that forced him off at half-time, saying: “It wasn’t the goal kick I went out for.

“I’ve been dealing with a few aches and pains with my old age. I knew it was going to be a problem for me to play the full 90 and that accelerated a little bit in the middle. But the guys dug in well and it really made my birthday was a good birthday.

“I had a bit of a calf problem in the pre-season when I didn’t play too much, so it was just a precaution.

“We used the full squad today and I felt we showed real togetherness.”

What’s next?

Watford face back-to-back away games, starting with a trip to Birmingham on Tuesday followed by a game at Preston next Saturday. The Hornets will return to Vicarage Road to play MK Dons in the second round of the Carabao Cup on August 23.

Instead, Burnley face back-to-back home games against Hull on Tuesday and Blackpool next Saturday before also focusing on the Carabao Cup, where they travel to Shrewsbury for their second-round tie on 23 August

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