Watford bow out of the Championship with a win over Swansea

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Second-half goals from Andre Gray and Isaac Success saw Watford bow out of the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-0 win over promotion hopefuls Swansea.

Opportunities were in short supply at Vicarage Road, but Xisco Munoz saw his side improve after the break to close out the regular season with another success.

Meanwhile, Swansea will now hope to earn promotion to the Premier League and face Barnsley in the playoffs, with the first leg taking place at Oakwell on May 17.

 

Wattford made six changes from last weekend’s defeat to Brentford and Ben Foster was recalled for his first appearance since the two teams last met in January.

The former England international was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the early stages of the game. First Andre Ayew tested him from an acute angle before he was denied in the 19th minute.

With Swansea already assured of a playoff berth, coach Steve Cooper somewhat surprisingly fielded both Ayew and Chelsea loanee Marc Guehi from the start despite the pair only returning from thigh and groin injuries this week.

The home side, who had already been promoted last month and fielded a much-changed eleven, looked unfocused on the offensive end. After wasting a few promising situations, Philip Zinckernagel tried his luck with a long-range shot in the second half, but it missed the target.

 

A Ken Sema shot that just missed the goal was the highlight of the first 45 minutes, in which it remained goalless.

Five minutes into the second period, Liam Cullen should have equalized after a pass from Swans striker Jamal Lowe, but he shot just wide.

Shortly after, Lowe was involved again with a dangerous dribble down the pitch before inviting Jay Fulton into a chance, but it was deflected across goal.

That would prove crucial as the hosts took the lead in the 56th minute with their first shot on goal.

Gray initiated the move and finished with a wonderful pass to the left, where Sema delivered a tantalizing cross into the box that the Watford number 18 chest-poked home for his fifth goal of the season.

Swansea defender Guehi had a faint touch in the middle, leaving Gray unaware of the goal. However, it capped a great week for the striker after his fiancée Leigh-Anne Pinnock announced on Tuesday that she is pregnant with their first child.

Xisco brought on Will Hughes and Joao Pedro shortly after, while his counterpart Cooper took out some of his key players such as Ayew and Grimes with an eye on the play-offs.

 

 

Troy Deeney was substituted for goalscorer Gray with 18 minutes remaining in what could be the last appearance for Watford for both players as their futures are uncertain.

Wayne Routledge almost spoiled the Hornets’ farewell to the second division, but his low shot was deflected over by Christian Kabasele before the home side wrapped up the win with their second goal.

Freddie Woodman had made a brilliant save to stop Achraf Lazaar minutes earlier, but had no answer for Success, who scored in the 88th minute.

 

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