On-loan striker Darren Huckerby eased the effect of David Johnson’s absence with a debut goal to earn Nottingham Forest a valuable point at Vicarage Road.
Watford excelled in the opening half, their bright display rewarded by Heidar Helguson’s header, but played with a lethargy thereafter that left their manager Ray Lewington suspecting some minds were already drifting to Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Burnley.
The game took a bizarre twist three minutes after the restart when the linesman, on the Main Stand side, went down injured, and the unfortunate official became the third assistant to have to be replaced during a Watford game this season.
BSAD report: Really, the first half performance was as good as anything that we’ve produced under Ray Lewington. We were apparently oblivious to whatever Forest had planned for us, forcing the game to submit to the force of our will instead. The visitors’ passing game was thoroughly wrecked by relentless pressing in every part of the pitch, a huge effort that seemed to spread from Allan Nielsen and Heidar Helguson to every player in the side – it would be very hard to imagine forty-five minutes that contrasted more strongly with the lazy, flabby football of last year.