Watford missed out on automatic promotion after losing to Leeds in a game delayed by serious injury to keeper Jonathan Bond. Dominic Poleon put Leeds in front, but Almen Abdi levelled shortly after. Watford’s Troy Deeney then saw red for two bookable offences before news of a late Cardiff equaliser at Hull left the Hornets needing a goal to go up. But Ross McCormack scored Leeds’ winner with the help of a blunder by replacement keeper Jack Bonham.
The blood on the pitch told its own story, as did 16 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, and it was a dereliction of duty on the part of the referee, Graham Salisbury, that he did not send Poleon off. Overall Salisbury did not cover himself in glory, having earlier missed Michael Brown denying Jonathan Hogg a clear goalscoring opportunity when he tripped the Watford midfielder in the area.
“I thought at the end that we were going to make it,” admitted Zola, now compelled to lift his men ahead of the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Leicester on Thursday night. “There were 10 minutes to go and, although we had one player fewer, I believed we had the quality. I was taking a big gamble but we had to try.”
This ought to hurt. When you turn away and distract yourself with other things, it ought to be staring you straight in the face whenever you look back. It ought to make you want to punch the wall and throw things and find some really destructive gardening to do. If I take solace in anything – and I’m struggling – then it’s in the reaction of Jonathan Hogg, whose post-match lap of honour was so reluctant and desultory that it barely took him beyond the centre circle and never, not for a moment, involved looking at anything other than his own feet. Lap of honour? Bollocks to that.