Cleverley strike sinks Boro
Watford seal entertaining 1-0 win
Last Updated: 19/10/09 4:14pm
Cleverley: Crucial goal
Watford claimed their first win at the Riverside Stadium thanks to a fine finish from Tom Cleverley.
The midfielder coolly slotted home in the 26th minute to put the Hornets in command and they held on despite an impressive rally from Middlesbrough.
Boro will feel hard done by not to have at least claimed a share of the spoils after Sean St Ledger had a second-half effort disallowed for pushing and Tony McMahon was denied by the woodwork.
Henri Lansbury shot wide from 25 yards inside six minutes as Watford looked to take advantage of Middlesbrough's erratic home form of late, while Adam Johnson - who was on loan at Vicarage Road during the 2007/08 season - looked bright for the hosts in the opening exchanges.
It was Danny Graham, though, who returned to haunt his old club as the former Boro trainee set up Cleverley's opener as the Hornets surged ahead after 26 minutes.
Graham made progress down the right wing before a simple pass allowed Cleverley to dispatch a crisp, low drive past Brad Jones from just inside the penalty area.
The on-loan Manchester United midfielder has now scored five times since dropping down to the Championship in search of regular first-team football, and how the 20-year-old is flourishing away from Old Trafford.
Mark Yeates and Gary O'Neil then both went close as Boro looked to hit back straight away before the interval and Scott Loach scrambled away Leroy Lita's goal-bound header on the stroke of half-time.
Boro continued to put pressure on Loach straight after the restart as he saved well to deny Didier Digard, while Lita had a header hacked clear by Craig Cathcart.
Watford's goal was living a charmed life and Boro fans and players alike thought they had equalised after 54 minutes when St Ledger headed home a Yeates corner from close range.
But the home side's joy was cut short as St Ledger - on loan from Preston - was adjudged to have pushed a Watford defender shortly before rising to meet Yeates' centre.
Undeterred, Boro surged forward again and McMahon struck the post with a rasping 25-yard drive moments later.
The Hornets were then dealt a blow when Cleverley departed injured and Nathan Ellington was introduced just after the hour.
Johnson tried his luck from distance, but failed to trouble Loach, who had to be alert to keep out Lita's overhead kick 21 minutes from time.
Ellington spurned a couple of chances and McMahon was denied by Loach as the game flowed from end to end.
Jeremie Aliadiere saw his ambitious overhead kick crash wide late on, while Graham also went close from distance.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 17th Oct
Scunthorpe3 - 1Sheff Utd
Cardiff1 - 1C Palace
M'boro0 - 1Watford
Sheff Wed2 - 0Coventry
Bristol C1 - 1Peterboro
Leicester0 - 0Derby
Blackpool2 - 0Plymouth
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QPR4 - 0Preston
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