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Sky Bet Championship

Riverside Stadium (ATT 18,957) 17th October 2009 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: S Mathieson

M'boro Middlesbrough vs Watford Watford

M'boro 0


Watford 1

T Cleverley (26)

Cleverley strike sinks Boro

Watford seal entertaining 1-0 win

Last Updated: 19/10/09 4:14pm

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Cleverley: Crucial goal

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.

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Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Middlesbrough 35 66
2 Derby County 35 65
3 Watford 35 65
4 Bournemouth 35 63
5 Norwich City 34 62
6 Brentford 35 61
7 Ipswich Town 34 60
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 35 57
9 Nottingham Forest 35 50
10 Sheffield Wednesday 34 46
11 Blackburn Rovers 34 45
12 Charlton Athletic 35 45
13 Cardiff City 35 44
14 Birmingham City 34 42
15 Huddersfield Town 35 42
16 Leeds United 34 41
17 Bolton Wanderers 35 41
18 Reading 35 41
19 Brighton and Hove Albion 35 40
20 Fulham 35 39
21 Rotherham United 35 37
22 Millwall 35 31
23 Wigan Athletic 34 28
24 Blackpool 34 22