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Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 1 Watford 5

16 December 2023

Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 1 Watford 5

16 December 2023

Four second-half goals from Watford saw Preston North End beaten 5-1 at Deepdale.

In a first half packed with chances, Will Keane put North End ahead with a clever flick beyond the goalkeeper, but Vakoun Bayo scored late in the half to level.

Second-half strikes from Matheus Martin, Edo Kayembe, Ismaël Koné and a second of the day for Bayo condemned PNE to a heavy defeat.

Ryan Lowe opted to make two changes to the side which won 3-1 at Huddersfield Town during the week, with Ali McCann and Milutin Osmajić coming in to start.

After Koné fired over for Watford in the very early stages, Jordan Storey couldn’t have done much more six minutes in, but goalkeeper Ben Hamer came up with a remarkable stop to somehow prevent the defender’s powerful header going in.

Hamer then came up with another big double save in the 13th minute to deny Potts at the end of what was a superb team move.

There was a huge let off for North End shortly after as Ken Sema’s corner landed with Wesley Hoedt just a matter of inches from the goal-line, but he headed wide and Deepdale breathed a sigh of relief.

It then looked even more likely that Watford would take the lead two minutes later when Vakoun Bayo rounded Freddie Woodman and looked like he had a tap-in. That was until Jack Whatmough came charging back and astoundingly cleared off the line.

From that point, PNE started to create a flurry of chances, with Osmajić and Keane among those trying their luck, while Millar saw an audacious long-range strike tipped wide.

Keane would have been frustrated with a tame effort he had saved in the 26th minute, but that disappointment didn’t last long as, in the next attack, the lively Millar beat Tom Dele-Bashiru and cut back for the striker, who cheekily flicked into the back of the net to finally break the deadlock.


That was North End’s eighth shot on target in a thrilling opening half hour, however it was the visitors next on the scoresheet three minutes before the break through Bayo, who headed Hoedt’s inviting cross into the bottom corner.

It was a half which could have produced plenty more goals, although it took just 17 seconds after the break for the next to arrive, as the Hornets broke quickly through Martins, and the winger slotted past Woodman.

Potts had a golden chance to draw PNE back level in the 51st minute after more sublime skill from Millar on the left, but his close-range effort was blocked by ‘keeper Hamer.

Instead, it was Watford who scored again just moments later as Kayembe drilled home from 20 yards.

Four North End changes followed and one of those – Robbie Brady – found Osmajić in the 69th minute, and the Montenegrin flicked a header just wide.

Two minutes on, Watford made it four as Kayembe slotted a pass through the PNE defence for Bayo to finish off, before Koné made it five in the 77th minute.

Robbie Brady almost got one back in the sixth minute of added-time via a 25-yard free-kick, but Hamer's tip wide brought about the final whistle.

PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Whatmough (Holmes, 59), Lindsay; Potts (Hughes, 58), McCann, Whiteman (Brady, 59), Browne, Millar; Osmajić, Keane (Evans, 59). Subs not used: Cornell, Frøkjær, Ledson, Woodburn, Best.

Watford line-up: Hamer; Dele-Bashiru (Porteous, 67), Sierralta, Hoedt, Lewis; Livermore; Martins (Pollock, 67), Kayembe, Koné (Chakvetadze, 83), Sema (Rajović, 68); Bayo (Healey, 80). Subs not used: Bachmann, Ince, Asprilla, Andrews.

Attendance: 14,389 (898 Watford fans).

Referee: Mr S Singh Gill.

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