The Hornets dominated the game, but could only come out with a lone point due to the performance of Darlow in the Forest net.
Goals from Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra gave the home side the lead on two separate occasions, but Michail Antonio rescued the points for the Reds with two fine strikes, despite the relatively poor performances put in by his teammates.
Watford controlled the game, holding 59% of the ball and registering eight shots on target to Forest’s two. They often controlled the ball in final third, and it was individual errors - as well as an apparent refereeing mistake - that allowed Antonio to excel in his role as attacking outlet - netting his two attempts.
If would not have been a surprise to see the Hornets two or three goals up at the break, with their offensive play of the highest quality, but Darlow returned to form at Vicarage Road, and kept his side in with a shot of claiming a much needed result in the race for promotion.
|Match||Goals Conceded||Saves||Crosses Claimed|
|Karl Darlow||Watford vs Forest||2||6||2|
The 24-year-old made six saves, including two incredible parries from long-range efforts from Fernando Forestieri, and claimed two crosses successfully. Whilst claiming just two crosses seems low in relation to the 14 corners the Hornets had, the ball was often played short from the set-piece, or hit to the far side of the penalty area, negating the need for Darlow to get involved with the play.
He made three diving saves and one punch, so was often at fault for conceding the numerous corners gifted to Watford, but, with the difficulty of the shots faced, the young ‘keeper can be forgiven for playing the ball to safety rather than attempting to catch it - and potentially costing his team a result.
As a goalkeeper, clean sheets are imperative, and it does not shine highly upon Darlow’s game that he conceded twice. However, the opening goal was a close-range poke after some calamitous defending, and the second was a penalty - for which he had no chance. He saved every other shot faced, apart from the two hardest, and was effective in situations from both inside and outside the box.
|Shots Outside Box Saved||Shots Inside Box Saved|
Having cemented his reputation as one of the most promising goalkeepers in the Football League, Premier League side Newcastle United signed Darlow during the summer transfer window, agreeing to loan him back to Forest for the duration of the current season. It was rumoured that the top flight strugglers would be keen to take him to St James’ Park earlier than intended due to injury troubles in the North East, but, having remained with Forest in recent weeks, he has been vital to their continuing promotion race - despite poor performances from other areas of the pitch.
His performance at Watford showed the best of his abilities in a vitally important game, and it should be Darlow receiving the praise for keeping them in the fixture when dominated by the Hornets.