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Watford player ratings: Who saw the wood for the trees at Forest?

Costel Pantilimon 7.5

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Skewed a clearance out of play, much to the delight of the home support. Nerves settled after then and wasn’t called into action until Jamie Ward cut inside and tried to be clever by beating the Romanian with a reverse shot on the stroke of half-time. Pantilimon was relieved it flashed past the post. Used his height to comfortably catch – not punch – a number of Forest crosses and generally showed why he’s considered a much safer bet than Giedrius Arlauskis. Barked at Craig Cathcart for allowing Dexter Blackstock to get ahead of him to connect with a Chris Cohen left-wing cross and timed a dive at the feet of Nelson Oliveira to perfection.

Allan Nyom  6

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Attempted what used to be his trademark rampaging run infield in the first half, but he was quickly dispossessed, leaving an alarming gap in the defence. Had a tough job dealing with Oliver Burke’s attacking threat and was having a poor game, both going forward and in defence, up until the 89th minute. With the game nearing its end he overlapped Juan Carlos Paredes and then, with a burst of pace, past Cohen. His low and hard cross from the byline was made a hash of by Kelvin Wilson, allowing Odion Ighalo to fire past Dorus De Vries. It was, in that fleeting moment, like the Nyom of the first six weeks of the season.

Craig Cathcart  8

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Was guilty of overplaying in the opening stages but soon returned to his reliable self. When a ball sailed over his head and Burke was pressuring him, Cathcart made the correct decision to hack clear rather than risk a pass back to his goalkeeper, showing he has learnt from past mistakes against Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. A similar situation arose shortly after and, again, Cathcart was acutely aware of his surroundings, realised he had time to judge the long ball and coolly headed back to goal for Pantilimon to pick up. When a late corner was cleared at the near post and Burke looked as though he was through to have a shot at goal, Cathcart ran the length of field to track back and win the ball not once but twice, before Jamie Ward was eventually ruled offside. Will be annoyed he allowed Blackstock to nip in front of him for half a chance late on.

Sebastian Prödl 7

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Despite some risky passes early on, Prödl looked far more assured than he did at Southampton when he was an uncertain wreck. There was a touch of Britos about him when he started playing the ball out from defence rather than constantly hoofing clear. On one occasion he controlled a dropping long ball with a deft touch, shifted it to one side and then played an impressive pass out to Nyom. Going the other way, he hurried back to head clear after a Burke cross seemed destined for the head of Dexter Blackstock. Was involved in a horrible mix-up with Anya that allowed Ward a chance he should really have buried.

Nathan Ake  7

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The home side’s main threats came down the wing but Ake did well to prevent Ward from creating any real openings down his side in what was his first FA Cup start. At one point Burke swapped wings and looked to be in a dangerous position to put in a cross, but Ake denied him with a fantastic sliding tackle. Showed strength by outmuscling Blackstock to see the ball out for a throw without conceding a foul. As the game reached its latter stages, Ake began to venture further upfield and cut inside, winning a number of free-kicks for Watford in dangerous areas. Was on the end of a rash tackle by Ward which saw the Forest player booked.

Ben Watson  6.5

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Was handed the armband for the final 18 minutes after Troy Deeney was substituted, a testament to how influential Watson now is in this Watford side, sitting deep in front of the back three to shield the defence and break up play.  There was a major blemish on his performance, however. His deliveries from set-pieces regularly failed to beat the first man and the pacey Burke and Blackstock were awarded plenty of chances to counter attack. Although the head coach may have to reconsider who takes set-pieces, Watson’s characteristically reliable performance means he’s unlikely to be immediately dropped for new boy Mario Suarez.

Adlene Guedioura  6

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Perhaps he wanted to impress the Forest fans who used to cheer his name. Perhaps he’d been watching highlights before the match of his goals in a Forest shirt. Whatever the reason, Guedioura was in the mood to shoot. His first two efforts from range sailed well over before he connected with a half-cleared Watson free-kick with a perfect volley. Unfortunately for him, De Vries was in the right position, collecting at the second attempt. He completed a number of impressive dribbles and spread the ball well, but was unable to break up play like Watson and did lose the ball on occasions. He did little to show the head coach he should be starting a Premier League game anytime soon.

Almen Abdi 5.5

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Was easily beaten by Burke on the wing in the first half and was then nutmegged by Eric Lichaj before seeing a simple pass cut out by Gary Gardner. Started the match poorly and it was not one of his finest performances. Made little impact on the match going forward and hardly made a tackle. Spread the ball nicely with a few crossfield passes.

Ikechi Anya 6

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Almost marked his first start since Spurs by handing Forest the opener on a plate but Ward let him off the hook. Watford used his pace as an outlet, the Scotland international hugging the touchline so he gave the team the ability to stretch the play. On one occasion Anya picked up the ball and ran decisively at the Forest defence before sending a fierce shot at goal, which De Vries was forced to parry away. His renewed directness is refreshing to watch but Anya must work on his final ball. He remains a squad player. He has barely had a sniff since signing a new contract.

Troy Deeney  7

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The captain’s position between Abdi and Anya and just behind Nordin Amrabat allowed him to collect the ball from midfield and either run at defence himself or feed his strike partner. Often found himself back in his own half, breaking up play as he has done so often this season. One tackle by the touchline released Amrabat to run at goal. His reputation probably proceeded him in the eyes of referee Neil Swarbrick as he conceded a few free-kicks late on for offences which other players got away with. Went off for Odion Ighalo and then had to deal with abusive Forest fans instead of aggressive defenders.

Nordin Amrabat  7

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Played on the shoulder of the Forest defence to exploit his pace. He often found himself in offside positions early on, but escaped the attention of Jack Hobbs to break through on goal late in the first half, although his cut back to Guedioura was intercepted. Held the ball up like Deeney does and, unlike Odion Ighalo, seemed aware of the positions of his teammates. Sent two shots, one in each half, towards the top corner but De Vries was equal to both. Linked up well with both Deeney and, in the latter stages, Ighalo. His pace offers a new dimension to the Watford attack. Sanchez Flores called him over twice during breaks in play to provide further instructions, proving that the head coach clearly feels there are still areas in which Amrabat can improve.

Substitutes

Odion Ighalo
Was brought on to provide a goal and delivered big time. There was a touch of fortune about how it fell so conveniently to him in the box but there were no doubts when it came to his finish. Held up the ball, won a few free-kicks and complimented Amrabat well.

Jose Manuel Jurado
Watford needed some inspiration, a breakthrough, so Sanchez Flores turned to his trusted countryman. Ran at Lichaj, bamboozled him with a few step overs and beat him with a burst of pace, but his cut back to the penalty spot could not find a teammate. Was a valuable asset in the closing stages as he picked up the ball and carried it forward before finding the feet of Ighalo or Amrabat.

Juan Carlos Paredes
Came on in midfield and linked with Nyom, who was then provided freedom to roam forward and set up Ighalo for the Hornets’ goal. Little more than a cameo.