Derby 0-1 Watford: Pressure growing on Phillip Cocu as Joao Pedro’s stunning curler gives Hornets victory at the Rams to leave home side with just one win from five matches
- Watford beat Derby County 1-0 away from home to move into the play-off spots
- Joao Pedro curled home a stunning finish with 15 minutes to go on Friday night
- Wayne Rooney missed a one-on-one chance in Derby’s best attacking chance
- Phillip Cocu’s side have just one win from five Championship games this season
A smiling Mel Morris was having none of it. Philip Cocu on the brink of having his employment terminated? Pah, rubbish.
To reinforce the message, Derby’s owner and head coach could be seen chatting and laughing together and generally hammering home a hugely visual confirmation of Cocu’s job security.
Behind the jollity, both men recognise things must improve dramatically or the speculation will intensify, especially with the Wayne Rooney factor.
Derby’s Mel Morris (R) may have a choice to make on Phillip Cocu (L) after another Derby loss
Joao Pedro hit a stunning winner as Watford beat Derby 1-0 away from home on Friday night
The last thing they needed was a wonder goal from Watford teenager Joao Pedro, who produced the one moment of quality to make it back to the drawing board for Cocu and co.
Derby started the night languishing in 20th in table after three points in four games and could not add to their tally.
A win would have catapaulted them up the table to ninth and just behind Watford, who are generally regarded as having had a decent start.
A 1-0 victory at Norwich in the last game before the international break eased the pressure on Cocu who can thank Rooney’s spectacular free-kick winner.
But Pride Park has produced very little cheer with Derby still looking for their first Championship home win of the season. Supporters are grumpy too, about results and now at the departure of favourite Jack Marriott on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
Pedro (left) curled in a sensational shot from the edge of the area to give the Hornets the win
Pressure is growing on Cocu (above) whose Derby side have picked up just one win in five
So plenty of questions to answer against a Watford side who have conceded just once in four League matches, three of which were clean sheets.
Perhaps predictably, it was a tight contest. Rooney was involved in all that was good, from a free kick straight at Ben Foster and and a corner which Matthew Clarke was within a whisker of connecting with a header.
Rooney then squared a Jason Knight interception to Duane Holmes who skied his shot from the edge of the area and might have shown more composure.
An opening goal was looking hard to come by with neither goalkeeper stretched at all. Watford certainly started to come into the match and were adamant they should have had a penalty.
George Evans seemed to handle under a challenge from Nathaniel Chalobah but referee Geoff Eltringham waved away all the appeals.
Watford asked for a second-half penalty as George Evans appeared to handle in the box
Wayne Rooney (left) missed a one-on-one late on but couldn’t score past Ben Foster (right)
Jason Knight tried and failed from distance while Watford manager Vladimir Ivic stood with his arms folded watching. Possibly waiting for something to actually happen.
It did, with quarter of an hour or so remaining and after a slow and steady upping of pressure on the home side.
Rooney went close to an equaliser, flashing a shot wide but Watford held firm, surviving a penalty claim for a Tom Lawrence shot which struck Tom Cleverley at close range.
Rooney stepped up in injury time to whip a free kick just over the bar. The hands on the hip said it all.