On-the-whistle report: Watford 2 Rotherham United 0

Ben Wiles in action at WatfordBen Wiles in action at Watford
Ben Wiles in action at Watford
A CALAMITOUS opening cost Rotherham United for the second match in succession as they paid for their disastrous start with a Championship defeat at Watford.

The Hornets were a Premier League outfit last season and the gap between them and a side in the third tier last term was plain to see in the first half.

The Millers were much better after the break and rattled Watford but by then the damage had been done.

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Paul Warne's men did nothing to help themselves with poor defending that saw them gift two goals in the first quarter of an hour  - just as they had at Coventry City on Saturday - to seal their fate.

The game was only four minutes old and Jamal Blackman had already saved from Stipe Perica when Christian Kabasele was all alone at the back post to tuck in Troy Deeney's flick-on from a corner.

Ten minutes later it was Deeney's turn to score at the same back stick when Wes Harding took a wild swipe, didn't connect properly and the ball finished up at the Watford striker's feet less than a yard out.

The home side looked  dangerous every time they attacked before the break and Tom Cleverly was only inches over with a 20th-minute shot from the edge of the box.

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The Millers were playing in front of fans for the first time this coronavirus-hit campaign. 2,000 Hornets supporters were allowed inside Vicarage Road and they were loud, raucous and an obvious advantage to their team.

Warne had changed personnel after the Coventry defeat but stuck with the same 3-5-2 formation.

Captain Richard Wood and Freddie Ladapo dropped to the bench and Joe Mattock - the fifth Miller to be ruled out long term this season - missed out with an ankle injury.

Billy Jones, Dan Barlaser and Kyle Vassell came in, with Ben Wiles moved from midfield to left-back to cover Mattock's absence.

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In the teeming rain, Rotherham were much better in the second half.

Three minutes after the resumption, Vassell stung Ben Foster's hands with a volley from a tight angle and from then on they came right into the contest.

Michael Smith had a shot blocked, Angus MacDonald headed wide and Matt Crooks twice sent the ball over the bar.

Their deserved their luck in the 84th minutes when Perica broke free, after Crooks shed possession, but spurned an inviting chance by sliding his shot off target.

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After their sixth successive away loss, Rotherham remain in 20th spot, having taken only a single point from six matches since the international break.

Their second-half response was encouraging but the grim reality is that they could be in the bottom three if results go against them tomorrow night.

Goals: Kabasele 4, Deeney 14 (Watford).

Watford (4-4-2): Ben Foster; Jeremy Ngakia, Christian Kabasele, William Troost-Ekong, Kicko Femenia (Ben Wilmott 90), Ismaila Sarr (Domingos Quina 90), Tom Cleverley (Will Hughes 69), Nathaniel Chalobah, Ken Sema (James Garner 84), Stipe Perica, Troy Deeney (Joao Pedro 69). Subs not used: Daniel Bachmann, Marc Navarro, Daniel Phillips.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Jamal Blackman; Wes Harding, Michael Ihiekwe, Angus MacDonald; Billy Jones (Florian Jozefzoon 70), Jamie Lindsay (Matt Olosunde H-T), Dan Barlaser (Trevor Clarke 79), Matt Crooks, Ben Wiles; Kyle Vassell (Mickel Miller 79), Michael Smith (Freddie Ladapo 79). Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Adam Thompson, Richard Wood, George Hirst.

Referee: Josh Smith (Lincolnshire).