MX23RW : Sunday, December 15 05:23:50| >> :600:51958307:51958307:
Apr 21, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Vicarage Road
Attendance: 20,401
Crystal Palace

Live Commentary: Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage as Watford and Crystal Palace play out a goalless draw in Saturday's Premier League clash at Vicarage Road.
Live Commentary: Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace - as it happened
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Watford and Crystal Palace have boosted their hopes of remaining in the Premier League with a goalless draw in Saturday's encounter at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets dominated the opening 45 minutes with Stefano Okaka hitting the post, but it was a different story in the second half as Palace twice struck the woodwork.

However, both teams will settle for a share of the spoils, with Watford now nine points clear of safety and Palace six ahead of 18th-placed Southampton.

Find out how all of the action unfolded in Hertfordshire courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the match in the Premier League between Watford and Crystal Palace. Both clubs sit clear of the relegation zone but three points for either side at Vicarage Road would all but guarantee their place in the top flight next season. Let's see who features in each starting lineup...

WATFORD XI: Karnezis; Mariappa, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure, Pereyra; Deeney, Okaka

WATFORD SUBSTITUTES: Gomes, Britos, Femenia, Janmaat, Richarlison, Sinclair, Gray

CRYSTAL PALACE XI: Hennessey; Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek; Townsend, Zaha

CRYSTAL PALACE SUBSTITUTES: Speroni, Sorloth, Chung-yong, Benteke, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Riedewald

Let's start by taking a look at Watford as Javi Gracia opts to make three changes to the team which began the 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town last weekend. The most notable inclusion is that of Stefano Okaka, who comes in for just his third Premier League start of the campaign.

Jose Holebas and Christian Kabasele have also been brought into the defence, with Kiko Femenia, Sebastian Prodl and Daryl Janmaat the players to miss out.

Gracia has decided to keep Richarlison in reserve with the club having previously acknowledged the youngster's high workload during his first season in English football. It means that Roberto Pereyra keeps his place and the Argentine will be hoping to add to his four goals in 29 outings this campaign.

As for Palace, Roy Hodgson keeps the same team which started the 3-2 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. It means that Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha make up the front two.

Christian Benteke must make do with a place among the replacements alongside January signing Alexander Sorloth. The pair may be required in the second half if Palace are in need of a goal.

RESULT! The full-time has not long gone at The Hawthorns and West Bromwich Albion have come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Liverpool. It was an excellent comeback from the Baggies but it does not really help their efforts to remain in the Premier League. Click here to read our on-the-whistle report.

RESULT! The full-time whistle has not long gone at The Hawthorns and West Bromwich Albion have come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Liverpool. It was an excellent comeback from the Baggies but it does not really help their efforts to remain in the Premier League. Click here to read our on-the-whistle report.

PREDICTION! We are not expecting many goals in this game but we said the same about Palace and Brighton! If Watford take their chances, they could edge this contest but if they endure the same issues in the final third as at the John Smith's Stadium, Palace could nick a narrow away win. Palace to win 2-1.

HEAD TO HEAD! Today's encounter represents the 117th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Palace claiming 49 wins in comparison to 41 victories for Watford.

If Palace can secure all three points this afternoon, they will move above Watford in the table. It would represent an improvement of four positions. That tells you what is at stake for the Eagles. Watford would probably be content with a point.

It's time for the two teams to make their way out at Vicarage Road. We will be underway shortly!

KICKOFF! We are underway in Hertfordshire!

It's been a relatively quiet start with both teams looking to get comfortable during the early stages of the game. Vicarage Road is bouncing with the visit of one of Watford's biggest rivals.

Almost an early goal for Watford. Hughes turns inside the penalty area and his cross-cum-shot almost finds a teammate in the middle before going wide of the far post.

WOODWORK! The Hornets comes even closer. A cross from the right from Deeney gives Okaka the chance to direct a free header on goal from 12 yards out but his effort hits the angle between post and bar and rebounds clear.

This match has started at a rapid pace. Neither side are taking a backwards step with Palace now responding to Watford's early pressure.

Watford are doing what they can to discourage Palace from launching attacks down either flank and getting the likes of Townsend and Zaha involved. The Hornets are having plenty of possession, too.

No more chances to speak of but we remain encouraged that this match could be much more entertaining than imagined. Watford in particular are playing with a freedom which suggests that they are determined to turn their recent form around and get one over one of their closest neighbours.

We are having a break in play while Van Aanholt receives treatment after a strong challenge from Deeney. No free kick was given but the left-back has certainly felt it.

The referee has gotten play back underway and we are yet to get back to the tempo which had been created before the stoppage. Palace will be pleased with that.

Watford win a free kick on the left flank but the ball into the middle is over-hit and Palace are able to clear.

The balls continue to be whipped into the middle. Gracia wants his players to make full use of the height offered by Okaka and Deeney. Palace are just about holding firm for now.

CHANCE! How hasn't this gone in! Palace half stop expecting a free kick for handball against Okaka but play continues. Deeney's shot ends up going across goal and Ward diverts the ball towards the centre of the net where the Welshman prevents an own goal with a superb stop.

BOOKING! Ward goes into the book for a cynical foul on Pereyra on the side of the box.

We have not seen anything of Townsend or Zaha over the past 15 minutes. Palace have no-one with the desired physical attributes to hold the ball up.

CHANCE! Watford create another chance with the ball falling invitingly to Holebas from a corner but the defender scuffs his volley straight through to Hennessey.

Another corner for Watford comes to nothing but it's a further attack which is keeping Palace pinned back. Palace have literally not entered the final third since the first few minutes of the game.

BOOKING! Loftus-Cheek looks to launch a counter-attack but he is cynically stopped in his path by Doucoure.

We've got another break in play due to a challenge from Deeney. Milivojevic needs treatment to his face after catching a flailing arm from the forward.

Watford have stopped creating opportunities but their flair players continue to play with confidence and Palace can only remain on the defensive. Hodgson needs to change something because his current tactics are not working.

CHANCE! Out of nowhere, Palace should be ahead! Townsend's free kick towards the back post is perfect for Tomkins, but the centre-back heads the ball downwards and Karnezis makes an easy save.

In fairness to Palace, they have improved over the past few minutes. Their passing is sharper and they are starting to get the front two on the ball.

From Watford's perspective, the first half is beginning to peter out to a certain extent. Palace still have to be wary of balls into Okaka and Deeney but they are starting to cope much better.

As I say that, Watford begin to assert themselves again. No more chances have been created but Palace find themselves having to try to keep the ball out of their box.

SHOT! Hughes has been busy in the middle of the park and he takes his opportunity to shoot from distance. However, the former Derby County man's volley goes over the crossbar.

CHANCE! Good work from Watford in the final third leads to Deeney being able to get a shot away from 20 yards but his low effort is comfortably claimed by Hennessey.

There will be three minutes of added-on time.

BOOKING! Van Aanholt goes into the book for throwing the ball away in disgust after a decision goes against Palace.

HALF TIME: Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace

The half-time whistle goes at Vicarage Road and we remain goalless. Watford have had the better share of possession and chances, but Palace did improve during the final quarter-of-an-hour.

Watford's best openings came during the opening stages. Okaka - making just his third start of the season - powered a free header towards goal which beat Hennessey but struck the angle between post and bar. Ward almost put through his own net later in the half as well.

Palace's own real opportunity came through Tomkins, who headed straight at Karnezis at the back post. Townsend and Zaha have struggled to get into the game and Hodgson must decide whether to stick or twist with the score remaining goalless.

KICKOFF! We are back underway at Vicarage Road.

It's been an even start to this second half with Palace showing more intent to get their two forwards in the game. No more chances to speak of, however.

Is Zaha lucky here? Probably. The attacker leaves a foot in on Karnezis when challenging for a 50-50 ball and the Palace man avoids a booking. There was arguably a case for more than a yellow.

Watford go up the other end and attempt to capitalise from a long throw but when the ball eventually finds its way to Doucoure, the midfielder wastes the chance to get a cross into a threatening area.

It's all starting to get a little heated at Vicarage Road but the referee is - so far - doing a good job to keep a lid on things. Not much doing in the way of play in either final third.

SUBSTITUTION! The Watford squad have been struggling with a stomach bug and it may be why Gracia is making an early change. Off goes Pereyra with Richarlison being introduced in his place.

You feel as though something needs to change in this game for there to be a goal. Watford have not kicked on from their early start and as it stands, this match probably suits Palace. Would both sides be pleased with a point? Maybe.

We continue along the same path as both teams struggle to find their desired targets in the final third. It's not the greatest watch now.

BOOKING! A fourth yellow card of the game goes to Mariappa who stops Zaha from advancing down the left by tugging his shirt.

WOODWORK! What an effort from Milivojevic. Everyone is expecting a cross but the Palace midfielder's free kick strikes the near post and rebounds clear.

BOOKING! Controversy! Zaha goes down in the area and is booked for diving, but it looks a penalty with Mariappa sliding in and making contact with the Eagles player.

Zaha probably deserve the reputation he has for previous incidents relating to the same area but it's a definite spot kick. The referee gambled and he got it wrong.

Slowly but surely, Palace are starting to have the better of this game. Watford are starting to wilt, maybe through those issues with the stomach bug. Gracia needs to make a change.

WOODWORK! Palace have forced three corners in the space of a minute and a half. Before that, they had won none! From the third, Tomkins hits the post with a 12-yard header before Deeney clears from close to the line.

SUBSTITUTION! Gracia finally acts and brings on Femenia for Okaka.

Taking off an attacker has helped Watford in both areas of the pitch. There is more of a balance in the final third with Femenia already getting down the right to good effect.

The Watford supporters have been boosted by the change as well. They know that a draw or a win from this game takes the club closer to safety. It may even be enough because it will force Southampton to win three games to deny them.

The Hornets have kept hold of the ball for much of the last five minutes. It's as if they are finding a second wind. Palace are still to make a change so maybe they are starting to tire. It's a warm day just North of the capital.

BOOKING! Loftus-Cheek becomes the latest player to be booked after fouling Femenia off the ball.

SUBSTITUTION! Watford's final change sees Gray come on for Hughes.

SHOT! Watford work the ball out to the edge of the area for Richarlison, but the substitute's low effort is straight at Hennessey.

SUBSTITUTION! Palace finally make an alteration with Benteke being introduced for McArthur.

Palace now have a different dimension with Zaha working from the left but the Ivory Coast international sees his first direct run halted inside the penalty area.

Both teams still fancy netting a late winner but time is running out. When do they begin to shut up shop and settle for what would be a crucial point?

BOOKING! Another booking for Palace, this time to Tomkins for a foul on the halfway line.

BOOKING! An eighth caution of the game goes to Watford's Cathcart after he barges Zaha over on the touchline.

There will be three minutes of added-on time.

Watford win a free kick on the edge of the penalty area but Holebas's delivery goes straight into the wall.

FULL TIME: Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace

The full-time whistle goes at Vicarage Road and we have ended goalless. Both teams had their chances with the woodwork being hit on three occasions, but the two clubs will both be satisfied with a point apiece.

That will be all from Sports Mole for this match. Thank you for joining us this afternoon and we hope to see you again soon.

If you would like to read our on-the-whistle match report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.

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Christian Benteke in action for Crystal Palace on February 4, 2018
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