Bournemouth 2 Watford 0

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth side maintained their strong challenge for automatic promotion to the Premier League, with a comfortable victory over play-off chasing Watford last night. In an earlier than usual start to the weekend's fixtures, they were able to steal a march on the chasing pack by securing all three points at the Goldsands Stadium (aka Dean Court) to give themselves breathing space over second-placed Derby County.

The home side went into the match knowing that the battle at the top of the table has been hotting up over recent weeks, with five teams separated by just two points prior to the game.

Indeed, Watford started the match in sixth place, only four points shy of the summit. So, victory was imperative for the pace-setters and their chances were enhanced after just 28 seconds when Watford were contentiously reduced to ten men. Callum Wilson was fouled by Watford defender Gabriele Angella and, despite not being the last man (Craig Cathcart was providing cover), the infringement was adjudged to be a straight red card offence by referee Lee Probert, leaving the away side to play almost the entire match with a man short.

To their credit they regrouped and held a side that have been rampant against many full-strength sides at home this season already, until 35 minutes were on the clock.

Wilson was fouled in the area by Cathcart, resulting in a penalty decision which Yann Kermorgant converted to give the home side a slender advantage going into the break.

Watford continued to make light of their man disadvantage after half-time, but the result was effectively sealed on 57 minutes when Matt Ritchie netted for the leaders with a smart finish.

The sending off was by no means the quickest ever, as among the others down through history that have resulted in an earlier 'bath', was the three seconds it took for David Pratt in 2008 (Bashley versus Chippenham) to see red.

Derby can go level (again) with Bournemouth later today, when they travel to Wales to play mid-table Cardiff City, who have been disappointing this campaign after being relegated from the Premier League last season.