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Sheffield United 2 Watford 1 (27/09/2008) 28/09/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks from Bramall Lane

1- Whilst the fears expressed in West Ham thunks were perhaps not realised – we did well to avoid collapse after the first minute – we nonetheless looked physically inferior to a large United side for much of the game. Much as we’re a sexy passing team now (!), being able to compete with the likes of Chris Morgan is a big ask of Hoskins, Smith and Ainsworth.

2- Whilst it was heartening to see some returning wounded on the bench, one wonders about the motivation for not starting with McAnuff. Whilst Sadler may be short of match practice, McAnuff only missed a game and a half. If he’s fit enough to be on the bench, why not start him? Perhaps the answer was in his twenty minute runout. Ainsworth’s contribution was predictably erratic, but at least there was a contribution. With Loach and possibly Williamson picking up injuries it looks like one-in-one-out applies to the treatment room also.

3- Sam Sodje. Kinda like Shittu but less so… biggish, but not monstrous. Gets his head to most things, but not everything. And does have a tendency to do some very sloppy things also; witness his role in both goals. Has to be said that in Doyley and Demerit’s absence he’s still comfortably the best option we’ve got.

4- We’re sixth from bottom, but this season is already vastly more fun that the last in which we finished sixth from top. Go figure…

5- It’s beyond reasonable debate that West Ham fans will find their club forking out however much they end up forking out to t’Blades a bit of a pisser. One wonders whether they will be more inclined to laugh or cry at the knowledge that much of this cash is being spent on paying James Beattie a reported £42k a week to fall over like a big tart whenever a defender (and none of ours were half his bulk) breathes on him. It would take a lot of goals like today’s for me to warm to him in my team.


Watford 1 West Ham United 0 (23/09/2008) 23/09/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks from an improbable cup win

1- There just isn’t anything bad that you can say about that. Yeah, OK, Ainsworth end product yadda yadda, couple of lucky moments, whatever. Bollocks. We could have excused quite a lot tonight, what with the side we put out and the relatively experienced opposition that they faced. Even a solid gubbing could probably have been written off. None of that. Oh no. Admirable, inspiring, gutsy, competent, solid, neat and tidy stuff. Terrific.

2- When Ross Jenkins develops an engine that lasts for ninety minutes rather than an hour he’s going to be one hell of a player. By the end of the season the name he was christened with and his legendary namesake will be an afterthought.

3- Lee Williamson. Monstrous. Surely no doubters remaining amongst the Watford contingent at the game tonight.

4- How often does a keeper keep his side in the game and then blow it with the crucial mistake? Not that we weren’t worth the win… but until the crucial free kick was being lined up, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that we might win.

5- You do wonder how long we can remain competitive with the squad in such a parlous state. Avoiding defeat, even heavy defeat, at Sheffield would be an enormous achievement. Will Hoskins did well tonight, but asking a small man to play a lone striker’s role twice a week is optimistic.

Watford 2 Reading, ummm, 2 (20/09/2008) 20/09/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the pantomime against Reading

1- Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. What a completely mental decision. Extraordinary that the linesman should think that John Eustace was standing inside the net rather than near side of the goalpost, but all the more extraordinary that the referee wasn’t paying attention enough to appreciate that the ball hadn’t been anywhere near the goal. Not, but the way, that this makes any kind of case for “goalline technology”. Play another record, and make it an interesting one for pity’s sake.

2- Despite point 1… perhaps it actually did us a favour. For all our fury and fervour post- the “goal”, Reading were well on top and made several chances. The incident got the crowd on their feet and bellowing, which hadn’t looked likely in the sunshine up to that point. We’d have taken a draw with both hands before the game…

3- Scott Loach. Well done that man. Lost in the lunacy that followed, a hugely encouraging first league showing in Watford colours for the big keeper.

4- Assuming that McAnuff is out – O’Toole’s failure to retreat to the dressing room suggests he might be OK – who the hell plays on Tuesday? With seven subs? Ummm Loach, Mariappa, Harley, Bromby, Demerit…. Eustace, O’Toole, Williamson, Smith, Ainsworth…. Hoskins… bench… ummmm ?Lee? or North, Bangura, Jenkins, Young presumably. And three more… Gibson? Avinel? Parkes? Yikes.

5- Reading. I dunno… clearly a good side, but…. kinda listless? Playing in a low, lazy gear? I’d have been annoyed if I’d been in the other stand, for all our spirit we should have been there for the taking.

Watford 1 Plymouth Argyle 2 (16/09/2008) 17/09/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Thunks from the defeat to the Argyle…

1- What it all boils down to is that we don’t have enough goals in the team. By a long chalk. So going behind will always leave us with a bit of a problem, dramatic victories over Ipswich notwithstanding. We weren’t great in the first half hour last night but we were doing OK, by some distance the better side. After going behind we looked increasingly desperate and clueless, borne of not quite knowing where one goal, let alone two, was going to come from. Nothing that we didn’t fear and expect; that’s what you get for (having to be) selling all your leading goalscorers.

2- That said… it doesn’t help when one injury causes a domino effect that disrupts every area of the team with players moved out of their strongest positions. So we miss Rasiak, as far as we’ve been able to judge. But arguably Sadler has been missed more, given that Harley has been moved out of the midfield slot that seems to suit his energy so well, McAnuff has been moved onto his weaker left side with an effect on his form that makes you wonder how and why so many managers at different clubs have seen fit to play him on “the wrong flank”, and then first Tommy Smith and last night Lee Williamson are forced into positions that chuck a blanket over their hitherto positive contributions to the team. Away at Wednesday, fine. But home to Plymouth, a side not blessed with great wide players, why not Aidy Mariappa at left back and leaving the rest where it was, working kind of ok….?

3- And whither Damien Francis? Not that he hasn’t been a huge let-down, but he’s still a big bloke (which we now sorely lack), an experienced player (ditto, esp off the bench) and has a goal in him (ditto again). Is it possible that we need to force him to agree to a loan in order to bring in options in less well-covered positions?

4- Priskin. Whatever his limitations – discussed ad nauseam – it’s hardly his fault that he finds himself first choice striker (which he is on merit, despite Hoskins’ increased mobility) given the fire sale, rather than the position of youngster in the wings who needs some work. He struggled again last night, but cheering the substitution (through injury, not that you noticed) of a 22 year old who we really really need to come good is moronic.

5- Timewasting. Not a criticism of Argyle, who after all were bottom of the league with no wins and leading away from home. But what’s the bloody point of cajoling players to get a shift on if you neither enforce the issue by showing a card (how right-back Doumbe got away without a booking for so long is a mystery) and then add on a laughable three minutes at the end. Good. Smegging. God.