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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.



1. DL - 24/09/2008

Nice to be on the receiving end of an own goal that actually crossed the goal line too 😉

2. markymark - 24/09/2008

I heard a rumour that Demerit & Parkes are both injured! Is this true?
If so, surely we’ll be bringing in at least 2 loanees pronto.Or is our financial situation so bad Simpson ( supposedly a Watford supporter )is willing to watch a bunch of teenagers battle it out in a relegation dogfight all season.Well, from October till April!

3. Johnny Boy - 24/09/2008

What a pleasant evening;
– A midfield that competed well and Al, looking back to his old self, didn’t kick anyone.
– A buzzy attack which competed with West Ham first choice centrehalves and once a Razack/Priskin are introduced will hopefully get more goals
– A defence which looked solid to such an extent that once we went one up I wasn’t my usual nail biting wreck. And who is this Dale Bennet who got in some stonking headers at the end.
As I said at the begining – what a pleasant evening.

4. Esp - 24/09/2008

DL – your own goal comment was almost exactly what I said to Mr Rowson after the match!

Williamson was terrific and although it is wholly unnecessary to mention him, cos it’s become customary, yet another insirational. every blade covered game from Smudger

Ainsworth surely has now grabbed Macanuff’s place in the starting 11 although I am still unsure that I (and crucially Aidy) know what Harley’s best position is for us yet. The paucity of the squad will mean him fitting in wherever I suppose. Demerit is also back to his best after a couple of uninspiring games imho

Elsewhere Arsenal’s wholloping of the Blades makes me think that they will be very sore and in need of retribution for any side unfortunate enough to visit them on Saturday though 😦

Finally the highlight of the evening for me was my journey back through London to Kent surrounded by West Ham fans almost goading me with their stares to smile at them!

I am happy to report I kept a straight face but couldn’t resist a wink at a couple of Hornet fans on the Northern Line (Bank branch)

5. Matt Rowson - 24/09/2008

Markymark – you’re a Watford supporter, why don’t you fund the loan signings? Don’t be a twat – the injury crisis isn’t Simpson’s fault and Boothroyd’s already said he’s looking to bring people in. You’re being remarkably negative in the light of last night for someone who’s supposedly a Watford fan…

Johnny Boy – yes, Bennett looked great after the brainstorm when he first came on which gave ?Etherington? a free header that he should have done better with. OS says he was the U18 captain, that’s all I know… noticed Bangura’s restraint also. Agree, thoroughly enjoyable.

6. Clutching at Straws - 24/09/2008

I have to admit I’ve always been a fan of Williamson in centre mid but the way he (ably assisted by Bangura’s most disciplined ever performance and Jenkins) bossed Noble and Boa Morte out of the game took my breath away.

I agree with Matt about Bennet’s early Howler but couldn’t help but notice when Jay went off how well he played at centre half. In a small team, he brings some much-needed physical presence.

Who knows, at the end of the season the last few days could be aturning point in terms of morale and spirit. It is hard to believe that we watched the same team that surrendered so limply to Argyle. On the other hand…. sod it! it was still a great win, made all the sweeter by having a West Ham supporting friend sitting next to me!

7. Matt B - 24/09/2008

A very enjoyable game, tainted only by the realisation that Ross Jenkins (b. 1990) would have been as (un)likely to be Ross Jenkins’ (b. 1951) grandson than son. Which just made me feel really old…

8. Matt - 24/09/2008

Wasn’t at the game last night but have seen a fair few comments on here over recent games about Ainsworth – I just can’t see how people are starting to rate him so highly (someone on the last thread compared him to Ashley Young) – the lad does NOT have a left foot. I don’t mean he has a poor left foot, I mean it’s completely missing, he doesn’t use it at all. Yes he’s got great pace, but can such a completely one-footed player really be good enough for Championship football?
(sitting back and waiting for Matt R to quote seventeen of them and make me look stupid now!)

9. Fran - 24/09/2008

Bennett was one of the highlights of the night for me. I think he signed a pro contract earlier this year. He had a couple of absolute mares in pre-season (Wealdstone was particularly horrific), so I was very scared when he came on. His first successful clearance settled both my nerves and his, and he played very well from then on. That performance wil do him a power of good.

Al was quite delightful. While he didn’t kick anyone, there was one point where he tried a WWF move that had our party in stitches, and another where he almost took a Hammer’s head off while trying to clear the ball from his forehead. But he also showed some very nice ball skills as he skipped past the opposition. Although every time he lined up for a shot my heart sank.

And another good performance from Scott Loach, who looks more and more assured with every game.

10. Kris - 24/09/2008

Am I the only one felling that this injury crisis has got some squad players and youngster stepping up to claim places in the match day squad? In recent history, when facing an injury crisis I can’t remember anyone stepping up. Now suddenly we have 11 or so players out and STILL Aidy must have selection head aches for Saturday. Players like Jenkins, Loach, Ainsworth (finally), BangBang (finally^2) and even Bennett (as mentioned) and Parkes.

11. Simmo - 24/09/2008

While I agree that we are threadbare for cover how brilliant were we last night. It would be wrong to single out any player for praise or criticism when you consider West Ham were almost at full strength and most of our team last night would not be in the best Watford eleven if everyone was fit. I feel these players should be given another chance without bringing in reinforcements.

However most notably every player looked comfortable playing “pass and move” with very few hopeful punts upfield even when down to 10 men.

Special mention should be made to West Ham fans for singing “lino, lino give us a goal” because that was about the only way they were going to score.

12. Graham Sterry - 24/09/2008

Dont often post a comment but always read every comment from others.
However, must take issue with thunk 2: There will only ever be one Ross Jenkins and he will never be an afterthought, certainly not with my generation of supporters. Perhaps you were just not around to see the legend in action. He is one of the few to have maximised his potential whilst playing for Watford. Just think what a Ramage could have achieved with such dedication and attitude. The new lad Ross what’s his name did very well!
A thoroughly enjoyable win, just a shame for West Ham that we moved the goal after the weekend’s match with Reading.
Good banter also with West Ham and the comment ‘Lino give us a goal will surely remain’.

13. Matt Rowson - 24/09/2008

Graham S
I did catch a few years of Rosco and did not mean to imply what you infer. For the moment Ross Jenkins Jr’s chief significance is his name in the context of the name of a Watford legend. I think Ross Jr will be significant in his own right before too long, but Ross Sr’s status isn’t devalued by that… (ok?)

I agree that we were ace, and as Kris points out also several players are staking a serious claim for longer-term involvement. I’d disagree that they all hold their place though. Jenkins is struggling with ninety minutes as it is, and as for Hoskins… well, see point 5.

Junior is the one that springs to mind, although his participation at this level is kinda curtailed by passport issues. His left peg and AInsworth’s right would make decent companions. Ainsworth WAS better last night, but I agree that some of the acclaim is a little exaggerated and his MotM award bizarre.

14. Dave Hart - 24/09/2008


It’s good to see that others pay a lot of attention to the youth team too, I was beginning to think I was over zealous!

Whilst watching only one reserve team match in pre-season (Tring), I too wasn’t impressed with Bennett in that game, where he played at centre back. Judging by Malky’s constant shouting at him during the game, he wasn’t either! Let’s hope that the first team experience will prove to be the catalyst for him.

15. Esp - 24/09/2008

Simmo wrote “when you consider West Ham were almost at full strength” although I think your second point about us was correct in that it certainly was not OUR best starting11 (the team that lined up against Forest was our strongest discounting Poom deputising for Lee) I don’t think you can claim that the Hammers were even ALMOST at full strength….
Lastuvka and Lopez were playing their first games of the season, Boa Morte has only started 2 matches and Mullins and Sears had not started a game before last night (although they have come on as subs) so I think that was far from their first choice side. Green, Parker, Behrami, Ilunga and Cole all would have started if it was a league match imho – Of course we were at least 4 light of our strongest line up though!

16. DL - 25/09/2008

Whilst I agree that Al did look considerably calmer and more composed than usual, he *did* kick at least one player in the last few minutes, the ref played advantage and the player felled by Al got up eventually. I noticed the ref check back after the “advantage” petered out and when he saw the player was up and running, obviously decided it didn’t warrant a card/talking to. But from the middle of the upper rous it looked like a typical Al tackle with him getting nothing of the ball and all of the player 😉

Fran I agree about the WWF challenge, that had me LMAO as well.

17. markymark - 25/09/2008

Esp : How many of the hammers players who started would walk into our present team ? All of them or certsainly most of them!
Plus how can you say we were at least 4 light of our strongest team?
The following are what I would consider definate 1st team starters : Sadler,Eustace,Harley,McAnuff ( would still get nod over Ainsworth ),Rasiak.Also,Poom,Doyley and Priskin ( sorry to say ) would all be “neck & neck” with the improved Mariappa,Loach and Hoskins.

18. Simon - 25/09/2008

That was a decent enough West Ham side out there and the absence of Cole was, I gather, forced upon them by injury. They certainly didn’t stick out a reserve side so I don’t think it should take any of the shine off the result.

As for our side, by my reckoning, the starting 11 was the strongest side available to us bar the ommissions of Harley and Eustace. The goalkeeping situation is up for debate anyway and aside from that, possible starters missing out with injury included:


19. DW - 25/09/2008

1. That’s 5 wins out of 7 at home this season, (please no more references to the Reading game, it’s officially boring). Aidy has proved again that he is a very good coach and we are lucky to have him at our club.

2. Every player deserves a mention for contributing to such a good team performance, but on the theory that some are more equal than others I would like to put forward Bromby who looked assured, aggressive and confident.

3. Watching youth team players perform so well bind’s the club and fans together in a way that football PR departments can only ever dream of.

4. Continuing the theme of keeping a low profile on journeys to/from the Vic, I saw more Neanderthals on my way back to Putney than I have seen for some time. I shared a train carriage with a charming group of characters who chanted songs about jews, Pakistanis, blacks and Milwall fans. At least they don’t hate one social group any more than another.

5. As I suspect we will finish mid table this year I hope the cup excitement can continue a little bit longer, a home game against anyone outside of the top flight would be just fine with me.

20. Matt Rowson - 25/09/2008

Aaaaargh Simon! Pretty sure there were twelve out after Saturday? I scribbled them down on a bit of paper at work yesterday and got them. Can I spot the missing crock? Can I buggery.

Oh hold on. Gibson. Thank the stars.

21. Simmo - 25/09/2008

Matt R – Pretty sure we can add Jay to the list for Saturday. However despite your thunk 5 do you not agree that the whole “under siege” mentality has really made us that much stronger and what looked like a bleak season after Plymouth has turned 180 degrees in a week.

Esp – Apologies if you feel my comment was not accurate but as I am not an aficionado on West Ham and was relying on a friend who supports them I accepted what he said. However 7 (which includes Lopez who is likely to start more matches from now) of the starting 11 being first teamers for West Ham must constitute “almost” as I said in my original comment.

22. Simon - 25/09/2008

You know, I thought there might well be another one that I’d missed. The word “including” was carefully crafted to stop me going through the same frustrating process of not being able to remember which one it was.

Thanks for saving me the agony though 😉

23. Old Git - 26/09/2008

Glorious! The hilarity continues at a specatcular rate.’ FA CHARGES BOOTHROYD’. And then young Master Atwell is promoted to the Premier League as a fourth official!
It seems the FA are hell bent on making themselves and their officials into a nationwide laughing stock. And they are succeeding joyfully!
Go for it Aidy, let them charge you. We want this story to run and run, we are all LOVING it. No tribunal in the world could ever accept evidence from a set of officials so catastrophically unreliable. Just stand up there, Aidy, and when questioned simply say, ‘Abuse, what abuse? It never happened. Must have been one of those optical illusions…….’

24. Matt Rowson - 26/09/2008

Simmo – on the basis of Sodje’s recruitment, it looks like you’re right about Demerit. Completely agree about the siege mentality, and boy did we need it, but the fear is that this is only going to get us so far.

I still think that expectations need to be guarded a little, and comfortably mid table would be no small achievement. But yeah, of course I feel better than I did after Plymouth…

25. Esp - 26/09/2008

It’s about this time of the season (buoyed up by getting to the 4th round of the CC) that message boards start asking “Would you prefer a play off place or a decent cup run”. Both of course are financially rewarding and positive for fans.
I think we are exactly where most thought we would be in the league and with the limited resources and injury ravaged squad I will take a cup run (or 2!!) as my prospective success target for the season.
A comfortable mid table finish would be my personal “guarded expectation”.
Like many other BHaPPY subscribers I suspect I am happy seeing the Hornets compete in THIS league and getting my fix of the Premiership from MotD highlights and the thousands of vacuous words in the newspapers (despite most of it being on the front pages of the tabloids following some violence or sex scandal and the Rich Lists from the financial pages of course…)
At least there is a modicum of sanity in this league (Atwell excepted) and the supporters and players seem a little more real to me

26. JoeSmithies - 23/10/2008

Very Good game! Williams and Jenkins in the Midfiled, i thought stood out!

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