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Watford 2 Cardiff City 2 (21/10/2008) 22/10/2008

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

1. Let’s get it out of the way, then: Tamas, you’re a blithering idiot. Just at the point where you’d started to think that, with Will Hoskins guiding the midfield into the opposition’s vulnerable areas quite brilliantly, we could really do some damage on the break as Cardiff pressed forward. Just at the point where you’ve scored a couple of goals and given your Watford career some desperately-needed momentum. Just at the point where your rival is returning from injury. You have blancmange for brains, sir.

2. Which isn’t to suggest that we were thoroughly superior prior to that turning point. On the contrary…and that only makes the dismissal seem more criminal, in many ways. We look lightweight with just two in that central midfield area, and while it’s reassuring to see a subs’ bench strengthened by returning first-teamers, there are nevertheless quite a number of octagonal pegs for round holes. Two-nil didn’t even vaguely reflect the balance of play, something that mattered not a jot until we suddenly found ourselves valiantly defending that lead for an hour without any kind of outlet.

3. Against Cardiff, who looked an extremely tidy side. For most at this level, randomly crashing the ball hither and thither is so much a part of everyday life that a numerical advantage makes barely a difference. This lot, on the other hand, knew what they were about. In truth, we should be happy to have held onto a point: we might easily have gone under entirely in the second half, such was the composure, poise and precision of our opponents’ attacking.

4. It would be untrue to say that Richard Lee was entirely responsible for keeping our heads above water. There were brave performances elsewhere, not least from a central defensive pairing dealing with an endless barrage of crosses from overrun flanks. A third penalty stop in two games grabs the headlines, of course…but, really, it was the save in the first half that merited the ovation. In all the way, until it wasn’t.

5. After last season’s repeated self-destruction, another home game that makes five thunks seem a little inadequate. They’ve been eventful, certainly…but, crucially, they’ve also been full of fight and guts and character, a team that’s suddenly very easy indeed to like and to support. Tellingly, nobody seems to be going on about the quality of the football any more. That never mattered. What mattered – matters – is that it comes with a sense of purpose, that it has some substance once the whistle’s blown, that it makes us feel something.


1. Matt B - 22/10/2008

A point saved, methinks… After the first Cardiff goal went in I felt fairly certain that they’d go on to win it. That we somehow managed to hold on to the draw is something to feel good about.

I’d expect that you’ll be getting claims of defamation from blancmange, though, ig….

2. Sirhornet - 22/10/2008

Can’t disagree at all with what you say Ian, especially with regard to the full-backs. Sadler and Mariappa seem determined to stand off their men and let them cross (mind you isn’t that the criticism levelled at Stewart and Doyley). The ball should never have reached Bothroyd for his first goal but somehow Sadler contrived to play it straight to him.

Was it just me or did anyone else see a handball by Bothroyd before his second goal? As for the penalty, whilst Tommy did get the ball, Aidy must remind the players to stay on thier feet in the box.

3. NRC - 22/10/2008

What did Tamas actually do? Was it just petulance? Did he think he deserved a penalty (it did look close)? We were too busy watching the set up for the free kick. Agree though Matt – not exactly great timing for the lad.

4. Johnny Boy - 22/10/2008

All in all probably a fair result but what I found dissapointing was that after our second goal, and we were lucky to be 2 ahead on the run of play, we were starting to play it around on the floor and gone on ,I think, to score more – and who would have been the beneficiary of that type of play but Tamas whose sending off changed the complextion of the game – if only the boy had kept his head.
Thought Hoskins had a good game, nice footwork and appears to use his brain also had a pretty thankless task most of the time which he did well.

5. Simmo - 22/10/2008

IG – I agree with all the five thunks. However I’m not sure if I am pleased with a point or disappointed we let a two goal lead slip.

6. Harefield Hornet - 22/10/2008

From my seat in the lower rous I had a good view of the events leading up to Priskin’s dismisal. Following some girly pushing and holding which was reciprocated by Tamas I clearly saw Purse drag his studs down his leg, Nasty bastard. I’m not condoning his Tamas’s reaction (although Purse went down as though he had been hit by Mike Tyson as opposed to skinny Hungarian) but under the circumstances I would probably have done the same.

Richard Lee – developing legendary status despite his faults.

7. Dan - 22/10/2008

Re 4: while the save in the first half was decent – and looked good – I think you would expect all competent keepers to have made it (the ball wasn’t travelling very fast). Lee’s stop in the second at his near post was the best of the night for me.

I thought Hoskins was superb, again, he has flashes of skill and vision as well as chasing everything.

Is it just me or do we play against Bothroyd every other week? Anyway he took both his goals very well, but quite what Sadler was playing at for the first I don’t know. Most of Cardiff’s attacks seemed to go down our left. The Left-Back Problem remains unsolved.

8. Esp - 22/10/2008

DM yesterday (with good cause) named and shamed Eustace, Demerit and Bromby as the most under par performers of the season; surely we should add Mariappa and Sadler to that list

It seemed all too easy for Jones to tell his charges to exploit BOTH sides of our defence and if I found myself in charge of any of our opponents this season I would be ordering them to “go wide”. It is also no secret of course that our “third choice keeper” is at his most vulnerable at crosses.

Although I wasn’t at the match last night (my Watford residing elder son took my seat) the timing of one of the substitutions seemed odd to me

Although nobody I suspect would criticise AB putting Rasiak on as we had no effective centre forward after Priskin went it did seem odd to me to take off Williamson off before that

If Eustace was put on to add any leadership or to harness the midfield (our least vulnerable area I would think), on both counts it failed and surely Williamson is one of our better players (based on current form) and his confidence won’t have been helped by that move

Do attendees last night agree?

9. David, Aylesbury - 22/10/2008

Probably grateful for a point in the end. I am very concerned about the left side of the team – not convinced at all by Sadler or Harley, the latter seemed to spend far too much time in the middle last night when all the danger was out wide (Paul Parry , was it ? Very impressive whoever it was)
This left side problem is even more worrying when you realise they will probably be up against Kightly on Saturday.

Thought John-Joe had another good game, as did Hoskins who impresses me more and more.

10. Tim Turner - 22/10/2008

The most disappointing thing for me, once Priskin had been sent off, was the way we so readily adopted a siege mentality and barely tried to advance over the halfway line. The fact that this tendency was more extreme after half-time suggests that Aidy ordered it. It’s all the more annoying because, on the rare occasions we managed to piece together an attack, we did look dangerous – viz Tommy’s shot near the end.

There was one point midway through the second half when we cleared the ball from a corner and not a single Watford player budged from the six-yard box. Like the Welsh infantrymen in ‘Zulu’, they stood shoulder to shoulder and prepared to defend their territory – all that was missing was a chorus of ‘Cwm Rhondda’ (they could have asked the away fans).

11. DM - 22/10/2008

Lovely use of the phrase “blithering idiot” Ig – a much underused phrase. Just like “Ashley Ward’s touch is subliminal”

I sat last night out, but it appears that, once again, frailities aside it was another cracking match down at the Vic. Huzzah for that.

12. Lardy Waster - 22/10/2008

Didn’t Priskin get sent off a few seasons back, just when he got a chance in the first team???

13. Aylesbury 'Orn - 22/10/2008

Agree with David, my fellow Aylesbury ‘Orn, Harley was far too narrow last night when we’d reverted to 4 across the middle, thus exposing Sadler, who, admittedly, didn’t make a particularly good fist of containing Parry.
I’m glass half full on last night though, definitely a point gained against a strong Cardiff side given our numerical disadvantage. When it went to 2-2, I could only see an away win so kudos to Watford for holding on.
Bring on Wolves!

14. JohnF - 22/10/2008

Great start but the vulnerabilities showed painfully when we lost Tamas. Very silly boy; we know Purse is a nasty piece of work so the answer is to go down and make an issue of it. However, with the high standard of refereeing in this division, we are always vulnerable to losing a player and we really did not deal with the situation very well. I can but agree with most of the earlier comments. Perhaps not sufficient quality to do what is needed, which is holding on to the ball and doing a little more attacking, i.e. you have to want to get out of your own penalty area. Where oh where is the leadership?

15. Esp - 22/10/2008

“with the high standard of refereeing in this division”
nice use of sarcasm JohnF but without Atwell, Bannister, Styles and their ilk there would be little to say on message boards and blogs 🙂

Footie really is the most subjective and controversial of games and long may it continue in that rich historical vein

Esp (Campaign for NO Video Technology in Football; let’s keep the controversies and a 90 minute match!!)

16. NickB - 22/10/2008

Football’s fun again, let’s be mid table and enjoy it!

Lee – great performance and a real pen save; agree first half flying save was good, but slightly for the cameras, as ball was looping

Sadler – shocking pass for first goal, but got absolutely no help from Harley at any stage. Seems like both full backs are told to allow 30 yds to wingers on receipt of ball; this cost us big time last season and makes no sense at all

Cardiff by some way the best side to visit so far, a point gained

17. Johnny Boy - 23/10/2008

Re the left side problem. I was surprised that the half time substitution wasn’t Sadler off – Harley back in defence, Wiliamson left midfield and Eustace in the middle. But what do I know. Probably find Williamson was injured.

A digression – was at Chelsea last night, seats close to the visiting Roma supporters. Very impressive support, solid wall of sound for practically the whole 90 minutes. From the gestures I don’t think all the chanting was complementary to Chelsea and the banner declaring the ‘ULTRAS’ was a bit disconcerting. That said the noise was impressive – I even recognised the tune of ‘When the saints go marching in’ – and at the end, a number of the Roma team threw their shirts into the crowd.

PS football wasn’t bad but give me the Vic anyday.

18. Paul Wiggins - 23/10/2008

Not related to the Cardiff match at all but have just seen the 07/08 football club achievers list ie where clubs would finish if resources were taken into account. We came 27th sandwiched between Arsenal and Man United. Doncaster, Portsmouth and Reading were the top 3, Sheff Wed came bottom with Wolves one place above them.
Perhaps tomorrow’s chant shouldn’t be ‘you’ll finish 7th again’ but ‘you’ll finish 91st again!’

19. DW - 23/10/2008

1. Another hugely enjoyable game but lets be under no illusions here, we were comprehensively outplayed in most area’s of the pitch. The numerical advantage they had only partly explains how so often they appeared to have an extra man.

2. This is the first game I have been to where we have lost a 2.0 lead relatively late on and still felt grateful.

3. Cardiff look a very decent side, if that XI stay together for the rest of the season they will challenge for automatic promotion.

4. Despite being outplayed it was another performance full of effort and running right down to the last when Harley sprinted 100 yards to chase a punt downfield.

5. Even from my vantage point from half way up the Rookery. the lunge by Eustace in the second half looked XXX rated. Had the Cardiff winger not so deftly avoided contact we would have been down to 9 men.

20. markymark - 23/10/2008

Johnny Boy: Williamson is no good on the left.He’s best in the centre or failing that on the right.
Every time Eustace plays I have a horrible feeling that there is a fair chance he will get a red card.To a lesser extent Harley is a red card in waiting.
We simply cannot afford to get red cards and/or give penalties away as by the law of averages we won’t save them all!
How many pens have we given away and how many have we been awarded for Pete’s sake ( anotrher underused expression!)

21. DM - 23/10/2008

Agree with Markymark’s comments, on Eustace at least. I said on the Southampton thread that even though he has the reputation as a leader from his Cov and Stoke days, he seems to think bootering people is the way to show it. Give me G.Mahon any day..

22. the real DL - 24/10/2008

Eustace is great value to watch – it’s a case of when the booking is coming, not if. When the going gets tough, I’d rather have him in our side than be playing against him. As we have a team devoid of leadership skills, his cajoling and wholeheartedness will be needed through the winter slog.

23. the real DL - 24/10/2008

by the way, the MEN reports Ben Foster as looking for a loan move…….

24. Esp - 25/10/2008

The Foster comment above is relevant as it is WFC related but if we employ his services again I think it would be grossly unfair to relegate one of Lee, Loach or Poom to 4th place goalie when fit. All 3 are quality Championship goalies who deserve to be picked on merit; there is enough competition for places between the sticks (hell, Chamberlain could still play too of required!!)
It seems obvious to me that left back, left midfield and strikers are where we need cover most however if Johnson (A), Springy, Eagles or Foster are ever unsettled it would still be nice to see them back at the Vic as they are all talented guys

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