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Watford 4 Crystal Palace 3 (24/01/2009) 25/01/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the cup win over Palace

1- Better.  Again.  Far from flawless (see below) and against encouragingly limited opposition, but improvement nonetheless.

2- That said… what a distastrous tranche of substitutions.  O’Toole for Rasiak… you can see what Rodgers was thinking, block up the midfield and slow the game down, but it didn’t work – we just fell back and invited pressure.  Bridcutt for Hoskins was just bizarre – McAnuff’s most positive outing for a long time was scuppered by him being asked to do a job for which he was unsuited.  And Kiernan for Hoyte, who had bottled Ifill up all game, was a calamity.  Why have Bangura on the bench if not to close down a game when at 4-1 up?

3- No Smith, Priskin, Williamson.  The positive spin would be that we were saving legs for Tuesday night… but with Theo Robinson going to Southend on loan and Liam Henderson already at Hartlepool that left us with no forwards on a seven-strong bench.  Hmmm.

4- Refereeing.  Palace fans were unhappy at their share of the decisions, but unfortunately that’s what happens when a Colin team meets a fussy referee.  And what a classic of its genre this Palace team is, Shaun Derry, as ever, antagonist in chief.  That said, we did get a couple of genuinely bizarre decisions but largely inoccuous ones – and after a decade or more of watching us face Colin’s niggly nonsense I’m not inclined to lose any sleep over this one.

5- Some quite terrific goals all told;  the first owed a lot to defensive ineptitude that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the other end of the park, the third could also have been better defended although it was finished well and suggested a long-missed stock move.  But the second and fourth were marvellous breakaways, truly exhilarating.  Good stuff.



1. Tim Turner - 25/01/2009

I’m struggling to remember a more inept series of substitutions by a Watford manager in my lifetime. To transform a crowd that is revelling in the rare joy of being three goals up at home to nervous silence takes some doing, but Brenda managed it. Actually, forget nervous – most of the people around me in the Rookery were angry at the sheer cluelessness of it.

Maybe Rodgers will go on to do a good job for us – and I hope he does, heaven knows we need a bit of stability – but if he does leave in ignominy, I will look back at the moment when he took off our one remaining forward and replaced him with an inexperienced teenaged midfielder with a physique that makes Ashley Young look like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the incident that proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he wasn’t up to the job.

And he left Bangura and Eustace on the bench!!!!

On a more positive note, the Rasiak/Hoskins combination up front looks full of goals. If we stick with that we ought to be just about okay. Then again, Brenda is probably negotiating to bring in a 17-year-old Chelsea reserve to take Hoskins’ place…

2. stephen hoffman - 25/01/2009

i would not play smith on tuesday for the simple reason that smith has not been in good form in the last couple of weeks and mcanuff and harley looked much better – no player can have a divine right to be in the first team.

I really hope resting priskin doesn’t mean he’s coming back into the first team on tuesday yet again as was shown in the blackpool game hoskin’s and raziak is our most potent pairing up front.

We still need a big ugly centre back as well.

3. JohnF - 25/01/2009

The lack of expectation from the relatively small turnout of Watford fans before the game was palpable. This is a worrying trend.

On the playing side much better and doesn’t Harley make a difference in mid-field? Much, much better from MacAnuff. Hoskins in a two man attack was excellent, not least because of his movement. Cork is a very good player but needs to move the ball a bit quicker, having said that, he needs someone open to move it to.

What is the matter with Demerit? He had a hand in their three (four) goals and was primarily responsible for the first, which got them back into the game. He looks overweight and will insist on getting in the way of other players. The fact that Marriappa and Hoyte were both having a go at him says a lot.

Substitutions; is this guy naive or what?

However, upsetting Warnock and the awful Palace fans has got to be a huge bonus and it was all down to the referee, I don’t think. Bit fussy but better than many more experienced officials we have seen.

4. Matt Rowson - 25/01/2009

Stephen – I wouldn’t expect Priskin to come back into the team either, the “rested ” comment was more pointed at Smith and Williamson. But not to have him on the bench in the absence of any strikers is a bit strange.

Your Smith argument is an interesting one. Smith certainly hasn’t been firing on all cylinders of late, but I wish I had more confidence that McAnuff’s excellent performance yesterday would be followed up by similar on Tuesday…

5. Kris - 25/01/2009

First of all a ‘well done Todgers’ for reverting to a regular 4-4-2. What a difference two strikers meant to our creation of chances. Of course this was aided massively by MactheDuff suddenly deciding to put in a little effort.

I was surprised (to put it mildly) when I saw our bench and I can’t understand why Brendan didn’t choose at least one more attacking player. Lewis Young for example – rather than 4 centermids.

I understand why Hoskins, Raziak and Hoyte were taken off – it was 4-1 and must have felt very safe – and to flood the midfield could easily have turned out a good decision. At it were it gave Palarse the openings they couldn’t create themselves.

I wasn’t at the game (as always I am tempted to say) being Danish, but from what I read we dominated the game. And for us to do so without Willo and Smudger is a very big positive for me. The other things we should take with us is that two of our forwards scored and the 4-4-2 worked a treat.

Now we just need to secure the services of a quality centerback (Mike Williamson of Wycombe is allegedly signing next week) and maybe – just maybe we can move away from the mire and towards mid-table safety.

6. stephen hoffman - 25/01/2009

i agree about priskin on the bench which is why i don’t get why we put Robinson on loan to me Robinson when he’s come off the bench in games has added pace to our forward line – i wouldn’t have put him on loan again.

Mcanuff has to be given a chance , he can’t be dropped after a performance like that-why change a winning side.

7. MartinG - 25/01/2009

Two of the best counter attacking goals you’ll see all season. The ball moved forward at pace makes a huge difference. Hoskins was very good so I’d be disappointed if he didn’t start on Tues. You still wince every time the ball comes into our box though.

Still it was much more positive yesterday.

8. Bringe - 25/01/2009

At 4-1 up in the cup it shouldn’t matter, Rodgers asked some questions about his fringe players and will have his answers … At the end of the day it’s Job done.

He’ll have also learned that Hoskins can unlock defences, Raziak is damned effective when compared with Priskin, McAnuff has to play on the right and as if he didn’t know, that Jay Demerit isn’t a championship defender. (in comes Mike Williamson)

Bring on Burnley

9. Dave Hart - 25/01/2009

According to Wycombe manager Peter Taylor, we are about to sign their 6 foot 3 centre back Mike Williamson on Monday.

I can understand the decision to bring on the kid at right back. Giving a kid his debut when you are a couple of goals ahead to two minutes to go is a sensible way to introduce a teenager to first team football. He only had a couple of minutes to be nervous.

Some people may remember O’Toole marking the referee at a throw in on his debut! It’s a pity that the goal was fault. Hopefully it won’t knock his confidence too much.

What bemuses me was the naming of four central midfielders on the subs bench. Surely he could have named someone like Parkes, Gibson or Hunter on the bench, as Theo has gone on loan to Southend. He could even have named the striker Sorrel(?) on the bench. Very bizarre indeed.

The referee seemed very reluctant to book some of their players in the first half. He told one argumentative player to go away four times, and still didn’t book him! I thought he was better in the second half though. Apart from their disallowed goal, of course!

One wonders what Frank Lampard actually does at the club. Either he is doing nothing, or Rogers is ignoring his advice.

10. Dan - 25/01/2009

Well, after whinging recently (with good reason) I am feeling much better after yesterday. There were many more good points than bad:

Hoskins – the guy is class, he can finish (his goal looked fantastic on TV – a little chip up to himself, turn and SMASH), he brings others into the game, and he puts in a shift. He had been involved in two moves that led to chances inside the first four minutes. He MUST start, with Rasiak, on Tuesday.

4-4-2 – it may be English conservatism, but bollocks to anything else right now: the players looked much more comfortable, particularly Rasiak, and it was great to see our attacking threat back.

MacAnuff – absolutely awesome, should have got man-of-the-match this week. If only he did this every week. At the very least, it might have raised his price!

Doyley – well, he did a job, and it released Harley. Harley is much more effective in midfield, but when Smith returns I imagine he will have to go back to left-back.

As for the substitutions, I prefer the generous view that Buck wanted to save Rasiak and Hoskins for Tuesday night. Even with our defence, a 4-1 lead should be safe. Palace piled forward, so we were going to be under pressure no matter what, so it made some sense to try and strengthen the midfield and close the game down (though it didn’t actually work). The last change was, I grant you, utterly ludicrous.

Anyway, I enjoyed a game for the first time since we destroyed QPR, and I want more of the same on Tuesday. We’re not going to solve the defensive woes overnight, so let’s carry on with the positive, purposeful forward play and give Burnley something to worry about.

11. Johnny Boy - 25/01/2009

The good points;
– 4-4-2
– Rasiak/Hoskins
– Macanuff finally playing how we know he can
– Loanee comming good – Cork and on a smaller scale Hoyte
The worrying points;
– Jay, a youngster from Wycombe ain’t going to sort out his problems. Mariappa plus A N Other sounds a better option.
– Personally, still not convinced by Loach. Who is this guy from Chelsea. A reserve keeper – bye, bye Lee or Poon. A coach – bye, bye Alec.
– Tom being ‘rested’ – hello Reading if stories are to be believed.
– The manager, if only for the fact that Eustace ( experience etc.) should have come on ahead of any of the others imho.
Roll on Tuesday for another rollercoaster of emotions.

12. Lesley-Anne - 25/01/2009

According to 3CR Richard Lee was ill and Priskin had a knock, which is why neither were on the bench. It still doesn’t explain why somebody like Lewis Young wasn’t though. As soon as Rasiak and Hoskins had gone off our attacking threat was gone and we invited them to attack us. We are just not good at soaking up pressure! We have to know that the best form of defence is attack!!!!
I actually thought we defended well (or at least a LOT better than of late) in the first half, just a shame we conceded those late goals as I think a 4-1 win would have given the team a real confidence boost. I disagree that Jay DeMerit is not a Championship defender; he has proven himself in this league and even had a reasonable season in the Premier League. His confidence is low but hopefully his goal will have helped and I think he can still do a job for us. It’s a shame that a player who was a fans favourite is getting such stick on the message boards. But that’s football fans for you.

On the whole, an entertaining game which was hugely enjoyable until the last 10 or so minutes. 4 goals scored by a defender, a midfielder and one each for the 2 strikers can’t be bad!! Let’s hope we can take something positive from it into our League games where it really counts!

13. JonM - 25/01/2009

re 3: Smith was genuinely rested, Priskin picked up a knock in training so wasn’t fit enough to be on the bench and Williamson has been carrying a knock for a few weeks now so was left out to allow him more time to recover.

14. Wat4Steve - 25/01/2009

1 – I joined a few thousand others today and stayed away. As a fan the only voice we have is whether we attend games or not. I am fed up of WFC taking my loyalty for granted.

2 – 4-4-2? Apparently we had a much better shape not sure what forced the switch. Was it; a) GT watching last week and now having an influence; b) The fans not buying tickets leading to a quiet word in Brendan’s ear; c) Rodger deciding for himself the players will never be comfortable playing a possession game.

3 – No Tommy Smith? Question has to be asked where is his best position in a 4-4-2? Apparently a Centre half signing from Wycombe, if we can also add a left back, and another attacking player perhaps £3M for Smith wouldn’t be bad business. TS is neither an out and winger nor is he a striker. Rumour again TS off to an unnamed premiership team……..

4 – Jobi rejected a move to Charlton but I have to say play him right wing and he looks a different player. A lot to be said for putting square pegs in square holes, for sure he was playing against one of his old clubs and if you can’t get up for that you never will but how many games has he actually played as an out and out right winger in a Watford shirt?

5 – With Elton soon to become a shareholder things could be looking up. Even if we sell one of our best assets in Smith this result suggest we should still have enough at least going forward. If we can also get some other wasters off the payroll (Useless and Sadler) perhaps we could even strengthen!

………… Oh nearly forgot, ALWAYS good to beat Palace.

15. markymark - 25/01/2009

Johhny Boy: Mike Williamson is not exactly a “youngster”.He is 26 this year & played over 100 league matches albeit mainly in Division 2.
More importantly however, he is 6’3″ and quite bulky which we desperately need at the back.Interestingly,Tony Adams ( not a bad CB I recall ) initially signed him on loan for a year whilst in charge at Wycombe.Put it this way, I’d rather have a hungry lower division player come to us than yet another teenage wannabee from Chelsea!

Regarding Tuesday, it will be very interesting to see if BR changes a winning team ( I hope not ).Nothing wrong with having Tommy Smith on the bench 🙂

16. Back from Hammerau - 25/01/2009

Not so sure about the finishing 11, but it was a nicely-balanced starting 11.
Hoskins and Rasziak worked well together, MacAnuff looked like a different player and our left side looked OK with Doyley again looking comfortable at left back and Harley benefitting from the freedom of the more advanced role.
The pIeasure of the win was all the greater as I went to the game with no expectations of anything other than a defeat.

17. moose badge - 26/01/2009

its no coincidence that Macanuff last 2 meaningful games came playing on the right wing QPR and Palace H. Really tough as i wouldent change the team for tues.

18. DM - 26/01/2009

Having swerved this one, good to see the penny has dropped in regards our formation and our attacking play. From what I hear, Hoskins and Harley made a real difference there. 4-4-2 = 4 goals. That debate is over !

As for the defending – the substitions were demented – if it were 2-1 and we were struggling to keep posession, then yes, flood the midfield. But hadn’t we just scored two goals ? Why take off both strikers and pile the presure onto a back four that we know is rickety ?

Our manager is inexperienced for sure, but this is beyond inexperience and is just plain stupid. Had it cost us the win, which with the disallowed goal it could easily have done, then what would we be saying ?

19. Matt Rowson - 26/01/2009

DM – I agree with your general point, but I’m not sure about “easily could have done”. The effect of the substitutions, wildly oversimplifying, was to turn what should have been a comfortable win into a narrow one. But I can’t believe that, for example, had Palace’s disallowed goal been allowed (as it should have been) that Hoyte would have come off and, that being the case, Ifill wouldn’t have been allowed his opportunity.

20. Richard S - 26/01/2009

Having called for the managers head last week, its only fair to say now that what we saw for 75 minutes on Saturday was unrecognisible from recent efforts. Lets hope this, plus his comments on ‘style’ in the WO and the near fiasco of the last 15 minutes after reverting to 1 up front means the penny is dropping.

21. DM - 26/01/2009

Matt – I thought the disallowed goal came after the 3rd Palace goal. I blame ITV. And Robbie Earle inparticular.

It was still a stunningly poor substitution…

22. Ian Lay - 26/01/2009

Matt re: your point on the dissallowed goal. Totally agree. The game would have been changed and thus the later goals may not have happened. When a goal is dissallowed late on (which would have been the winning goal, or to draw your side level) then a manager has a right to gripe. But when the “goal” comes before the allowed goals are scored, you’ve immediately changed the “time line” as it were. Tactics will change and substitutions may not be made (as you have suggested).

I laughed my head off when Warnock was whinging about the goal and the ref. Does that man know how to lose gracefully?

23. Harefield Hornet - 26/01/2009

This game has certainly raised some interesting points and that in itself shows this was a great improvement on the insipid rubbish we have seen lately.

The two strikers: Play both of them every week unless injury prevents it. Hoskins is a cracking little striker and has a good deal of everything required. If he doesn’t fulfil his potential here he certainly will elsewhere if BR is stupid enough to discount him as a long term option. Raziak: If he fancies it on the day he’s got quality – the fourth goal demonstrated that.

The two centre backs: Still a big problem that needs sorting out. I don’t think Demerit is up to it. Marriappa is improving but his relative lask of height continues to hinder.

Macanuff: sensational on the right against his former employers
(Palace: Can we play you every week?!)

Substitutions: Well meaning but disaterous. LEARN FROM IT.

Boring 30 pass sequences around the middle of the park: Why couldn’t we do this when we were 4-1 up instead of at 0-0 in other games!

Jenkins: fantastic potential but needs a rest.

and finally………….

The two Palace morons who “invaded” the pitch and gave it large to the lower Rous: Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had for ages.

24. simmo - 26/01/2009

Like Richard S I also have to praise where I have been critical in the past. Jobi had a great game and I hope that this will be the first of many.

However where I disagree with the majority of the people on this site is with regard to Jay. I feel he is working twice as hard because he is having to cover for Mariappa. Last season Jay had a partner he had confidence in. It seems that Jay is now responsible for winning every header at both ends and is also having to cover all the ground to make up for Mariappa’s lack of positional sense. I hope Jay will now be partnered with Williamson (M not L) so we can get back to some sensible defending.

My only other comment about Saturday is regarding Hoskins, “can we play him every week”……………..please?

25. Matt Rowson - 26/01/2009

Sorry Simmo, don’t agree. Mariappa looks immeasurably more comfortable at centre back. Demerit is a very good functional defender but he’s not a captain and, more importantly, struggles when asked to be the senior partner at the back. Alongside Malky, or Clarke Carlisle he was fine… they did the organising, he pretty much did what he was told and generally did it well. But he makes awful decisions when it’s left to him to do so. Reminds me of David Holdsworth in that respect, who similarly looked very good when playing alongside McClelland or Roeder, less so otherwise. Mariappa, with a bit more experience, has much more of a leader in him.

26. Esp - 26/01/2009

Nothing much to add to the above except to say that I too would like to see the same team and formation play on Tuesday and as has been hinted above I hope that excellent MotM performance from Jobi wasn’t ONLY because we were playing Palace and he had a point to prove. I prefer to believe that he rejected the move to Charlton because he LOVES us. It was nice to hear the Rookery chanting his name too 🙂

Would Williamson, Priskin and Smudger on the bench be a bad move on Tuesday?

My only possible change to the FA Cup team would maybe to drop Aidy or Jay for the new defender we have just signed. I’m still not convinced by their pairing.

And finally – Doyley – YES you’re back son. Silenced some of your critics in the Vic!!

27. moose badge - 26/01/2009

at least we will have some good striking options for tues, i suspect rodgers was thinking of resting players when he made the change, if we play like that every week i will have no problems.

28. Dave Hart - 26/01/2009

I work with a couple of Wycombe season ticket holders, and they were both very disappointed to see Williamson leave. By the sound of it, he is good in the air, gets forward at free kicks and corners, scoring goals in the process, and has good leadership skills. His apparent weakness is his lack of pace, which suggests that Marriappa is the better partner for him.

Now all we need is a left footed left back.

29. derry pigweed - 26/01/2009

1. 4-4-2 Much better Hoskins and Rasiak linked up well
2.Substitutions were awful alongside the tactics in the last 10 minutes,another 5 minutes of that and Palace would have won!
4.I went to the game with a palace mate and he didn’t mention the ref,his only comment was why do I moan about Powderpuff so much??? Jobi did have a good game, his first in my opinion.
5.Very good !hopefully our young manager will learn from the first 80 minutes,Bring on Burnley and 3 points for the HORNS

30. Wat4Steve - 27/01/2009

Well said Matt. Jay has benefitted from playing with good exierenced de4fenders all his career helping him with his positional sense when he has been asked to step up and be the leader of the pair then he has been found wanting. Mariappa is the younger and has far more potential.

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