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Watford 2 Southampton 2 (07/04/2009) 08/04/2009

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

1. Feisty and frenetic, this felt so much like a cup tie that it was a little disappointing not to get another half hour’s worth and another bunch of chances to decide a winner. You simply can’t play football at such a frantic pace without there being mistakes everywhere, but that’s hardly the point: it’s what football at this level is all about, on a good day.

2. One can’t help but admire visitors prepared to give it as much of a blast as Southampton did, swarming all around our distinctly jaded midfield and dragging Tamas Priskin into a physical battle in which he was heavily out-numbered, especially in the first half. We weren’t comfortable with any of it, whatever the scoreline might’ve been if we’d taken our countless chances. It’s almost impossible to believe that they won’t go down: on the pitch, this kind of high-scoring bedlam isn’t going to return enough points; away from it, there’s an obvious choice for the authorities between a run-in with just one club and potential legal challenges from about half a dozen. But there are plenty of more willing, more hopeless candidates for the chop on this evidence. You hope they keep fighting, at least.

3. The failure to build upon a lead has become a bit of a recurring theme, with far too many counter-attacking opportunities wasted by poor decision-making, wayward finishing and a general lack of ruthlessness in the final third. Plenty more of that here, even before Danny Rose failed to convert and win the game from barely a yard. A measure of progress under Brendan Rodgers, perhaps, that we need to worry about sealing victory rather than avoiding defeat…

4. And besides, nobody’s keeping that free kick out. We’ve conceded some truly farcical, utterly avoidable goals at Vicarage Road over the last couple of years. That wasn’t one of them.

5. Having rightly come under considerable fire in his early days, the manager has done a remarkable job of steering the ship away from the rocks since dropping his hardline allegiance to possession football. Bolstered by some extremely timely signings – Mike Williamson and Jack Cork particularly, but Don Cowie too – and aided by a transformation in the likes of Jobi McAnuff and Tamas Priskin, he’s managed to create a perfectly functional, thoroughly mid-table Second Division outfit. And a team that’s suddenly quite easy to like again, that seems comfortable with itself again. As ambition goes, that ain’t Aidy Boothroyd. But it’ll do just fine for now.


1. MJP - 08/04/2009

“Quite easy to like again” is the key phrase for me there. Apart from avoiding relegation, a return to putting on something approaching enjoyable performances must have been the 2nd priority this year, as going to Vicarage Road was rapidly becoming a chore that even the mosy dyed in the wool fans were finding excuses to miss. Me included.

The team was awful, the fans were restless and things were obviously rotten within the club. Rodgers has certainly turned the team round after a rocky start, the fans are happier and content, and there are signs of the green shoots of recovery at boardroom level. The fact that we are still shipping important squad players out on loan indicates that we are far from a sound financial footing, but at least it FEELS like we are moving in the right direction.

We have arrested a slide that, to me, felt terminal earlier in the season.

Going to Watford is fun again, and I am glad.

2. NRC - 08/04/2009

Spot on, especially around the manager. A lot is clearly going to have to happen over the summer, but it’s possible to have faith in him making the right decisions, he seems to know what he’s doing. The sheer terror we felt in January about losing one or two key players has abated – anyone notice that JJOT scored for the Blades? How much are we missing him? Special mentions to Scott and Lloydy last night as well.

3. Mark Ashton - 08/04/2009

Think we missed a good business opportunity and I reckon Southampton fans would’ve coughed up a few thou for the win.

4. Kris - 08/04/2009

NRC – you’re right about people going over the summer. I felt since January that Smith would but after the chairman’s comments on our interim results I think we’ll see a much greater number of players go than we think.

Smith, Priskin, MacAnuff, Willo Mk I, JJOT, Hoskins, Demerit, Mariappa (on a bosman) and possibly Hoskins are all prime suspects here.

With those players gone, we can hope that Rodgers can make the Cauna and Rasiak moves permanent, bring Cork back for a second season and find another couple of lower league gems. Add to that a couple of youngsters coming through (Theo, Parkes to name a couple).

We may end up with a weakened side but still a side that has quality enough to go for a mid table position – and a side much cheaper in terms of wages that we should avoid ending up where Saints and Addicks are now. And that is key to me. For while I love Smith, Priskin and the new edition MacAnuff, I love the club a whole lot more.

5. simmo - 08/04/2009

Mark Ashton – That’s now 14 goals conceded in the last 5 minutes of matches this season costing us 12 points. It’s becoming inevitable that we are going to concede a late goal.

Maybe we have been doing business as lets face it, Danny Rose’s chance was harder to miss than score.

6. NRC - 08/04/2009

Kris – can’t disagree, but wasn’t it odd how few actually left in January after all the doom and gloom beforehand? This is where the Academy kicks in.

BTW you forgot Ellington – arghhhhh!

7. NickB - 08/04/2009

Enjoyable game after a slow start. We were second to a lot of things, particularly in midfield, owing to Saints being as fired up as anyone seen at the Vic since Wolves, and demonstrating no little skill either. We could easily have lost this 3-0 at the back end of last season yet with cooler finishing ought to have run out winners; ig’s spot on with his summary that the game was very hard to fathom. Can’t deny Soton a point though

And what a pathetic decision by the lino to not confirm a penalty for the ‘challenges’ on JM; if the forward survives the first hack outside the box, only to then be felled inside, how can that possibly not be a pen? The ref should have made the decision himself, as the linesman clearly didn’t understand either the rules or the spirit of the game.

Lastly, in the absence of a Donny report, I’d like to praise Neil Sullivan for his good grace and humour in responding to the play off chants by pointing to himself and mouthing ‘I scored!!’ That is class; top bloke

8. DM - 08/04/2009

Great to have Sir Ian Grant back on match day duty.

As ever, I find it hard to disagree with you. Unlike that Rowson character.

9. bob - 08/04/2009


i agree there will be a clear out at summer to balance things up a bit, but need it affect our game so badly? Look at who is likely to be released and I would say probably not;

ellington, Kabba, g williams, poom, eustace, bangura, jjot, williamson.

that must take a conservative 750K off the wage bill without trying. i hope and pray that is enough to let the board forget about selling little tommy. local players like him don’t come along too often (well twice so far).

Granted, BR has been reasonably lucky with injuries but if we are to sell ourselves to up and coming stars as a place where they’ll get a game rather than warm the bench we need the squad trimmed to 20 as stated.

With regards last night, if there was a club i don’t mind drawing to, it has to be southampton in their current predicament… and in truth their second was one of the best to be seen at vicarage road this season, so fairs fair.

negatives – we couldn’t settle in first half (prob due to southampton wanting it). centre mids looking tired now, bless them. Rose missing that sitter (did he have money on 2-2 as it looked like he stepped over it)?

positives – tommy didnt stop, lloyds tackling without flaw and caunas and rose both looked good.

anyone else notice smudgers exasperated look, as tamas ‘forgot’ to look up again.

10. markymark - 08/04/2009

Kris : Disagree,No way will ALL those players go or indeed have to go if we offload the likes of Sadler,Williams,Poom,O’Toole,Eustace.

I will even be surprised if 2 out of Smith,Jobi and Priskin go bearing in mind Rodgers likes them all.

Bob : £750k in wages for that lot-are you having a laugh ?

Its more like double that!

11. The Great Big O - 08/04/2009

We were scrappy last night. But still we turned it into a memorable match.

(Conceding late equalisers and missing added-time sitters counts as memorable entertainment in my book, even if it hurts.)

This season has been GREAT for entertainment at home games. Reading (ghost goal; 0-1 down, 2-1 up). West Ham. Preston (0-1 down, 2-1 up.) Wolves (battling comeback). Blackpool (goals, goals, goals). QPR. Spurs (taking the lead). Norwich + Coventry (six much needed points in a week). Palace in the cup. Burnley. Chelsea (taking the lead). Swansea (winning the dribble-fest). Sheffield Wednesday (barmy). Southampton (0-1 down, 2-1 up)…

Last season, I enjoyed only one game – the ding-dong draw with Colchester. The rest was agony.

I hope I’m not premature in thinking that – with the changes in the boardroom and in our level of expectation – we may be getting our club back.

12. Wat4Steve - 08/04/2009

1 I am less sympathetic with the free kick. Well executed totally agree but a GK should not get beat from what must have been 40 Yards, this wasn’t a Roberto Carlos special. I didn’t have the best view (side on) but from where I was (Upper Rous) it looked like he took up a poor position and was rooted to the spot. I have played in goal and like Scott but I think he is too flat footed.

2 Rose, did he really step over the ball instead of tap it in? It looked like it. Still rumour is his best position is in the hole and Buck is having a look for next year to play there when Tommy is sold over the summer.

3 I thought we looked tired. OK Jay put a lot of mile up on international duty but the others hav just had a week off.

4 Agree Southampton look a half decent team. As they did at their ground in the first game. “Too good to go down” heard it all before. Surely then 10 point deduction will be too much for them if, when it happens.

5 Yes it is enjoyable, but would like to know what players will go over the summer. The Russo seem reasonable have said they will consider the need of the team. Let’s hope so.

13. Lesley-Anne - 08/04/2009

Kris, I just can’t see Brendan letting Priskin go and keeping Rasiak. Aside from anything else I’m sure Rasiak’s wages would be higher than Priskin’s.

I would like us to keep Priskin as when he’s on form he is a superb player; I don’t think he would have missed Rose’s chance last night.

14. RGW - 09/04/2009

The second may have been near unstoppable, but the first was far from it. Not only was the header largely unchallenged, but if there had been someone on the post, they would probably have cleared it. Duh.

15. NRC - 09/04/2009

The Great Big O – the Marching Band!! Now that’s what I call entertainment.

16. stephen hoffman - 09/04/2009

demerit has been very good recently wouldn’t want to get rid of him , i would want to keep o-toole also as goalscoring midfielder i would also like to keep mariappa. whilst i like lee williamson rodgers clearly does -he has hardly ever played him in his right position , also he has stated his desire to move to preston. Hoskins flatters to deceive and poom has to go .

17. stephen hoffman - 09/04/2009

i saw the free kick , loach had no chance -best away team goal at the vic this season-utter nonsense to criticise loach, criticise the ref for giving a free kick when it never was in the first place.

18. kris - 09/04/2009

@ MarkyMark and Lesley-Ann: Read Russo’s statement from the interim results. It’s basically one long schmeer preparing us for massive cuts in the summer. Maybe all of them won’t go but I feel certain that the ones who’ll bring a bit of cash in most certainly will. Priskin and Smith will bring in decent dosh and so will Willo. Those 3 and any of the rest will go just to balance the books. The board is aiming at making the club self-sustainable and we need cash (and lots of it) to make that happen.

But my point was not as much regarding those leaving but the outlook despite our top players leaving. Even if all I list in my previous post leave – I’ll still feel optimistic about next season. Good players brought in on the cheap. Good loanees and our academy giving us one or two Lloyd Doyleys (one can only dream).

The point? well – the future… it’s bright – it’s yellow!

19. Wat4Steve - 09/04/2009


Watch the goal again. The ball goes a good two foot under the bar and Loach is three yards off his line, poor positioning IMO. Otherwise known as ‘no mans land’.

Roses effort looks even worse second time round.

20. Geoff McPherson - 10/04/2009

Ok this will be one of the more obscure postings on this website……for those that are in the vicinity the first Official Denver USA Watford gathering will be taking at the Hornet Pub on South Broadway Wednesday April 15th at 7:30 pm, all of those in the surrounding area are welcome to join us.

21. NickB - 10/04/2009

Just watched the highlights and the one thing I’d say about Loach on the 2nd goal is that he does that wrong arm thing, trying to reach a shot to his top left with his right hand. I hate that, can’t be as effective as the traditional way, surely

22. stephen hoffman - 10/04/2009

wat 4 steve i have watched and seen the goal live and on tv – loach had no chance , i never heard of someone being so pathetically pinnichity – get behind the guy, i would criticise if he had made an error, he didn’t it was just an excellent free kick, accept it stop being so miserable and move on.

i actually really enjoyed the first 5 months of last season the wolves away game and southampton home game which we won 3-2 when we down 2-1 in the last ten mins were some faves of mine. it just went wrong from december onwards .

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