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Watford 0 Birmingham City 1 (18/04/2009) 18/04/2009

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

1. A touching send-off for Mike Keen before kickoff, with the Birmingham fans adding their applause to that of everyone connected with the club he once managed. I wasn’t around in any meaningful sense back then, I’m afraid, but Simon Marchant was and you can read his tribute here.

2. Football matches happen pretty regularly, once every week and sometimes more. In that respect, they’re not necessarily noteworthy per se; five thunks is frequently more than such a commonplace event really deserves. A shot from Lloyd Doyley, on the other hand…well, that’s an event. A shot from Lloyd Doyley that whistles a yard past the post with the keeper scrambling…heavens. Heavens above. It’ll actually happen one day and everyone’ll remember where they were when it did. You better hope it’s not somewhere other than the scene of history being made: you really don’t want to be in a queue at Tesco’s when Lloyd belts a last-minute winner into the top corner….

3. In less unusual ways, the defence did sterling work here. We were again sufficiently lacklustre in midfield – and against hungry, confident opponents – that they bloody well needed to. A particular nod towards Mike Williamson, who appears to have been bought the box-set of Colin Foster’s Guide To Looking Imperious to point him in the right direction. That’s a hard act to emulate, but there’ll be plenty of fun in watching the attempt on this evidence.

4. Birmingham were, of course, another proto-Middlesbrough, cobbled together from a well-thumbed copy of The Who’s Who of Ho Hum. It’s like finding a new panel show on BBC3, another vehicle for the same old faces to pick up their appearance fee for churning out lukewarm banter; a tedious game of musical chairs. They’ll take nobody by surprise next season: anyone who’s surprised by, say, Stephen Carr has presumably had their head in a cement mixer for the last ten years. Or doesn’t like football. Or both, to be on the safe side. Actually, watching Stephen Carr, you have to say that they might be onto something. Anyway, let’s not pretend that they weren’t better than us by some distance, but there was a spell in the second half when we hinted that something else might be afoot. That would’ve been awfully good fun.

4.1 Quite long for a thunk, that. Sorry.

5. Dear, Brendan. It’d be really nice to be properly safe, wouldn’t it? Perhaps that could be arranged at your convenience, ideally at Coventry.  Much obliged, ig.



1. Jim - 18/04/2009

Re: 5 My god, it would be lovely, ig. I’ve got a horrible feeling that with 20 minutes to go against Derby, Jay DeMerit will be tasked with a last minute tackle to keep us in the division. Please no.

2. Tim Turner - 18/04/2009

Re thunk no. 2: I usually put on a few small bets on Watford home games via Hornetsbet, and I always put a quid on Lloyd to score the first goal, on the basis that it might happen one day.

For as long as I can remember the odds have been 66-1: this week they ‘drifted out’ to 80-1 for some reason. So maybe Lloyd’s goalless streak is all an elaborate betting scam, and he was just waiting till he could make a killing with the bookies.

Still, I’ll still with a quid for the time being…

3. Fran - 19/04/2009

Sitting in the Rookery with that end of season feeling watching paint dry and then Lloydy went on that run and launched the shot and heads were in hands. Who’d have thought that from a Doyley shot? But, more importantly, spectators were on their feet with huge smiles on their faces. When Mariappa scored at Molineux, the sun was in our eyes and the announcer credited McAnuff. I felt cheated that day. When Doyley scores there will be no mistake!

4. JohnF - 19/04/2009

Ian, I knew Mike Keen quite well as he lived in our village. He was a lovely man, a real gentleman and a great player. Thank you for your kind words, which remind us that losing to BIrmingham isn’t the worst thing to happen.

I felt the game was so frustrating, particularly in the first half when we looked as though we would be overrun. I felt sorry for Hoskins battling against a huge centre half, with few options and little protection from the officials. Apparently an arm round his neck and the other hand holding his shirt were deemed fair. The second half was much better with Raziak getting away from his marker but also with more support and so taking some of the pressure off midfield and defence.

Looking at the fixtures of the bottom sides, we should be safe even if we don’t get any more points but it is likely to be a nail biting finish looking over our collective shoulders and it is possible for us to go down. Earlier I reckoned we needed 54 points to be safe by our own endeavours and I haven’t changed my opinion.

5. Tapps - 19/04/2009

Nice Mike Keen tribute from Simon Marchant. After Mike hung up his professional boots he used to play in the High Wycombe Sunday Combination for Mike Keen Sports (his excellent shop in the town – it was replaced by Sport & Ski which is now in its 12th year of its cloing down sale – pah). He still had no problem pinging 40-50 yard passes around the council pitches of the area. Invariably the passes would arrive pinpoint on the intended target’s toes. He could whinge with the best of them too. I thought a 50+ year old would be grateful he was still playing the game but a combination of percieved incompetent refs and cheating opponents meant you never had long to wait to hear a Mike whine.

As for yesterday’s game, Jay Demerit – I will remember you that way. Class performance.

The ball boy in front of the lower Rous is begnning to take on celebrity status. He wound up Larsson in the first half refusing to give him the ball and then Murphy in the second when he offered him water instead of the ball. I’d like to know what Colin would make of it all.

6. Wat4Steve - 19/04/2009

1 Mike Keen couldn’t agree more

2 A game of two half’s. First 4-3-3 / 4-1-4-1 (depending on how you view life) This is how we started life under Buck. I didn’t like it then and I like even less now. I just don’t think we have the players, Chelsea play it well but they have Lampard and Ballack breaking into the box and Drogba / Anaelka holding it up. The only player we have that IMO could do a similar job is currently on loan at Sheffield Utd. Worrying thing is Brendan does seem to prefer this look.

3 Second 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-1-1 (again depend how you view it) Much better and until Birmingham score we gave them a bloody good run for their money. Had Rasiaks header gone in it could have been a different story. But the players looked a lot more comfortable, Rose I thought had a good game anyone know why he was subbed? I thought we lost something when he left the pitch. Yet again we also missed the guile of Priskin in the last third of the pitch.

4 On the balance of the first half alone I thought the best team one which is why I find the comments re the defence strange. I agree Williamson looked solid but Loach kept up in the game for the first 45 mins and Birmingham really should have been out of site so to praise the defence does not add up it wasn’t good defending it was good goalkeeping. Loach yep best 45 min in a Watford shirt. Demerit was out of position too often for me wears he heart on his sleeve and I understand thats why many fans like him, really should have done better with the goal too, you can’t show a forward inside when he is in the penalty box. Also, he just doesn’t seem to get on with Marrippa and I know which one I would keep!

5 Hoskins has he played his last match in a Watford Shirt. On 3CR Rodgers implied one or two starting today had a point to prove regards to where they will be playing the football next season. I just don’t see where he fits in this team. Priskin and Rasiak look better options to me ok the later is not our but I can believe we can’t get a better loan player in than Will. Close the door on your way out….

7. Dave Hart - 19/04/2009

It that the ballboy on the half-way line who spends half his time juggling with the ball? He’s quite good at it actually.

I know that a game against the top team isn’t the best time to throw some of the kids in, but surely Rogers will put some of them in for the Coventry game. Parkes, Henderson, Young, Kiernan, North or even the Hungarian Keeper could benefit from a first team game, but not all of them at the same time, obviously. I would suggest Gibson, but I think that he might still be imjured.

8. Royston RoF - 19/04/2009

1. Mike Keen, yes a gentleman, probably too gentle to be a manager but best remembered by allowing me on the players coach down part of the way down M6 after an evening game at Preston to my college in Cheshire. His only failure that day was taking Ross J (the elder) all the way up to lancashire and then not even putting hime on the subs bench when we urgently needed points to saty in the old 3rd div.

I also remember playing with him in the old Wycombe Combination as part of his early season training when he was manager of Wycombe, as Tapps said, a pleasure to watch.

9. Sirhornet - 19/04/2009

A few thunks of my own:
1) Is Doyle the tallest keeper around?
2) @Wat4Steve. Probably agree
3) Barring mathematical freakery, does Norwich’s defeat make us safe?
4) If Brum go up, will they be able to beat Derby’s 15 points?
5) Kevin Philips’ best days are, alas, well behind him.
6) Roll on next season. I predict that of Saturday’s starting XI only Lloyd, Loach, Mariappa, Williamson will be with us in August.

10. Pete - 19/04/2009

Wat4Steve regrettably I couldn’t be there yesterday, but is that the same Hoskins who was the best player in the first half of the season? I really don’t want to see him go. I have to say that has been my major concern with Buck, the reluctance to play Hoskins up front with Smudger on the right.

11. Lesley-Anne - 19/04/2009

I’m not sure how anyone could think that Jay DeMerit didn’t have an excellent game yesterday. The defence was very good in the first half when we were under the onslaught of Birmingham’s continual attacks. Had it not been for the back 5, we would probably have been 3-0 down by half time and not in any position to have the turnaround at the start of the 2nd half. Mariappa was probably the slightly weaker of them but DeMerit, Williamson and Doyley were all excellent and Loach made several saves that kept us in the game. I, for one, hope that we keep Jay next season.

I also feel the criticism of Will Hoskins is very harsh. What could he do with the way we played yesterday? He didn’t stand a chance against their defenders who were bigger and stronger than him. Had he had the chance to stay on the pitch when Rasiak came on (I might have taken Rose off) we might have seen a different Hoskins and I think he still has a part to play at Watford. But it’s as useless to play him in that formation as it was to expect Priskin to play the way we used to!

12. markymark - 19/04/2009

Sirhornet: Regarding number 6 – You cannot be serious ( as John McEnroe says )
To say that only those 4 will be with us in August is absolutely ludicrous!
Jenkins has just signed a new contact and is only 18.If hes not here in August I’ll personally send you a crate of your favourite beer.
Cowie has literally just signed for us!Do you really think he’s off before the start of next season.
I could go on and list others but I can’t be bothered!

13. Esp - 20/04/2009

Agree with the plaudits for Williamson and DeMerit who were clearly the 2 best Watford players on the pitch although the scoreline could have been worse without 2 magnificent saves (again) from Loach.

Having witnessed our huff pufffery in the last 2 away games as well as the recent homes it really is a great shame that we are wandering wanly to the climax of a season rather than going out with a sizzle; I’ve always preferred a bang to a wimper and there’s precious little banging going on; the paucity of shots is shocking

Most of the games we have been playing recently have been against teams with “something” to play for with Norwich fighting for Championship survival and Birmingham’s need for automatcic promotion being just 2 clear examples

Finally do I notice some competition in the editorial ranks at BHaPPY Towers?? With the forthcoming publication of MR’s “On This Day” book I’m looking forward to ig’s “The Who’s Who of Ho Hum” ….. now that WOULD be worth a read too!

14. NRC - 20/04/2009

Marky Mark – agree with the sentiment, but to be pedantic, he did say of the starting XI, so that’s Cowie in the clear. Truth is all we know is that there will be change and speculation is a bit redundant.

15. Sequel - 20/04/2009

Agree that it was probably one of DeMerit’s best games for us. However, he did allow Jerome to move the ball onto his right (and only) foot and….game over.

16. markymark - 20/04/2009

Oops yes he did say that!
However,I bet you more than 4 of that team will still be with us!

17. DM - 20/04/2009

Much gnashing of teeth going on.

Why so hard on Hoskins ? Very harsh if he takes the rap for the disjointed goings-on behind him throughout the first half.

Danny Rose is clearly not ready for anybody’s first team and playing him in Smith’s position caused our first half malaise IMO. All too frequenetly he was as deep as Cork and Jenkins, and we looked horrible going forward as a result.

Super stuff throughout from the back 5, who repeled all that Brum threw at them and were only beaten by a defelction. Best displays yet from M Williamson and Loach, with a season’s best by some distance for Jay DeM.

18. DM - 20/04/2009

Sir Hornet – Where’s Ross Jenkins off to, then ?

19. Johnny Boy - 20/04/2009

Agree with all the comments and on who did well etc. To put a slightly different perspective on it I went to the game an ardent Birmingham fan who, with due respect kept a lid on it till we got out of the ground. Why Birmingham so desperately needed the 3 points is that it gives them a 4 point cushion over Sheffield United whose last game of the season is against Crystal Palace – nuff said

20. Jeremy Clarke - 20/04/2009

JC here

18 DM and Sir Hornet.

The last time I heard Ross J was in Spain….he is going no where that needs an umbrella.

21. Red - 20/04/2009

As someone who is really enjoying watching the Horns at the moment and not being worried about who stays or go’s (well not too much) could I ask BR one question-and one question only-
Why when we have a throw in, anywhere on the pitch, does the thrower have no-one (other than the opposition) to give the ball to?
One question to tubes on Soccer AM. Why O why do they have guest fans who are playing Watford on the same day and therefore we always lose. It is a curse.

22. MartinG - 20/04/2009

A bit disappointing that . Birmingham will do nothing in the Premiership but had us almost completely pinned back first half.

Hoskins had no chance and it was surprising he wasn’t given some time with Rasiak. McAnuff reverted to his earlier season form which didn’t help the cause.

Williamson was immense at the back. So was Doyley and it was worth being there just to see his shot. The place will go berserk if he ever scores.

23. Sirhornet - 20/04/2009

My mistake, add him to my (short) list. One caveat though, many have been the young players who have burst on to the scene only to struggle the next season. I hope RJ isn’t one of them but he could see more action in the reserves if BR ever signed some experienced midfielders.

24. Esp - 21/04/2009

Red is absolutely right about the throw ins

Being just a few rows from the front in the Lower Rous on Saturday I became nearly hoarse with my exasperating cries when Doyley took the throw ins shouting “Move for him….MOVE!!!”

It was just so frustraing – and when he did throw to somebody (invariably McAnuff) he simply got the ball straight back to him….now I know that is a classic pass that is tried and tested on the training ground by most teams but Jobi seems to kick it back at Lloydy REGARDLESS of whether Doyley by then has a man on him

If this is plain enough for Red and me to see surely to God it’s plain for Brendan and Malky to see

VARIATION please boys!!

25. stephen hoffman - 23/04/2009

at least we woke up in the second half once we put on raziak the first half offensively was just awful – sending high balls up to hoskins without any support from smith is a recipe for disaster.

i have to say when raziak came on looked great with ball to feet and in the air – Sign him up brendan.

26. Sirhornet - 23/04/2009

Actually ALL our set pieces are rubbish, surely something that must be put right on the training ground.

27. ramsgate horn - 25/04/2009

3-2 and back from 2 goals down and living to fight again in the championship bredan will get it right nevt season cooooooome on youuuuuuuu orns

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