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Watford 1 Barnsley 0 (12/09/2009) 13/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an enjoyable afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- One of those wins that’s worth more than the three points, if you know what I mean. Much as the start to the season has been reasonable on the pitch (and much better than reasonable on occasions), failing to record our first home win against the bottom-of-the-table side after all the recent departures, revelations and lack of recruitment would have fuelled apprehension. As it turned out we got the win, and deserved it with some bright, clever football.

2- …although if there’s a criticism, it’s that our superiority in possession didn’t really translate to creating chances; there was a certain tentativeness in front of goal that we could do with sorting out pretty sharpish. I remember an Icelandic forward who once had a no-bullshit approach to attacking the ball in the box. That would be handy.

3- With the music stopped and the musical chairs over for the timebeing it’s a little clearer which bodies we’re left with, and there are encouraging signs of a couple of the large number of expensive persona non grata finding their way back in from the cold. Stand up John Eustace, who was little short of magnificent in the middle of the park in a strong all-round team performance. An encouraging cameo from Mr.Ellington, too. Now that would be a comeback to rival Southampton in 1980/81…

4- Extraordinary that after such hand-wringing over our lack of defensive options, the four academy products who lined up together did such an admirable job. Take a bow in particular Captain Mariappa; clearly a much-needed organiser at the back, time will tell whether he’s a leader too. Also Dale Bennett, for a very fine full debut.

5- Having said which, Barnsley looked pretty much what you would expect a side without a league win to look like. There was little evidence of the vim that a new manager might have expected to instill and, critically, the Tykes didn’t exploit their physical superiority anything like as effectively as they might have done. Darren Moore and Kayode Odejayi in particular are big old units, and yet neither bullied our lads as they might have, and one fears others will. Odejayi in particular doesn’t seem to have impressed his new boss… a sub being subbed doesn’t imply total satisfaction.


1. Dave Hart - 13/09/2009

I thought that Barnsley’s slim chance of getting anything evaporated when Campbell-Ryce went off injured. It was no coincidence that we scored a couple of minutes after.

It’s funny how a player’s career can turn round so much. Less than a year ago, Bennett’s career at Watford seemed to be coming to an end; I said here that I thought he wouldn’t make it, and Rodgers seemed to agree at the previous fan’s forum. The loan spell at Kettering seems to have been the boost that he needed. He certainly proved me wrong.

My Dad and I went to see the Reserves play Wycombe in midweek (thanks Dad!), and Bennett was hugely impressive as captain. I mentioned this to David Kerslake at the end of the forum this week, who described his performance as “awesome”.

Kerslake also mentioned that they are planning on sending out more of our kids on loan. Let’s hope that they get the same benefits from it that Bennett received from his spell.

2. mozzallero - 13/09/2009

Yes Matt, another enjoyable Saturday afternoon. I’m loving the energy that the midfield have got at the moment and the fact that any ball forward, is turned into a through ball by Danny Graham. John Eustace looked like he was having a great time, while Loachy seems to be benefiting from the England breaks. However, it was the back line that really impressed me. I was full of aprehension before the start, but I thought Mariappa controlled his boys superbly. Hodsen is growing in confidence, while Bennett was excellent against the physical challenge. Lloydy also had his best run out so far. All good stuff, as we have some tough old games coming up.

3. DW - 13/09/2009

1. I’m sure anyone with a hint of objectivity wouldn’t have floated back towards Watford junction as I did yesterday having toughly enjoyed our first home win of the season. This game for me encapsulates everything great about supporting a small team even if it lacked some of the talents on show at White hart lane.

2. John Eustace was outstanding but it really is unfair to pick out one individual from a team who showed how everyone pulling in the same direction can add up to so more than the sum of it’s parts.

3. Lloyd Doyley continues to provide fantastic entertainment; in a two-minute spell in the second half he sprinted 4 lengths of the pitch offering support going forward & defensive cover at the back. The comedy throw in only adds to his cult status up to mooneyesq type levels of support. Shame on those who on the less cerebral message boards have called for him to be dropped.

4. Developing a good relationship with the top clubs seems to offer great benefits to all 4 parties involved; the fans get to see talents we wouldn’t otherwise see, the Watford team get a sprinkle of gold dust, the players get to play real football and the big club can asses from afar future potential without a miss placed pass costing £10,000,000.

5. Having listened to the fans forum, my thoughts at Simpson have reached new levels of astonishment. How the man who saw us look into the abyss following the Vialli episode could oversee an exact repeat only 4 years latter is beyond belief. I don’t blame boothroryd for his youthfall ambition but Simpson was really off is rocker if he thought we would become a top 10 club in the prem.

4. Red - 13/09/2009

Due to various circumstance this was my first match of the season. I must admit it was with a sense of gloom that I made my way to the ground. New entrance for me, to the ground, as well. Spent the first 15 minutes looking at the programme to work out the new players, but:-

1) Throughout we tried to play football-yes, mostly on the ground with fairly accurate passing. Crikey.

2) I don’t know what he was like in the first half, (too far away to see) but in the second Adrian M was leaping like a salmon, well above other players. Are springs in your boots allowed?

3) Please, please God allow Nathan E to prove us all wrong, if only that shot had gone in.

4) The only area we have seem to have gone back in (or stayed the same) is our dead ball situations. Did we threaten from corners or well won free kicks? No. Would I like to take the throw ins? No. Why not? Because I would have no-one to give it to.

5) Our crowd the same. A shame

6) Absolutely loved it all. Cannot wait until next Saturday. Thanks Malky and Co.

5. Wat4Steve - 13/09/2009

1 – A little perspective required a much needed 3 point but Barnsley were absolutely awful. I doubt we would have beaten many other sides today.

2 – I fail to see what you see in Useless. He gives a away free kicks and when he wins the ball cleanly he fails to make a successful 5 yard pass.

3 – Of the young players, Bennett had a solid games but was unconvinced by Hudson. I thought he was defensively naive today and managed to keep Cowie quiet as he had to sit in front of him and protect him. Also meant Cleverly was on the wrong side of the pitch. Surley Sadler or Harley with Lloyd moving to the right was a better option?

4 – MM need to earn his wages! Boy do we need some quality in this side. Rumours of the CB from Man U are good but as has been proven before DeMerit needs guidance back there and will a youngster all be it a talented one do that?

5 – £8.5M hole wow, Simpson really did make a mess! And with a few high wage earners still on the books Sadler, Useless, Hoskins, DeMerit and the Duke I guess there is still a lot of work to do. Interesting to not none of the above feature much yesterday. It going to be a long old season!

6. Matt Rowson - 13/09/2009

Wat4Steve re (2). I can only assume you’re not watching the game. See also comments (2) and (3) above.

7. The Great Big O - 13/09/2009

Yesterday reminded me – yet again – how football is always best when you have low expectations.

With the best players gone, the terrible financial news in the week, JD’s injury, and a 4-5-1 formation on paper, everything seemed bleak. I couldn’t see us getting anything from a buoyed-up Barno.

I left the ground thrilled by what I’d seen. Every single player played well. And I’ve never seen crisp, creative passing like that from a Watford side. I agree it led to relatively few chances, but it was great to watch. Special mention of Henri Lansbury in this respect – he was skillful, quick, inventive, aggressive, and hard-working.

Usually our players don’t seem to think about what to do with the ball until they’ve got it under control. Yesterday, they knew the next pass before they received the ball – and played it instantly. Great stuff.

But I’m not going to let yesterday change my expectations. On paper, this season ought to be real struggle. So I’m resolutely going to expect a struggle.

That way, if we continue to put in performances like that, I’ll be enjoying my football as much as I have at any time.

8. Ian - 13/09/2009

This is going to be a tough season, we can’t deny it, but I for one much prefer seeing a back four made up of four players who’ve come up through the ranks and are Watford through and through, as we did yesterday, than a team full of millionaires who don’t want to be there.

The connection between the fans and the team was palpable yesterday. They played with the sort of passion we all would if we were on the pitch ourselves. That’s what Watford is really about. And if anything positive can come of some of the deep financial difficulties we’re in, and the associated player sales, then this is it.

9. Luke Fairweather - 13/09/2009

My 9 year old son, Ed, comes to some games with me. He won’t admit to hating football but I know that he attends mostly out of obligation to do “the thing that dad likes” from time to time. Chips at half time are the highlight of his match day experience, it pains me to say.

For the first time ever yesterday Ed was standing, clapping in time and singing “yellow army” with the rest of us in the LR, as we toughed out the last 5 minutes against the worryingly, gigantic Tykes. This has never happened before. He still won’t admit that he had fun yesterday, but the rest of us did. Wat4Steve notwithstanding.

And, as Ian has correctly observed, the connection between us and the blokes on the pitch seems restored. Current adversity seems to be giving us a sense that something wonderful has been plugged back in, somehow, somewhere.

Only one league defeat so far and 9 points gleaned towards our revised targets of staying up and staying in business. I’m nipping off to watch The Shawshank Redemption, now (free with the Sunday Times, today). Hope can’t hurt us, surely?

Luke…staying up!

10. MartinG - 13/09/2009

Red your point 4 is spot on. We squander innumerable corners and seem to overhit them too often (when we don’t take short corners) Would be interesting to see what our success rate in scoring from corners is compared to other teams.

However a most enjoyable afternoon yesterday. Good team performance, calm on the ball and passed it on the deck, and thought Bennett was outstanding.

11. Matt Rowson - 13/09/2009

The thing about our corners in particular is that there’s limited value in lobbing balls into the box when Darren Moore, Stephen Foster and Kayode Odejayi are all in there and we’ve only got Lansbury who’s 6 foot outfield. Playing it short from a corner might seem like a waste with a low success rate, but with our lack of aerial threat it was the least worst option.

Iain - 14/09/2009

And it’s worth noting that our winning goal came from a set piece!

12. Weymouth 'Orn - 14/09/2009

Two (completely un-related) points:

1) John Eustace was Man of the Match — absolutely no doubt about it.
2) Has anyone up there ever heard of stock control? Puffed up to the ground at 2.30 on Sat, tenner in hand seeking to buy that much-trailed book. Only to be told at all sales points around the place that they had already sold out – might be some more in on Tuesday. What good is that to me down here?

13. Lloyd - 14/09/2009

Tuesday is a very important game for us Plymouth fans. Glad to see that Cathcart won’t be playing: he was immense for us last season. A very astute loan signing indeed.

14. Matt Rowson - 14/09/2009

Weymouth.. they sold out long before 2.30. They actually ordered a reasonable number, but left most of them at their warehouse… in fairness they’re somewhat restricted for space but it’s still aggravating for all concerned.

Your best bet from a distance might be to order on-line – it’s available at the club’s online shop. And they do have plenty…

Lloyd – good to hear. Our defence held together well at the weekend, but we won’t be playing Barnsley every week. Cathcart’s 6’2″, is he a dominant defender? We have no height in the team, so that would be handy. What else can you tell us…?

15. Wat4Steve - 14/09/2009

Matt were all entitled to our opinions but I actually put it down to the fact your average fan loves a player that wears his heart on his sleeve and don’t always notice the detail. Unfortunately we lack a bit quality in centre midfield so I guess Useless will be here at least until January or Severin gets himself match fit and adjusts to life in the championship.

Luke Fairweather - 14/09/2009

“…Unfortunately we lack a bit of quality in centre midfield…” good grief Wat4Steve, give it up!. This is the best and most exciting Watford midfield I have seen for quite some time. Did you prefer Boofers idea of midfield? Having quietly renegotiated his contract to make him affordable, playing his best footie yet in a yellow shirt, Mr Eustace can stay as long as he likes if he continues this fine standard.


16. stephen hoffman - 14/09/2009

wot 4 steve – you must have been watching a different match eustace was producing time after time a good ball – and he did not get that many fouls away at all. he also coached the young defence and the young team well and it was great if you watched eustace how he was protecting the defence .

Also hello he created the goal – for graham with an excellent cushioned header.

He’s not useless he was magnificent today – if he keeps playing like this we will have someone to take on the gavin mahon mantle- ie someone who does all the breaking up the oppositiion attacks, picks up the defence the general dogsbody who work his ass off the ball -who gives experience to midfield.

Today was a good all round team experience the midfield looked the most balanced in the long time , our youthful defence – totally surprised me in its composure and lansbury and graham linked up well up front.

what also gives me confidence is with a young side like this it will only get better.

17. Back from Hammerau - 14/09/2009

From 1 to 11 it was a cracking performance.
Yes, it was only a 1:0 win over a side lacking in confidence, but they all should be proud of their efforts.
Success and, more importantly, financial stability for the club will come from fielding a side that’s made up of products of the academy, loan signings from bigger clubs and players signed from the lower leagues and SPL.
I certainly think Eustace wasn’t useless (better than Severin’s been) and I’m not sure how all the Barnsley players failed to spot him in a bright yellow shirt at the far post for a goal.

18. DM - 14/09/2009

Some thoughts on a very enjoyable afternoon.

Wat4Steve – I would have agreed with you about Eustace this time last year, as he reguarly did the things you describe in point 5. However, last Saturday he WAS immense. He tackled, ran and passed the ball well and was involved all across the pitch – from defending on the edge of his box to protect the youthful centre half pairing, to setting up the winner at the other end. Have an opinion on a player by all means, but be prepared to admit it when the player concerned actually puts in a good display.

On which note – those that know me know my views on Mariappa. However, he was superb on Saturday. As for the rest of the back four, I was more impressed with Hodson than Bennett – both had good solid games but Hodson seemed a lot more composed on the ball. For young kids, they did a manful job and should be beyond criticsm, even though it is fair comment to say that Barnsley didn’t use their size and weight advantages, but that’s not our look out.

19. derry pigweed - 14/09/2009

The team was good but Bennett on his debut was awesome and Eustace was the solid pro that we bought and deserved MOM!
Barnsley were poor but had a decent Gkeeper
Plymouth is winnable,Leicester will be tough but 4 points from these games give us a platform to build on

Cathcart signing is a big positive now let’s get another Forward


20. Lloyd - 15/09/2009

I wouldn’t call Cathcart dominant, Matt, but he’s reasonable in the air. His best attributes are his positioning and calmness on / off the ball — he is an unflappable defender. I’d think that he would fit very nicely alongside De Merit.

Newcastle had apparently lined him up as a replacement for Steven Taylor, and we certainly tried to get him back (see http://www.pasoti.co.uk/talk/viewtopic.php?t=34570).

21. Doug - 15/09/2009

“I remember an Icelandic forward who once had a no-bullshit approach to attacking the ball in the box. That would be handy.”

Did you tell Derren Brown what the numbers would be ?

22. rous man - 16/09/2009

Every match so far the result has been better or the same as last season, so maybe we are not the relegation candidate’s that a lot of people have us as. Two good loan signings that we have made are just was needed.

23. Stuart - 17/09/2009

Matt I know you commented on that Mirror article by that fool Ian Winwood. Anyway I also complained and sent an email to the assistant editor of the Daily Mirror. Seems the article has now been removed and rightly so.

24. Matt Rowson - 18/09/2009

rous man – so far so good, as you say. There’s no dispute that results so far have been far better than many (me included) dared to hope.

We’ve had a favourable run-in though… only played Sheffield United out of the top teams, and lost that one. Not wishing to tempt fate, we’ve been reasonably injury-free, too. Long way to go yet.

Stuart… I regretted replying as soon as I sent it; couldn’t help feeling that a cheap provocative article like that was concocted purely to attract “enraged of Hertfordshire” types and boost hit-rate. But it’s gone now, as you say…

25. JohnF - 18/09/2009

Rous man I agree that we have every reason for hope, and we are bringing on the youngsters of which we have a good crop. However, as Matt says, we have to meet some tougher challenges and Saturday is one of them. Following last Saturday’s disappointing crowd I hope that two good wins will at least increase the home crowd because Leicester will be very well supported, arrogant bums that they are. I agree that we did badly against Sheff U but we now have a little more confidence and that is a very important thing when it goes with a strengthened squad.

I was very impressed with the way they played on Saturday, although one or two “supporters” near me seemed to be complaining that they hadn’t achieved the level of performance of Man U or perhaps Barcelona. I am happy to be a mid-table side this season and I will remain cautious until we get a little further into the season, although at the moment that is cautiously optimistic..

26. Stuart - 18/09/2009

Yeah I somewhat regretted replying too, but…..it was totally inaccurate and shoddy journalism and needed to be highlighted. After all anyone who read it could actually believe it strange as it may seem, and it didn’t put our club in a positive light at all. The unfairness of the article was staggering.

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