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Watford 3 Leicester City 3 (19/09/2009) 20/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an astonishing afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- Only one place to start. Jaysus. The level of expectation associated with Helguson’s return might have been slightly moderated by his injury-burdened last few years, but only slightly. It was still wholly unreasonable to expect him to pick up where he left off, the whirling dervish focal point of the team. As it turned out he exceeded all expectations… announcing his arrival by flying into Leicester’s goalkeeper within thirty seconds and deflecting the ball narrowly the wrong side of the post. Then forcing the issue that led to Graham’s fine goal. Then the moment that brought the house down… classic Heidar, flying in vertically at the far post with little concern for the potential collision with said goalpost. This prompted one of those goal celebrations where you finally stand up five rows and twenty-seven seats from where you started, untangling yourself from others’ discarded limbs. A blinding moment. And then what might have been the winner, and if the celebration that greeted this one was relatively muted it was only because our reserves of energy and incredulity were already long exhausted.

Most of all, Helguson gave our attack focus. In the first half we’d done OK for the most part, but Leicester, who looked a decent side, coped pretty comfortably in the final third and took the chances that came their way. In the second Leicester looked very far from comfortable as we mutated from a tidy but perhaps limited side to something quite irresistible. It’s no coincidence that Leicester only got a foothold again when H went off injured… until that point they had looked like caving in completely. It’s difficult not to salivate at the potential of this team if we can keep H fit on that evidence.

2- Which said, it’s unlikely that we’ll be facing Wayne Brown every week. If there are any remaining dissenting voices wondering why we got shot of him then surely no longer… as one BHaPPY contributor of note commented, the second half was surely his finest for Watford and he was playing for the other side. Comfortable enough in the first half he utterly failed to cope with his new charge in the second. Whilst his prompting of his keeper to put the ball out so that H could receive treatment was worthy of respect, one can’t help but suspect that he was simply desperate to get the Iceman off the field as quickly as possible…

3- Craig Cathcart. Find myself reminded of a young Rio Ferdinand… cool, composed, effortless for the most part… and then suddenly falling on his arse at the least opportune moment. Early days, but we’ll need tighter performances than that from our new loanee.

4- Conceding the late equaliser was a bit of a choker… but whilst it’s justifiable to ask who was supposed to be marking N’Guessan, reportedly a summer target for ourselves from Lincoln, I think we can forgive Hodson’s inability to prevent the cross from the left. Hodson, after all, provided the crosses for all three Watford goals – the third, with his weaker foot, an absolute gem – and all from deep positions. Nigel Gibbs’ name being mooted in the Rookery may burden the youngster with unreasonable expectation, but he already looks nailed on at right back.

5- Reading. Chortle.



1. Red - 20/09/2009

Yesterday I went to Watford and saw a real FOOTBALL match.

2. Tim Turner - 20/09/2009

Cudos to Malky for making the change at half-time – obvious at it was, some managers would have waited a bit longer.

What the first half appeared to show was that Henri Lansbury is a luxury player at Championship level. None of his flicks and tricks came off yesterday, and though you have to admire him for trying them, it’s awfully hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that a rugged battler like Helguson is always going to achieve more in this division than a flimsy flair merchant like Lansbury (for all his obvious talent).

It’ll be interesting to see how Malky plays this in the next few games. If he sticks with 4-4-2 (as he surely must, if H stays fit), then it’s hard to see how he can play both Lansbury and Cleverley without disrupting the balance of midfield.

3. JohnF - 20/09/2009

Wow, I hoped we might get a goal back but the second half left me absolutely exhausted and emotionally drained. H is home; just hope he is not too badly injured. The first half problem seemed to be that we were rather easily knocked off the ball (young side) and the rather bizarre handball clearly shook everybody. It may not have come off for Lansbury in the first half but I would have loved to have seen him as an attacking midfielder in the second half, I bet the flicks and little runs would have had a different outcome. Eustace did not have as good a game as the previous week but a lot was due to the effective way that Leicester closed us down in the first half. What is good is being able to change things and adapt to changing circumstances. Not all teams are going to lie down and let walk over them at the Vic, there are some decent sides out there. Plus big teams get decisions like the penalty we didn’t get in the second half.

The new lad played well and actually made fewer mistakes than his opposite numbers. Hodson was excellent and is a great prospect. This was a real test and they cam through it with a decent pass. We just need Ellington to start scoring and get some confidence and we have loads of options up front. Mid-table looks a real possibility and few were predicting that at the start of the season. Three points against Reading would round off a good month nicely!

4. PDF - 20/09/2009

Loved the second half. A real “Watford ’til i die” blood and guts display unlike the insipid wretchedness of the 1st.
Glad Malkay made the changes, but feel he could have moved sooner as with a different wind, Leicester could have been 3 or 4 up by half time and then it really is all over.

At half time, my mate Conrad texted a long standing Leicester friend to say that not even Lazarus was able to come back from this. He changed his mind on seeing HH show up just in front of us after 30 seconds. What a difference a man can make. But without the real quality of Hodson (he’s only 17!) who is my new favourite youth team graduate now Tommy has gone, where would we have been as he was the architect of all balls into the box on which the Graham / HH thrived. Let’s hope, continue to thrive as you are not going to get anything worthwhile coming in from the other full back.

The true wretchedness of Ellington as a replacement shows why WBA were so keen to get rid of him, Derby so reluctant to hold onto him and why we still pay the price for the “trios” stupidity despite Boothroyds attempt to re-write history in the long interview on Watford legends. If only some of those questions had actually been asked in the right way, we might have finally received some conciliation from a man who got out of our club before the mess he co-created actually started to affect him as it has done his 2 predecessors.

The last time HH played at the Vic, a team were 2-0 up, went 3-2 down, before a last minute equaliser made it 3-3.

My son was born 2 hours earlier.

Looking forward to next week – but more to berate McAnuff (let’s hope he is fit) than Rodgers.

5. Jeremy Clarke - 20/09/2009

JC here

Did anybody see Mrs Helguson at the game?

6. Matt Rowson - 20/09/2009

PDF, you jest. McAnuff we’re well rid of, but Rodgers conduct since leaving has been beyond the pale, surely?

7. Rob - 20/09/2009

Hello from the States. When I woke up Saturday and read the first half gamecast reports, I was disappointed. I stuck around for the second half and I’m glad our Hornets could pull out a point, even though they should have taken 3. Like PDF said above, it was a real blood and guts performance apparently (anyone know a link for highlights? I’ve got nothing over here). Hopefully it will be a learning experience for the club and they can get back into the top six.

8. A Northern Hornet - 20/09/2009

It used to be the case that I would look first for the Watford result, then for the Luton result. A really good weekend would be Watford winning and Luton losing, but there’d always be some small satisfaction in a Luton loss, regardless of the Watford result. For the last few years I’ve not really been bothered with that, for obvious reasons… but this season I’ve found myself looking for the Reading result and gloating if it’s not gone well for them. (At least while Rodgers is there).

9. GraemeB - 21/09/2009

It’s typical of the club’s homogenised website that there is no update on H’s injury. Apparently he left the ground on crutches, but the Mirror reports Danny Graham as saying that he may be fit for Reading. Is it too much to ask for WFC to enlighten us on such matters? The match reports looks as if it was written by an eight-year-old. It is strewn with bad grammar and clumsy sentence construction. I still miss BSAD, but I notice Matt that your thunks are getting longer by the week…..

10. David - 21/09/2009

@TimTurner: I thought it would have been Ross Jenkins who made way for H on Saturday, allowing Lansbury and Cleverley ‘get creative’. MM obviously has his own ideas but young Ross still doesn’t look suited to the ‘attacking midfielder’ role that he’s being asked to play this season, and I think you play EITHER RJ OR Steve Eustace but not both together.

Team selection for Saturday will be interesting for MM. If everyone is fit, who do you play as the centre backs? Lee Hodson has certainly done enough to claim right back, no-one seems to be challenging Llody at LB. Given the way our goals on Saturday came about it’s ironic I was bemoaning our lack of width at half-time but we still seem to be very narrow and I can’t see that changing, so Cowie, Cleverley and Lansbury would start for me with JE and drop RJ to the bench, H and Danny Graham up front. I think though that given H’s state of health we are more likely to see him as a sub.

@PDF, re: Ellington – came on and didn’t seem to know quite what to do with the ball when he got it: played like an individual rather than a member of a team. Yes he nearly scored (again) but in spitre of and not because of his team mates.

11. NickB - 21/09/2009

Immense performance from HH, reminded me a lot of his debut performance v Liverpool; it’s unusual for one player, by a combination of willpower, guts and self-belief to so change the direction of a game. There was an inevitability about it that was quite magical and Leicester were sucked helpless into the vortex.

12. Matt Rowson - 21/09/2009

GraemeB… I blame ig for the ever growing thunks, but nonetheless will attempt to rein in my excitement in future…

David… quite agree about not playing Steve Eustace. Gracious.

NickB – great use of the word “vortex”. Good work.

13. bob - 21/09/2009

Personally this was the most enjoyable forty five minutes i have witnessed in a long, long time (discounting time added on obvioulsy). perhaps since palace in the play offs (which i preferred to cardiff).

14. GraemeB - 21/09/2009

Matt, I wasn’t complaining about the length of your thunks which are always to the point…just wondering whether they are gradually morphing into match reports!

15. Matt Rowson - 21/09/2009

🙂 Graeme, I didn’t misinterpret your observation. I just need to guard against provoking more “bring back bsad” emails through injudiciously long thunks…

16. Matt Lovett - 21/09/2009

Wow – what a turn around. Reminds me of 1980 and a certain league cup tie when we were 0-4 at ‘half-time’ and 5-5 at ‘full time’. We’d have done ’em if there’d been extra time on Saturday…! Seriously though, it was a fabulous second half performance, and even though we got in to a ‘winning position’, to even consider a point a half-time was fanciful, and I left the ground feeling elated by what I’d witnessed. HH was obviously the focal point of the second half performance, but Malky must have also given the lads the team talk of all team talks to get every single of them to up their games the way they did. Bring on Reading!

17. NickB - 21/09/2009

Cheers Matt; was torn between that and maelstrom, with its Scandanavian overtones…

Just remember me when you’re looking for someone to ghostwrite that autobiography!

18. GraemeB - 21/09/2009

Has anyone noticed that Theo Robinson has scored seven times in only five starts for Huddersfield? I believe he went there for a nominal fee — soccerbase says it was a free transfer. If so this now seems a remarkable waste of academy talent. He’d already had a productive loan spell at Hereford and it surprised me that he was never given a proper chance by us. The lad is still only 20.
Anyway, I wish him well.

19. Johnny |Boy - 22/09/2009

Who is this Lee Hodson? Sitting in the Lower Rous had a perfect view of those crosses for the goals and they were inch perfect despite everyone in the LR telling him to do everything but to cross. Very impressed though, as has been pointed out, their center half was a bit pants.

20. markymark - 22/09/2009

GraemeB : Robinson did not go to Huddersfield on a free.He cost at least £250k which is reasonable considering he has not proved himself higher than divisin 1.BTW: When did he last score for Huddersfield? He did hit a purple patch but his goals have dried up now.

21. GraemeB - 23/09/2009

Markymark, I’d be interested to hear how you know we got £250k for Theo since the club seems to have a policy of not revealing transfer fees where possible. If this figure is correct it seems reasonable, but he should still have been given the chance to prove himself in this division — five sub appearances is not enough. Danny G was in the same position. You would think he is now worth considerably more than we paid for him. And look what 21 Championship (aka Div 2) games did for Williamson.
In answer to your other point, Theo last scored on September 5. He has played only one match since then and was injured. Apparently he is likely to be out for several weeks.

22. Matt Rowson - 24/09/2009


the fee for Robinson was widely trailed to have been around £250-£275k in Swindon and Huddersfield press when they were jostling for his signature. Officially it’s undisclosed, but independent sources claiming the same sort of number sounds reasonable – bear in mind also that Steve Tilson at Southend has been quoted as saying that he wanted to sign him but had been priced out of it.

I’m not overly fussed by Robinson’s departure, much as he may develop into a useful striker. At least two managers (three if you include Malky), each of whom proved keen on promoting kids, decided against giving him a run in the side, even at the start of last season when we were desperate for strikers (his broken arm notwithstanding, that didn’t rule him out for long).

The fact that he was so clearly destined for the exit this summer suggests that it acknowledged as the best thing for all concerned. He hasn’t had a run at Championship level it’s true, but then nor have I and I couldn’t hack it. The folk who made the judgment about Robinson saw a lot more of him than you or I.

23. Dave Hart - 24/09/2009


In December 07 my dad and I went to watch Hereford play Wycombe, during Theo and Tiggy’s loan spell. I wrote the following report:

“Theo was less popular however, which I found initially surprising. On watching him, however, his control of the ball was poor, and he has a reputation for being offside (Priskin, anyone?) He has scored eight goals htis season, so he must be doing something right. His game needs a lot of work, though.”

During the loan spell, Hereford actually brought in another striker on loan, despite Theo not being injured, which says a lot about how Hereford rated him. Stoke City also released him from their academy, where he joined us from.

I personally don’t rate him. Huddersfield have a very good team at the moment. Almost anyone can do well when surrounded by good players. The question is how he would perform in a team not performing so well. I think that at least three of his goals this season have been penalties.

All I will say is that I hope we negotiated a sell on clause, which is pretty much the best thing we could get from him. If he gets sold, we get a bigger fee, if he drifts down the leagues, then we know the right decision was made. It would be interesting to hear what Huddersfield fans think of him.

24. Dave Hart - 24/09/2009

Sorry, he has only scored one penalty so far this season. Whoops.

25. Hornetboy84 - 24/09/2009

5. Chortle – indeed.

But amongst the fun to be had (even by 76 year old dads who are coming along to stick it up ‘im) – could i request that 3495 ‘Orns just ignore the poor irishman and focus on celebrating the fact that we have a potential gem of a Scottish manager.

The best way to irk BR (and numerous reading fans who if the game devleops the way we pray will be singing in harmony with us) would be simply to celebrate the fact we have MM. We should thank Reading and for the money received. Game on.

Apperley Orn - 25/09/2009

Despite the overwhelming temptation to spit in the man’s face when I see him behind the scenes tomorrow (my daughter is mascot) I have to say that I completely agree with Hornetboy.

Big up MM and ignore the conceited little turd – I am sure that will hurt him so much more than spending 90 minutes berating him.

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