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Watford 0 Cardiff City 4 (03/10/2009) 04/10/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the horror show at the Vic

1- Well where to start, really. Defensively, a side that was holding it together quite convincingly earlier in the campaign really isn’t doing so at all now, and that goes for the entire team, not just the back five. We could really do with a gnarled old boot like Mackay or Dyche (of five or so years ago…) in there shouting at people… since the back four are individually more than adequate, but about as watertight as, well, something with ruddy great big holes all over it at the moment.

2- Cathcart in particular, had a horror show – his stupid and utterly unnecessary tug on Bothroyd, who was heading towards the corner flag and would have managed an off-balance shot at an impossible angle at best, resulted from Cathcart losing his concentration and his man again, just as against Leicester. He failed to cope with the unlovable Bothroyd throughout, and isn’t inspiring confidence at the moment. Reports from Plymouth suggest that this is a cracking defender in the making but perhaps he needs a dominant figure alongside him. Unfortunately the same goes for most of our centre-backs, including our visually impaired absent captain.

3- Two weeks’ respite might give us room to wallow in our miserableness, we could certainly have done with something from the home games this week, but it might also herald Helguson’s return. Danny Graham, suddenly looking far from confident in front of goal, could do with that boost. No pressure again then, H.

4- Would welcome readers’ views on Hoskins… my view from the Rookery was that he’d done well enough to last an hour without contributing an awful lot, and was certainly adding nothing by the time he came off. My brother’s Upper Rous view sparked a furious defence, he should never have been taken off, had a great first half, everyone mistakes his good bits for Cleverley (possibly true). My feeling remains that whilst Ellington will not (one hopes, for the sake of our wagebill) be a long-term solution, using a hungry and effective (if over-eager) player as cover for Helguson makes rather more sense than persevering with the ineffective Hoskins.

5- It’s odd… logically, after a game in which the difference between the sides was far larger than any margin that might be attributed to erroneous refereeing decisions, one ought to be able to sit back and marvel at a particularly spectacular demonstration of how not to referee a football match without getting bloody angry about it. Alas, I am unable so to do. Andy Woolmer missed two clear penalties (one for each side), was constantly behind the play, was horrifically inconsistent in what he chose to penalise and has seemingly never heard of “playing an advantage”. After a similarly chaotic visit to Vicarage Road for the Sheffield Wednesday game last season, Mr.Woolmer’s name becomes one to look out for.


1. JohnF - 04/10/2009

I got up at 1 am to get back from working in Romania in time for the game! However, there were pluses (not defensively) as we played some sublime attacking stuff in the first half with no end product. Matt, I agree with you on Hoskins. I have watched him carefully as I too thought that he really deserved a chance but Graham does not look comfortable alongside him, he is selfish at the wrong times and as such some of his decision making is not good. I just don’t see him as a team player.

There are a number of mitigating circumstances.
1. You don’t recover that quickly from a quite nasty stomach bug and that showed.
2. Height is a major issue.
3. We simply do not have a defense organising player at the club.

Lloyd, who I have been a long-term supporter of, is not doing his job defensively and he offers very little otherwise. The midfield need to sort out who has the major defensive role and stick to it. Three goals came from break-aways resulting in confusion at the back.

Ellington and Lansbury brought something new and lively, perhaps an earlier introduction would have helped. Ellington needs a goal so perhaps we could club together and buy him one.

However, I think that Malky is no fool and it isn’t time to panic yet.

2. Sirhornet - 04/10/2009

Something that worries me is that the whole team is too lightweight. Look at players like Hudson and Bothroyd for Cardiff, Best for Cov and the entire Leicester back four. It may not be pretty but to survive in this division we DO need a big, ugly centre half. Unfortunately Cathcart isn’t it.

One other point, did anyone else notice the running verbal battle between Mariappa and Chopra?

3. stephen hoffman - 04/10/2009

as i wasn’t at the game -could you tell me who did actually have a good game -apparenty eustace had a relatively good game and hodson also-am i incorrect?

4. Matt Rowson - 04/10/2009


Hodson looks terrific going forward, his delivery from deep positions is something else. I also thought Doyley did OK yesterday, perversely… Burke didn’t get much of a look in. Graham worked hard but his confidence seems to have taken a hit, both Lansbury and Ellington improved things on their arrival albeit Cardiff were sitting back comfortably for the last half hour.

5. NRC - 04/10/2009

Not at the game but at Cov and agree with SirHornet about being lightweight – other teams seem to find it too easy to out muscle our young and developing players and over the course of a season this is bound to tell, especially with the fixture list we have coming up.

6. MartinG - 04/10/2009

They do look very lightweight and small compared to most teams. Bothroyd brushed off the defence easily yesterday. Cathcart had a shocker. Maybe still recovering from the virus. I’d rather see Bennett on current form.
I agree with your brother about Hoskins yesterday and think he’d benefit from longer run to build up and understanding with Graham , but I also think Ellington should play now so don’t see how they all fit in.
I know Eustace is popular but I still think he gives the ball away too much, then gets irritated when he does and gives away stupid fouls. The midfield is misfiring at the moment as Jenkins is also off the boil. Yet we are still making lots of chances (maybe not so many yesterday) so when it all gels we’ll batter someone. Defence is worrying though. As everyone is saying we need a bruiser and organiser at the back.

7. Sequel - 04/10/2009

Matt, I agree with you on Ellington. He has everything to prove and alot to lose before January. If he doesn’t catch someone’s eye soon, he’ll be slumming it on 5k a week come next summer, if anyone will take him.
As for Mr Woolmer, he made Rob Styles look like a fine upstanding citizen.

8. Matt Rowson - 04/10/2009


I think you’ll find that Ellington has another season of comfortableness with us after this one. Yes, really. Nonetheless he looks motivated at the moment.

MartinG – even taking into account that dropping a well-regarded loanee from Man U at a relatively early stage probably isn’t best politic, I don’t think I agree with you re form either. Bennett didn’t cover himself in glory against Cov.

9. Old Git - 05/10/2009

One swallow doesn’t make a summer. One disastrous home defeat doesn’t make a winter. Heads did not drop even after the fourth goal went in, which surely is encouraging. The biggest disappointment was the tidal wave of hatchet-faced morons who stomped off angrily to the exits while Cardiff were celebrating the fourth goal. That must be incredibly dispiriting to such a young side. But there were more than enough of us applauding at the end, who had recognized that the character and effort were there, despite this being a very young team, several of whom only met for the first time a few weeks ago. Cardiff were strong, ugly and efficient. And obviously bursting with confidence right now.
The Golden Boys really are Boys at the moment. if you don’t want to support them please go elsewhere.

10. Weymouth 'Orn - 05/10/2009

Let’s put Saturday and all this in perspective.
We knew in August that this season would see a struggle to stay in the Championship.
Nothing has changed.
Getting anything at all out of games against the likes of Newcastle, W.B.A., Middlesbrough, Sheff. Utd and Cardiff should be regarded as a bonus. These are big, well-organised and experienced teams.
Where WE need to register maximum points is against the Plymouths, Barnsleys, Peterboroughs and Scunthorpes of this world.
And get whatever we can from the rest.
We have had a relatively easy run of fixtures so far – playing the teams we should beat and picking up the points as a result. But we need a substantial cushion in place for when the top teams appear on the horizon and when our loanees disappear back to whence they came in January.
Getting turned over by Cardiff was no great surprise,nor was it a disaster.All things considered, losing to a poor Coventry side says far more about the season ahead – notwithstanding stomach bugs etc.

11. DM - 05/10/2009

Hatchet faced moron here –

Old Git, I will support our young players to the hilt. They are developing and have been thrown in at the deepest part of the deep end and do not need to be singled out individually. However, I will also retain the right to vote with my feet – It is a team game, we still have some experienced players in our side and that defensive display was as inadequate and inept as I’ve seen in a long time.

We made mistakes that would look poor on a parks pitch and I for one didn’t fancy the prospect of watching 5, 6 and 7 goals fly in, which they surely would have done had Cardiff kept their foot on the gas. Feel free to applaud the effort and character, the fact is that this sort of result has been coming for weeks and we are in for more unless we get a nasty old bastard, prerably hatchet-faced, into that back four sharpish.

12. scotshorn - 05/10/2009

One name conspicuous by its absence in all of the above is Scott Loach – is it time for a recall for Lee – when is enough enough?

13. Andy - 05/10/2009

Horrid game…but one I hope the boys don’t take too badly. Stand up dust yourself off and get back on it.

On another note, can someone explain to me why Coventrys first goal wasn’t offside? There were 3 players in front of Loach when the ball was struck.

Just got Matts “On This Day” book delivered from Amazon this morning. Chuckled at a home game against Shrewsbury Town in the late 50s when someone stole the floodlight fuses. Try selling them down the Dog and Duck!

14. Matt Rowson - 05/10/2009

Hatchet-faced DM proposes a hatchet-faced solution at centre-back. Hmmmm… not sure it’s as desperate as the solution you imply there, sir.

Reminds me of an interview on R5L with Chris Waddle around the time of an England manager’s (Keegan?) departure. When asked who ought to replace Keegan, Waddle suggested that the solution was an old, wise head along side a young buck who could relate to the kidz. He stopped short of saying “like me and my mate Big Ron”, but it was fairly clear what the gist was. One can only assume that he had hoped nobody was watching during his disastrous spell at Burnley.

15. NickB - 05/10/2009

Thanks for the welcome regurgitation of the anti Waddle agenda, Matt. Revenge is a dish best served cold and repeatedly.
Don’t forget Burnley once beat us 2-1 on aggregate in Div 3, according to the great penalty launcher.

As for the game, most of it has been said already; the bit I’m missing is why a side showing such verve and movement in the first half on Tuesday couldn’t find a team mate with a simple pass at any price right from the word go on Saturday.

16. Winslow 'Orn - 05/10/2009

Kudos to Eliington who had more shots in his 20 minutes than the rest of the team for the entire match.
We miss De-Merit – I know he thrives alongside a bigger and more experienced player and we don’t have that option but he is better than any other centre-half at the club at present.

17. MartinG - 05/10/2009

Matt – fair point about Cathcart. Losing the Man Utd connection probably isn’t too bright I’d have to agree. Just hope he starts living up to the reputation he brought soon.

18. rous man - 05/10/2009

cardiff will be there on there abouts at the end of the season but had cowie’s free kick gone in and not hit the bar maybe things may have been a little different. on the subject of the Duke we are paying his wages so let him start after all he looked more of a threat than hoskins. the defence hodson looks a great prospect but it is a big ask for a seventeen year old to play tue sat tue sat although cathcart had a nightmare on saturday I think there is better to come. on the subject of loach in the games I have seen this season he has won us more points than he has lost us, as for lee to replace him NO a nice bloke but not the best goalkeeper we have ever seen. doyley does not look at ease on the left side of the defence how about a run in the team for harley ?

19. Dave Jackson - 06/10/2009

Sadly, it seems that those missed chances to finish off Coventry when we were 2-1 up have really knocked the confidence out of our young squad. How different it could have been had the third gone in and another excellent comeback been finished off in style? (It will be a feather in Malky’s cap to quickly restore Danny Graham’s goal scoring belief.)
Hopefully with Jay D and HH returning soon there will be a bit more resilience from now on.
Also agree that Llovable Lloyd’s left foot isn’t getting any better as far as his distribution is concerned and it’s time to give Harley a run in his natural position. I also can’t see what young Jenkins is doing to stay in the team at the moment – yes, he tries hard but that’s not really enough. Anyone agree or am I watching a different game?
Impressed by the Duke’s hunger, attitude and skill and think the goals will follow. And among the carnage in defence, Mariappa seems to be turning into quite a player with bags of courage and quality.

20. Matt Rowson - 06/10/2009


re Doyley… a full-backs primary function is defending; Chris Burke barely got a sniff on Saturday. Harley is a great sub, and passable on the left of midfield, but unconvincing at full back.

Jay returning soon – have I missed this news?

21. DM - 06/10/2009

Agree with Matt re:Doyley. Harley is a loose cannon and far more suited to left midfield. I can see Dave’s point and in an ideal world, we would have a left foot at left back four to bring balance to the defence. However, there are more pressing defensive concerns at present. It’s the centre that needs sorting.

Jenkins – He hasn’t started the season well, but we must remember he is still only 18 and his form will dip. It could be time to drop him down to the bench for a few weeks, but again, it’s not our most urgent concern.

22. DM - 06/10/2009

Hang on, just read the Mariappa comment Dave J. Can I have some of what you’re on ? Mariappa has been awful in each of the last 2 games and should not be playing in the centre..

23. SteveG - 06/10/2009

Wasn’t there for Coventry or Cardiff, but was at Reading last week and can recognise what’s being said – but after the first 15 minutes at the Madejski the defence recovered their composure well. So, here’s the posers – if Mariappa is continuing to play with the authority and leadership that he was showing, if Hodson is as good a prospect as we think he is, and Doyley defended well, how was the defence collectively so much less than the sum of its parts against Coventry and Cardiff?… how much would Jay help?… and would a Eustace/Lansbury midfield have a clearer definition of roles and a better balance than we’ve got at the moment?

The fixture list was kind to us and we were able to get some points on the board early on – we could have a few unsomfortable weeks; mid table would still be a very good achievement for a young, inexperienced and thin squad.

Keep the faith!

24. JM - 06/10/2009

I’m with Scotshorn on Loach. Yes, whilst it may be fair he has “won us more points than lost” it is safe to say he has been awful in our last two matches. At home against Cov he was rooted to his line for (seemingly) the entire duration. On Saturday, he came for practically everything, and was nowhere near most of the crosses that rained down. Need I remind of the goal from the freekick?
C’mon Alec, you’re Goalkeeping Coach, coach him some goal keeping!

25. Dave Jackson - 07/10/2009

you could be correct, just had an op on my shoulder and am on some seriously strong medication…even had a vision of Steve Sherwood back on the pitch at the Vic

26. NickB - 07/10/2009

Seeing nice old Shirley out there was just about the only thing that made me feel pleased we had Loach playing! GT had very few blind spots (Worrell Sterling, anyone?) but I never understood his loyalty towards SS.

Interesting that Sherwood kept Eric Steele out of the Watford goal for long stretches (rather inexplicably) and that the latter is now rumoured to be giving Ben Foster a hard time in his role as Man U goalkeeping coach

27. Old Git - 07/10/2009

Excuse me NickB, but Shirley’s much maligned reputation rests solely on the much-shown second goal in the Cup Final. This was a foul by Andy Gray that, oddly, Shirley was blamed for (and still is by some). No side can finish Runners-up in the First Division (or what we must now call ‘The Top Flight’) with a poor goalkeeper. See if you can track down a video of the 4-2 win at Highbury in the Runners-Up season. Then watch it!
That display, and Andy R’s at old Trafford, are the finest displays by Watford keepers I can recall.
Aside from Gary Plumley’s, of course.

28. NickB - 07/10/2009

No really, it’s nothing to do with the Final, it’s an honest appraisal based on seeing around 2/3rds of his appearances; I really didn’t rate him. It’s a game of opinions, after all. You’re right about Rankin, though.

29. straight no chaser - 08/10/2009

No Dave J, DM is not correct. Mariappa is seriously under-rated & DM is watching through hatchet-shaped glasses. 😉
Cardiff are easily one of the more impressive passing teams in this Division – they patiently wore down our 10 men with accurate keep-ball in last season’s home fixture too – so I’m with Old Git & Weymouth ‘Orn as far as not overstating the degree of last Saturday’s setback.
The refusal to capitulate at 4 down was admirable & speaks volumes. Worthy of staying to the end to applaud without doubt.

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