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Watford 3 Sheffield United 0 (02/02/2010) 03/02/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from a much-needed win at Vicarage Road

1- How very badly did we need to play against a side as accommodating as the Blades. For twenty minutes we looked quite tentative, and then… it wasn’t merely a matter of noting that our opponents weren’t as good as their position suggested. More that a United side comprised of a pick-and-mix of second tier journeymen (many of them ours…) scrawled this in large, difficult to miss paint-spray all over their penalty area every time a ball went anywhere near it. Nonetheless, it took an unchallenged flap from Mark Bunn and a couple of unexploited free headers before we realised that this was there for the taking, and took it increasingly confidently. In the second half United’s penalty area was a coconut shy… the only slight concern being that we didn’t do more damage than three goals all of which, as Kevin Blackwell noted, owed something to United’s defensive deficiencies.

2- Key point of the game was Scott Loach’s fine save from Chris Morgan’s header. That goes in, it’s a different game. It didn’t, so it wasn’t…

3- Compare and contrast our new Premiership-reserve centre-back to theirs. Martin Taylor looked a little rusty, but was essentially just what the doctor ordered. Large, uncomplicated, aggressive and effective merely in his presence… He didn’t NEED to get his head to our attacking set pieces, in attracting two or three markers he was already causing havoc. Nyron Nosworthy in contrast looked like he hadn’t played for twelve months, although a nervous goalkeeper behind him probably didn’t help. He’ll want to improve on a quite comical debut. The only concern re Taylor was an apparent hamstring injury picked up late in the game…

4- Doris and Jordan haven’t changed much. It’s a bit much to chide Doris for his aggressive style, we benefitted from it for long enough; he was at least restrained in his conduct in what threatened to be an inflammatory first half. Meanwhile we saw the best and worst of Stewart… a fabulous, clearing, covering header as a ball came over from the left in the second half, but petulance, misplaced 9-iron passes and the highlight, a flicked backheel past that went straight to a yellow shirt. Don’t think he was worth the half-hearted booing that he got, but can’t say I miss him.

5- Lloydy, through on goal on the penalty spot. Yes, really. Getting your head to a cross/shot was once thing, but that would have been truly mighty. Although the keeper’s reaction and a slightly heavy touch saw the chance disappear, the incident confirmed that the second goal won’t be any less fun than the first…


1. Minty Jaffa - 03/02/2010

In total agreement Matt, three of the more comical pieces of defending I’ve seen for a wee while…

As a discussion point my brother and I were trying to decide what use Blackwell has been as a manager. Leeds got to the Play Off final almost in spite of him and then as we all know bottled it!!! He helped our M1 neighbours furher into their spiral of doom and has turned the Blades into a side with no Plan B!

Matt Rowson - 03/02/2010

If there’s an explanation for Blackwell’s stock remaining so high, I don’t know what it is. I’ll give it one more bottle-job in the play-offs before his cover his blown.

2. Harefield Hornet - 03/02/2010

Following the disappointment of the postponements and recent dodgy away performances this was nothing short of a tonic, albeit aided and abetted by one of the worse Sheffield United performances I can remember. Seemingly hung over from their defeat at the Hawthorns, they were woefully incapable of launching the onslaught I thought was inevitable following Heidars’ glaring miss at the beginning of the 2nd half. The Hornets by contrast looked rested and full of energy with “Tiny” causing havoc from set pieces and providing some long overdue muscle at the back. Lets hope his late discomfort was just cramp – hardly surprising following a season of inactivity thus far. A mention in dispaches also for Lansbury who I thought was superb. Following whatever happens at Barnsley it would be nice to send that miserable git Johnson back down the M4 with nothing next Tuesday. Who do we hate most? him or Billy Davies! Nigel Clough is my new hero.

Matt Rowson - 03/02/2010

Oh no. Johnson has Watford connections, and doesn’t come anywhere close to Billy Davies….

Minty Jaffa - 03/02/2010

Agreed, Billy Davies in an ungracious turdy Gnome!

3. The Great Big O - 03/02/2010

Last night was very jolly all round. Hearty thanks to the Blades.

Their ugly football had no confidence to it – and it just got worse and worse as the game went on. Rather reminded me of us two years ago under Boothroyd: expensive Championship players unthinkingly doing what they’ve been told is meant to work, and losing faith.

I was astonished to see Morgan go off injured. I’d always imagined he’d have to lose at least two limbs before he did that.

Nice to have a home game and see Cleverley and Lansbury careering around, carving defences apart. Would have loved to see Danny Graham bag a late one. It was a night for taking the opportunity to build confidence.

Let’s hope we pack our momentum in a nice big bag and take it with us to Barnsley.

4. NickB - 03/02/2010

In another era, Billy Davies would’ve been an ideal Shop Steward for the Scottish NUM.

The most loathsome individual in football, which with the likes of Ashley Cole around, is really saying something.

Great Big O – terrific shout about Sheff U looking like late Boothroyd era Watford – great to hear the ovation for Hendo, but he’s one ugly player when one is no longer seeing him through yellow tinted specs and he’s not helped by the Orcs surrounding him. You do start to have a sneaking sympathy with other fans’ criticism of our play 2 seasons back when you watch this lot (and Derby, come to that).

We, on the other hand, are really fun to watch these days, and it’s great to see us getting increasingly confident when going a goal up and looking to kill teams off instead of ‘managing the game’ (aka cheating/ panicking/ timewasting and generally hanging on). Just need to start doing it away from home….

Matt Rowson - 03/02/2010

“Sneaking sympathy” ? No, bollocks. Few victories will be as sweet as that recorded over a simpering Ipswich at Portman Road almost exactly two years ago. We were brutally effective, but no sympathy AT ALL for Ipswich’s pathetic “oh but we’re much prettier and morally virtuous. Bobby Robson was our manager, you know…”. Not in a million years.

NickB - 04/02/2010

I very nearly excluded Ipswich from the comment and take the point; they were obnoxious on boards after the cup game. Ditto the holier than thou Baggies fans.

Stick by the general point, though – there were times when I found our football embarrassing to watch.

5. Gerry - 03/02/2010

What reception did the Rookery give Doris and Jordan? A good one I’d hope as they were both good for us, but then the Rookery can be quite fickle…

Sometimes I think that WFC and Sheff Utd are feeder teams for each other, as so many players over the years have gone back and forth up and and down the M1, yea even as far back as Tony Curry.

6. DM - 03/02/2010

As poor as Sheffield United were, lets not underestimate the improvement in Watford’s passing and movement after the break. It was still some way short of the verve shown in that Autumn run, but we looked brighter and more purposeful in the second half than we have since the QPR game. Can’t help but feel we missed a trick in not blooding McGinn with the game won, but that’s small beer on a night when we got most things right going forward.

Defensively, this was a step in the right direction too. As well as young Hodson has done on an individual basis, we were finally able to play an experienced back four and it paid dividends. We coped well with Blackwell’s plan A, and given his total lack of a plan B we recorded a morale boosting clean sheet with minimum fuss. Once again, Jay DeMerit proved he is a far better player when paired with a dominating centre half, while the one save Loach had to make was a belter and underlined how pleased we should be that nobody came calling with a serious offer.

As for Jordan and Doris – well we saw a vintage Stewart display. We’ve had far worse left backs down the years, but the nothing 9-iron passes and the ninja feet on the wing were great to see, now the architect is no longer in yellow. And apart from the first 15-20 mins, Doris seemed subdued to me – credit Taylor and DeMerit there. It was great to see the fans reaction when he was taken off – I can’t have been the only Watford fan relieved to see the number 7 raised, even though he was below par.

Matt Rowson - 03/02/2010

No debate re our improvement in passing/movement DM. The point was that it wouldn’t have been allowed to happen had United not been so acquiescent… we needed the encouragement that pitiful opposition offered. But we definitely took advantage, and the benefits should extend beyond three points.

7. Aylesbury 'Orn - 03/02/2010

Last night was enjoyable. From the heart warming tribute to Les Simmons in the programme to the fine performance on the pitch topped off by persistent but mostly pleasant Jordan baiting from the lower rous in the second half.

8. Dan - 03/02/2010

I’m still chuckling at Nyron Nosworthy’s display. Surely the most entertaining opposition defensive performance since McGready at Crewe.

I miss going to Crewe.

United were awful. How on earth are they top six?

9. Matt Lovett - 03/02/2010

Great performance and great result. However, wtf was the idiot who likes like a pikey who sits just behind the goal in the Rookery thinking of screaming the foulest of abuse at Hendo when he was substituted??? Yeah, this tool comes out with some amusing stuff when the likes of Neil Sullivan come to town, but he deserves a good hiding for his perfomance last night. Tw4t.

10. Flippo Galli - 04/02/2010

I don’t think that’s it’s just the defence where SUFC were weak, their midfield was outplayed and outfought. I usually fear for Jenkins against most sides in the Champ, but he looked very comfortable alongside the ever present Lansbury and Eustace.

I think 4-5-1 suits us a lot better with Cleverley and Lansbury bombing forward in support for Heidar. When we’ve got two up top (nothing against Graham) we are unbalanced and the defence is exposed.

Looking forward to a number of Tuesday night matches to come, despite a weirdly subdued atmosphere two nights ago. Can we have a drum back please?

11. Back from Hammerau - 04/02/2010

A great evening’s entertainment after the first 20 minutes. Have the club got the “I was there when Doyley scored again” shirts ready?
Demerit looked transformed with Taylor alongside him.
And both our loanees featured in Kilmarnock’s defeat of Chelsea.

12. DW - 04/02/2010

I had the same conversation leaving the game with my father; Shef Utd looked exactly like the Watford team in AB’s last full season in charge. Praise must be given to the team and the back office team, this was the first transfer window in three years that leaves us with a stronger team.

I don’t mean to be negative after a 3.0 win but I’m not sold on the one up front formation although I’ll readily accept it did pay dividends once Sef Utd gave us the lead and had to chase the game.

13. Esp - 05/02/2010

Good to read DM’s comment about our passing and movement improving. I have missed a few games recently and certainly our dip in form over Christmas couldn’t carry on unabated so I note that some passion, verve and skill have returned to the side…..we couldn’t possibly have become a bad side in a few weeks!

Thanks for the report Matt and for including a phrase I thought I’d never see in a football match report “difficult to miss paint-spray”!!

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