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Watford 2 Bristol City 0 (09/02/2010) 10/02/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the first League win over City since Boxing Day 1998, Gifton at the corner flag and so forth. Yes, really.

1- We are seriously going to need everyone uninjured, and the likes of McGinn and Buckley up to speed sharpish if we’re to cope with our March fixture list on that evidence. A deserved three points… but impressive particularly because we kept City largely at arms length in the second half despite their improvement and our utter exhaustion. Saturday being free is probably welcome, but we’re down to play eight times next month.

2- City’s first half was abominable, bearing comparison with QPR’s chaotic visit in December. Flat, low on confidence and ideas, and looking rather stroppy and fed-up all told. The QPR-comparison was sealed by Patrick Agyemang’s reprise, to limited effect.

3- That City’s second half improvement yielded so little was thanks in no small part to our sudden defensive resilience. It’s too early to award Martin Taylor the accolade of having the same dramatic impact as Mike Williamson’s signing had a year ago, but so far so very good; Jay Demerit looks a whole lot more confident and reliable, Adrian Mariappa has been released into a buckaneering right-back, and the challenges just bounce off Taylor, who is immediately an asset at set pieces. We’re not completely watertight, there were nervy moments when a livelier forward line might have capitalised. But a dramatic improvement all told.

4- Liam Henderson. There’s something physically not quite right about him. It might be so obvious that I’ve missed it… maybe he’s got no neck or an extra shoulder or something, but he just looks… wrong. His appearance off the bench was clumsily ineffective; clearly short on pace, it’s difficult to see how he can make a sustained impact without everything else in his game coming together. His continued involvement speaks volumes about both our limited options and Will Hoskins’ low stock. And I’d better credit RW with input into this thunk or he’ll only go all mardy on me again…

5- However desperately short on goals Danny Graham is, we do look a better side with him in it…


1. Harefield Hornet - 10/02/2010

Re – Thunk 4. He offers nothing at all. His continued involvement is baffling even under the current circumstances, i.e.club skint – small squad etc. Eerily, the bloke who sits next to me keeps saying he reminds of (the original) Ross Jenkins when he first arrived at Watford, but I can’t believe he was ever that inept. The sad thing is these comments go against my natural instincts to support all the young players that come through our system. Baffling.

Matt Rowson - 10/02/2010

His touch is pretty good. That’s not nearly enough on its own though… if he can’t move, he needs to be robust enough to hold off a challenge.

2. Pete Bradshaw - 10/02/2010

Given that we were being overrun in midfield I would have liked to have seen Jenkins on much sooner. The last ten minutes were less nervy for his presence. Why some people are building him into the next boo boy I really don’t understand.

Matt Rowson - 10/02/2010

Completely agree Pete… I knew that another thunk had been mentally noted during the game before being lost behind this morning’s power calculations. Yes, we thought Jenkins should have been on when Henderson came on… and share your surprise at the amount of stick he gets. This season hasn’t hit the phenomenal heights of the end of last season, but he’s still a very tidy young player.

Dan - 10/02/2010

I was surprised, to say the least, to see Hendo come on. Jenkins to bolster the midfield seemed like the obvious choice.

We weren’t great yesterday, but we were much better and certainly more dangerous than City. What a charmless bunch, Johnson senior and and junior haranguing the ref was ridiculous considering they were lucky to have 11 men on the pitch for 90 minutes.

Wrighty - 10/02/2010

He is getting stick because he is a defensive midfielder and as such is not part of the ‘glamour’ of the team, beating players, scoring, crossing etc, much as Eustace and Mahon before him. This unfortunately says a lot about our fans rather than the players.
I wonder what they would have made of Les Taylor?

3. NickB - 10/02/2010

Not as vibrant without TC, but still a professional, competent performance. Marvellous 2nd goal – superb free kick and finished with the aplomb of a seasoned striker (from the Charles Buchan Book Of Football Cliches, circa 1965)

City were awful and I think thunk 2 is somewhat charitable towards them; how they kept 11 on the pitch I don’t know; X rated tackles, endless shoving, carping at the ref etc; they’ve changed into a pretty ugly side since their last visit. Even young Lee was giving a fair impression of Shaun Derry.

Matt Rowson - 10/02/2010

“young” Lee is now 28. That’s a bit scarey. But yes, agree with the general point. It was only the fact that they recovered a bit of focus (if not letting up on the general narkiness) that moderated the comment.

4. Dave Jackson - 10/02/2010

Amazing spirit and desire from the boys last night- wonderful to see. Loved Marriapa taking the mick out of their nasty little growlers at the end. Hoping for more at Rangers next week. Not sure how it will be without “H”. Also Priskin is bound to score.
As for Jenkins …agree he showed some potential, particularly early on last season, but thought the midfield of Lansbury / Eustace had a good balance and wouldn’t put him ahead of either of them right now.

Matt Rowson - 10/02/2010

ig will tell you that I’m not Lansbury’s biggest fan… but I would tend to agree that you wouldn’t change those two at the moment. That doesn’t mean that Jenkins isn’t one of the best young players at the club though, or that he’s worthy of some stick. “Showed some potential” a bit of an understatement, he was terrific for most of the second half of last season.

simmo - 10/02/2010

Dave, You have hit upon a great point. Effectively we have swapped Priskin for Helgusson with QPR (for the time being) and netted a profit of £1.7m. Now that’s great business.

5. Simon - 10/02/2010

I gather the first half was very good.

I suppose I should have known what sort of a second half was in prospect as soon as we were informed that the 7.04 from Euston was cancelled at the same time as watching the back end of the slow train (which would have still just about got us there for kick off) trundling out of the station.

Having received regular reports of a tidy first half display against inept opposition and a deserved 2-0 lead, we arrived at half time for a lumpy second half that didn’t produce a home shot or chance worthy of the name (sigh).

Still, a very interesting remainder of the season lies in wait. If we’d have lost last night we’d presently be sitting 17th, 3 points of relegation instead of 11th, 5 points from the play-offs. It’ll be important to keep some perspective between now and the end of the season and not pay too much attention to league positions given the huge swings off the back of a single win or single defeat at the moment. You wouldn’t want to bet against anyone in that middle section going up or down at present.

Matt Rowson - 10/02/2010

True enough. Five points off the play-offs and simultaneously six off relegation in February is crazy stuff. Sorry you missed the first half… the M1 meant I cut it very fine. Left Sutton Road car park at 7.37 with many layers on, got to the game just after kick off VERY warm and somewhat short of breath (I’m not unfit, I’ve just got a bit of a cold…).

SteveT - 12/02/2010

Hi Simon – I can empathise with you re the train – I just missed the 6.35 and was on the 7.04 you referred to. I ended up catching the 7.17 slow train and getting off at Watford High St. I missed the first 25 minutes.

The one bonus from that was that at the end of the game I wasn’t as cold as those around me !

6. Johnny Boy - 10/02/2010

Just a quick mention or Mr John Harley – a lower Rouse favourite -who had a wonderful 1st half and a non excistent 2nd, but then when is the last time the boy played 90 minutes. His display rather sums at Watford at the moment – At home, play off contenders – Away, in the relegation doo doo. We have got some big games comming up because I don’t think Ipswich and Reading are going to stay down near the bottom but. hey , it’s all go fun.
P.S Wasn’t it effing cold last night!

7. Iceman - 10/02/2010

“Watford 2 Bristol City 0 (09/02/2009)”

I know the second half dragged last night, but surely we didn’t go back in time?!

It was a shame we were unable to kick on last night, but the first half was very watchable and the 3 points are all that matters. It also gave our new-look defence a fair bit of practice, and I’d say they came through with flying colours. Taylor is growing with each game, Doyley dealt well with Sproule in the second half, Mariappa was rampant at times down the wing, and DeMerit looks very accomplished again.

Get Cleverley back into the mix and we should be a strong unit for the rest of the season.

Matt Rowson - 11/02/2010

Ah. Yes. Good spot. 2010. Quite right.

8. Old Git - 10/02/2010

Well actually, Harefield Hornet, the original Ross Jenkins was even more inept that you can imagine. They used to call him ‘Pencil’ because that’s what he looked like, while he was flailing around and falling over. Utterly risible. I’m sure other old gits will concur. A true candidate for the Worst Ever Side.
Then someone transformed him.

PRAWN - 11/02/2010

Indeed, (other) Old Git. Having last been able to follow the Golden Boys in real space in 1974, I only ever saw the Ross Jenkins that was a long streak of uselessness. A for effort, E for achievement! I’ll be forever sad that I never witnessed the subsequent “goal machine” who’s exploits would appear week by week in the clippings from the WO that a friend sent to me in the various odd parts of the World where life took me. “Jenkins — Goal Machine?”; between 1972 and 74 any Watford supporter (except George Kirby and Mike Keen would have assumed you were having a laugh!

Harefield Hornet - 11/02/2010

Didn’t start attending regularly until 1978 so the Jenkins transformation was fairly complete by then and I only saw him at his best . Interestingly though an even older Git told me that a certain Northern Irishman made a dodgy start to his Watford career – “Jittery Jennings” I think he was tagged! Perhaps there is hope for Henderson after all.

9. rous man - 10/02/2010

With regard to Henderson it will never happen I agree with all Matt has said, puts me in mind of Scott Fitzgerald very little ability but gives 100 % We are not as good without Cleverley if you compare last nights performance with the Sheff United game we could have had six last week, but after the 2 first half goals did not offer much in the second half. I saw the game at Bristol just after Xmas (we should have won) so maybe Derby are not the worst team I have seen this season.

10. Luke Fairweather - 10/02/2010

Thiunk 5 – Yes, AND…

Danny G might not have scored for a while but he did “score” a fine header on Saturday – so says all of us, and the crew on Late KO, BBC – AND he had a belter of a shot saved Vs the Blunts. In off his arse on Tuesday methinks and we’ll say no more about it.

Oh and Dave Jackson, Priskin scoring, no chance. He will be crapping himself just looking at the new man mountain in the centre of our defence. My guess is that Tamas will be hiding in the showers come half time.


11. Sequel - 11/02/2010

I can take full credit for the win over City in ’98. I bumped into Robert Page at the club’s carol service a few days before the game, shook hands with him and wished him luck for the match. It seemed to do the trick; he had a good game as I recall.
My wife got a kiss from Luther Blisset on the same night. What that did for his coaching sessions, only they know…….

12. marcus shapiro - 11/02/2010

Re Striker. Are we missing the obvious? Mr Sordell is getting first team games at Tranmere (I think while one of their forwards recovers from injury) and could be back 1 March when his month-long loan expires….just in time for the 8 games in March. Based on what little I’ve seen of him and rather more of the two British H’s, he’d be my choice on the bench to support DG/HH possibly alongside Buckley

13. Weymouth 'Orn - 11/02/2010

Saw Taylor for the first time on Tuesday – seems a great acquisition. He’s quick for a big man and was commanding at the back. Took his goal splendidly. We haven’t had anyone come in and make an impression like that since Calum Davenport put in his 45 minutes worth.
I just wish Danny G. would net one – he never stops working and runs himself into the ground every game.His confidence will be shot big-time if the carping from those around me in the Rookery transmits itself onto the pitch.
Re: a cumbersome and off the pace Henderson,I seem to have missed the reason for Hoskins’ absence.
By the way,Matt, did your publisher ever pass on my e-mail?

Matt Rowson - 12/02/2010

Yes, he did. I swore quite a lot. I thought, with the book having been on the market for a while, that I must have a clean bill of health. Even Trefor J missed that one…

But I would dispute your assertion about Calum D. Mike Williamson made a more dramatic impact on his arrival vs Burnley last season.

14. Joons - 11/02/2010

I’ve had an irrational liking for Hendo since I met his uncle and aunt on a plane to NY 2 days after the play-off final in 2006. He had just signed and they told me how impressed he was with the club and Aidy. That said, he really needs to start scoring goals. I like his aggression and his work-rate, even if he makes John Eustace look like Usain Bolt.

Pleased that we won without Cleverley – the best footballer I’ve seen in a Watford shirt since Youngy left. QPR away won’t be easy, no matter how pony they are – tight pitch, night game, derby atmosphere. TC’s fitness could be the decisive factor, especially without H.

Talking of the Iceman, it was a vintage Helguson performance on Tues night. You might have though Brizzle would sense danger when the ball goes to the back stick – he’s always there lurking. His anger after getting clattered was evident to all, and it was good to see Malky having a quiet word to calm him down when he was getting treatment. His non-marking led to City’s best chance, but he was quick to apologise to Taylor and Eustace. It was hilarious to see him try to hit the City player in the face with the ball at the end, too.

Last word goes to Brizzle City, easily the filthiest, most petulant team I have seen at the Vic for a long time.

15. Esp - 13/02/2010

Bristol City – FIVE Yellow cards all justly awarded – ironically the same number of cards that Mr Stroud showed to OUR players in the home game against Derby where we absolutely WEREN’T dirty or petulant.

Fine Championship refereeing consistency…Go figure!!

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