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Watford 2 Ipswich Town 1 (16/03/2010) 17/03/2010

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

1. Well, that’s a blessed relief. A blink of the eyes, a shake of the head, a gulp of fresh air…and whatever else this season might hold, it feels like something we might at least be able to face without flinching. In any normal circumstances, it would be easy to oversell the brilliance of this performance, but not three days after losing at home to Peterborough and suddenly coming within touching distance of the bottom three. In those circumstances, it was pretty bloody terrific.

Then, we seemed afraid to ask questions in case the answers contained things we didn’t want to hear. Last night, we rewarded the bravery of the manager’s team selection – because not making sweeping changes can be brave too – with a much higher tempo from the start, pulsing out from the centre of midfield to all parts and pressing Ipswich into oppressively tight corners. It was far from flawless, but that’s the point: a result is never far away in this division, as long as you play with just a little bit of confidence in your own strengths.

2. Of course, it very much helped that Ipswich were a pleasantly fragrant waft of a football team in the first half, bland and nondescript in precisely the way that doesn’t get you anywhere at our level. We were perhaps fortunate to escape relatively lightly from the second half backlash, but fortunate will do nicely between now and May. It still feels as if we won’t have much to spare by then.

Ipswich will stay up, I imagine. Woohoo. Somewhere along the line, they’ve become hugely expensive and hugely dull, like one of those modern art sculptures that gets the Daily Mail all cross: a piece involving two breezeblocks, a tin of sardines, one old shoe and a broken egg-whisk, accompanied by improvised performance art from a bellowing Irishman in a raincoat. If I were them, I suspect I’d just want it to stop.

3. Yes, yes, Will Hoskins. We’ll come to him in a moment, for we must first pause to salute Lord Doyley. The bravura pirouette in the first half, followed by splendid left-footed cross onto the head of Heidar Helguson at the far post, was the stuff of ten minute standing ovations. But the defending often deserved a similar response: one early Ipswich attack bounded eagerly over the halfway line, discovered Jay Demerit too far forward, threatened to burst dangerously into the penalty area…and then found itself quietly shepherded to somewhere near the corner flag, any spark of danger suffocated by a gigantic, inescapable wet blanket. He must be utterly miserable to play against, ninety minutes of having your bright ideas tied up in red tape by the local health and safety officer.

4. Yes, yes, Will Hoskins. There’s something of Lee Nogan about him, for me: the suggestion that he might just have a run of goals in him at some point, probably somewhere around the time that his contract expires. The best kid in the playground, he remains the most frustrating of players, abundant talent without any sense of focus or application…but we know all of that already, and so we should confine ourselves to some simple facts: a) he’s scored more goals than anyone else lately, b) we’re not in a position to be fussy and c) the combination with Danny Graham, much of a muchness on paper, looked surprisingly incisive. Oh, and d) that was a very tidy little finish. Now, do it next week as well.


1. marcus shapiro - 17/03/2010

Missing a thunk?

“Phew” (again) would do!

Ian Grant - 17/03/2010

Yes, there’s only four. But feel the weight of ’em!

2. Nick - 17/03/2010

“He must be utterly miserable to play against, ninety minutes of having your bright ideas tied up in red tape by the local health and safety officer.”

This made me laugh more than it should have. But he’s certainly achieved a decent level of consistancy in the last season. Chris Eagles still has nightmares about playing against him, I suspect.

3. Graham - 17/03/2010

Could not agree more about Doyley last night, easily the man of the match – the definsive frailties were their through the match, enough for me to be nervous for the whole 90. Loach seemed indecisive coming off his line, Taylor only appeared capable of heading the ball in the air rather than away from danger, and Demerit was either turned while trying to nick the ball away or got the wrong side of his man. Llyod was just efficient in taking most of the danger out of these situations.
We do need to sort out what happened in the period just before and after they scored where we just seemed to be panicing.
For the Hoskins debate to keep his place more permanently I think that he needs to do more for the team in terms of assists/chances he creates for others; last night his link up play was better and his choices of when to pass (rather than the selfish shooting from Saturday) was better – more of that please as well as more goals. That said what he has that we lack otherwise is a touch of self confidence. He had two other chances, one got caught under his feet, the other took a huge bobble off the pitch and he shinned it for a goal kick, for the goal this did not affect him -it seemed slighty behind him and he had to adjust very quickly – he did not take an extra touch, or look to hold it up and lose a real opportunity. A conitinued improvement again and I will be calling for him to start more often.

4. Pete Bradshaw - 17/03/2010

5. John Eustace. An immense rock of a player who is captain in all but fandangled arm attire. Go there! Do that! Come on! Well done! And a pleasant shortage of dinked lobs. Oh, and “Is that how you do it Roy?”

Ian Grant - 17/03/2010

Good call, Pete; that’s the unofficial fifth thunk. Although there were plenty of dinked lobs, I’m pleased to say. Nothing wrong with a dinked lob in my book.

Rod Fine - 17/03/2010

Nothing wrong with /a/ dinked lob, perhaps. Nothing wrong with a prawn cocktail either; but I wouldn’t want eight of ’em in the same meal. The trouble with a lob is it’s a slow way to get the ball from a to b, and defenders often have time to get back and cover. Use it sparingly (especially Eustace, who I thought had a good game yesterday in most other respects).

On a similar subject, I wonder how much AM and LD work on their long throws. They get distance, but only with such height they’re almost always dealt with by a defence. Dangerous long throws tend to be a lot flatter, with more pace – look at Delap, and Wickham(?) yesterday.

5. Chris Turner - 17/03/2010

‘bravura pirouette’ and ‘health and safety officer’ in the same thunk?
There really is only one Lloyd Doyley

6. Sirhornet - 17/03/2010

Just my luck. First home game I’ve missed in three seasons!

On a slightly different tack – were there police horses outside Vic Road? We never win when they are there (Newcastle, Peterboro, most Prem games the other year). Just an observation

7. Winslow 'Orn - 17/03/2010

Lee Nogan?! I’d almost forgotten about that odious little oik. Thanks IG.
As for Lloyd – I was fortunate enough to witness said pirouette and cross up close from my Lower Rous vantage point and it truly was a thing of wonder.

8. Johnny Boy - 17/03/2010

Endorse all comments on Lloydino – fab. Also, was the wave to the Rookery before kick off new? If so, maybe thats what dun’it.
PS Warnock got his first defeat – good night all round.

9. DM - 17/03/2010

Yes, yes Doyley. Yes, yes Hoskins. There’s another who is more deserving of a mention today – Mariappa.

I’ve never been his biggest fan but he has gone up in my estimations this season, that run as captain at centre half up to DeMerit’s return especially. Sure, he’s not really ever going to convince as a full back, but last night he showed some immense character. Berated and subbed in the last 2 games, he actually shanked his first touch straight into the stand last night but rather than let it effect his game as on Saturday – he just got on with the job at hand and while it was hardly Gibbsy-esque stuff, he personified the graft and bloody-mindedness that secured a vital three points. One bone shaking tackle right in front of us during the first half said it all.

10. rous man - 17/03/2010

agree with most Matt, Doyley had his best game of the season & was man of the match. Hoskins needs a run in the side but I have thought he looks a goal scorer given the chance his work rate is very good & maybe a strike force of DG & WH would be better than you would think, but as I have said before it will be a close run thing. We have had enough chances to have had the game won before half time but only took one, there lies the story behind a lot of games this season.

11. SteveT - 17/03/2010

A thoroughly enjoyable evening in my book with everyone making a positive contribution and not showing as many nerves as you might expect on the circumstances.

Lloyd was great, Cleverley was great, Lansbury was great etc. I’m concerned that the 16yr old Wickham gave the experienced Demerit and Taylor the run around until he got tired and it was time for his milk and biscuit.

Despite their recent form, Ipswich don’t look a side that’s together. The early substitution of Garvan was odd. I recall that he’d fallen out with Keane earlier this year and I’m sure Keane said that Garvan would never play for him again.

Not that this bothers us of course; we can only beat the team in front of us. We did that well and I was most pleased with the way in which we responded to Ipswich’s ploy of kicking everyone at the start of the second half.

More of the same on Sunday?

12. Esp - 18/03/2010

Re: Graham’s comment about Hoskins

Disagree – MORE selfish shooting please – someone’s got to!!

and to echo Mr Grant – yes, Doyley magnifico. Player/Goal and Performance of the Season will all go to him rather like HH achieved the clean sweep in his last season as a proper Watford player…..

13. JohnF - 18/03/2010

What a relief! After a great start it was a little more nervous than was comfortable and good chances missed again. The change was an injection of infectious confidence that resulted in more movement and the fact that the young loanees were given more freedom (thanks Ipswich) made a huge difference. I thought Hoskins and Helguson complemented each other rather better than H and Graham. Thank goodness for Lloyd in defence, he came back from Saturday in style and what a piece of attacking play – more please Lloyd.

Everybody is now fit and we do have some options for Sunday. We need to be more secure at the back so maybe Jenkins back and one up front supported by Cowie, Cleverley and Lansbury breaking from mid-field.

14. marcus shapiro - 18/03/2010

Re Mariappa. I’m convinced he has great potential. Sometimes he is wonderfully comfortable on the ball and dribbles impressively round people. Couple of weeks back he put over a gorgeous cross from the by-line which resulted in a goal (header by, I think, HH).

I think he’s not the only one who seems to find it difficult playing alongside Jay. I wonder if that (Jay – and I’m not intending this to be a Jay-bashing post) is part of the reason Loach is so quiet.

If Loach can command the box vocally and by physical presence claiming crosses that are hit close to him, he’d be the real article.

15. DM - 18/03/2010

Marcus – how do you know Loach is “so quiet” ? Are you on the pitch with him ??

Loach does seem to get stick for this lack of command at times, yet I think we forget at times that he is still in his first full season as a first choice. He should still have some things to work on – if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have him. As he gets more and more experience, he’ll get better at organising his back four and commanding his box, for now we have to take that, as it’s outweighed by his shot-stopping, agility, kicking, handling and all the other goalkeeping attributes that he is really rather good at…

16. marcus shapiro - 19/03/2010

DM – for half of each home match I am a few yards away from him at the Vicarage Road end.

I agree with the points and sentiments you express in the second paragraph of your comment (although perhaps you were agreeing with and enlarging upon my own observation!).

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