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Watford 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 (05/04/2010) 06/04/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an eventful Easter Monday

1- Sometimes, as you may have noted, it’s difficult to distill five worthwhile “thunks” from a performance, particularly as themes tend to repeat themselves over a series of fixtures. Not after this one, which leaves a number of considerations clamouring for attention. Thunk Number One, nonetheless, has to reflect a quite terrific effort by the boys in yellow in the face of an opponent whose squad was so much stronger than our own that any of their seven subs (except – and only arguably except – Dean Kiely) would have been a certain starter in the Watford line-up. There was a point in the second half where the floodlights came on just as the sun came out. “What an odd day,” was the instinctive thought, which lead to the reflection that an odd day might be required in overturning our fifteen-year league hoodoo against the Albion. It didn’t quite happen, although the rueful “I’d take a draw from here” sentiment as Jon Harley departed was severely tested…

2- Speaking of Harley, and whether or not his second yellow might be interpreted as a little harsh, what a bloody idiot. A herculean team effort had restricted Albion’s ability to knock the ball around, and much as we hadn’t looked much like scoring ourselves we had reduced our visitors to chucking balls in the vague direction of Bednar (“a lump with eyes” – TBBM) which the impeccable Bennett and ferocious Demerit were coping with just fine, thank you very much. That all changed as we went down to ten… the fabulous, fabulous Graham goal, just reward for a selfless and industrious individual performance, was very much not on the cards as Albion suddenly found the space and stretched us as they’d not been permitted to up to that point. A silly, unnecessary foul from Harley; much as we’ve often welcomed his brand of nastiness in a side that is suddenly rather too nice on occasions, nastiness and stupidity aren’t a great match.

3- We’ve kinda gotten away with it this season up to now… such injuries as we’ve had have been brief and largely innocuous (Jay’s scratched eyeball notwithstanding). So we’ve managed to survive on a very thin squad… up until now, when it appears that we get all of our injuries at once. Most critically of course Tom Cleverley; it seems inconceivable that we’ll be seeing him in a yellow shirt again which is a crying shame and potentially disastrous for our chances of survival. Buckley and Doyley also off injured, Eustace and Bennett both moving gingerly by the final whistle, Harley and Lansbury suspended for Saturday and Taylor and Helguson already missing in action. If none of these are available on Saturday (and you’d bet against any of the three removed in this game being involved), the mind boggles as to what sort of side we might be able to field in the vital tie with Plymouth.

4- Good work from Harry the Hornet, whose spasmodic appearances with a drum at different locations in and around the Rookery and Lower Rous relieved the tension no end. Being made to sit down by the stewards was presumably a first, and probably not welcomed by the poor sod sitting behind him, but irrespective of his beat-keeping ability (and maintaining a rhythm as sound travels across a stand is, one suspects, next to impossible anyway) his was an unusually valuable contribution.

5- We suggested before the game that, given our fixture and those of our rivals, finishing the day outside of the relegation zone would be a result, however it turned out. I don’t think that we’d allowed for every eventuality (see 3), but we’ve come through a difficult weekend boasting, frankly, two more points than I thought we’d get and it’s still in our hands… staring up out of the relegation zone, as we would have been had Wednesday not shipped a late goal to Bristol City, would have been psychologically far more difficult to reconcile with the injury onslaught. We’re still fighting, albeit on one leg…


1. Joons - 06/04/2010

A really sad way for TC to make his last appearance for the Horns. A standing ovation fully deserved for an outstanding prospect – in my opinion he is the best player to wear the yellow shirt since Youngy. It will be interesting to follow his career with Manchester United and England (hopefully). God only knows what the season would have been like without his inventiveness, energy and class.

Eustace was superb yesterday – though slightly worrying to see the ref holding him back after Dorrans grabbed him by the throat. Much as we need his aggression the ref probably saved him from a red card. He’s so obviously the leader in this team, it was a surprise to see him giving the armband back to Jay.

That Roman Bednar is a deeply unpleasant chap, isn’t he?

Graham’s goal and subsequent celebration was remarkable for a striker who hasn’t looked like scoring for a long time, but his work rate remains impressive and there’s nothing wrong with his technique.

Completely agree with your praise of DB and JDM – bravery and commitment personified. Let’s hope the medical team can patch them up before Sat’s showdown with Plymouth.

It’s never boring watching Watford, is it?

2. The Great Big O - 06/04/2010

What has seemed like moderately poor luck turned to extremely cruel luck yesterday.

We finished the game a point better off than I expected, but four players worse off for the game always earmarked as the most winnable and therefore the most important of the run-in.

Without (probably) Cleverley, Lansbury and Buckley, we’ll be very short on creative quality.

The positives? Yesterday, even with ten men and our best creative players absent, we scored against the Baggies by force of will – and an unexpected spectacular finish.

Come on!

3. Harefield Hornet - 06/04/2010

A magnificant effort spoilt by our usual habit of letting opposition players ghost into the box unchallenged and score from headers. The miserable c(br)unt that scored had spent most of the afternoon whinging about refereeing decisons which made it even more f***ing annoying. Having said that, the patched up defence had an admirable afternoon and Eustace was an absolute Trojan for the entire 90 minutes. As registered above, the worrying thing now is injuries – The fixture lists of all those involved suggests it’s still very much in our own hands – the big question starting Saturday will be “whose hands?”

4. Luke Fairweather - 06/04/2010

Heroic is too small a word for what we witnessed. Alas, the injuries and suspensions mean that we would appear critically wounded and now resemble the unfortunate victim in the Monty Python Holy Grail film who, torso bereft of limbs can only resort to taunting his opponent with cries of “come back and I’ll bite your legs off” Will Plymouth be intimidated or amused? I am not sure I can take much more.


5. JohnF - 07/04/2010

Fantastic battling performance let down by stupidity. Even with Harley still on the field we probably wouldn’t have seen the player ghosting in at the back post since we have missed them all season. Great performances from Graham and Bennet in particular but now we wait to see who will be available for Saturday. Did John Eustace get his 10th booking and is he also now suspended for 2 games?

Matt Rowson - 07/04/2010

OS says that Monday was Eustace’s ninth. Watershed for the suspension for ten bookings is second Sunday in April, i.e. as long as he doesn’t pick up the tenth on Saturday he won’t incur a suspension subsequently.

6. John Samways - 07/04/2010

An IMMENSE performance – don’t forget, 10th game in 30 days! The management team warrant great credit for extracting that …….. Not least, served to stop (almost) the torrent of negativity.

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