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Derby County Match Preview 28/10/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

A match preview, you say? Now there’s an idea. Not sure why we didn’t think of that before. In the first of what may be a very occasional series, Chris Smith of the very fine Ramspace offers us a view from the other side of the fence…

“I think most Derby fans would agree that we’ve had a good start to the season, which could have been fantastic if we’d scored half the points we should have in the opening six games.

Most heartening, after the dross of the last 5 years or so (even the football in our promotion year wasn’t great), has been our all new 4-2-3-1 formation and total football passing style. We rarely even do long goal kicks or keeper drop kicks anymore!

Partly inspired by Jonny Metgod’s stint as a scout for Holland at the World Cup and partly inspired by Blackpool (who properly nailed us at Pride Park last season), this has been very easy on the eye and made for some 5 star entertainment, mostly in a good way (5-0 Palace, 3-1 Boro, 3-0 PNE) although not always (2-2 QPR after being 2-0 up on 92 mins).

You will be well aware of the usual Championship tactics of 4-4-2 Home and 4-5-1 away, so its really interesting to see the first 5 minutes of each game to see what, if anything, the opposition have done to counter our tactics. We aren’t the toughest team in the world and it is possible to get in our face and nulify us (Sheff Utd and Millwall did this) however if you let us play (Leeds, Palace and Doncaster) then we’re definitely good for at least 2 goals.

Players to watch out for… Commons as a matchwinner but the real threat comes through our Spanish loanee Alberto Bueno. He’s clearly too good for the Championship and I think he’ll probably move on to bigger things at the end of his season loan, but he’s a real box of tricks and we’re just enjoying him whilst he’s here. Also watch out for our right back John Brayford, who we signed from Crewe in the summer. Great player, who will ask questions of your left full back all afternoon.

The table’s so tight, a win Saturday could really help both teams. Should be a cracker.”

Chris Smith


Watford 0 Scunthorpe United 2 (23/10/2010) 23/10/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an underwhelming afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- My last thunk regarding the general quality of our play this season after Tuesday’s game couldn’t have been more unfortunately timed. This one stank to high heaven… and there exists no more reliable an indicator of an awful performance than the home crowd, at 2-0 down, booing the display of four added minutes at the end of the game as being too long. Miles had left much earlier in the half seeking solace in a cigarette… correctly deducing, one assumes, that we weren’t going to score if the game continued until the East Stand is rebuilt. The reality remains, of course, that we expected far more of this this season than we have been subjected to… but the limitations of our squad were suddenly painfully evident.

2- In particular, our ability to cope with both injuries to key players, and of our young squad to bounce back from a poor performance looks like being tested to the full. Danny Graham’s departure didn’t look at all good, and one can only hope that if Marvin Sordell’s replacement was as a consequence of his earlier knock, then it was precautionary. Malky has demonstrated a sensible, disciplined instinct to err on the side of caution with knocks already this season, presumably in recognition of the need to keep everyone fit. Troy Deeney gave us all palpitations by apparently trying to get himself sent off on his appearance off the bench, potentially reducing our forward line at Derby to zero (has anyone got Craig Levein’s phone number? or Jay DeMerit’s?). Deeney could finally get a run in the team however, which might be a fairer basis to judge him on than the half-hour cameos that have characterised his Watford career thus far.

3- Not that we were short of players that could have been done with replacing, and not that I’m in favour of knocking youngsters, but few will have survived 90 minutes playing worse than Michael Bryan did today. He’s clearly got something, the quality of deliveries is decent and he’s got quick feet. He’s not remotely ready yet though and with his deliberation on the ball slowing down a game that we needed to stretch, the more direct, chaotic influence of Will Buckley staying on the bench was a little odd.

4- None of this should take anything away from Scunny, who did more than just win the game by default and were worthy victors. Tight, disciplined, tidy and, ultimately, clinical, they look a reasonable side. Few visiting right backs will have a greater influence on a game at the Vic this season than Cliff Byrne, who followed an exquisite finish for the first goal with a crucial sliding block as Danny Graham pulled the trigger during our good five minutes immediately afterwards, and denied a far post chance with a diving header to clear a right wing cross in the second, arguably worth another two goals to his side.

5- Lloyd reminded us why he’s only netted the one goal with a horrible miss to an open goal at the Rookery End. This miss contributed to a bizarre goal famine in front of the Rookery; of the 23 goals scored in the League at the Vic this season, only 4 have been at this end and only one of those, John Eustace’s bicycle kick against Coventry, scored by someone in yellow.

Watford 2 Ipswich Town 1 (19/10/2010) 20/10/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an increasingly dependable win over Ipswich…

1- Brought a colleague to his first game, and if it wasn’t the most gripping spectacle it was absorbing and occasionally exciting in a way that epitomises this division… absorbing and exciting thanks to perverse episodes of brilliance and incompetence in equal, see-sawing measure. The game went through phases like operatic movements… we survived the first ten minutes despite an apparent determination to provide our guests with free runs on goal, thanks largely to the counterbalancing ineptitude of our visitors’ forwards (more of that later). We then dominated possession for much of the half without creating an awful lot as Ipswich’s defence held firm… and just as we were stretching our legs in anticipation of half-time, scored twice to change the game. The start of the second half, a new mood entirely… we were glorious, spectacular, and utterly dominant. But didn’t make it count… and with the inevitability of the scene at the end of the film where the bad guy pulls himself from the floor for one last assault Ipswich themselves scored from nowhere. To close, the dramatic denouement as our visitors smelled blood, but were ultimately vanquished. More of that later, too. Wonderful chaos, overall, and a fine three points.

2- Whilst we have become accustomed to seeing the ‘orns knock it about a bit, the furious determination, particularly in the first half, to keep the ball on the deck was extraordinary. It was if a training exercise was underway whereby anyone lifting the ball above knee-height would be told to drop and do twenty press-ups. Not difficult to understand why… Gareth McAuley would have gobbled up long balls up to the strikers. And yet inevitably, when the goal came, it was borne of the chaos provoked by a long throw into the box.

3- Tamas Priskin. When he left, albeit for a decent fee at the time, there was a little niggling doubt, a bit of a shame that he’d moved on just as the promise had started to develop into something more ruthless, more reliable. Not on yesterday’s evidence… this was Tamas at his most frustrating… diffident, sloppy, and, yes, offside.

4- Whilst there were strong performances all over the pitch, and from reliable sources, special mention for the effervescent McGinn, who suddenly looks just fine thank you on the edge of the diamond, and for Michael Bryan. Bryan needs to bulk up, quite clearly, and gave the ball away once or twice. But at times in the first half he was controlling the game from behind the strikers, and doesn’t need much space to get a decent cross in. One to watch.

5- Agonising as the dropping off at the end of the game is, I can’t help but feel that rather than a deliberate strategy this sort of nervous response to a situation is simply what you’re going to get from a young team. Three of our starting midfield were 21 or under… much as our nerves were fraying badly, I’ll happily cope with that in return for the plusses twelve games in. Third place? Top scorers in the division? And perhaps two poor performances in the League (Leeds, Hull)? I’ll take that with both hands.