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Watford 4 Hartlepool United 1 (08/01/2011) 09/01/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from a Cup victory at a damp Vicarage Road…

1- Much more to tell here than is suggested by the scoreline, which might imply a routine victory. Hartlepool came to put players behind the ball and break… hardly a revolutionary tactic for a lower division side away in a cup tie, but often an effective one and has has already been suggested on this blog an approach that is likely to be more profitable against this Watford side than playing an open game. For an hour they made a very decent fist of it, looking the more likely side as our forward line looked a little lightweight, the quality of the pitch contributing to our inability to pass our way in. United deserved their lead at the break, and whilst reverting to 4-4-2 from 4-5-1, with Deeney providing more muscle in the centre, gave us more impetus after the break, we hadn’t looked much like scoring until we did. At which point Hartlepool’s heads dropped as comprehensively as Pompey’s had on going behind a week earlier, and their young keeper’s limitations were exposed.

2- A turning point? Clearly Rene Gilmartin’s fine reaction save to spare us from going two down on the hour. We hadn’t looked much like coming back from one-down, two would have been game over. Gilmartin’s involvement was fairly limited… a couple of bold but excitable punches plus the goal, which had been well finished and gave him little chance. In the context of which, a very fine stop from cold limbs.

3- Our opening goal owed something to chance also. The diminutive Piero Mingoia, of whom a central midfield role seemed like a big ask, had nonetheless shown a decent range of passing and had been taking set pieces. The shot, however, seemed like an afterthought after a heavy touch inadvertently took him around his marker. A fine, bold finish nonetheless, opening the floodgates.

4- It’s a while since we had as many goals in the side, let alone in a scratch side limited by injury; Danny Graham’s terrifying fourth was done scant justice by ITV’s highlights, which omitted Stephen McGinn’s phenomenal through ball, a fine prelude to the precise aggression of Graham’s finish. Not that I’m hoping for offers, but if someone doesn’t come in with money for him then every club with more money than us is employing morons in their scouting department.

5- There have been a few of these now, but they’re still worth recording. Another almost Lloydy goal… and this one would have earned him his second consecutive goal of the season. Wriggling through two markers on the left flank, he belted in a shot from an ambitious angle that Kean nonetheless had to be agile to save. Several quick reminders, however, of how much we miss a left foot on the left flank… Lloydy will do his thing, but having to cut inside automatically and often critically slows our attack.


1. Tim Turner - 09/01/2011

Re thunk 5: I was terribly conflicted about that. On the one hand, I‘d give my eye teeth to see Lloydy score a goal (having missed the QPR game last season). On the other, I had a quid on Watford to win 4-1 at 20-1, and Lloyd’s would have been our fifth if the keeper hadn’t saved it. So I’m now financially richer, but spiritually poorer, I reckon.

2. marcus - 10/01/2011

@ Matt – “but if someone doesn’t come in with money for him [Graham] then every club with more money than us is employing morons in their scouting department.”

Agreed. Always thought Warnock would as he’s an expressed admirer and good judge. The double fracture to Jamie Mackie’s leg reinforces the view.

Only good thing about the takeover saga in January is that presumably the Board are focusing on that and the hope that new ownership regime will want to continue the promotion push (taking current league placing at face value) and will finance the current squad – so probably won’t be rushing to accept offers for our squad (or manager :)).

3. Johnny Boy - 10/01/2011

Agree with all your points Matt, especially the last – Watford look a far better balanced side with Andrew Taylor on the left which is a pity as Bennett had a solid game and it would be nice to see him play more regularly.
Liked the way Danny and Stephen were waiting to come on as Watford scored the first two – now that is the way to use subs.Also feel Danny was determined to score, doesn’t want that boy Marvin getting too close.

4. Back from Hammerau - 10/01/2011

From what I recall of Doyley’s shot, it looked like he was looking to pass the ball backwards but there was a Hartlepool player in the way , so he was left with no alternative and had to resort for heading for the goal-line and then taking his shot.

5. Harefield Hornet - 10/01/2011

This was an interesting afternoon for a variety of reasons, not least witnessing the youngsters wrestling with the conundrum of how to break down a solid and experienced if fairly unadventurous League 1 outfit. Agree with thunk 2 – it was a definite turning point, but the way went on and finished the job speaks volumes about how far this group have progressed. The man I watched closely on Saturday and still can’t make my mind up about is Ross Jenkins – the original curates egg, he produced another performance on Saturday which left me wondering whether he’ll ever completely win me over. His application is sound enough but his passing is such a mixed bag he still appears a liability at times. Playing with a more sprightly but inexperienced partner wasn’t going to do him any favours but he always appears to hit the sideways option rather than push forward. His tackling varies from functional to reckless and then there’s his pace? The recently departed Much is streets ahead in my opinion and will be sorely missed. A word of praise for Marvin as well -he never seems to strike the ball very hard but he always seems to pop up in the right place, a trait which I think is going to earn him a decent living. Whichelow is also a breath of fresh air – his effort and ability on the ball are a joy even at this early stage in his career.

6. JohnF - 10/01/2011

Jenkins has hardly played in the last year and filling John Eustace’s boots is a big ask. One of the problems was that Mingoia kept dropping deep pushing Jenkins back and leaving no sensible forward outball. Understanding will come with time. The early misses were an issue. If we had put an early chance away then it would have been a different story. Hartlepool worked very hard but the effect told and they were tiring fast in the second half. The very young and inexperienced team kept going and got their rewards. I thought Mariappa demonstrated why he isn’t a full back. Thank goodness for Taylor’s calm and massive presence. Agree completely about the left foot of Doyley but Saturday we have Josh Walker available and I wonder what it would have been like if he hadn’t been cup tied.

The rain had the undesired effect on the pitch and more rain forecast will mean a heavy pitch on Saturday. The Hartlepool and Scunthorpe experience will help prepare them.

7. SteveG - 10/01/2011

Spot on with the five thunks: 4-1 was a very welcome scoreline, but if we’re honest it flattered us.

Re: thunk 3. This was a curious mixture of good luck and superb skill. But it is sometimes these bits of luck that can make or break a season. We had precious little last year when key refereeing decisions, posts and crossbars conspired to dpreive of of points with monotnous regularity – much more seems to be going our way this year.

Sometimes, though, I do wonder whether we deserve to keep Malky, Danny et al. After a stunning run of form, with a side where I don’t think there was anyone apart form the back four who was over 21 and on a pitch which was not conducive to flowing passing football, there was a significant minority who were booing the team off at half time. OK, we hadn’t played well, but they didn’t deserve to be ahead either (0-0 would have been a fair reflection), but if one mediocre half leads to that level of ‘support’ I wouldn’t altogether blame Malky if he felt the future looked brighter elesewhere. Shame on you, guys.

8. DM - 12/01/2011


Thank goodness for that.. Someone else prepared to cut Jenkins some slack. When did Watford fans, in general, become so impatient in regards to young players ??

9. smarkymark - 13/01/2011

What do you expect with that starting X1 v a very much in form Division 1 team.Forget the performance I would have taken ANY win let alone a 4-1!!

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