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Watford 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 (29/01/2011) 29/01/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the point from which we concentrate on the league (again)…

1- Yes, we were poor. But we also let things fall rather tidily into Brighton’s lap. If you’re going to test Bruce Willis’ versatility as an actor, you don’t cast him as a battle-scarred hard man who likes to bend the rules. Similarly, by gifting Albion a soft early goal we rather invited them to play to what appeared to be their strengths… keeping possession, slowing the game down, sitting back and hitting us on the break. All of which they did very effectively, indisputably meriting a victory that they should probably have made safe rather earlier… it’s just…. there wasn’t much of a challenge there, was there? Our midfield clearly the central problem on this occasion, a department of the team that had looked irresistible earlier in the season; Stephen McGinn and Piero Mingoia surely the lightest central midfield partnership we’ve ever fielded, and whilst both can be neat and tidy, neither is designed to wrest possession from an opponent who needs do no more than keep it. Any one of the unfit Eustace, the injured (since this morning) Jenkins or the cup-tied Drinkwater would have given us at least some welly in the centre of the park. As it was, Brighton had no need to veer from their preferred course. No challenging, stretching scenes in other words, no calls on an unseen sensitive side… which is a shame, since our slightly more animated second half outing suggested that their back line wasn’t infallible. Brighton’s credibility as a Championship side will need to be assessed on another day – they did the job here, but weren’t asked nearly enough questions.

2- Bloody hell it was cold. ig had two hats on. And a beard. Dave and crew disappeared to the bar around the half hour mark and only reluctantly returned five into the second on the agreement that a second Albion goal would permit departure to the warmth of the pub, heads held high. At half time, the entire Rookery seemed to decamp inside the stand in search of warmth, the lack of body heat outside in the stand possibly contributing to it seemingly dropping another couple of degrees. Our performance on the pitch seemed similarly stilted by the cold, although as we briefly threatened a head of steam in the second half the Rookery responded with an enthusiasm that our largely unconvincing forays didn’t really justify… any excuse to jump up and down would be seized upon.

3- One tries to avoid bleating on about referees, especially after a defeat, not least after a defeat to a lower division club. Whilst again emphasising that Albion deserved their win, and possibly by a larger margin, one can’t help but feel that what little momentum we did threaten to generate was suffocated as much by Eddie Ilderton as by our opponents. Albion had done their homework on our set pieces, leaving two or three men on Martin Taylor on each occasion, but quite how the referee decides that Taylor’s the guilty party after each collision was beyond me. Will Buckley was cynically hacked on the edge of the box as we carved out one of few clear chances… an advantage rightly played, Graham shot narrowly wide but there was no excuse for not at least speaking to the perpetrator afterwards, whose actions merited a yellow card. This was a game that was always going to challenge the official, as Brighton set out to frustrate and our young side… got frustrated. But Ilderton’s failure to handle this challenge was summed up when Doyley, hardly the most flammable personality in the Watford side, got himself booked when Ilderton once again overlooked a clattering dished out by an opponent in blue.

4- Rene Gilmartin, it must be said, isn’t staking much of a claim for Scott Loach’s starting position. His howler on sixteen minutes had been preceded by a couple of nervous punches, and his handling henceforth was hardly flawless. Young keepers make mistakes, I guess, and coming in after not playing at all must be hard. Most will be far from being convinced on evidence thus far, however.

5- A promising cameo from young Andi Weimann who looked as keen as scharfes Senf, winning an impressive flick-on for his first touch and then scampering around non-stop as if someone had their finger permanently on the “sprint” button. It will be interesting to see whether there’s any further movement before end of play on Monday; Weimann and Drinkwater, the later reportedly an all-action combative midfielder, seem to address already strong positions. A left back would certainly be handy, and if Tony Mowbray’s playing silly buggers then one wonders how successful we’ll be at moving down Malky’s advertised list of back-ups at such short notice.



1. Resco - 30/01/2011

Matt, good stuff.

Thunk 1 – as soon as I saw the teamsheet, I could see the midfield would be overrun. I was surprised that he didn’t drop Bennett into central defence (his best position) and put Marrrriapppppa in midfield.

Thunk 4 – in hindsight, changing the GK with so many other changes was probably not a good idea. I know he needs to have experience, but (1) isn’t he already experienced at that level? and; (2) when our play-off challenge falls away (as it will surely do – which is emphatically NOT a criticism), there will be plenty of dead rubbers for him and others to play.

Thunk 5 – Taylor is clearly a bargain. My objections to p1$$ing money away is clearly stated but surely he has to be bought. Drinkwater is a welcome addition, especially as our paperthin squad fears came true against Brighton. With the DG rumours, Weimann may prove more important than any of us currently suspect.


Matt Rowson - 30/01/2011

re (1): Bennett hasn’t played anywhere other than central defence this season? Our defence has looked wobbly with him there and Mariappa RB. I see your thinking re Mariappa in midfield, but the resumption of the Mariappa/Taylor combo at CB was one of the few things that worked yesterday for me.

Gilmartin… I think it’s match practice rather than experience that’s the issue. Gilmartin isn’t playing any games.

Resco - 30/01/2011

Re (1) Sure – didn’t mean to imply that he hasn’t. And whilst I agree that he has been wobbly, I think that would’ve been a price worth paying to release Aidy into midfied.

Gilmartin – could well be lack of match practice that’s the issue. Point still applies though.


2. jeremy clarkson - 30/01/2011

JC here

I am aware that the game has now moved on and loans are are all part of the game but pre planning for the worst eventuality (especially on the fans part) of losing your star qualities seems to be hitting us where it hurts most..

This year..Taylor
last year..Clerverly
year before..Johnson
year before that…Foster

I would like to see what the actual level is by having “no loans”, or failing that all loans must be season long and not short term. This would stop the stock piling of the bigger clubs (us included) and then sending the “youth” down the pyramid for experience, as the reserve sides fall in abandonment.

i.e. The transfer window is being made a mockery

3. Pete Bradshaw - 30/01/2011

I thought McGinn was, with Taylor, and the subs, the only one to come out with any credit. Quite why Mingoia started and not Whichelow I don’t know given the need for someone a little leass easy to knock off the ball. Still I think Piro will turn into a fine player. It was bloody freezing and it was all my fault as I was talking to 3CR’s Ian Pearce beforehand in Luton. I’ve known him some time but he never twigged I was a Hornet. I should never have let on…

4. Pete Bradshaw - 30/01/2011

And yes I realise he wasn’t “the only one” in that case 😉

5. rousman - 30/01/2011

The need for a left back is clear to most people, pleased that Mariappa played along side MT again would rather Lloyd have played on the right with Hodson on the left although they are both more at home on the right the least amount of changes to a back four you make the better,the pitch was to say the least not the best not making it easy if you want to play a passing game. Would not Kiernan have been an option as the holding midfield player (He has played the role so I am told while on loan) as you say the midfield was a bit light weight.

Matt Lovett - 31/01/2011

Agree that a specialist left back like Taylor (A) is a fundamental requirement, but Hodson isn’t the answer. He was taken apart again on Saturday in his specialist position – he looks as if he’s completely lost all confidence, lost all positional awareness and needed cover from his colleagues all afternoon. With the current resources Bennett partnering Tiny, with Mariappa at RB and Doyley at LB looks to me to be the most functional back 4.

6. Nick - 30/01/2011

a touch harsh on gilmartin. I thought he was good against aldershot and hartlepool. Bad day at the office but he controls his box well and is a big keeper.

Both loach and foster before him made plenty of errors.

I wouldnt be upset to see loach go for a decent lot of money and gilmartin in goal

7. The Great Big O - 30/01/2011

Yesterday was exactly what I expected. At the start of the season, I mean. Back then, I expected yesterday’s kind of showing would happen most weeks of the season.

More recently, after all those great performances and wins, I’d started expecting better. Despite telling myself not to.

People say it’s the hope that kills you. I reckon it’s the expectation.

I’m cured again now. For Palace on Tuesday, I have no expectation. But I have great hope based on how I know this team can play.

For me, yesterday’s disappointment doesn’t diminish their previous achievements or their future possibilities.

8. LeggattsHorn - 30/01/2011

First of four games I will miss in Jan/Feb, sounded pretty woeful from the reports I read and txts from the Rookery, Matt rather confirms it. Sorry to hear it is so chilly, 28c in Sydney, that makes me feel better already. I’ll be a happy travelling ‘orn when I check the news in the morning and DG still is a WFC player.

9. Harefield Hornet - 31/01/2011

RE Thunk 1- “Brighton’s credibility as a Championship side will need to be assessed on another day – they did the job here, but weren’t asked nearly enough questions”

I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with Brighton (or their numerous but irritating supporters) and thought we made it easy for them. They are obviously on a roll ATM and you can see they have played a lot of games together by the way they absorbed our feeble attempts to wrestle something out of the game. Totally agree about the ref – he gave us absolutely nothing. If we can beat Palace Tuesday this defeat will soon be forgotten. Not related to Saturday but did anyone remember Sian Massey flagging DG offside during out match with Pompey when he was still in our own half? I do and I have to say it brought a constant smile to my face during last weeks farce in the media!

10. Gerry - 31/01/2011

If you’re going to lose in the cup, you might as well lose to a club you wish well. To say that Brighton have had their travails in the last decade or so is like saying the Devil’s a bit on the naughty side, so a decent cup run’ll do them some favours, I’m sure. I bet Ig wasn’t too displeased at losing to the Seagulls.

11. NickB - 31/01/2011

Good thunks, as usual

Found myself half hoping for a Brighton 2nd – we were never going to score and that would have provided the excuse for a seriously early exit, apart from the fact the seat was so cold when I returned after half time, I wasn’t sure whether I’d need a blowtorch to remove my arse from it…

Few reasons to be cheerful, except perhaps Harry’s mimicing of their goalie’s warm up routine, but one big black spot: the weird display from Sordell, who seemed to be in serious danger of believing his own publicity; only intermittently bothered and even then thinking he was John Barnes and Stewart Scullion rolled into one. Pass it, for God’s sake…!

12. Matt Lovett - 31/01/2011

Yes, the referee was a joke. Considering the referees that were sent out to the other matches, for us to get perhaps the least experienced of the lot was crass. Even Torquay v Crawley got Championship stalwart Deadman rather than a bloke who’s only recently broken into the northern region of the Championship. The free kick he gave against Tiny when both the opponent in front and behind of him had their arms around him was frankly ludicrous, and was the crowning moment of his abysmal afternoon.

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