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Watford 3 Peterborough United 2 (29/10/2011) 29/10/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Well thank heavens for that.

1- There are three key reasons for the dramatic transformation in both our effectiveness and our watchableness; these will get the first three thunks.  The first was the early goal.  Only at Reading up to now had we got an early goal in a League game, and we hadn’t scored in front of an increasingly irritated and impatient home crowd before the 78th minute before this one.  Here,  particularly with elements of the crowd riled and ready to turn this game felt as if it could be a breaking point.  Mark Yeates’ drilled strike, capitalising on a defensive error but coming on the tail of a neat passing move as we started the game on the front foot, settled nerves, got the crowd square behind the team.  And see (2)… we could easily have shipped first had the table sloped the other way.

2- Peterborough United.  Good grief.  Posh games average almost four goals across the League season so far (the Carling Cup rate was slightly higher) and it’s not hard to see how; the first half pattern was that of a basketball match.  All power to them – it’s always more fun for all concerned to watch a team that’s comprehensively more interested in scoring goals than preventing them.  You’d end every game a nervous wreck though, surely.  Drained.  And perhaps… incomplete.  Where’s the character-building nil-nil in the rain?   Seriously… precisely the sort of opposition we needed, particularly at home.  Brighton on Tuesday will be a different sort of challenge altogether.

3- The big one.  And no surprise to anyone who’s chanced onto these pages within the last couple of months.  It’s perverse that one effectively has to conclude that we’re grateful that John Eustace got injured.  The captain, the leader, and – and we maybe should have acknowledged this before – someone whose form has held reasonably well as chaos has reigned around him.  But it didn’t look like Dyche was about to abandon the sterile and completely mismatched Eustace/Hogg central midfield partnership voluntarily.  Two players too similar, offering us nothing going forward, no movement behind the forwards, no attacking the box.  So now, finally, in comes Prince Buaben and what a difference he made.  Individually his performance was strong… tidy, neat, cohesive, deft, positive. As significant, however, was having someone, anyone breaking from midfield.  It made an immediate difference;  we looked aggressive and potent.  For perhaps the first time this season.  We played our football at least twenty yards further up the pitch.  Buaben won Sordell’s penalty, and the free kick which led to his second.  Would Hogg or Eustace have been that far up the pitch?  Fascinating to see what happens to the midfield when Eustace returns…

4- Nyron Nosworthy.  A baffling signing, frankly. We need another defender why, exactly, with youngsters already being denied access to the team?  David Mirfin had been added to the squad from Scunthorpe… he’s come in for Taylor and looked ropey, but the word for me would be “unfit”.  A player like Gavin Mahon perhaps, one who needs to be playing regularly to stay match fit.  Not the best choice as defensive cover, then.  But given that he was signed to do that job, why bring in someone else, someone else who might not unreasonably be described as a bit of a plodder, to cover the cover?  With rumours of an injury to Doyley prominent, the fear was that Mariappa would be moved out to right back with Nosworthy filling in alongside Mirfin.  As it turned out, Hodson came in at right back… and his positive performance was a terrific tonic.  If he got caught defensively once or twice…  well that’s what young players do, they make mistakes.  And they aren’t going to get better without playing and making mistakes, they don’t automatically inherit competence and reliability at the age of 26.  Hodson’s performance was like sticking your head under a cold tap on a hot, sticky day.  After a load of gardening.  Marvellous.  And Nosworthy?  Magnificent.  A no-crap, vocal, booterer of a defender.  Occasionally his clearances didn’t quite go where you’d choose them to go but he was always there to make them go somewhere, and always decisively.

5- Most of all… something to cling to, something to believe in.  It wasn’t perfect, obviously, and it wouldn’t have taken much for us to lose the game, but it was aggressive and positive and something.  Several of us before the game were discussing how we didn’t remember either such unanimous condemnation of a Watford team (not since Bassett, anyway…), and didn’t remember wanting to go to a game quite so little.  This game felt pivotal, and the team pulled through, played for their manager when they had to, gave us a reason to turn up on Tuesday.  There are still problems, quite obviously… Carl Dickinson looked iffy at left back again, we’re still making odd signings, a hundred other things that we’ve been bitching about haven’t gone away.  But for the first time this season, we’re all grinning this evening.

Bonus thunk

6- ig, not unreasonably, left a thunk unspent in the glum aftermath of the Forest disaster.  One saved for a rainy day.  I’m going to spend it now, a little self-indulgently.  Today was vastly important for Sean Dyche and for Watford, but also for me personally.  This was Rahelle my five-year old daughter’s competitive debut;  a low-risk pre-season friendly fifteen months ago was an experiment abandoned at half-time but this felt more make-or-break.  The die was cast some time ago, she knew she was coming to a game at half term.  No backing out, much as concerns grew as the game approached that this could all go horribly badly and put her off for life.  I have never, ever been as grateful for a crackling game and a positive, vibrant performance.  Captivated from the off she was singing, clapping, jumping up, sitting back down, asking questions, commentating.  She giggled uncontrollably through the first goal celebration and when Sordell lined up his penalty she was standing on the barrier in front of our seats screaming “Go on Marv-iiiiiiiiiiiin”.  Briefly celebrating Peterborough’s second goal was the one minor hitch… but by the end of the game she was demanding to be brought every week and explaining that she’d need a Watford hat and scarf when it got cold. I’m sure we’ve all got an extra bounce in our steps this evening – but I’m delighted and relieved to an extent that would, in the normal way, be disproportionate in response to a home win over Posh, even in this context. Thanks Lads.


1. NRC - 29/10/2011

Ah Matt, you old softy, but totally empathise – bloodied my boys with a trip to Adams Park to watch Wycombe Wanderers: goals galore, goalie sent off and a penalty, couldn’t have asked for more – they were ready for the Vic and one has stayed the course (best not to mention the other). A welcome victory, but did anyone else witness the argy-bargy between Dickinson and a detractor in the LR – answering back and indeed spitting, before a mollifying wave and pax at half time? Commitment sure, but not quite in the spirit …?

Cris B - 30/10/2011

yes, disappointed in Dickinson yesterday. From what i heard i don’t think what was said was outrageous or personal enough to warrant the gobbing reaction or the “death stare” back at the guy throughout the first half! I think that’s just the emotional way he plays…although for a while it looked like he just couldn’t get on with the game because of it!

2. Tybalt - 29/10/2011

Congratulations on a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life, Matt.

3. The Great Big O - 30/10/2011

All six thinks spot on.

I brought my lads to the game – which is pretty rare. They usually can’t be persuaded, given that we live in London and they have no affinity with Watford. But they came away buzzing too.

An all-round splendid afternoon, providing the foundation for a lifetime of the emotional scarring we call being a Watford fan.

4. Nick - 30/10/2011

Passion, excitement, a coherent plan, mobile midfield, sordell looking lively, Loach looking back to his good old self. Better much better.

Im actually looking forward to Tuesday now

5. Stephen Hoffman - 30/10/2011

Good to see Yeates showing the form we know he’s capable of as well.

Matt Rowson - 30/10/2011

he played well. needs to do that more often – “know he’s capable of” is right. “know he can deliver on a consistent basis” ? No. Track record of one great game in four or five at previous clubs

6. Lincoln Hornet - 30/10/2011

Nice one Matt. Ihave 2 girls now 14 and 15 and I took them to their first game a little earlier than you but I will never forget it. I am hopeless with dates but the game was Forest away and at the time we were going really well and won 2-0, I think Mycah got them both and the win took us within spitting distance of the top of the league. As luck would have it as we walked in the away end we were greeted by hundreds of yellow and red baloons which had been passed around by the East Midlands Hornets supporters club. Happy days and the girls are still yellow!! (No mean feet considering we live in Lincoln)

Matt Rowson - 30/10/2011

good stuff Lincoln. Think this is the one you’re after


That Forest game was a high point for that post-relegation run as I remember it

7. Jon - 30/10/2011

My12 year old son has never really got into football, but he asked to come to this games some weeks ago. He wont come every week, BUT he will come again.
Fascinating to watch the game from different angle. To me it looked as if Bauben had slipped over for the penalty. I’m realiably informed that it was a good decision, but maybe not one we get very often. I did enjoy the brief moment of indecision as to who would take it. Ignoring shoot outs non of the current team has ever taken a penalty in anger for us.
Thought both full bakcs struggled, but it was Hodson’s first game (for us) of the season so I think you can understand him being a bit rusty. Tuesday will be a much bigger test, are we likely to see Buckley?
A thought for Iwelumo, up front and on his own. A lot of selfless work trying to hold the ball up. Much better than the start of the season. Pleased that he got a round of applause when he went off. Sordell seemed much more at home playing behind him.
One swallow etc, but five goals in the last two games is a promising trend. This team can stay out of the bottom three, but it’s going to be tough. Let’s hope we can hld our nerve. But at least we can enjoy the weekend!

Matt Rowson - 30/10/2011


a correspondent who shall remain nameless was stationed by the benches in the first half. We weren’t sure about the penalty shout either, but Darren Ferguson turned away and said “penalty” before the award was confirmed…

Buckley? Don’t know. Coming back from injury, he got 20 mins off the bench on Monday but wasn’t involved yesterday. They’ve only scored once in 4.

Iwelumo… yes, excellent. If football was played with the chest alone he’d be a world beater.

8. JohnF - 30/10/2011

What a pity we can’t operate like American Football and bring on a kicking team. Mark Yeates would be a shoe in and wouldn’t be expected to do much else. He, like Dickinson, is painfully slow but he makes little defensive contribution. Thank goodness we played a side that was defensively at least as poor as we have been. That said it was a pleasant change and given a little more composure (confidence?) then Forsyth will make a reasonable contribution. It is a concern that 3 of the first choice central midfielders are clones of different ages but Dyche will just have to play the odd one out in Bouaben. He’ll also have to find a way of keeping his army of strikers happy, but at least Troy Deeney can put in a decent shift on the right of midfield. In this match the attack was also helped considerably by the attacking contribution from young Hodson.

Vicarage Road end of the UR, definitely a penalty and the look on the face of the defender who got the offside trap wrong for the third was an absolute picture.

9. Jeremy Clarkson - 30/10/2011

JC here

Mr Matt, Suggest you put Saturdays programme away either for:

1. Your daughters 21st birthday box of presents.
2. Her wedding day gift
3. Frame it now and have it hanging in her bedroom as a daily reminder


Dont forget the gloves to go with the hat and scarf

10. andrew head - 30/10/2011

Re Thunk 6 – This is likely to be my last season sat with my (now 18 year old) daughter. Next season will hopefully see her at one of 5 northern university cities, and ocassional rather than routine games together. So I am desperate for this to be a good thirteenth season to end on. She will always have the Pierre Isa stretcher event, the Gifton goal scorred from a lying postion and many other early memories to remember from her first seasons. But to end our first series with relegation would be depressing. We still struggle to find many in the team to bond with. Lloyd is a favourite as more recently has been Eustace. A family club is much maligned by many – but to build a better club – you need to get generations of people interested. Watford FC is a minority interest in the town let alone the region. The most depressing thing this season is that the team and football looked like speeding up the decline in interest. So yesterday was areal tonic and needs to be the start of a return to entertaining attacking football days at Vicarage

Matt Rowson - 30/10/2011


and 3 years in a northern town didn’t stop me or my brother…

Joonz - 02/11/2011

I watched more matches living in Leeds than in Watford- loads of places to watch up North in the Championship

11. mike.s. - 30/10/2011

The guy in the lower rous was v pissed, was wearing carpet slippers whilst holding his shoes in his hand. He was also showing the players bits of paper from his pocket for some reason. Nothing like a character….

Harefield Hornet - 31/10/2011

He wasn’t pissed. He’s a nutter who regularly wanders up and down in front of the Lower Rous berating the team and fellow supporters alike for no obvious reason. I am surprised he hasn’t been sectioned but as a WFC season ticket holder of some 33 years who am I to pass judgement!

12. Mark - 30/10/2011

Be interested to see if Doyley and Eustace come back in considering the impressive showings by Buaben and Hodson.

13. Andy Myall (@andymyall) - 31/10/2011

Great bonus thunk

14. Harefield Hornet - 31/10/2011

Refreshing stuff from the Prince which gives Dyche plenty to think about when Eustace is fit again and Hodson at RB was also a welcome, albeit forced change. I am as endeared to Lloydy as most hornets but he’s so prone to miss-placed passes and slowing up the game generally that I despair at times. I’m sorry, but Hodson is a much superior footballer. Brighton will be a different kettle of fish as their stubborn point as St Andrews confirmed on Saturday. Buckley against his ex-team? – I reckon we’re bound to see him at some stage, especially if there is any sign of a deadlock.

Matt Rowson - 31/10/2011

Buckley, Hoskins and Vicente are all out of tomorrow’s game according to Brighton forums.

Doyley vs Hodson – Lloyd’s not been at his best recently, but defensively he’s still way ahead of Hodson. Hodson gets forward well though, and with Lloyd out I’m just glad that Sean played him rather than moving Mariappa right and playing Nosworthy with Mirfin, which was the fear.

15. Johnny Boy - 31/10/2011

Quick thunk-
On hearing that Nosworthy had been acquired as a shorterm loanee I was concerned given his two previous appearances at the Vic had been in a Sheffield United defence shipping 6 goals, albeit helped on the second occaison by Sheffield being reduced to nine men. After Saturday – pleasantly surprised.

Harefield Hornet - 31/10/2011

I share an office with both a Sunderland and a Sheffield Utd supporter, both of whom have seen him play many times. A smile came on their faces when I mentioned we’d signed him because they reckon he’s a born entertainer i.e. sometimes he has a desire to dribble the ball along his own goal and six yard lines which is just exactly what my nerves need at present. They both agreed that the good outweighs the bad though and for the most part he performs solidly until………!!!!! he decides he wants to inpersonate Maradona! in his own 18 yard box and dribbling out of defence. No signs of that on Saturday but the name Keith Dublin springs to mind!

16. Red - 31/10/2011

Living in Kent I saw Nyron when he first played for Gillingham and his first games were as a striker. When moved to play in defence he often caught the opposition out with attacking runs. He obviously still thinks that is his correct position. Although I enjoyed saturday I am starting to be fixated with Forsythe. Is it just me or does he always seem to be in the wrong place? He jumps to early for headers, always in front of or just behind balls played along the ground and generally out of position. It could be everyone else though.

Matt Rowson - 01/11/2011

:). Yup, Craig is always in the right position, it’s everyone else (and the ball) that’s screwed.

BIg Tony - 02/11/2011

He is the Eric Morcambe of championship football. All the right moves, just not necessarily in the right order …

(booing him as he went off was way out of order though – he may be a bit sh1t, but he’s our sh1t, and he’ll get better).

17. JohnM - 02/11/2011

Just a swift comment from my Convalescent holiday in New Zealand. Well done the boys for the two wins! (sent this after Brighton). Does the old ticker a treat!
Best wishes to all the watford trewam and true supporters!

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