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Watford 3 Leicester City 2 (14/02/2012) 15/02/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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Five thunks.  Ha.  Like that was ever going to suffice.  No apologies for stuffing them full on this occasion.  24 carat lunacy at Vicarage Road…

1-Valentine’s Day is rubbish.  Period.  Depending on one’s circumstances it can be utterly depressing, or provoke actions borne of nervous obligation, or at best something that could quite easily and almost certainly more cheaply have occurred on any other day of the year.  Worst of all, judging from the swathes of space around the stands, including that normally occupied by otherwise reliable attendees, it caused a whole load of people to miss this screaming, wailing banshee of a football match.

Home ties with Leicester are becoming unmissable (remember this one?  Or this one?), and this stood comparison with any of them.  Indeed, if the quality of the football wasn’t always the highest, the level of excitement and drama was unparalleled.  It was Prison Break as a football match, rejecting credibility in favour of a script that rolled ludicrously from one side to the other affording any number of dramatic cameos and contributions and leaving all those in attendance, surely, buzzing on adrenaline and reliving the highlights in their heads long after the match had finished.  This, as I wrote after the corresponding fixture last year, was what you bloody go to football for.

The first half rattled backwards and forwards.  Both sides looked happier going forward than defending, and in both cases the quality of the attacking play – rather than merely slack play at the back – was the key.  For the Hornets, the increasingly assertive Kacaniklic and the impossibly assured Murray buzzed around on either flank.  Murray in particular provided an extraordinary amount of control, both in active play and from dead ball situations.  Extraordinary in a seasoned pro, let alone an 18 year-old second year scholar.  When Garner won a free kick there was genuine expectation, already, after half a dozen games.  That’s what Youtube does to you.  And there was devil in the ball that Murray flicked to the near post, Leicester utterly deceived by the move, Mariappa finished decisively in front of the Rookery.  We looked confident, we looked in charge.  Then Leicester scored, turning the table back the other way… Nugent’s finish appeared to be from very wide and narrow on the left, Loach’s concentration yet again called into question.  Suddenly Leicester are well on top, and there’s no stopping Nugent’s second, a thumping drive… having noted how important it was for us to be ahead, how so much better we are at defending rather than chasing a lead, we felt hollow for the only time in the evening.

For ten minutes it was all about holding on.  Leicester swarmed at us, we resorted to the easy, lazy outball towards Chris Iwelumo, strong and willing but not mobile enough to chase hurried passes.  Until suddenly we get the ball down, and Alex Kacaniklic goes down on the edge of the box after being fouled by Mills, who is booked for his protests.  We get a break, Murray’s curling shot deflects off the edge of the wall, wrong-footing Schmeichel entirely.  Murray’s first senior goal, far from the last one suspects.  The half ends level but with the Hornets in the ascendancy, flicking and darting again, and Murray pulling the strings.   We all need a rest.

2- The players come out for the second half and it’s a different game entirely.  Again.  No sign of the diminutive Murray, instead Craig Forsyth lines up wide in midfield.  Often the subject of grumbles and impatience from the stands, now Forsyth has to cope with the added burden of not being Sean Murray.  It’s a pivotal development, since Murray’s departure leaves us struggling to hang on to the ball in Leicester’s half.  The visitors gradually impose themselves and turn the screw as the half progresses.  Here our robust gang of four in the middle come into their own – Mariappa, Nosworthy, Eustace and Hogg.  Some have had better games than they did last night, but that’s one hell of a unit to play through or around.  All over the pitch it becomes about determination as much as quality;  we’re on the back foot but we’re getting feet in and chasing and closing and not giving up.  It’s not one-way traffic, we’re breaking and sometimes threatening when we do so but the boot is on Leicester’s foot, we’re hanging on. As the crosses fly in and Loach remains rooted to his line, captain Eustace has words.  This is frantic stuff.

Through all of this, Forsyth has struggled.  Game as ever, he nonetheless looks wide-eyed and hapless as the maelstrom rages around him, standing off to allow Beckford room to turn in the box, struggling to cover his man as Leicester spread the play relentlessly.  He plugs away, he keeps working… but he’s struggling to make an impact.  Until.  Until we break, and John Eustace , who has had a curling, cheeky lob tipped over by a stretching Schmeichel, almost beaten despite being barely off his line, feeds Forsyth on the left.  He’s galloping onto the ball in much the same position as he struck against Bradford.  The result is the same.

I remember prior to the Cup Quarter Final at Home Park in 2007 telling a Plymouth friend that his side would do well not to allow Hameur Bouazza space with the ball facing the goal.  So it proved, and similarly here… once might have been fortunate, but that’s twice in just over a month that Craig Forsyth has pulled out a finish like that: surgically precise, with enough force to flatten an elephant. Craig pulls level with Troy as the leading scorer in the squad.  Meanwhile, naturally, the roof has come off at Vicarage Road.

3- There’s still time for a bizarre turn from the officials.  A crazy denouement, as if the script writers feel the need to outdo themselves with a big finish.  Again, it’s in front of the Rookery;  Jermaine Beckford receives the ball and goes down easily in the box.  Clearly in the box.  And the referee, hesitating, points vaguely in a nonspecific direction.  It might be towards the penalty spot, it might not. Has he made up his mind?  He has, it’s a free kick.  Peculiar on two levels – one, it’s questionable whether a foul took place or whether Beckford, eager to hit the deck throughout, had gone down easily again.  Two, it was well inside the box.  But the referee, who had increasingly lost control of the game in the final half hour, had barely started.  The next thing we see is a red card being waved in Lloyd Doyley’s direction.  Baffling on several levels – a foul, if such it was, was hardly depriving Beckford of a clear goalscoring opportunity with other defenders in attendance.  Baffling also since Lloyd was nowhere near the incident.  Incensed, the normally mild-mannered full back takes some time to leave the pitch, and appears to be ready to turn around and take issue again as he reaches the touchline before being persuaded otherwise.  Sean Dyche opts to make a change immediately – perhaps inadvisedly, that old thing about not making a change as you defend a set piece?  Whatever.  Alex Kacaniklic takes an age to get off the pitch, genuinely exhausted rather than running down time; with the board having already gone up, referee Webb (not that one) is never far from his stopwatch.  But instead of cajoling the winger off to speed things up, the referee allows the kick to be taken as Dickinson enters the fray, half the pitch away from the set piece he wants to defend.  Adding insult to injury as Webb loads the bases in favour of the visitors, we are defending the set piece with nine men.  And it’s frantic, the shot hits the wall as it comes in but the danger isn’t cleared and the ball pings around unti Neil Danns shanks it into the stand, leaving his teammates glaring at him.  The pressure is released.  The game is up, and everyone knows it.

4- Stepping back from the chaos briefly, it’s worth reflecting upon our forward line.  Both acquitted themselves rather better than they have been;  Chris Iwelumo is not the deftest of strikers and provides next to no goal threat.   At times it’s like playing with a wardrobe up front as the ball bounces haplessly off him.  And yet… he’s battling, and occupying defenders, and knocking people over, and drawing fouls that, if less cleverly perpetrated in front of a more competent official would have earned Sean Murray yet more target practice in the first half.  More than that, he’s encouraging and talking and clapping, giving Craig Forsyth in particular plenty of vocal support before THAT strike.  Joe Garner, meanwhile, once again delivers his best performance in a yellow shirt to date… gone is the tendency to hit the deck, he’s doing the running of two men (which is handy, since Chris isn’t moving anywhere very quickly), looking for an outlet, harrying defenders.  He only occasionally looks like scoring either… but this least likely of forward lines plays its role in a famous victory, ultimately.

And yet it’s clearly not enough.  Much is made of the relative proximity of the play off zone vs the relegation places, but we only have three strikers, none of whom have been prolific.  All it took was one injury and suddenly, with Massey and Whichelow both on loan, we have no strikers on the bench.  Surely an extra body is a priority.

5- Sean Dyche has already made this point in his post match reflections, so this will be brief, but to review this match without highlighting the guts, the character of the side, particularly in the second half, would be inappropriate.  Because it was, in case I haven’t been clear on this point, an utterly extraordinary performance delivering verve and wit in the first half, and plenty of balls in the second.  Quite clearly fighting for each other, and that’s wonderfully inspiring.  Leicester, in contrast, appear less than the sum of their parts even if they can consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken at least a point.  There’s quality there, but it’s in isolated pockets.  No number of impressive names in the side, on the bench, in the stand, make up for a lack of team spirit.  We had that in bucketloads this evening.  Utterly fabulous.

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Comments»

1. Marcus Shapiro - 15/02/2012

Never have I seen a guy whose legs are as far gone as Big Chris. In the 2nd half we couldn’t join the attack. His mobility was frankly embarrassing; you were spot on re Garner, he could come good, as might Forsyth – they are both young and inexperienced.

I felt we were largely outplayed by a Leicester populated with far better individual players. Good job it’s a team game.

The Eustace shot was sublime – while often he is average, he is still a proper footballer with regular flashes of skill.

Murray – the lad is growing visibly already. Let’s enjoy him while we can.

Gilmartin – shocked to see him on the bench.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

Eustace often average? You’re being silly.

Gilmartin: yes, me too.

Marcus Shapiro - 15/02/2012

Eustace – he has upped his game this season, mind! I think lots of his play is average, notably the hopeful dinks upfield to nowhere and the misplaced or telegraphed passes; but yes he is inspirational, effective at breaking up play and all too frequently shows real class too.

lukefairweather - 16/02/2012

Have just witnessed the very “average” Mr Eustace on the BBC highlights. Hmmmmmm. Sorry Mr Shapiro, I normally find my self in agreement with you but not tonight, even on these meagre offerings.
Luke

Joonz - 15/02/2012

Marcus, your Eustace comment is laughable. Did you see him boss the game at Millwall, or at Forest? I think he’s second only to Aidy in being our best player this season. His drive, commitment, passing and leadership have kept us out of the bottom three. His dinks upfield only look silly if the forwards dont chase them down to win the ball or a throw.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

Wot Joonz said.

Marcus Shapiro - 15/02/2012

He’s been improved this season and by Watford standards is obviously “good” (this season). In prior years, frankly when he was or should have been in his prime, I think he has been a largely average performer overall and if he’d played to the current level consistently throughout the main portion of his career would have spent more time in the top division than he actually has managed. I don’t think in general the forward dinks are well weighted or effective – they were not really any more valuable when we had Danny Graham who could run down anything.

Anyway, I was delighted when he re-signed and in how he is playing, so obviously my view of average (ability) isn’t in tune with others’.

The basic intention of the original comment was to praise Eustace – his shot described as “sublime”; he’s a proper footballer and his most recent overhead as well as general contribution has been great.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

He spent most of his “prime” injured. He was Coventry captain in the top flight at 21, then was out for seven months. He joined Stoke and missed the best part of two years. By the time he was fit again, Stoke were on their way to promotion.

His form since joining us has had relative ups and downs, but he’s been magnificent for the last three seasons. You seem to be obsessed with his dinked forward passes. If that’s what you see as the defining characteristic of his game, I’d suggest you’re missing quite a lot.

Marcus Shapiro - 15/02/2012

< You seem to be obsessed with his dinked forward <passes. If that’s what you see as the defining <characteristic of his game, I’d suggest you’re missing <quite a lot.

I don't base my assessment solely on that. As I recall there was a time he earned himelf the moniker "Useless", a Watford manager couldn't find place in the team/squad for him and sent himm out on loan and he "failed to secure a permanent move to Derby at the end of his loan spell there" – all at times he was neither a raw youngster nor crocked. So I'm hardly in a minority of one over time.

The good news is he is now appreciably better and I am happy to leave this discussion there on this minor agreement to disagree.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

It wasn’t a matter of him not being good enough. He was on too much appearance money to play. He only started playing under Mackay when he voluntarily renegotiated his contract.

As for “Useless”… the moniker was presumably given him by you, used by you, that doesn’t really count for very much.

PRAWN - 16/02/2012

Marcus, you are probably too young to remember the cartoon character, “Useless Eustace”, created by Jack Greenall? Clearly many of our supporters (in the Upper Rous?) are of a greater age! I think you will find that the nicknaming of our John Eustace as “Useless” is an affectionate gesture rather than a criticism of his play.

2. Pete - 15/02/2012

What a lovely game football is, when it is as mental as last night

3. Kris - 15/02/2012

Good thunks Matt – as always. I wonder if you are starting to feel more connected to this Watford team or if you are still undecided?

Re. 4, I agree we could do with a striker who can score goals but if I’m honest I can’t see us going down or going up this season I’d rather we saved the cash and spent that bit extra for a permanent solution next season. Oh – and next season I hope we keep Britt A.(can’t spell the surname) at the Vic as he seems to step up to whatever plate he’s put in front.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

That’s a fair point. Doesn’t feel right to sort of abandon the season in mid-February though, however mid-table our destiny appears.

Assombalonga (I think)… yes, would be good to see him given a run.

More connected? yes, I think so. Difficult not to be after gutsiness like last night and standing up to Spurs. Still wish SD was a little less cautious with our kids tho. I may have mentioned this…

4. Elliott - 15/02/2012

Fantastic!
Couldn’t make it but my memory isn’t so sure after such a detailed involving report.
Thank you 🙂

5. NickB - 15/02/2012

Top stuff, Matt; best game for aeons. A few observations:-

– We said much the same about the key four – AM,NN,JH and JE – their quality and consistency is marvellous to behold; POTS choice will be tough!

– Garner has not yet learnt not to dive, two shockers last night, including one for the first goal free kick; I was embarrassed by it.

– Very sorry for Lloyd, but in spite of his hero status some of his defending is still naive – standing off St Ledger when he crossed for Beckford to miss that sitter was schoolboy stuff.

– Big Chris – There will be a considerable number of more competent strikers (loosest sense, in his case) in the Zamaretto League. He’s truly hopeless, clapping is his sole asset.

– Pearson – sour, whingeing git.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

Lloyd can be criticised for many things, naive defending not one of them. Standing up makes the winger make a decision. He MIGHT still get a cross in in which case good luck to him, but better than jumping in when ball not there to be won and selling himself.

Big Chris – disagree. Limited. There to do a very specific job. But does it.

Garner – first fk, he was looking for it but it was a foul. Difference was he had enough ?belief? to go for things last night rather than looking to go down every time. That’s progress.

Smeg - 15/02/2012

I agree about big Chris. To say he was poor last night misses the point.

6. John - 15/02/2012

Why does the person who writes this blog always love to slag off Loach?

Your willing to criticise him for the first goal (was in no way his fault) yet you fail to mention the world class save that he made in the second half at 2-2 which practically won us the three points? That’s just poor, biased journalism which shows no balance and suggests a clear agenda

I must say that you are spot on with Big Chris though. It is frustrating that the majority of fans cannot see that he is there to do a specific job and does it extremely well; not every striker is there to be a goalscorer, pace merchant or great with the ball at his feet. Garner was the weak link up top yesterday for failing to capitalise on the space and knock downs created by Big Chris, who was once again treated disgustingly by ‘supporters’ for the smallest of mistakes.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

John, no agenda mate just opinion. But you’re right, I should have mentioned the save which was stunning. The opening goal wasn’t his fault? The ball travelled a long way and he didn’t react to it. Not like it’s the first time, or even as if it doesn’t happen more often than not. An isolated incident… yes, criticism would be harsh. But it’s far from that.

John - 15/02/2012

I’ll have to watch the first goal again when the highlights are up but from my view they hit us on the counter, we failed to close them down and Loach’s view was blocked.

johnnyboy - 15/02/2012

Behind Nugent when he shot – it appeared that a couple of Watford players left it ( for the goalie!). These players were also blocking Loachs view – he’s late – goal.
Wasn’t the refree pants

NickB - 15/02/2012

Going to make myself unpopular perhaps, but Loach’s great second half save was only necessary because he wasn’t well positioned and went down rather late, making it much tougher than it should have ben.

nick - 15/02/2012

I was one of the unfortunates for whom Valentines day and the opportunity for extra brownie points stopped me from going to the football.

i’ve seen the highlights on Watford player and whilst I am a fan of Loach I think the first was soft, the second was unstoppable and the save in the second half was fantastic. The lad needs a break. I was also positioned absolutely in line with the shot that he let in at Forest and the swerve on that ball was wicked, he didnt stand a chance.

7. hornetboy - 15/02/2012

Great match report Matt. Summed up the way I saw it perfectly. Very few Watford matches really uplift you these days, but this one, as with the Spurs match, was a different kettle of fish. Had all the thrills and spills of a roller coaster. The “have nots” putting the “haves” to the sword. Wonderful evening of entertainment.

8. Frank T - 15/02/2012

Without wishing to increase his burden it is very hard not to think Murray could be very soon or already maybe is the best thing we have seen in a ‘permarnent’ yellow shirt since Young; I just hope to hell we get his contract sorted so we keep him for a couple of years and don’t lose him in some ludicrous way before we can at least get the serious money he will soon be worth. I guess as GT once said the time when Watford could keep the likes of John Barnes for years is long gone.

Fantastic stuff last night and is it just me who takes a real pleasure in seeing us turnover Leicester or for that matter Ipswich who for some reason I always group together? Two teams who seem to have a surplus of undeserved arrogance, money and expectation of beating ‘little old Watford’ but so frequently don’t have the attitude or aptitude to pull it off.

Well done to Sean who I feel is growing as a manager every game.

9. Joonz - 15/02/2012

It’s amazing what happens when SD plays our star youth player. Shows his poor judgement in not doing so earlier.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

you grumpy sod. Even I never said that.

Joonz - 15/02/2012

You inferred it though, Matthew.

Kris - 15/02/2012

You could argue that SD knew when the time was exactly right for introducing our star youth player?!

Either way – I’m pleased we have and happy to see him flourish.

Joonz - 15/02/2012

Either way it is great, but this side was crying out for some adventure, attacking intent and invention for a long time. If Murray was showboating in the youth team, as has been suggested elsewhere, then this challenge to him – ” show us what you can do against men, not boys” has worked. Encouraged by Massey and BA’s loans, both of which look to be working well. I still think we could do with that chap from Fulham, Trotta.

John - 15/02/2012

And here we have it; the archetypal, brainless Watford fan with little to know knowledge of the game and in this instance idea of how to successfully blood through a youngster.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

John, I’m tempted to make a comment about the archetypal keyboard warrior with far too much faith in his own opinion.

Malky blooded his kids far quicker, he seems to be doing OK. It’s a different point of view to yours, that doesn’t make it wrong. Frankly, I’d tend to agree that Sean held off too long with Murray and has withheld Whichelow, Thompson, Massey too long. Either way, disagreeing with you doesn’t making Joonz an idiot. Get some perspective or go irritate someone else.

lukefairweather - 16/02/2012

And here we have it…the archetypal brainless put down spelt incorrectly. I salute you Sir! You NO wot I mean?

Luke

10. James - 15/02/2012

A hugely fun game, rather like a park kick-about. End-to-end action with very little quality but occasional moments of brilliance.

Murray was very impressive, and I hope the decision to take him off was a precaution rather than a serious injury.

Neither side impressed at the back. I’m rather worried about our inability to deal with the long balls from the keeper. It’s understandable to be caught out the first time, but Leicester were doing the same thing every time Schmeichel got the ball. How many times do you need to try and play someone offside from a goal kick before realising it’s not working?

Big Chris strikes me as a poor man’s Devon White. Sadly he lacks Dev’s two most endearing attributes.
I think it was the old BSAD that described Devon White with something along the lines of: “You knew Dev wasn’t going to get anywhere near the ball, but neither were the three defenders trying to mark him.”
Chris ought to be able to occupy several opponents, but somehow even the smallest of opposition fullbacks seem to be able to knock him off the ball.
The other area in which Dev excelled was his comedy performance, and I feel that this is an aspect of the game that Chris would do well to work on, he clearly has potential. He’s got the bizarre passes to no one perfected, but I’d love to see Chris dummy himself, or bamboozle a defender with the minute-long step-over.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

there were some comedy moments last night in fairness. but i think you’re doing him a bit of a disservice, as I’ve already suggested.

11. DM - 15/02/2012

Enjoyable drivel as ever, Rowson.

@Marcus Shapiro – John Eustace, average ? Have you been drinking heavily, or in a coma for the last three seasons ? Or do you just have absolutely no understanding of what you’ve been watching ?

12. Lesley-Anne - 15/02/2012

After a match such as this, it seems strange when it doesn’t warrant much attention in the national press. Just as well we have the thunks, Matt!

Prior to this match I was saying “They’ve got Beckford and Nugent, we’ve got Iwelumo and Garner,” our front pairing clearly not one to strike fear into the hearts of any decent defence. But maybe that’s what is so amazing about football. Sometimes, just sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much money has been spent on a team, that’s why we get Cup upsets, and this game was a bit like that. Team spirit, guts and sheer determination won through.

Great to see Craig Forsyth showing us that he definitely knows how to finish. With our shortage of strikers, we could do worse than playing him up front. At least he knows where the goal is.

David Webb has to be the worst referee I have seen at Vicarage Road, and that is saying something as we have seen more than a few poor ones. Even Stuart Atwell only made one, admittedly big, error! But Webb had a whole catalogue of them last night, most of them in Leicester’s favour, apart from not giving them a penalty!
The sending off of Doyley was bad enough but then to so incompetently deal with our substitution was incredible! It is a shame that Chris Kamara was not covering this match for Sky Sports; he would have been in his element with so many opportunities for “Unbelievable” comments!!!

A fantastic game, even better to get 3 points. It will live long in the memory, this one!

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

The “Forsyth up front” thing was being suggested on the way out by someone behind me. Not sure he’s got the awareness to be honest… and not sure about playing a young player with brittle confidence out of position. Rather have a proper striker… although Craig clearly knows where the goal is.

13. Jeremy Clarkson - 15/02/2012

JC here

1. Mr R, from my vantage point in the UR not even Tony Coton nor Pat Jennings would have got any where near it. Loach was unsighted and Nugent shot was one of those had had a bit of curl low and to Loaches left hand side, the ball was past him before he knew it.

2. Forsyth, is he Johan (icelandic bloke) in disguise, wonderful finishing

3. At the end I thought Dyche was going over to the ref to give him 20 bells of what he thought, he actually completed ignored him, praises for keeping his cool after all that went on…I am sloooooolwly warming..only another youngster here and there and we could have a team that could warm the cockles of our hearts

4. One more game for the “I was there annual”

5. Ileumo..did he really wear a Scottish shirt

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

1- you had a better vantage point than me, so I apologise for any undue criticism. It looked awful from the Rookery, but perhaps we didn’t have the best of angles.

2- Gudmundsson – wow, damning with faint praise if ever I heard it. Craig already has three more goals for Watford than Johann managed.

5- Too many punchlines…

David Sawyer - 15/02/2012

I’d agree, from where I was sitting I don’t think Loach had too much of a chance for the first goal.

Great game, you summed it up really well Matt.

14. GoldenBoy - 15/02/2012

I am really fed up of hearing about amazing for an 18 year old second year scholar. John Barnes, Nigel Callghan, Kenny Jackett etc etc were performing at 17 in our first team and winning promotion. Whats all this about not being old enough. Sean Murray is good enough and therefore he is in the team. I am sick to death of managers not giving young players a chance to progress more quickly. I might suggest to Notts Forest that Bamford should be in their first team not sold for £1.5m and left to rot in Chelsea’s reserves. He may have scored the goals they cannot desparately score!!

The best place for them to learn is in the First Team. If they are good enough they are old enough, and I know Sean will reagrd himself rightly as a First team player. He has bought a freshness and exuberance and no little skill to seasoned Pro’s. I remember this happening when we were struggling under Ken Furphy in the old 2nd Division. He bought in Billy Jennings and John Farley and it kicked started the teams recovery and escape from relegation.

If Sean Dyche leaves him out to rest him/protect him it is absolute nonsense.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

I agree entirely with your general point. Which doesn’t alter the fact that his performance was splendid yesterday, albeit only for 45 minutes and the more so in the context of his age and inexperience. Arguing that kids are old enough if they’re good enough is fine, but the implied criticism, your suggestion that his age shouldn’t be taken into account in assessing his performance, is a bit daft.

15. oldhorn - 15/02/2012

I claim first “Forsyth up top” thunk. Where’s my £5?

https://bhappy.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/watford-1-brighton-and-hove-albion-0/#comment-11382

Also, John Eustace. He’s been playing more of a forward role over recent weeks, leaving others to do more holding (not all the time I know) and with this freer role, he’s scoring a few goals. Co-incidence? I think not.

Matt Rowson - 15/02/2012

it was a dodgy suggestion then, oldhorn, and it’s dodgy now.

No, no coincidence that John is scoring more goals when used in an advanced position. On a similar note, you’ll find that if you go out when it’s raining you’ll get wet… 🙂

16. ramsgate horn - 15/02/2012

Thanks to Matt for an excellent report. Superb result against the odds, having lost Sordell its easy to fear the worst, but this recent run of results takes us within a few [4 perhaps] to ensure safety.At this rate and with a striker bought in mid table or outside shout at play offs. re Iwelumo he battles hard and has scored in the past but can look awkward, id love to see him start to score a few more, midfield is now performing well and creating goals and chances.Good to see Murray getting a run. id like to wish all horns the best for the rest of the season, ive been lucky with the games ive got to this season the team deserves a lot of praise also sd

17. Vaughan Smith - 15/02/2012

I’m trying but really struggling to view Iwelumo’s performance in the context of Thunk 4. From where I was sat he won about 3% of the headers he went for, failed to control a single ball with foot, leg, chest, shoulder, arse – well any body part in fact, gave away several needless fouls, failed to chase a single through ball or pass back to the keeper, and generally just jogged about looking as if he didn’t have a clue why he was on the pitch, or who the other 9 blokes in yellow shirts were. It’s very difficult to feel anything other than sympathy for the bloke because he’s quite clearly completely incapable of playing any sort of meaningful role at this level. To be honest I’ve not seen a Watford striker of Iwelumo’s calibre since Trevor Senior.

18. NickB - 15/02/2012

It’s not often I’m inclined to quote anything from the WO site comments, but this is worth making an exception for:-

This article just goes to show though that as fans we do not always know the job they have been asked to do by the gaffer, there’s me shouting at them all to close em down, track back, cross it early etc, but do not know the game plan.

For all we know Big Chris is asked to run in slow motion like his feet are stuck in quick sand, always play with his back to goal, win only every third header even though the tallest guy on the pitch and finally always head the ball away from where his team mates are standing and in the path of the opposition. Therefore it is possible that he is doing a great job.

19. MartinG - 15/02/2012

JC is spot on about Loach. I was right behind it and he was unsighted by the two ‘defenders’ neither of whom closed down the shot.

What a great game. Quality goals. End to end. Excellent.

I liked Pearson’s comments about ‘you know what to expect here’ when Schmeichel launched howitzers into the Watford penalty area on a regular basis. He’s got some kick though.

Garner – he gets in good positions but…. however that volley in the second half was a ray of hope.

I’m in the Iwelumo ‘mobility of a wardrobe’ camp. Play a youngster, any youngster.

nick - 15/02/2012

I noticed it was Garner that won the ball to set up the attack for Forsyths goal.

lukefairweather - 16/02/2012

I have just made it all the way through the 5 plus minutes of the Pearson interview on the BBC. Dear me, not only is he a most unispiring fellow who rambles on about nowt and wallows in self pity, I must be mentally unwell for getting through the whole thing. I then listened to Sean who sounds like he has been at the Capstan full strength.
Luke

20. The Great Big O - 16/02/2012

Belter of a match.

Amongst all the wonderful moments, one that will stay with me as long as any other is when Big Chris found himself beyond their defence, chasing down a ball, heading for a one-on-one with the keeper and… he changed direction and ran away to take up a position at the far post, leaving the ball for Garner – who had to make up ground from several yards back. It was another laugh-and-cry moment from Iwelumo. The kindest thing I can say is that at least he knows his limitations. But I can’t think of a more one-note footballer. And he’s so rarely in tune on that note.

Belter of a match, though. As you say, Matt, it was what you bloody go to football for.

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

My instinct at the time was that Chris had been in an offside position and thus left it. No idea if that was the case or not.

randall94 - 16/02/2012

Definitely Matt.

21. JohnF - 16/02/2012

In terms of youngsters and good enough there is a need to be careful as many are still growing and do not yet have the strength, physical or mental for just being thrown in. Some judicious protecting is called for….BUT… they do need to be part of the first team squad and even if the reduced number of substitutes is a bit of a problem they would provide a fresher alternative to some that we do have. Equally it seems that other peoples youngsters do not need the same care when playing for Watford.

We now have wingers and a full back who can deliver more than decent crosses and dead ball kicks into the box . Troy (oh how we miss him when he isn’t there) is beginning to benefit but I fear that Chris is now just too slow to even get there. I cannot understand how such a good player has become so apparently inept or is he incredibly unfit for some reason?

The first Leicester goal was down to bad defending by two of our youngsters (not helped by their seniors)against a good player. However, they will learn.

Incidentally do we actually mean young and inexperienced when talking about our youngsters rather than just young?

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

That’s the point though John. They learn by making mistakes. We suffer, perhaps, in the short term. The bigger picture is that we are far more likely to develop good players than we are to be able to afford them… buying players we’re dealing in an increasingly competitive market and can’t rely on finding Danny Grahams and Don Cowies repeatedly when clubs with bigger wallets are looking at the same players. However we DO have a competitive advantage in Harefield, at least for the moment. As such it’s illogical not to risk the youngsters since surely the Harefield resource, along with demonstrable evidence of first team opportunity, it what persuades Sean Murray and his ilk to sign for us rather than someone else. (Sean coming from Watford helps, obviously… but you know what I mean…)

JohnF - 16/02/2012

Perhaps I didn’t put my thoughts too well. I didn’t mean not playoing the youngsters but that when they are young they are not strong enough to be playing every game and some judicious resting is essential to prevent serious injuries (I cite Ross Jenkins who hasn’t quite been the same since) and metal fatigue. I suspect we agree but you’re just in a very combative mood today.

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Ha. Very possibly. I like the sound of metal fatigue by the way. Is that what you get after too much Iron Maiden and Napalm Death?

22. Sequel - 16/02/2012

The decision to award the late free kick to Leicester, rather than a penalty, was down to the linesman, who stopped, raised his flag and waved it, almost in slow-motion, before stepping sideways and NOT putting it across his chest. One of the few small mercies he afforded us all evening.

23. Chris Edwards - 16/02/2012

For those people that are negative towards Big Chris, just watch his role in the 3rd goal. Truely marvelous. The defender was set to come across to cover forsyth’s shot but Big Chris was unpenetrable. Another assist!

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Agreed. It’s completely hilarious. A Gridiron blocking move.

24. johnnyboy - 16/02/2012

Sorry ‘oldhorn’ I claim first ‘dibs’ on Craig up front see below;

“Johnny Boy – 17/08/2011
A thought. Craig Forsyth looks quite handy when involved which currently he is not enough. He appears to have a good head and control. Put him down the middle with Marvin which then creates a place for a right sided attacking midfielder. CI then becomes an attacking sub to be brought on when we need to hold the ball up or batter a few tied defences. Then again, what do I know.”

Re Big Chris – just whatched the highlights and did you see Chris take out that Leicester player just before Craig shot – pure NFL. Probably explains why Gallagher was complaining to the linesman long after the goal was given.

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Yes John. But it’s STILL A BAD IDEA. Jeez, this is like people arguing over who was the first to think of square wheels.

I DID beat you on the NFL reference tho John…

25. Back from Hammerau - 16/02/2012

No assessment of the referee’s performance would be complete without a mention of that second-half throw-in in front of the Rous.

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Good Grief. Two days on and I keep being reminded of things I’d forgotten that would be stretched to cover two thunks each on a bad day. Yes, that was insane, thanks Hammerau.

Old Git - 16/02/2012

With all these references to past Leicester matches, Matt, you’d have loved the game in 1970. Your contribitor ‘Golden Boy’, with his references to John Farley and Billy Jennings will surely remember it. It featured on ‘Star Soccer’ with Barry Endean’s winner making it onto the short-list of six for Goal of the Season that year. One-nil down with about a minute to go, Keith Eddy’s not-quite-last-kick penalty set the scene for Endean to grab the winner thirty seconds later. Fantastic!

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Against Peter Shilton, no?

26. Dave Hart - 16/02/2012

I wasn’t at the game for once, but it turns out that the linesman who got Doyley sent off works at my company! I had a chat with him about it yesterday. He seems to think that it was Nosworthy who made the foul, and he insists that it was outside the box. I have yet to see the highlights though.

Jeremy Clarkson - 16/02/2012

JC here

Dave, where do you work, National School for the Blind!
LFrom my vantage point in UR lino thought it was a pen by the way he flagged and set himself up , only when reffo pointed outside of box did he retrace his steps. I hope gets well paid for making the tea, but be carfeul what he puts in it as he will probably think he doing his other job and cleaning the toilets

27. NickB - 16/02/2012

I was in the Rookery (as was) for that 1970 game, thanks for the reminder – not much to choose between the celebrations then and Tuesday night – had 8 empty seats next to me and made good use of the space available when Forsyth scored! From distant memory it was Eddy pen 85 and Endean 89.

Old Git - 16/02/2012

Yep! Shilts it was Matt. Maybe you are older than you look. And it was only a week or two earlier (or maybe later, it was a little while ago) that his predecessor as England’s No.1, one Gordon Banks, left the Vic on the losing side as well, as some of us who contribute to this site will happily remember.
And Joonz – now I have awakened from my slumber – you mean ‘implied’… not ‘inferred’.
Fuckin’ ‘ell does nobody understand English anymore?
Goodnight – off to take my tablets.

Matt Rowson - 16/02/2012

Banks – Colin Franks?

I hope to God I’m not as old as I look. I did write a book once though…

28. NickB - 16/02/2012

Paper headline was ‘Franks beats the Banks of England’

73 comments – must be a BHaPPY record – ig wrote a cracking review of the Millwall game and got 7. Life’s not fair…

Ian Grant - 17/02/2012

That’s ’cause I wrote it so well there was nothing further to say, Nick. Probably. Cough.

Matt Rowson - 17/02/2012

It’s in fourth place Nick, behind this
https://bhappy.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/reading-4-watford-0-09012009/

this
https://bhappy.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/watford-0-stoke-city-0-15032008/

and this
https://bhappy.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/helping-hands/

Wednesday was the blog’s busiest day since its inception in Aug 2006, with 2785 views.

29. Sequel - 17/02/2012

NickB: Wasn’t it “Franks BREAKS the Banks of England?” Not that I’m old or nuffink….

NickB - 17/02/2012

Sounds feasible, probably correct – all seems a long time ago: when 4th round cup ties were more important than routine League games, whoever you were playing, and you got crowds to match.

Matt – am amazed/ appalled that a duff game played on the coldest night of my entire existence should be the most commented upon, but grateful for the info, nonetheless!

30. Simmos - 17/02/2012

Just re-read that Reading report. Whatever happened to that Brendan fella we all disliked so much?

I am still in deep doo-doo for attending the Vic and not going out with the missus on Valentines. After a game like that I am really not too bothered!


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