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LDX – Watford 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (05/08/2012) 05/08/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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Five thunks from Lloyd Doyley’s testimonial game…

1- A decent turnout for a pre-season game, it’s reasonable to suppose that few were left on the edge of their seats by the spectacle. That’s what pre-season games are like of course, the pace tends to be rather lacking irrespective of the score or the standard… but limited as the excitement was, we acquitted ourselves reasonably well in the first half. The emphasis on possession was immediately evident, we looked confident enough with the system and there was a suggestion of chances being created. The lack of focal point was painful, however, and a little ominous. Far too early to evaluate things of course – a non-competitive match against top flight opposition whilst missing, presumably, a good number of our senior squad (see below) doesn’t tick many boxes. Work in progress- fine. But still things to do, clearly.

2- As regards the new boys… slightly disappointing to only see two of the confirmed seven involved, and ominous that so many have “fitness issues” so early; Vydra, Hall and Beleck fall into this category, we’re told, no explanation as yet for the missing Abdi and Anya, difficult to believe that players were being saved for Tuesday’s final friendly at Gillingham. Daniel Pudil did start, but limped off within ten minutes with what looked like a tweaked hamstring. Within that time he had been caught cold by an admittedly sharp passing move down Spurs’ right. This left Manuel Almunia, who made an immediate impression in the first half despite not having a shot to save with a bellow that carried to the back of the Upper Rous and scarcely let up for the duration. In the second period he dealt nervously with one bouncing back pass but was alert to one clouted shot from Andros Townsend with a fine parry. So far so good for the Spaniard.

3- Spurs were a bit of a disappointment all told; much has been made over the summer of their limited striking options and certainly they didn’t threaten as often as they’d have liked. Nor did they look altogether comfortable at the back though, and will be concerned with how relatively easily chances were suggested even if we weren’t always sharp enough to capitalise. The prominent Jake Livermore was more than once forced to concede fouls in a midfield that he patrolled almost single-handedly in the first half, nominally alongside the invisible Jenas. And then, after the break, a reminder of what the top flight is like. A slip of concentration, a sharp move down the right, Defoe is unmarked and Almunia is helpless. David Bentley has time to come on, give the ball away with a comically extravagant flick and that’s that. Admittedly not a full-strength Spurs side, but not one that suggested that people will be talking about a title tilt at any point this season, optimistically or otherwise.

4- Of the old(er) guard, a few stood out. Hogg, who looked tired at the end of the last campaign, was sharp and alert and enjoying himself. Murray was bold and confident, and stood up to some early bullying from Livermore to impose himself on the first half. Taylor looked assured for the most part, comfortable enough with bringing the ball out (even if the dogged insistence on playing it short might cause us some anxious moments on this evidence). And Mark Yeates, who I must confess I never thought I’d see in a yellow shirt again, benefited from the flexibility of the system, looking far more convincing when coming inside. In the end, eleven second-half substitutions (plus three at the interval) interrupted the flow, of course, and left us rather weaker on balance whilst leaving Spurs, who had brought on Sigurdsson, Vertonghen, Walker and Huddlestone amongst others, rather stronger. We fashioned a couple of chances to pull level, most significantly Yeates appearing on the left to drive across the face of goal, but never really looked like levelling the game.

5- As for the man himself – applauded onto the pitch by a guard of honour – he did what he always does. Worked hard, stuck to his guns. We’d spoken to him before the game, he’d expressed two hopes – that he’d manage 60 minutes, having been injured and therefore behind in his training – and that Gareth Bale wasn’t playing, necessitating a lot of running around. Bale did play, and was largely suffocated by Doyley out on the left, having far more luck when switching with Lennon and coming down Spurs’ right. Lloyd played 75 utterly competent minutes, almost entirely unflashy. Almost, there was one moment of self-indulgence, a furious charge down the right flank into space, hoping to be played in. Instead the ball went centrally to Chris Iwelumo, who was offside. It was that sort of game. Notwithstanding which, few players have earned a testimonial quite so comprehensively, having been written off by so many managers over ten years and won them all over. There’ll be people writing him off in the comments section that follows. They’ll be wrong, too. Thanks, Lloyd.

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Comments»

1. Lol - 05/08/2012

#5 Doyley is one of the best man markers outside the top division and has been for a few years. Just because his passing and crossing do not hit similar peaks, doesn’t make him the hapless player that some like portray. If he was more effective going forward we wouldn’t have been afforded his service for so long.

Respect to lloyd.

2. Will - 06/08/2012

Anyone who stays with a club for 10 years is gold and anyone who doubts this is no football supporter no matter which club.
We were mostly rubbish IMHO and good luck to you Watford guys.

3. Kris - 06/08/2012

Glad to hear Lloyd had a good testimonial. I cannot think of anyone in modern football more deserving than he.

I for one would never write him off but I do worry a little for him. From our pre-season games it seems Hodson is preferred on the right and Pudil on the left. It means he’ll have to regain the starting berth all over again. He’ll do it of course I have no doubt, but it is a shame he has to go through this again – and in his testimonial year.

4. Tim Turner - 06/08/2012

I’m glad to hear Almunia is a bellower. I don’t think I ever heard Scott Loach shout for anything in all the games he played for us – and it’s not as if the Vic is such a cauldron of noise that you wouldn’t be able to hear him.

Gutted that I couldn’t make it there yesterday to pay my respects to the great man, but my wife’s birthday took precedence (or else).

Lol – spot on.

oldhorn - 06/08/2012

I went to the game and stood and applauded Lloyd long and loud. I have total admiration for his commitment and loyalty to WFC. Always 100% but we all know his weaknesses. I must admit that I was one who thought that Sunday would be his last hurrah for Watford.

But then an injury to the left back who from what I have seen in the pre season games had performed well enough to probably stake a claim for the starting shirt.

So. Carl Dickinson or……yup, Lloyd. Carl Dickinson will always give 100% but is simply not championship standard. Lloyd will always give 100% and has filled in adequately at left back in the past. Maybe the fat lady was only clearing her throat.

Matt Rowson - 06/08/2012

I can see Lloyd not being first choice. I can’t see why you wouldn’t keep him as a squad player though. You could get away without having another defender on the bench, even with seven.

5. nw6hornet - 10/08/2012

Matt – I just wanted to say thanks for doing the biography in the LD testimonial brochure – a great read about a great bloke.

Cheers

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2012

cheers nw6hornet, really proud of it


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