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Watford 1 Peterborough United 0 (20/10/2012) 21/10/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from a much needed home win…

1- Tradition has it, of course, that Family Day is a damp squib, a perpetually missed opportunity. Nonetheless this fixture last year was a Family Day too and five goals in the first half of that one will have won a few youngsters over – my daughter included. This game was less extravagantly exciting, but those with a year’s experience and savvy under their belts were able to enjoy a more thoughtfully engrossing encounter. Rahelle, now a sage six years old, spent much of a stodgy first half in which two heavily packed midfields largely cancelled each other out either lying on my lap or with her fleece over her face. The second, however, was far more engaging and had her rapt and focused, and able to revel unreservedly in a last minute winner, something that needs no explaining to anyone let alone a six year old veteran. A late highlight of this particular Family Day was catching Harry the Hornet making the ill-judged decision to navigate the Rookery concourse against the tide on the way out. On a normal day this may have been merely awkward; on a Family Day it was a non-starter, mobbed by a crowd of youngsters with Rahelle at the vanguard.

2- One key theme has to be gradual improvement. The mantra of the Vialli season was “time to gel”; this side that has been subject to an even greater overhaul is displaying much greater evidence of steps in the right direction than Vialli’s ever managed. Post Derby, the policy of bringing back Chris Iwelumo to organise a novice defensive line at set pieces tightened us up prior to Fitz Hall’s emergence as a leader at the back. Since then every game has seen changes made – some clear cut, altering personnel and formation, some subtler – which haven’t all demonstrably worked but have largely had a bit of sense about them. Today, Jonathan Hogg was visibly making aggressive runs to get up and support the forwards. Not his natural game perhaps and it never quite paid off, but with Chalobah hungry for possession all over the pitch and patrolling in front of the defence you could see the thinking. Further encouragement that although this game didn’t follow the Middlesbrough template of us flying out at our opposition and putting them under immediate pressure we probed and pressed and made plenty of presentable chances after the break; if we owed something to fortune in Kane Ferdinand’s loose defending ultimately presenting us with a spot kick, we’d earned it through earlier endeavours.

3- Another popular wisdom is that this is the season that Lloyd Doyley becomes surplus to requirements; “he’s not the sort of player we’ll be looking for at the back” was the gist of one suggestion in the first half from a buffoon nearby who ought to know better. Such pronouncements have been at regular intervals over the last eleven years, often coincidental with a new manager’s arrival, none have come to fruition. Even Brendan Rodgers, having initially advised Lloyd that he wasn’t his sort of player, saw fit to give him a three year contract within months. Today Lloyd demonstrated his value in a formation that rather suited him; with a simple pass to either Cassetti, Chalobah or Hall always on his most notorious limitation was less of an issue, whilst his pace and nous on the cover was always going to be an asset in a three-man backline. Not that Tommie Hoban, in another hugely encouraging display – is any slouch… but whilst Posh had good chances, this wasn’t a defensive opponent afforded goalscoring opportunities every time they broke forward (see below). Without wishing to single out Neuton, this was much more solid defensively, another small positive step. As for Doyley, whilst he might not be a first choice under Zola his willingness and flexibility (not to mention nationality) make him indispensable as a substitute.

4- Admittedly it’s much easier to be generous about Peterborough in the wake of a late winner. Whatever… as inferred above, and contrary to what you might expect from a club stuck at the bottom of the table Posh did anything but park the bus. The first half was congested, but this didn’t reflect a destructive emphasis on the part of the away side. In the second half, having conceded plenty of chances, changes in shape resulting from substitutions by both sides left the visitors on the front foot, and the side more likely to for around quarter of an hour. They didn’t capitalise, but it’s difficult not to hope for better for them in future weeks. My co-editor asserted that he wouldn’t back against them staying up and despite their poor start that’s far from a foregone conclusion, there’s lots to like here… but despite the narrow scoreline, Posh are a side that prioritise the “Goals For” column. Whilst this makes for entertaining football matches, there will come a time when they have a bad season, injuries, luck… and it’s got to be easier to arrest a poor run on the back of a tight defence.

5- After a quiet first half Fernando Forestieri was much livelier in the second. Consistent with the Pozzo model, the majority of our loan signings from the Udinese pool are rough diamonds; Fernando simultaneously more exotic and yet less refined than most. His footwork is extraordinary, he’s astonishingly quick and yet… much as there was evidence of another positive nudge-in-the-right-direction in his desire to look for a pass at least some of the time his decision making is still ropey, he and Deeney remain on different wavelengths and the delivery isn’t quite there. And yet here, as my co-editor has implied, is further evidence of this brave new world not being so very different from the old one. In the likes of Tom Cleverley and Adam Johnson we’ve seen raw-ish potential develop into something a lot more than that in the past. Forestieri’s development will be a whole lot of fun to watch at close hand, one suspects.



1. Roy Moore - 22/10/2012

Excellent write up as usual Matt.

2. Mark - 22/10/2012

Good to see so many fans at the Vic,

Glad they actually saw a decent 2nd half as the first half was as dire as ant 45 minutes this season!

I thought Vialli and his “style” had returned..

Much improved second 45 minutes with the ball going forward much more quickly and ofcourse we could have had the game won long before Vydra slotted his penalty away very nicely.

Hall has added some real stability to the back line and whilst Deeney was off his game we controlled the midfield well.

3. David Hart - 22/10/2012

As always an informative and entertaining read… even more impressive considering you had a 6 year old to look after whilst note taking!

Matt Rowson - 22/10/2012

Who do you think was taking the notes?

4. Sequel - 22/10/2012

The highlight for me (as an ex-Watford Sunday League defender!) was Hall launching himself, almost suicidally, into a block tackle near the end of the second half, during POSH’s purple patch. Ah, memories of the Garston Park mud…..

5. Harefield Hornet - 22/10/2012

Pleased you’ve seen fit to give Posh the credit they deserve, I also think they played well and this made the result even sweeter at the end. Also agree with above – monsterous block by Hall near the end that stopped a certain equaliser. Also very impressed with the way Vydra smashed in the penalty having come on as sub. No lack of confidence in that boy. And… Tommy Hoban, another big plus in a season where plusses are outweighing the negatives significantly.

6. Andrew - 22/10/2012

Great game, Pudil and Vydra was the highlight for me!

7. Roger Smith - 22/10/2012

You mention Cleverley and Adam Johnson, who’ve gone on to greater things. We should also mention Alex Kacaniklic, who made is senior debut for Watford only to be recalled into the Fulham first team once he’d shown what he was capable of.

I would have started with Vydra in place of Casseti, with Forestieri wide and Hogg playing more defensively. But Zola was far too slow to utilise the talent on the bench. In particular, as Mark says, Deeney was off the pace and should have been replaced much earlier, not least to give Geijo (Heigh-Ho?) a decent run out in a full strength side.

8. nick - 22/10/2012

Doyley will always divide opinions. I thought he was good on Saturday, my dad says he slowed the ball down too much (and he is a big Doyley fan).

I was as chuffed with the clean sheet as anything else we did in the match. Clean sheets build success and with that back 3/5 I dont see any reason why we cant keep a few more.

Forestieri is worth the entrance fee on his own and I hope that we can extend Chalobahs loan period, he oozes class.

I’m surprised Zola left it so late to make the substitutes, Deeney was having one of those games where not much went right and it seemed to be petering out into a draw from about the 80th minute (if Peterborough didnt snatch a winner).

I still think we need to speed up when in possession of the ball, it was a bit too easy for Peterborough to form up and let us knock it around at the back and in midfield.

I think following the Charlton game this side have turned themselves from being a group of players playing in a Watford shirt into Watford players. So enjoyable so far and you get the feeling there is much more to come.

9. MartinG - 22/10/2012

Having missed a few games this was interesting to watch. First half very dull except for a few Forestieri cameos. He’s potentially a real star. Second half much better though. Thought we’d miss out on 3 points though until that idiotic penalty for Peterborough to concede, but top marks to Vydra. Thought Deeney was woeful. 2 seconds behind everyone else. If we could play both halves like the second someone is going to get a tanking.

10. Zenon - 22/10/2012

When will it stop feeling like pre-season?

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