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Watford 3 Barnsley 0 (15/03/2014) 16/03/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

1- The sun shone.  I even had an ice lolly, in March, of all things.  Less literally, the sun was shining too… the new stand continues to take shape, investment being made into the training ground.  In a season that’s been relatively low on such moments we all had a spring in our step.  There was naturally a concern about our forward line in the absence of the suspended Ranégie and injured Forestieri and Park, but our visitors boasted the worst away record in the division and two newly hamstrung centre-backs to offset our forward problem.  The travelling Tykes boasted a flag-to-supporter ratio unmatched in living memory, a turnout that spoke volumes for their expectations…  few in the home end can have been in any greater doubt as to the likely outcome given our home form.  And so it proved.

2- Beppe made a pointed comment post-match implying a simmering level of frustration after Tuesday night’s events and this was evident in a focused and dominant first twenty minutes or so.  In all honesty however, it didn’t look as if we needed to bring our A-game…  from the moment that the colossal Jean-Yves M’Voto, who was to have a high profile afternoon of the sort a centre-back doesn’t really need, sliced out for a corner under zero pressure Barnsley looked horribly vulnerable.  Danny Wilson has claimed that our opener knocked their game plan into the waste basket, but unless their game plan was based around giving the ball away in suicidal positions and standing off Battocchio long enough for him to take a touch before driving home expertly from outside the area it was all going wrong for the Tykes before they went behind, albeit after only five minutes.  Nor was it any great surprise to see Troy turn in a position that a self-respecting defence would never have permitted to put us two-up on the quarter hour.  As in our last game here against Blackpool the game was over very quickly with Daniel Pudil, who has evolved from an energetic, functional cog to one of the cornerstones of the team under Sannino, making hay down all sorts of space on the left hand side.

3- Dave, having taken a bet that set a three-goal-plus victory against his grumpy and not entirely heartfelt nil-nil forecast, paid up at this point.  Disappointingly, we failed to put the visitors to the sword in what descended into probably the dullest of the now twelve three-plus-goal victories over the last couple of seasons.  Ikechi Anya, doing a game job of supporting Deeney as makeshift striker, betrayed his lack of experience at such things by getting caught offside on several occasions despite often having miles of space and being the fastest player on the pitch – new tricks to learn if he’s to fulfil this role again.  It wasn’t that it fizzled out exactly, although we certainly took our foot off the pedal somewhat… more that the game was kinda over and everyone knew it.  Lewis McGugan was trying overhead kicks before the end of the first half, ,which rather summed the situation up.  At the other end, the highlight of the rest of the half came when Jacob Mellis got past Marco Cassetti (worth acknowledging in passing that he’d have been taken out in other circumstances, but the Italian evaluated the situation in context), and laid back to Liam Lawrence who demonstrated why he’s not playing in the top flight any more by firing wide when it seemed scarcely possible so to do.

4- It was that sort of afternoon for the visitors but if they shared Blackpool’s hapless lack of belief they did at least perk up in the second half.  Not in a fashion that ever seriously threatened the outcome, but enough to suggest that our increasingly astonishing home defensive record ( 1 conceded in 9 under Beppe) might be spoiled by something careless and unnecessary.  Meanwhile we were still regularly threatening to add goals ourselves, Kaiser Tözsér, dominant once more, getting on the end of one cross from the left to head narrowly wide.  That one would have been popular.  Instead, Ikechi Anya, inevitably if a little disappointingly more effective when pulling wide from his central role, danced down the left before laying back for Merkel to wrap things up.  A great half hour from Merkel today, his ninety over two games this week far more convincing that what we’d seen up to now.  He was followed off the bench by two debutants at the opposite end of their careers in Lucas Neill and Luke O’Nien, the latter of whom put in an excitable five-minute cameo up front that suggested an exciting turn of pace .

5- Extraordinary how things have flipped around.  Under Gianfranco our away form was passable, regular points away from home from perhaps stronger performances than the results suggested… but at home we were a catastrophe, increasingly without an answer to the same sucker punch.  Now… our home form is extraordinary, today’s result never in doubt.  In Blackpool and Barnsley we’ve faced two poor sides at low points in their season but we’ve put them away in style.  Our away form has been iffier, and the obstacle to a more credible play-off challenge.  Up to now, the distance to the play-offs has not been insurmountable… it’s been the fact that we haven’t been putting  together a string of results to threaten to bridge that gap that’s been the problem.  Whilst we still await another away win, the strong performance at Doncaster suggests that that win will come sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, we may be getting it together just as the games start to run out.


1. Leggatts 'orn - 16/03/2014

I really don’t mind what happens now this season, a bit more fun like Blackpool and Barnsley would go down a treat, I suspect when Dychey returns at the beginning of April we will really see the stuff of which this newly set up team is made. If on the first day of the new season we see this team and particularly Tözsér and Angela in yellow shirts, Fortress Vic and its shiny new stand could become a scary place for Championship teams to visit. Lovely!

2. hornetboy84 - 16/03/2014

It was far too easy. This league is clearly rather poor (Leicester and a Dyche inspired Burnley apart) which is why its a shame we have struggled to find the right players. The Pozzo mod el means a potential revolving door of a team until we get to the Prem in which case why play anywhere else. So Tozser, Angela and Deeney conversations will be key in the summer. However I do think that the recruitment suffered last summer due to the success of season one in that they felt any player could just adapt – clearly not the case. Add Adbi back and we could be a force,

for now we have to play Wigan and see what happens. win and we still have that killing hope. Lose and its focus on next season.

3. Goldenboy60 - 16/03/2014

Just a comment about Anya. Yes he got things wrong at times but as far as I’m aware he has never played as a central support striker. His run for the goal on Tuesday suggested he has it in his locker, but it takes time to ‘learn’ a new position, as it takes time for people in any job to ‘learn’ something new. But his pace always meant the back 4 dropping off so as to not let him in behind. As far as I’m concerned he will always give us that option in there.

As for next season I think we all agree we need to start with a settled squad with just 1 or 2 quality additions. I would add Merkel to that list of quality players because I believe he will be a top player. He is fast coming to terms with the Championship and is beginning to affect games. In my opinion he will fast become an assist and scorer of goals on a regular basis.

4. Roger Smith - 16/03/2014

I missed the game and the commentary for a birthday celebration, so my comment is a question: according to the BBC, Barnsley shaded possession 52/48. Did we not control the game?

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