jump to navigation

Watford 2 Brentford 1 (30/09/2014) 01/10/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

1- Sometimes games fall in a helpful way, sometimes not. Sometimes you get the opponent at a low ebb, sometimes just after the new guy has come in and they’re on the bounce and you’re left thinking “why couldn’t we have played you a couple of weeks ago when you were rubbish?”. This one fell for us, for reasons that were nothing to do with our visitors. True, we could all perhaps have done with a day or two to get our collective heads around the events of the last week or so – Billy McKinlay not least. Given that there WAS a game though, what better than a rattling, high-speed local derby, just the thing to focus the attention and demand that most essential of qualities, simply getting on with it. Under the floodlights this was a non-stop adrenaline rush of a football match, one where it was essential – and not terribly difficult – to overlook shortcomings, hold on and enjoy the ride. Watford’s formation made a clear statement – Vydra playing slightly behind Ighalo, Fabbrini and Dyer hugging the touchlines, it wasn’t a formation that suggested containment. Brentford for their part were no less ambitious, the tone set when Watford’s first attack ended in the arms of David Button, who then sprang up to deliver a long throw to a posse of scampering, escaping forwards. I could almost hear my old PE/basketball teacher at school, Leon Green, bellowing “FAST BREEEEEEEAAAAK…..”. It was 15 minutes before anyone made what could have been construed as a conservative pass as both defences manned their last ditches from the off.

2- In the continued absence of Troy Deeney – who would have made hay amidst yesterday’s chaos one suspects – another chance for Odion Ighalo to show us what he could do. Word from Granada was that he was hugely popular despite not having the best goalscoring ratio, and it’s easy to see why on both counts. For all that he appeared reluctant to throw himself into aerial duels in the manner that’s a prerequisite in England, Ighalo is a trier, a scrapper… but not the most confident finisher. Nothing reluctant about the way he threw himself at Lloyd Dyer’s left wing cross midway through the first half, mind, as our attacks focused through the winger… I thought at the time that the fierce, angled header was blocked by the keeper who was certainly right behind (or underneath) it… consensus from reports is that it came back off the woodwork. Brentford’s rapid counterattacking was always a threat but Watford had the better of the first half and took the lead following a break from Vydra who released Ighalo on the left of the box. James Tarkowski offered a challenge, Ighalo went down, penalty. It was certainly soft, but whilst my co-editor would probably wish to remonstrate about contact not equalling a foul I’ve got no sympathy with Brentford’s protests on this one, much less with Warburton’s one-eyed assessment of the incident. Contrary to his assertion that the players were running side by side and no contact was made, Tarkowski approached from the side and stuck his leg half across Ighalo to disrupt the striker’s movement. No trip, no hack, but an attempt to obstruct the attack whilst making it difficult for the referee to call a penalty. Such was Brentford’s approach all night in fairness and I’m not knocking it… indeed, a gutsy and committed team that stays just the right side of the line is surely an easy thing to love. But you live by the sword, you die by the sword and sometimes those borderline calls are going to go against you. Imbalanced to whinge about it, it comes with the territory – much as Brendan Rodgers memorably refused to condemn Angel Rangel for giving a goal away by trying to play out when Swansea were first promoted. Ighalo summed up his Watford career to date succinctly with a thoroughly unconvincing penalty that Button should perhaps have not permitted to rebound to where, with instinct and desire now foremost above technique and confidence, the Nigerian bundled home. Tarkowski’s cheap claw in his face from the restart did little to endear Brentford further and reinforced the suggestion of brittle discipline in the visiting ranks.

3- Despite which the Bees look a thoroughly sprightly side with pace to burn and in Andre Gray a striker from the Mark Hughes school of using your arse as a potent weapon; more than enough about them to stay up comfortably in short. The second half started with the Hornets looking sluggish and the visitors as dominant as either team would be at any point in the contest. Juan Carlos Paredes continues to settle and looks an absolute beast going forward but does push up an awful long way; having the utterly forlorn and not-terribly-defensively-diligent-at-the-best-of-times Diego Fabbrini as his partner down the right left an awfully large hole in behind. As at the start of the first half much of the play was concentrated in the corner between the Rookery and the ever blossoming Community Stand as first Jota and then the excellent Bidwell threaded efforts precisely between onrushing forwards and the far post. Eventually they did get the goal, and it was a fine thing… I’ve read complaints that they cut us open as if that implies some failing on the part of our defenders but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up; the Bees speed and movement finally coincided in a move that saw Jonathan Douglas through on goal; Gomes got a good hand to the shot that was well aimed to be difficult to get down to, but could only palm it inside the far post. Things looked decidedly iffy at this point.

4- So all credit to the Hornets for first edging their way back into the game, and then finding a goal, and then asserting ourselves again comprehensively… even if the points weren’t secure until the whistle went. Indeed, there were some looking over their shoulders for a last Brentford counter-attack as we made our way up Occupation Road. Of a number of decent individual performances, including those of Ekstrand – again looking far more reliable in a back four – and the majestic Kaiser Tözsér, the stand out was Matej Vydra even before the game’s decisive moment. He’s looked nervous and pallid since his return, but recent games have seen his flame start to burn again and this evening’s performance was pure devilment… movement, confidence, aggression, technique and then an absolute rip-snorter of a finish,  dug out of nowhere on the half volley and worthy of the last Hornet to score a winning goal against the Bees. The overdue introduction of Anya for Fabbrini had already renewed our threat, but the appearance of Abdi for Ighalo poured oil over what had been a scratchy second half performance and our attacks purred from that point onwards.  Brentford’s slightly hysterical threat wasn’t quelled, and Odubajo got the wrong side of Pudil to force the Czech to take a second yellow card.  A professional foul in the truest sense but not denying a goalscoring opportunity and so a clear (second) booking.  Relief and exhilaration greeted the final whistle.

5- All told, then, we’re not in too bad a place.  The performances still leave something to be desired… but we’re as close to top as dammit despite having had four different senior coaches since the start of the season.  We won this one despite the absence of key senior players – our best centre-back and what has been up to now our first choice forward pairing for starters – and displayed no little resilience in the process (even if, as McKinlay acknowledged, you’d prefer that we’d managed the closing minutes rather more effectively).  Warburton complained that his side were worth a point, and certainly we couldn’t have complained at they come away with one.  As at Blackpool, however, it’s about having that little bit of quality to win these games, that thing that separates you – even if, in this one, enough goals could and perhaps should have gone in at either end to make that piledriver obsolete.  Brentford could have deprived us of the win.  But they didn’t, we got the three points.  Again.  Going to be fun when things settle down and we start to fully exploit our potential, isn’t it?


1. Out For Lunch - 01/10/2014

Seems a solid assessment to me. I’d definitely decided that Brentford were about to snatch this one shortly before Vydra’s goal., they seemed to be winning the 50-50’s and getting the first and second balls. My man of the match was Tozser. His distribution was spot on all night. Happy days.

2. James - 01/10/2014

It’s a very positive thing that we’ve managed to keep piling on the points without really putting in a performance that truly reflects the ability in this squad.

I have to completely disagree with you about Ekstrand’s performance last night. He had a real stinker. Frequently beaten on the ground, and repeatedly giving the ball away.

Not surprisingly you didn’t mention Munari. I’m rather disappointed with him. Clearly talented, but unwilling to get involved. A bit of a bystander. Reminds me of Paolo Vernazza

On a brighter note, it was pleasing to see real spirit from Vydra, Tözsér, and Pudil after Brentford equalised. They lifted the team and the crowd, putting paid to the traditional view that Eastern Europeans, while technically gifted, lack heart.
I’m a little surprised that Tözsér wasn’t named captain in Deeney’s absence. He was the leader in all but name last night.

Matt Rowson - 01/10/2014

Agree re Tözsér. Disagree re Ekstrand (obv) and Munari, who I like a lot. He’s played better than last night, but comparing him to Vanessa is horribly inaccurate.

3. Roger Smith - 01/10/2014

Vydra has perked up because, at long last, we’re trying to play to his strengths, with balls to run onto, not passes to his feet when he’s man-marked. If only Fabbrini could look up and release a pass when he’d beaten his man, he could be a great asset. Instead he goes on beating defenders until he doesn’t, and then commits a foul trying to recover. I’d have subbed him as soon as he was booked, which was before they’d scored.

Agree your comments about the Brentford goal; having seen the highlights, I thought the same about both the Blackburn goals. The lesson to learn is that, when we do get behind the defence, we must make our crosses count.

4. Paul - 01/10/2014

My first match since Brighton away last season, and I also thought Munari had a decent game, largely doing the unseen dirty work to compliment Toszer’s more extravagant raking passes which are obviously far more pleasing on the eye. Brentford looked a decent outfit, but our ball retention in the second half was awful, and we should have closed the game out much more efficiently than we did. Jury is still out on Fabbrini and Ighalo unfortunately, both of whom on their day may well be unplayable, but I fear those days will be few and far between. Anyway, an enjoyable evening, a good atmosphere (well done the 1881), a goal worthy of winning any game, but sterner tests await no doubt. By the way, do you get any pre-match build up these days ? No Shorty, no Luther…..what’s going on ?

Matt Rowson - 01/10/2014

Munari could be this team’s Steve Palmer.

Pre-match build up… I don’t miss Richard Short. That is all.

5. Sequel - 01/10/2014

I’m not sure about Fabbrini; “Lightweight”..”powderpuff”..”flatters to deceive”. All could be applied to him at times, and yet he did frighten Brentford, despite being dispossessed nearly every time he got the ball.
Ultimately though, he should stop trying to be what he is not: Fernando Forestieri

6. Martin Greenan - 01/10/2014

Agree with Sequel. Fabbrini was very frustrating as he kept running into defenders. But what I did like about him was he never once hid. Despite having a pretty poor game he kept showing for the ball and trying to find space to receive it. It’s a tricky one. If he gets a few games he might click but unfortunately he’s a luxury we can’t really afford if his end product is like last night. I hope he makes it.

Matt Rowson - 01/10/2014

i agree he’s got quality. But in an season and a bit I can’t remember too many games where he’s unequivocally played well.

7. Goldenboy60 - 01/10/2014

I still don’t think we are the total sum of the parts. I liked our fight and spirit which has improved. But we are not good at game management.
My views on these players given previous posts are:

Gomes – I am not sure of him. Brilliant one minute, but always looks like he has a mistake in him. Goalkeepers should be seen and not heard so to speak. Consistent NOT flamboyant. I think he always wants to be noticed instead of ‘just doing his job’. Last night on more than one occasion he took a goal kick from the centre of the goal, and just plainly kicked it out of play thus giving the ball back to Brentford and therefore not relieving the pressure that was building. He also for me has a much too high starting position. How many times this season has he been beaten over his head.

Fabbrini – A lad with huge talent. Unbelievable pace when running with the ball and can wrong foot defenders at will. But no end product. If any coach can get hold of that he would be a world beater. And as Troy indicated last night is a top professional.

Munari – One that you miss when he isn’t playing. For me he joins everything up and works his socks off with no little skill.

Anya – Last night he ran Brentford ragged down that side. They just could not handle his pace and directness. If only he could find that composure when in front of goal.

It will be interesting to see if McKinlay can actually bring all that talent into a team situation? I guess it needs time given the unusual start and threat of stability this season.

One thing, you can never say Watford’s games are not entertaining.

8. Roger Boon - 01/10/2014

James clearly wasn’t at Blackburn where Munari played really well.. Covering everywhere and most of our productive play flowed through him as the Blackburn fans I spoke to noticed. They thought he was our outstanding player.

9. Roger Smith - 02/10/2014

Matt, what do you make of the warm-up routine, when the 10 outfield players split 5-5 and play keep ball with first-time passes to feet? Doesn’t this reinforce exactly the wrong way to play the actual game?

10. westendbee - 02/10/2014

Brentford fan here, Sorry, I’m taking the bait, and it’s funny how you get a completely different perspective at the other end of the ground.
Can I take issue with our apparent “brittle discipline” and remind you of the card count on Tuesday?
Also your reference to our “live by the sword, die by the sword” approach to the game – a decent ref would have given us free kicks every time your centre-back decided to wrestle Andre Gray to the ground. But decent refs (and linos for that matter) are few and far between in this league, as we are finding out to our cost.

Having said that, your winner was indeed a worldy, and good luck for the rest of the season (apart from when you come to Griffin Park, of course)

Matt Rowson - 02/10/2014

🙂 Hi Stuart. Of our five cards… Paredes was for timewasting, rather harshly but in any case not “indiscipline” in the sense that I intended. Ighalo for reacting when Tarkowski grabbed him in the face. Pudil’s completely merited, but the last yellow though cynical was hardly indisciplined… a conscious decision to take a second yellow. Whereas your lot seemed perpetually on the verge of losing their rag.

And Andre Gray can look after himself, I suspect. As intimated in the report, his approach of using his arse as a weapon of assault makes him very difficult to contain… but also creates the inaccurate suggestion that he’s being fouled. Ekstrand and Cathcart could do with being rather more aggressive if anything, not less. Now if Gabriel Tamas had been available… THEN you’d have seen what illegal marking looks like.

After an excellent Bees performance I can understand you looking for someone to blame for the fact that you didn’t get anything, but putting it down to a one-sided refereeing display is simply wide of the mark. From our point of view, the fact that we held onto three points in the face of such stiff challenge despite our managerial upheavals and in the absence of three (arguably four) of our main guys is hugely encouraging.

westendbee - 02/10/2014

Thanks for your comments, though i’m not sure I blamed the ref for the result?
As for the bookings, for what it’s worth i thought Ighalo had a go at MacCormack after his goal (brave or simply foolhardy?) which was why Tarkowski stepped in…and Paredes got done for timewasting because the ref was making up for failing to book your lad who was heading off to take a corner at our end, stopped to applaud your fans, turned, bowed to the ref, ambled on, lit a fag, made a cup of tea then finally took the corner (ok I exaggerate a little, but not that much!).
Anyway despite the result I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable game of football.

Matt Rowson - 02/10/2014

agreed. And Daniel Tozser does make a fine cup of tea.

11. simmos - 02/10/2014

Apologies but I have to offer a contentious view on Brentfords goal. I felt that blame lay squarely with Dyer failing to track back and help out in defence. As such, contrary to your view, Brentford goal was completely avoidable. While it was the one time we were caught out with a goal it felt that Pudil was always in a losing battle being out numbered two against one on several occasions. In regard to the sending off Pudil was caught out of position again but hardly his fault without any support from Dyer who spent the night walking back into defence when we were out of possession. Dyer’s defensive contribution hardly made his case for inclusion on a more permanent basis and a harder working Anya would be my preferred choice when playing a back 4.

Matt Rowson - 02/10/2014

Possibly Dyer should have tracked back and perhaps that would have made a difference. In that sense, tho, all goals are avoidable. If Vydra had been picked up quicker on the edge of the box he wouldn’t have had time to belt it. Not very balanced to castigate the Brentford defence rather than credit Vydra tho.

simmos - 02/10/2014

I take on board your point that all goals are perhaps avoidable but essentially what I was trying to highlight was that Dyer was constantly failing to defend and the goal was an accident waiting to happen regardless of how well it was taken. In my view Pudil’s dismissal was also avoidable if Dyer had tracked back to stop yet another 2 on 1 situation. Pudil was left with no option but to commit the foul to preserve our lead. The lack of defensive cover was something Brentford exploited on several occasions whereas Vydra’s strike was pretty much a one off where the ball fell to the right player at the right time.

12. Old Git - 02/10/2014

As I remember it, Vydra’s goal followed a poorly cleared throw-in, the taking of which was delayed by a Brentford substitution. This reminded me of one of GT’s old adages – you never bring on a sub when defending a set-piece as the reorganisation inevitably breaks concentration. And so it did.
My biggest concern was how often Pudil and Paredes got caught out of position by pushing up too far, allowing Brentford’s wide men to get goalside and in acres of space. It was also happening against Bournemouth. And call me old-fashioned but I don’t like seeing WFC players committing professional fouls to atone for such misjudgments.
On the plus side, we now have a manager (OK, Head Coach) with a proper manager’s name that evokes times past, before the monster that is the Premier League redefined football’s essential values. I think I remember him working with Blackie Gray and Ossie Jones some years ago.

13. straightnochaser - 02/10/2014

I noted exactly that to those accompanying me at the time of the goal. Dyer tracked back all the way to the edge of our penalty area then inexplicably stopped, allowing Douglas the freedom of the box to score. A later ‘challenge’ that completely failed to prevent another goal attempt belonged more to ‘Strictly’ than professional football. The “best player in the Championship” hyperbole now places him firmly in the ‘most over-rated Championship footballer’ category IMO. To be fair, I did miss the entire first half and then some due to the rail service disruption when I understand he was much more effective…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: