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Watford 0 AFC Bournemouth 0 (27/02/2016) 29/02/2016

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

1-   This is later than normal.  Normally the thunks, when it’s me and not him, are botched together on Saturday night in the living room, competing with whatever other family members are watching on the telly.  This time the process has had to wait until Sunday evening, delayed by a night with my parents in Essex and a school reunion today featuring some much older faces 25 year on and a number of much younger ones, of varying lack of age.  It was huge fun, and much needed.  I’m not going to rake over the Upper GT seating thing again – you know what I think, and you know what you think.  Just an aside… that when you’ve had a supremely difficult week, the thing that you normally lean on or escape to in such circumstances being a source of angst and frustration rather than pleasure in itself really doesn’t make things any easier.  So…  today’s event was welcome, even if the guys with guitars surely didn’t envisage that they’d be playing “She’ll be coming round the mountain…” at Feering community centre when we were, um, rocking Danbury village hall in 1990.  Keep it real, chaps.

2- If you’re looking for thunks heavy on detail, you’ve come to the wrong place.  This week, anyway.   More than ever, this is going to (have to) be a mood piece,  so how’s this for starters:  It’s been suggested that in Luton’s ongoing absence from relevance, recent encounters have rendered Bournemouth our new “rivals”.  I kinda get this…  we were a rubbish Wednesday goal apart in the chase for the title, there have been contentious meetings and so on and so forth.  I think I probably dislike Norwich, this Norwich, more… all the “best team in the Championship” nonsense,  the odious Hoolahan and their graceless victory at the Vic last season.  But I get it, I can see how it might be Bournemouth if we were forced to pick someone now.  What’s more questionable is whether a new rival is at all desirable.  I don’t miss Luton, and I don’t miss the derby games… the vacuous hostility, the banal hysteria.  Plus, I don’t miss rubbish games of football…

3- Actually this wasn’t that bad.  It certainly promised a lot as it opened… Bournemouth bounded forward like an overexcited puppy bundling through a crack in an open door, we almost caught them cold as Iggy surged straight back on the break and Boruc pawed his shot wide.  Briefly it looked like being a classic, but although Ighalo and Amrabat slipped neat shots narrowly wide our game was ultimately stifled by the visitors’ energy, whilst they weren’t able to do an awful lot with their own first-half possession.  Disappointingly, Ighalo’s game dwindled from a bright start, and Troy failed to capitalise on the presence of the England manager with one of his least convincing performances of the season.  The star turn in our attacking trio was Amrabat, fielded behind Ighalo with Troy and reveling in being able to break wide rather than being the focus of the attack.  Flores described him as a “knife” this week, and you could see that… he was a musketeer, his flourish, exuberance and ready grin matched by the ability to judge his cut and thrust.  Absolutely marvellous.

4- This section has been left deliberately blank for you to insert your own thunk, reflecting on Valon Behrami getting away with what should probably have been a penalty handball in the context of recent encounters with Bournemouth.

5- So the theory at half time was that our slightly sluggish first half was no disaster… that we’d come the closer despite that, and that the visitors had expended a lot of energy and we’d take advantage after the break.  We had a chance, perhaps the best chance of the game when Paredes and Amrabat combined down the right and the winger found Igahlo unmarked – unmarked, mind you – in the penalty box.  The cross bounced off his head and over, a silver lining provided by the Amrabat’s rapid encouragement of his team-mate.  But by the end of the game we were more than happy with a point, Gomes producing some fabulous stops to deny first Arter and then the impressive Gradel, protecting a point just as he had in our last home league game against Chelsea.  Anthony Taylor, meanwhile, had refereed in the manner of a distracted schoolmaster navigating boisterous corridors whose early indulgences chipped away at his temper until Watson, Cathcart and Behrami mistimed their late sprint down a corridor as the bell went and were yellow carded for offences earlier ignored.  It was all a bit annoying and unsatisfactory, but that this is a bad day says everything about our season.  Another point towards 40 but, let’s be honest, we’re not going down and go to Old Trafford hunting our first really big game of the season.  Bournemouth, on this evidence, won’t be going down either.


1. Roger Smith - 29/02/2016

4- If you didn’t write this until Sunday, then surely you will have seen the video on Match of the Day. The ball hit Behrami, half on the chest, and half on the arm, which was by his side. The panel were unanimous that it was no penalty.

Matt Rowson - 29/02/2016

Ha. No, haven’t seen any highlights, always reckless to write in those circumstances. I was at the far end, and relied on a judgement passed by someone watching a TV feed. Last time I trust your steers, Pat…

Simon Clark - 29/02/2016

Ah but at least you didn’t make yourself look like an idiot by claiming the referee missed an obvious handball by our ever popular Sir Eddie. Also liked his motion for his player to stay on the pitch when pulled up with a hamstring. Speaks volumes that really.

2. Vaughn Smith - 29/02/2016

Have to agree with pretty much everything – if a ‘bad day’ is defined as reaching 37 points with 11 games to go I’m all for them…but seriously, this was never going to be an easy game – Bournemouth have shown all season that they’re a match for pretty much any team in the league. Without all the injury problems they’ve had this season they’d probably be a lot closer to where we are, if not even higher in the table.

Goldenboy60 - 01/03/2016

I think Eddie Howe got it wrong when Bournemouth started the season, and in my view was a little arrogant. Attacking with all guns blazing pleased the pundits but did nothing for results as the Premier League just picked them off.

Criticism against us has been that we have been defensive, but was amusing that on Saturday Bournemouth set out not to lose that game, and probably played their best defensive game of the season. Otherwise I’m convinced that although we weren’t at our best, if they had played more openly we would have picked them off and won the game.

So in my book they are learning, and like others here feel they have enough.

Norwich’s arrogance when they came last season didn’t sit right with me, and I agree with Matt. But we firmly put them in their place at the Vic this season. Interesting to note that Norwich are now working on tightening up defensively, otherwise they WILL be relegated.

I like Quique’s humbleness and he stays calm, cool and calculated, and is always looking and planning ahead. I like his demeanour and his always fair assessment. But he has this knack of always being positive with it. He for me is up there with GT now, but possibly for different reasons.

I sort of wonder now what is around the corner for our club. They have done brilliant given it’s location etc. Will they eventually look for a bigger stadium? Or will they continue to develop the ground as is. Another tier on top of the EJ stand?

I don’t know the answers, but these people are proper football people and whatever the next new challenge is, they rise to it with coolness and calmness and positiveness.

After first watching in 1960, and going through great, exciting and miserable times, this is a great time to be supporting our wonderful football club. And I feel we will be leaving the likes of Bournemouth in our wake over the coming years.

3. James - 29/02/2016

Even back when Luton were still in the same division I always felt Palace were our closer rivals. Similar size clubs in somewhat similar locations, almost always in the same division, and both frequently punching above their weight. Many of our crucial games in the last couple of decades have been against them as well.

Bournemouth are current rivals, but only in the sense that we’ve been competing with them recently. In the same way Leeds, Hull, and Sheffield United have been at various times, but wouldn’t be considered so now. It’ll take a few more years of rivalry before I’d consider this fixture a derby.

As for this game, it was a tetchy affair. How the hell did Smith manage to finish the game without even a yellow?

Matt Rowson - 29/02/2016

Tetchy is right. Always about to boil over, but never quite did.

4. Harefield Hornet - 29/02/2016

If you live over the border in Middlesex it’s QPR all the way with regards to local rivalry! There’s a fair few Rangers fans living in the Watford area too. At least at the moment they’re slumbering mid-table in the Championship, it was absolutely unbearable in my local when they got promoted (twice) in the last few years, especially when Tommy Smith scored against us and they invaded half of the lower Rous ( as it was then) and later the pitch to celebrate.

Howe’s teams always seem to be well schooled in all manner of annoying gamesmanship which I’ve always found slightly odd as he certainly doesn’t come accross as that type of character himself?

5. NickB - 01/03/2016

Whilst understanding your unwillingness to expand on the UGT scenario, had hoped to read a strong condemnation of the unwarranted personal abuse that Scott Duxbury had to listen to at the game. He deserves much better than that for his outstanding performance hitherto, whatever the merits of this particular issue.

Matt Rowson - 01/03/2016

I agree with you Nick, but at the same time people who are upset, feel betrayed and feel impotent are liable to say silly things.

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