Taken from the programme on 29th August 2015-Premier League, Manchester City 2 Watford 0
Taken from the programme on 29th August 2015-Premier League, Manchester City 2 Watford 0
Even allowing for our customary difficulties in turning possession into chances and chances into goals, it would be hard – and unnecessary – to imagine a more exhilarating display. From first to last, we did everything right, and then a little bit more. With the benefit of hindsight, that even includes the penalty miss, since an earlier goal would’ve left us with longer to defend the lead. It was a perfect afternoon, one of those when it all comes together at the same time.
More games from 25th January at https://oldwatford.com/tag/jan25
Taken from programme on 1st February 1986-Division One, Watford 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
More games with Manchester City at https://oldwatford.com/tag/manchester-city/
More games with Manchester United at https://oldwatford.com/tag/manchester-united/
Troy Deeney had put the Hornets in front when he powerfully headed home from five yards out after Gerard Deulofeu’s cross from the right. Deeney almost grabbed a second but was denied by an excellent reaction stop from home goalkeeper Reina.
There was further frustration for Watford when Mings, who had been booked in the first half, escaped a second caution despite appearing to handle the ball and prevent a counter-attack. Pearson admitted afterwards his players were convinced Mings should have been dismissed.
Watford are now second bottom, in the relegation zone on goal difference, but Pearson kept defeat in perspective. “I think we’re a bit unlucky but that’s life and we’ll deal with it,” he said. “It’s easy to reflect on performances when things go your way, we’ve been a bit unlucky.
Bobby is in for Sarr, the mythical João Pedro makes a Premier League bench for the first time. The opening spell is stodgy… Watford don’t commit forward, look almost tentative attacking. The absence of Sarr will be painfully evident throughout… if the quality of delivery has sometimes let him down, his pace, directness and aggression is about more than the end product.
The truth was that Spurs started well, without causing Ben Foster any real moments of concern. By the half- hour, however, Watford were on top and during the first 15 minutes of the second half should have taken the lead. Their penalty came in the 69th minute, the result of incessant pressure that culminated in Jan Vertonghen desperately blocking a shot from Gerard Deulofeu with his arm. Deeney stepped up to take it, but his shot was soft and too close to Paolo Gazzaniga’s right hand. It was Deeney’s third miss in his past six Premier League penalties.
In the minutes added on at the end of the game, the Watford substitute Ignacio Pussetto, an Argentine winger making his debut for the club, cleared one off the line that Erik Lamela had managed to steer past Ben Foster. The goal decision system later revealed that it was the breadth of an orange peel away from being the winner, which meant that Watford could also consider one point a good return.
It’s not a great penalty, very savable if the keeper goes the right way… harsh to blame Troy really who more than pulls his weight throughout, but I’d always prefer he missed by absolutely spanking it if he’s going to miss at all. Call me childish, but there’s great satisfaction in seeing the ball hit as hard as he did at Wembley.
From behind the goal it didn’t look to have crossed the line and the referee waved his ‘watch’ at the protesting Spurs players to indicate that they had not scored. That was the last action of the game. It had been a decent goalless draw. The visitors had started the game strongly with the Hornets sitting very deep, but Watford came back into it and had a couple of decent chances. Both defences played pretty well, and the forwards from both sides were very wasteful.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (42) gave Watford a first-half lead as they capitalised on an error from goalkeeper Mark Travers, before captain Troy Deeney (65) doubled the lead midway through the second half. Roberto Pereyra (90+2) wrapped up the three points for Pearson’s resurgent Hornets, who climb to 17th after their third consecutive league victory.
Graham Taylor, the greatest manager in Watford history, died on Jan 12 2017. There could have been no better way to mark the third anniversary of the great man’s passing than for the club he built to secure the victory which took them out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season. And for the travelling supporters, there was no question who they deem responsible for the upward momentum newly infecting their favourites. “We’ve got super Nigel Pearson,” they sang throughout this win. And no wonder. The third manager at Vicarage Road this season has now delivered 13 points in six games since being appointed. From looking already marooned, under him Watford are destined for mid table.
“We talked very early on about the fact that we would have to have a substantial run at some point,” Pearson said. “We are having a good run at the moment but I am not naive enough to think these things carry on indefinitely without working at it. We probably need to win another six games, maybe more – it depends how it pans out this year – but we have certainly put ourselves in a better position than we were a few weeks ago.”
There was much excitement after the game as phones were proffered displaying the table showing Watford out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. Nobody in the away end wanted to head for the exits as we stayed to cheer our heroes. The Nigel Pearson chant had had a good airing, but there was always time for another chorus as well as chants for Deeney, Doucouré and anyone else who attracted our attention. Then lovely Nate Chalobah came over and pumped his fists at the crowd and was greeted with a cheer. A repeat fist pump elicited the same reaction. He headed away from us and the crowd responded with ‘oooooooohhhh’, he turned around and pumped his fist and was rewarded with another cheer. This was repeated another couple of times before he reached Pearson in the centre of the field and the two of them pumped their fists in unison. I know that this loses a lot in the telling but it was a gorgeous moment and I had a tear in my eye at the togetherness.
At half-time Watford were cruising to victory but had this match gone on any longer they would surely have lost. A full-pelt comeback from Tranmere Rovers saw the League One strugglers overturn a three-goal deficit against Premier League opponents to secure a replay at Prenton Park. As Rovers manager Micky Mellon put it: “You can see the quality of these teams, but if you get the momentum it doesn’t matter how good they are, it’s difficult to get it back.”
To compound the hosts’ misery, their two most “senior” players on the day, Chalobah and Pereyra will miss next weekend’s crunch league clash at Bournemouth. Chalobah picked up an injury and was withdrawn at half-time. Petulant Pereyra earned a ridiculous and stupid red card for lashing out at Kieron Morris a minute from time.
Thought number one is to ponder why Watford away is such a big pull for the support of a side struggling at the foot of League One, big respect in any case. Thought number two is to ponder that most of those in the away end, even those over the age of 30, are probably completely oblivious of the significance afforded to what, to them, was probably a mundane away defeat here in 1999. My god. Thought number three is to wonder how many of our matchday squad weren’t even born in April 1999. Answer: eight. Eight! With Sarr and Callum Whelan babes in arms. Thought number four is to Stop Thinking.
We had been coasting at half time and Rovers had been poor. But the loss of Chalobah and then Quina changed the game and the whole of the second half seemed to be played with Watford on the back foot. I briefly thought that it looked like one of those games that Liverpool used to play in the 80s when they would play for a draw in the first leg of a league cup game before battering the opposition in the second leg. But those games were controlled 0-0 draws. This game was quite baffling. It has to be said that it was an opportunity for those who were on the fringes to show Pearson what they can do. Sadly, I don’t think that Success or Gray did anything that would convince him to include them against Bournemouth. However, Chalobah had another good outing, Dele-Bashiru looked excellent and João Pedro put in a decent showing. The fitness problems of the fringe players was a cause for concern and they may find themselves with some extra routines in training.
We’ll draw a veil over the final twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of bloody-mindedness, bodies thrown in the way, discipline, nerves, sore throats, fist punching, defiance. It features Ismaïla Sarr, whose strength is as striking as his speed, emulating Gifton Noel-Williams’ efforts of twenty-one years ago by taking part in a game of keep ball in the corner before being slowed down by his team mates as he makes his away across to be subbed. Troy is booked for time wasting, slightly harshly. Ben is booked for time wasting, less harshly. Wolves huff and puff, Foster saves from Doherty. And it’s done.
It had been a terrific game and a very impressive win against a Wolves team who are very good indeed. Femenía had done a tremendous job in keeping Traoré quiet and we were under the cosh a bit after the double blow of his injury and the dismissal of Kabasele, but the team worked hard to keep their shape and were well worth the three points. Deulofeu appears to be a new player under Pearson, an arm around his shoulder has given him more confidence in both himself and his team mates to the benefit of all of us. Capoue was magnificent running the midfield and Chalobah put the disappointment of the early withdrawal on Saturday behind him to put in an assured performance. Birthday boy Doucouré was back to his best and topped it off with a goal.