Former Celta Vigo winger Ikechi Anya put Watford ahead in the 71st minute with a 25-yard effort. Bradford equalised with six minutes remaining when the hosts failed to clear a long ball into the area and Kyel Reid lashed home. And, with the game heading to extra time, Thompson drilled home the winner to put the Championship side out.
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Birmingham City travelled to Watford on Saturday and, for both sides, goals for or against had come mostly in the final minutes their first two games. But on this occasion Watford went in front after just two when Almen Abdi converted a penalty following Steven Caldwell’s hapless shove on Matej Vydra.
Ipswich goalkeeper Scott Loach, who had left Watford for Portman Road in the summer, was called into action four minutes from the end of normal to deal with a 20-yard shot from Matej Vydra. Ipswich had conceded 45 goals on their Championship travels last term, more than any other club in the division, but Loach was all smiles on the final whistle as he gained a clean sheet on his return to Vicarage Road.
There was a banner in the crowd that read “Forza Watford”, reflecting the new Italian feel at the club, but many more performances like this and it will have to be changed to “Arrivederci” instead. If Gianfranco Zola thought life in the Championship was going to be easy after his new side’s victory on the opening day on Saturday, Michael Chopra’s winner in the 90th minute for Ipswich showed him how punishing the division can be.
All is unfamiliar. Sunshine and joyous victory in Croydon; torrential rain for the first home game, followed by last-minute defeat to our favourite opponents. The names of the new loan signings currently resemble a set of characters from an obscure role-playing game: “Vydra – The Scorpion” (X-Factor: 4.9); “Abdi – The Thinker” (Patience: 0.7%); “Pudil – The Unknown” (?: ?); “Anya – The Midget” (Turning Circle: 0.1); “Geijo – The Ghost” (Invisibility: 95%); “Beleck – The Giant” (Fear Factor: x3). It’s all a bit weird. There’s a moment when Manuel Almunia cack-handedly fumbles a cross onto the penalty spot and everyone almost breathes a sigh of relief at seeing something so thoroughly in its place.
A lively first half saw Palace’s Owen Garvan score either side of Martin Taylor’s goal from close range. The second half was a quieter affair until the dying minutes when Julian Speroni once again helped the Hornets by letting Abdi’s strike squirm past him and then Vydra curled the winner deep into injury time.
BHappy report: Well that was more eventful than expected. The summer I mean… not the game, obviously, we’ll get to that. But doesn’t that Middlesbrough win seem an awfully long time ago. Little suggestion then of the upheaval that was to follow (and which still continues, I don’t think we’ve anything like finished yet…); if the long-term ownership of the club was in question there was certainly no indication that August would see us under a new manager (why would we?) or with a whole shedload of new players (how could we?). Turbulent, unnerving and also (and let’s be absolutely clear about this) to the unquestionable benefit, ultimately, of the football club. But quite possibly leaving a few disassociated, with nothing familiar to hold on to. So thank heaven and earth for the First Round of the League Cup (sponsored by whoever). Even today, a balmy Saturday afternoon instead of a cool Tuesday night. It never disappoints, never fails to sap the start of season excitement from the marrow, grounds us, reminds us what it’s all about.