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RELIVE: Southampton vs Watford: Jose Holebas secures a point at St Mary’s
Southampton vs Watford: Javi Gracia prompts laughter when asked about referee Simon Hooper’s key decisions in draw
Watford player ratings: Jose Holebas secures a point at Southampton
Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah critical of referee after Southampton stalemate
Jose Holebas’ late strike denied Southampton a first Premier League win of the season at St Mary’s as Watford came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Despite Watford enjoying some good fortune to equalise, manager Javi Gracia also felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Ryan Bertrand appeared to foul Nathaniel Chalobah. “There were different situations that were difficult for the referee but it was a clear penalty,” he said.
The man at the centre of it all was Simon Hooper, the referee who up until the 57th minute was getting on with his duties with little fuss. But then came the meltdown. First, he failed to award Watford a clear penalty following Ryan Bertrand’s rash tackle on Nathaniel Chalobah and, six minutes later, decided to ruled out a second Southampton goal for what turned out to be a wholly incorrect reason.
The visitors found a way back eight minutes from the end. Southampton failed to deal with a cross from the left, a deflected clearance and there was Jose Holebas to lash home, via a deflection off Cedric, from just inside the penalty area. Southampton were unable to contain their frustrations.
“Tell you what Matt, the next time we come here, let’s not park in Portsmouth…?” Paul’s an affable sort of bloke, not one for unnecessary or exaggerated protest and in fairness he has a point. Our reserved parking space is actually only half a mile or so from the ground as the crow flies but with the River Itchen in the way it’s a good two miles as the Watford fan trudges. This seemed like a reasonable idea without the filter of the pissing rain, and on the way into Southampton the prospect of snarled traffic put us off from looking for something a bit closer. As it is we arrive damp and tired, and that classic football fan’s war wound, the burn on the roof of the mouth thanks to a hastily inhaled balti pie, doesn’t brighten the outlook. Loz materialises, over from gadding it in Spain, this helps, but as the teams come out it’s absolutely hammering it down.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War which was accompanied by a rendition of The Last Post. The only other sound that could be heard was the rain on the roof of the stand.
I thought Watford were a bit sluggish in the first half, sloppy in possession and just generally a bit lackluster. Second half however we were much improved, the introduction of Deeney shortly before halftime I think was crucial. If you take away just one trait, one characteristic of this Watford side so far this season it’s that they never give up. We pushed Southampton right until the end and threw the kitchen sink at grabbing a winner. The team spirit that Javi has created in this side is infectious.
This week podcast hears Colin head off to St Mary’s for a draw. It’s another one of our away day diaries where we talk you through our day and our conversations. You’ll hear him talk to many Watford fans, about their away trips and what makes a fantastic journey away from The Vic.