Monthly Archives: August 2023

27th August 2023- Championship, Watford 0 Blackburn Rovers 1

Official site: Match dashboard

BBC: Blackburn rode their luck on the way to snatching a narrow win over a dominant Watford side in the Championship.

Sky: The only goal of the game came after 72 minutes, when Ryan Hedges took over after Lewis Travis could lead the counter no longer, controlled the ball with two neat flicks and fired in from the tightest of angles.

Watford Observer: Live Feed

While it would be unfair to describe the Hornets’ second straight defeat as a smash-and-grab raid for their opponents, the fact the Hornets had 24 goal attempts to the visitors’ five would suggest they did enough to at least secure a point. But of those just four were on target and goalkeeper Aynsley Pears was only forced into two saves of note, meaning it is now three-and-a-half league games since the Hornets last found the back of the net.

Head coach Valerien Ismael felt his side shouldn’t have lost to Blackburn, but also admitted they need to adapt when opponents change their style of play.

BHappy: Prior to kick-off there was tribute payed to Andy Rankin who passed away during the week.  I was surprised to hear that he made his last appearance in 1979, the year I started attending matches as my memory was of watching him for far longer than that.  He had been my first goalkeeping hero and I was very sad to hear of his passing.  The minute’s applause was heartfelt. On 30 minutes the big screen showed a photo of Matt Sillitoe, the PA announcer at Ewood Park, who has passed away at the age of 30.  All sides of the ground joined in the minute’s applause. At half time, Danny Webber and Neil Cox were at the side of the pitch remembering Jimmy Davis as it is 20 years since his passing.  Gangster’s Paradise was played over the tannoy as this was the song that Jimmy had sung for his initiation.  Danny was very emotional talking about his friend.  Jimmy is remembered for his bubbly personality and cheeky smile as much as for his great footballing talent.  Danny talked about what a hard worker he was, wanting everything that he did to be perfect.  This even extended to the song, which he had practised until it was perfect.  He was enjoying his performance so much that he had to be carried off the stage as he wouldn’t stop singing.  Jimmy had been a very popular member of the team and is greatly missed by all who knew him.

FTRE: We can sit here, at least Mike would, and quote that Watford haven’t scored a goal since the 43rd minute of the opening game… about 230 minutes. But Mike is on holiday so Jon, Jason, Jordi and DCW gathered post match in Mad Squirrel to disucss the match, the changes – some enforced, some the choice of Valerian – the difference performace in the first and second half plus how the players got along, particulary the latest signing Mileta Rajovic and what led to the the 0-1 home defeat.

19th August 2023- Championship, Stoke City 1 Watford 0

Official site: Match Dashboard

BBC: Just 11 months ago, in only his second home game in charge, Alex Neil’s Potters lost 4-0 to the Hornets, Slaven Bilic’s first game as Watford boss. But Watford have since got rid of two more managers – and Stoke showed just much progress they have made under Neil, especially after an 11-man summer refit.

Sky: Twenty minutes passed until either side had a sight at goal with Watford the first to threaten.

Watford Observer: Live Feed

Report: The first half was particularly poor. It wasn’t that Stoke bettered the Hornets during that opening 45 minutes, more that Watford seemed to have forgotten the basics that Valerien Ismael had drilled into them.

Reaction: “Our performance in the first half was not good enough,” admitted Ismael.

Fran’s Watford Blog: The second half had been better than the first, but it had still been a game of little quality.  There were some decent passing moves in the second half, but a reluctance to shoot and some decent defending by the home side meant that chances were at a premium.  The Stoke goal was a rare moment of quality and it was a shame that it came during our best spell of the game when we were finally getting on top.

FTRE: DCW is joined by Mike and WD18’s Charlie Zazzera to reflect on Saturday’s 1-0 loss away at Stoke. We pick the bones out of a largely lacklustre performance and attempt to take the temperature of the new season after a win, a draw and a loss in the first three games. The lack of goals in the last two matches comes into sharp focus as we assess the ongoing search for a new striker and look at the type of player who is likely to fill that particular need.

12th August 2023- Championship, Watford 0 Plymouth Argyle 0

Official site: Match Dashboard

BBC: Watford and newly-promoted Plymouth Argyle extended their unbeaten starts to the Championship season with an entertaining goalless draw at Vicarage Road.

Sky: While the visitors could at least take an unbeaten start to their first second-tier campaign in 14 seasons back with them to Devon, there was scant consolation for Watford who managed to hit the target with just three of their 20 goal attempts.

Watford Observer: Live Feed

The closest they came to making the breakthrough was during the first half was when Imran Louza hit the post from distance, while Vakoun Bayo will feel he should have done better after the break when he pulled a shot wide after being sent clear by a fine reverse pass from substitute Yaser Asprilla.

There were two key words that Valerien Ismael took away from the 0-0 draw with Plymouth: ruthlessness and mistakes.

BHappy: A week on, everything’s different.  We’re only a week into the football season, it’s still a bit of a novelty, we’re still getting into the swing…  but the niceties are over.  We’re no longer happy just to be back in the stadium.

Fran’s Watford Blog: While there was some disappointment at the end of the game, as the Hornets deserved more than a point, most fans leaving Vicarage Road had smiles on their faces.  It had been a terrific performance.  The high intensity of the play continues, the players are all working hard and linking up well and the result is some really entertaining football.  Plymouth were a much better team than QPR, so it was great to see the Hornets put in another dominant performance.  Dan Bachmann almost played himself into trouble on a few occasions, but Ismaël has made it clear that this is under instruction from him, so we will have a good few more nervy moments this season.  The positive is that, so far, the defence (including Dan) have reacted to cover the mistakes.  The forward play has been excellent.  Bayo may not have scored, but he is getting into the right places.  Martins was very exciting in attack and Asprilla continued in the same vein when he came on.  Andrews linked up well with them both and should have been on the scoresheet.  Sema and Louza both continue to deliver as expected.  It is all rather fun.

8th August 2023- League Cup First Round, Stevenage 1 Watford 1 (no extra time, Watford lost 4-3 on penalties)

Digital programme only. Download here
Attendance: 4,495

Official site: Match dashboard

BBC: League One Stevenage secured a place in the second round of the Carabao Cup by beating Watford on penalties. The tie was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes after Josh March equalised for the hosts to cancel out Vakoun Bayo’s opener. And Nathan Thompson scored the winning penalty for Stevenage in the shootout.

Watford Observer: Live Feed

Watford had the better of the second half and on another day would have won the tie, but for two superb saves from home keeper Kristian Hegyi.

It’s very rare to see just one change made by a team from a league game to a first round cup tie, but head coach Valerien Ismael felt he needed to get more minutes into players while not giving them mixed messages.

BHappy:Not that we played badly exactly… by the traditions of League Cup first round football this was a feast for the eyes.  But we were too easily shackled, too easily negated, too easily disheartened in the first half, more than anything.  The equaliser, when it came, had been coming.

Fran’s Watford Blog: After the bright start on Saturday, this was a disappointing performance from the Hornets.  The second half had been considerably better than the first and the change to three at the back sparked a very good spell during which Watford dominated and should have scored a winner.  Stevenage keeper, Hegyi, was the difference, making two magnificent saves and saving Healey’s penalty.  There were encouraging signs.  Martins had another decent game creating some good chances.  Both Morris and Andrews did well.  Hamer was all right, but his distribution was appalling.  But the takeaway from the game was that the Hornets still struggle when playing a physical team who give them no space.  If they are going to do anything this season, they need to learn how to play such teams.  If there is any positive from this defeat it is that it has highlighted a problem that we need to work on and it will allow us to concentrate on the league.

5th August 2023- Championship, Watford 4 Queens Park Rangers 0

Official site: Match Dashboard

BBC: Watford eased to a dominant win over sorry Queens Park Rangers in Valerien Ismael’s first Championship game in charge of the Hornets.

Sky: The red-hot Hornets produced a swashbuckling first-half display which saw them score all their goals inside 43 minutes as Rangers showed why many have tipped them to struggle to stay up this season under Gareth Ainsworth.

Guardian: Even as Watford eased off in anticipation of the final whistle, the contrast between the two teams was stark: one with a weight off their shoulders, playing neat one-twos, and the other labouring under some invisible burden. “We made the perfect first step, but it’s nothing more than the first step,” said Ismaël.

Watford Observer: Live Feed Match Report

BHappy: Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first off.  QPR are terrible.  They were expected to be terrible, and they do not disappoint.  There are manifold reasons for this, and far from all of them lie at the feet of Gareth Ainsworth.  Many of these involve money, or rather the absence of it;  the sight of erstwhile director of football Les Ferdinand quietly letting himself out of the back door over the summer was ominous in the extreme.  So too was seeing Gareth Ainsworth, who had deplored the lack of fight in his charges at the tail end of last season whilst vocally anticipating a rebuild, finding himself in charge of largely the same bunch three months on, minus goalkeeper Samy Dieng and key centre-back Rob Dickie.  Two further senior centre-backs are missing here, which means we face a pairing of two left-sided defenders, one of whom reportedly half fit and the other making his full debut.

Fran’s Watford Blog: That performance was just what we needed.  The Hornets were completely dominant.  They clearly had a plan and executed it.  They looked like a team rather than the group of individuals that we saw all too often last season.  All of the players worked hard, and they looked a lot fitter than they did last season.  It was pleasing that nobody ran out of steam after an hour.  Sierralta’s move to a midfield position had been met with some scepticism, but he was excellent, breaking up play when needed, but also contributing going forward culminating in an assist for Bayo’s goal.  It was great to see Tom Dele-Bashiru back from injury.  He looked really sharp, did well for his goal and almost scored a second.  Ngakia has also come back this season with something to prove after an injury-plagued season last time out and he was instrumental in a lot of the forward play.  Louza looked back to his best.  And the new man, Chakvetadze contributed a very encouraging cameo.  He is going to be fun.