Official site: Ismaël Appointed Head Coach
Watford Observer: Former West Brom and Barnsley boss takes over at Watford
BBC Sport: A quickfire second-half double from Imran Louza and Keinan Davis saw Watford earn a final day win over Stoke. The Hornets went in front with 20 minutes to go through Louza’s quality curled finish after Potters goalkeeper Matija Sarkic had denied Ismaila Sarr. Ken Sema was the architect of the second, with his run and pass finding Davis whose deflected shot spun out of Sarkic’s reach.
Sky Sports: The question remains as to whether Hornets boss Wilder will still be in charge at Vicarage Road next season but, if this was his last game, then at least he signed off with a win.
Official site: End Of Season Awards: 2022/23 Winners Revealed
BHappy: The match is preceded by a low-key awards ceremony. Difficult to get the tone right of course, but hard not to feel that apologetically slipping the voting form out less than a week before the game (and inconsistently so, I wasn’t the only one not to receive one) contributes to the gloomy narrative. In an unsurprising turn of events the team’s stand-out player, Brighton-bound João Pedro, walks away with the Player of the Season award. He’s only two months older than Young Player of the Season James Morris, but the rules governing such things have always been pretty fluid and nobody seems to object. JP’s acceptance speech is polite and perfunctory, with the rather detached efficiency of a Christmas card from an accountant (I don’t have an accountant, or know many accountants to receive cards from but I’m guessing).
Fran’s Watford Blog: The previous day, Watford Women had a convincing win at Billericay and Ipswich did them a favour by beating Oxford, so the Women ended the season as champions of the National League Southern Premier Division. Sadly, there is still one more game in their season as they have a promotion play-off against Nottingham Forest who won the Northern Division. The game will be played in Milton Keynes on 20th May and will be a great chance for revenge after the narrow Cup defeat. The Women’s championship was celebrated on the pitch before the game and Megan Chandler was given the women’s player of the season award.
BBC Sport: Sunderland kept their play-off hopes alive as they fought back from 2-0 down to earn a stoppage-time draw with Watford at the Stadium of Light.
Sky Sports: Christian Kabasele and Ryan Porteous headed Watford into a two-goal lead but Sunderland came fighting back, with Luke O’Nien halving the deficit before Roberts’ moment of brilliance deep into stoppage time.
BHappy: If there’s criticism to be levelled based on this game in particular, Chris Wilder’s ultra-conservative substitutions… Bacuna for Asprilla, Ngakia for Sarr, Hoedt for Andrews… bear consideration. The last quarter of the game saw a now exhausted and isolated Davis as our only outlet, pressure invited further as Sunderland chased the game. Much easier to assess those decisions after the match of course. We were two minutes from a fine and unexpected win… and it wasn’t as if the bench (or the squad, given availability) was overburdened with viable attacking options. Aráujo would surely have required Davis to stay on the pitch to have a chance of being worthwhile.
Fran’s Watford Blog: The players were applauded off after what had been a spirited performance against a team who had something to play for. It may be that we benefitted from the absence of João Pedro as we tend to rely on him too much and he ends up trying to do everything which often means he is not where he should be. It was a great shame that, after taking a two-goal lead, panic in the defence allowed the home side to take a share of the points, but it was a decent game of football and, for the first time in a while, my heart was racing during the game as it felt like it meant something, and I really cared.
BBC Sport: Ozan Tufan’s penalty ensured Hull ended Watford’s Championship play-off hopes. The Hornets are winless in eight on the road and, having sat third on 20 January, slipped into the bottom half three points ahead of the Tigers.
Sky Sports: Wilder can have no complaints as Watford lacked passion and energy, most notably in the first half, and rarely threatened Hull goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
Fran’s Watford Blog: It had been another terrible game. Hull were abysmal, they had two shots on goal all afternoon and the only one on target was the penalty. But they still beat us. Darlow did have to make a couple of saves, but I never felt that we would get anything out of the game.
From the Rookery End: With the dust settled on another Watford defeat, Mike, Jon and Jas gathered to take a look at some of the issues encircling Vicarage Road at the moment.
WFC.Net goal commentary: 1
BBC Sport: Sory Kaba’s stunning overhead strike sealed a vital win for Cardiff City in their Championship survival fight. Cardiff came from behind at Vicarage Road after Ismaila Sarr tapped in his 11th of the season for an early Watford lead.
Sky Sports: Etete netted just after the half-hour mark. The summer signing from Cheltenham accepted Andy Rinomhota’s pass on the right of the box and negotiated his way past challengers before slotting across Bachmann from a tight angle. Cardiff stunned Watford by taking the lead four minutes later. Ryan Wintle’s drive was blocked by a defender but Kipre was first to the rebound and instantly smashed an unstoppable shot beyond Bachmann from the right of the box.
Fran’s Watford Blog: It had been a dreadful half of football. As too often, an early goal was followed by lots of pretty possession with no goal-scoring chances created and then a complete collapse when the visitors scored.
Watford Observer: Chris Wilder spent more than 20 minutes talking in his press conference after the defeat to Cardiff, and pulled no punches as he assessed the game and the wider picture at Vicarage Road.