19th January 2019- Premier League, Watford 0 Burnley 0

Match Report: Watford 0-0 Burnley

Foster: “It Was A Scrappy Game”

Gracia: “There Are Positives But We Can Play Better”

Highlights: Watford 0-0 Burnley

Mariappa: “It’s Important To Come Away With Something”

Affleck’s Angle: The Run-Around

Gallery: Watford v Burnley

Watford continue their unbeaten run in 2019 with 0-0 draw against Burnley

Adrian Mariappa has hopes of playing in Europe with Watford

Watford vs Burnley: Javi Gracia disappointed with Hornets’ attacking play

RATINGS: Who shone in Watford’s goalless draw against Burnley

A selection of images from Watford’s draw with Burnley

Chris Wood saw an injury-time goal controversially ruled out for offside as Watford and Burnley failed to conjure a winner in a disappointing goalless draw at Vicarage Road.

Both teams had chances to score and the home side could have taken the lead as early as the second minute but Heaton denied Gerard Deulofeu with his right foot after the forward went through on goal. Heaton was called into action once more on the stroke of half-time when he dived to his right to parry Troy Deeney’s crisp side-footed effort to safety.

Indeed, the result had as much to do with wayward finishing as the excellent performances from both goalkeepers, Tom Heaton and Ben Foster.

Sean Dyche, back on his old stamping ground where he spent three seasons as a player before cutting his teeth in management on the day home supporters honoured the memory of Graham Taylor, could afford a smile at the final whistle despite seeing Chris Wood’s goal ruled out for offside in added time.

The highlight of the day was the GT stuff, quite obviously. Two years on the club provides all attendees with a drinks voucher, then orchestrates another tremendous scarf display as the players enter the arena. This might have been more effective still but for the unwanted, unneeded and sadly non-negotiable twaddle that is the Premier League anthem as the players solemnly shake hands. It could have been so much more than a stunning visual spectacle. But it is a stunning visual spectacle. There are scarves aloft in the away end too – Claret and Blue stands out a little less than Southampton’s red and white of a year ago, but it’s still a fine thing.

As the teams took the field, the crowd (including a number of Burnley fans) raised their scarves in honour of GT (the fellow next to me was given my spare so he could join in).  It really was quite a sight.  That was followed by a minute’s applause for both GT and Duncan Welbourne who passed away this week.  Chopper’s family were guests of honour of the club for the afternoon.

At half time, the family of Thomas Sawyer, a young soldier who was killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago, were on the pitch and Thomas’s father paid heartfelt tribute to his son.  Then, as the players came out for the second half, the 1881 lads unfurled the Legends banner which we held over our heads in the Rookery in the knowledge that it features both GT and Duncan Welbourne.  Both events were touching tributes and a clear sign that the club has not lost its community focus.

Tributes to GT- two years on

Javi Graci pays tribute to Watford legend Graham Taylor

12th January 2019- Premier League, Crystal Palace 1 Watford 2

Referee:
Paul Tierney
Attendance:
25,010

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals: 1  2

Match Report: Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford

Cleverley: “It Feels Like The Hard Work Has Paid Off”

Gracia: “It’s A Good Tribute For Graham”

Cathcart: “It Was A Great Comeback”

Highlights: Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford

Affleck’s Angle: Four Good Men

Relive our coverage of Watford’s victory at Crystal Palace in the Premier League

Watford come from behind to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace vs Watford: Javi Gracia praises character and ambition after victory

RATINGS: How did Watford perform in their away win at Crystal Palace?

Tom Cleverley speaks after Watford win at Crystal Palace

Five positives after Watford win at Crystal Palace

Watford defender Craig Cathcart sees the funny side of Crystal Palace own goal

A selection of images from Watford’s win at Crystal Palace

Tom Cleverley’s superb second-half volley helped Watford come from behind to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

A huge scramble in the Watford area saw the ball turned home by Craig Cathcart’s thigh (38) to put Crystal Palace ahead, with goal-line technology confirming it had gone over the line. But the defender redeemed himself in the 67th minute as he nodded home the Watford equaliser before a wonderful volley from Tom Cleverley (74) completed the comeback and handed the visitors the victory.

The narratives off the pitch seemed rather more interesting than those on it. Watford’s Troy Deeney was charged for comments about the referee David Coote following his team’s recent game at Bournemouth. Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey is also under investigation by the FA after making what appeared to be a Nazi gesture during a meal with team-mates following the club’s FA Cup victory over Cardiff last weekend.

Watford have now won 16 points away from Vicarage Road, which is a greater haul than they managed on the road last season.

It’s tempting to say that we would have lost this last season.  In fact we DID lose this last season.  And the season before.  And coulda, shoulda this time too.  But there’s more to us now…  good enough that our bad days aren’t that bad, good enough that when we flame on we’re irresistible, plenty enough to blow Palace, albeit a blunt, stunted Palace, right out of the sky.

Back home watching Match of the Day I notice, during the interview with Javi Gracia, that he is wearing a Graham Taylor matchday badge on his jacket.  I must admit that made me cry.  Javi has been a joy since he arrived at Vicarage Road.  His football is enjoyable and his conduct is exemplary.  I think that GT would have loved him and, from me, there can be no higher praise.

6th January 2019- FA Cup Third Round, Woking 0 Watford 2

Referee:
Graham Scott
Attendance:
5,717

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals:  1  2

FA Cup Report: Woking 0-2 Watford

FA Cup Reaction: Gracia, Deeney & Hughes

Hughes: “We Applied Ourselves Really Well”

Wilmot: “We Want To Go As Far As Possible”

FA Cup Highlights: Woking 0-2 Watford

Relive our coverage as Hornets secure FA Cup success at non-league Woking

Watford into FA Cup fourth round after win at Woking

Troy Deeney pleased by Watford’s professionalism in Woking win

Javi Gracia thinks Watford can beat anyone with right attitude after Woking win

Our player ratings from Watford vs Woking in the FA Cup

A selection of images from Watford’s FA Cup win at Woking

Tom Cleverley reflects on injury return after Watford beat Woking in the FA Cup

Watford reached the fourth round of the FA Cup with a routine victory at National League side Woking.

Watford took the lead in the 13th minute through Hughes during a first half in which the Hornets dominated possession. The second half contained few goalscoring chances for either team, but Watford substitute Deeney wrapped up a comfortable victory for the Premier League side with a simple tap-in (75).

Yet it was still a day to feel the glow of FA Cup romance. The competition is too predictable; it has had its day? Do not say that to Alan Dowson, the old-school Woking manager, whose north-east tones remain loud and proud. He talked of his thrill at seeing Kingfield sold out, of his young players coming up against established professionals (even if Javi Gracia made 11 changes to his Watford team) and of the uplift that the tie has brought to this corner of England.

Javi Gracia, Watford’s former Villarreal and Malaga manager, has certainly also never received a post-match gift from an opposing manager quite like it. A bumper bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. “He took it and he gave me one of his sangria,” said Dowson, who was born in Gateshead. “I thought he was a bit tight. The Newcastle Brown was bigger.”

There were 110 places separating the top flight and National League South side before kick off, but this was Watford and we all knew that the ability to ‘do a Watford’ was very much possible.

The first action of the second half was the rather thrilling sight of the lino on the opposite side falling backwards over the hoardings.  It is dreadfully childish, but you can’t help but laugh when the officials come a cropper. 

2nd January 2019- Premier League, AFC Bournemouth 3 Watford 3

The date shown on the programme is incorrect
Referee:
David Coote
Attendance:
10,261

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals: 1  2  3

Match Report: AFC Bournemouth 3-3 Watford

Deeney: “It’s Nice To Score”

Gracia: “Scoring Three Away, You Have To Win”

Mariappa: “We’ll Take The Point And Move On”

Highlights: AFC Bournemouth 3-3 Watford

Affleck’s Angle: The Siege Of Troy

Gallery: AFC Bournemouth v Watford

Watford score three but still have to settle for a point against Bournemouth

Watford and Bournemouth share six goals in New Year opener

Watford head coach Javi Gracia pleased with Ben Foster after Bournemouth draw

AFC Bournemouth vs Watford: Javi Gracia admits he’s ‘never see a first half like that’

Watford player ratings: How we scored the Hornets at AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth vs Watford: Troy Deeney claims Dan Gosling tried ‘to do’ Tom Cleverley

Adrian Mariappa becomes 25th player to make 300 Watford appearances

Watford captain Troy Deeney said “Sunday League” defending contributed to his side’s astonishing 3-3 draw at Bournemouth, with all six goals arriving in a frenetic first half. “It was an end-to-end game that could have been 6-6,” said Deeney, who scored two of his side’s goals.

Troy Deeney’s two goals gave Watford a commanding lead (14 & 27) before Bournemouth responded in quickfire fashion with goals from Nathan Ake (34) and Callum Wilson (37). Seconds later, Ken Sema put Watford back in front again with a fine half-volley (38) before Ryan Fraser levelled the game with a composed finish (40) in an action-packed first half.

Though bad tempered, the second half settled into a more predictable pattern. 

Deeney accused Dan Gosling of trying “to do Tom Cleverley” and also claimed the referee “bottled it on a few occasions”.

At half time, a number of supporters from each team were invited on to the pitch for a “beer goggles” penalty shoot-out.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the defenders had been wearing these goggles for the last 15 minutes of the half.

29th December 2018- Premier League, Watford 1 Newcastle United 1

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals: 1

Match Report: Watford 1-1 Newcastle United

Gracia: “The Game Was Difficult”

Doucouré: “A Good Lesson For Us”

Highlights: Watford 1-1 Newcastle United

Gallery: Watford v Newcastle United

Relive our coverage of Watford’s final game of 2018 against Newcastle United

Watford vs Newcastle United: Abdoulaye Doucoure salvages a point

Watford vs Newcastle United: Javi Gracia defends decision to make six changes

Our Watford player ratings against Newcastle United

A selection of images from Watford’s draw with Newcastle United

The Watford manager made six changes to his starting XI as his side played a third Premier League game in eight days. When asked if that was too many he said: “If you see the result you can say that, but I don’t agree.

Salomon Rondon gave the visitors a surprise lead in the first half (29) shortly after Gerard Deulofeu squandered a great opportunity to put the hosts in front. But Watford grabbed a deserved equaliser through substitute Doucoure (82), who converted his powerful header from close range.

The visitors will feel they should have finished Watford off in the second half as Rondon headed over from Ritchie’s cross and the latter player shot straight at Foster. But they lacked a cutting edge and while they played with plenty of heart it was not enough to hold on as Watford, who had failed to offer much of note themselves, eventually exposed poor defending eight minutes from the end.

Doucouré gave the hosts more security and thrust in midfield when introduced by Gracia and headed an equaliser from 10 yards after a rare accurate delivery by Deulofeu.

Newcastle hit us with their stock goal and it’s a Neal Ardley to Heidar Helguson tribute act. Matt Ritchie swings a beast of a cross in from the left to our far post and Rondón rises to dump a header past the helpless Ben Foster. Newcastle aren’t a great side, Ray Lewington’s Watford side weren’t great either however lovable but that goal more than kept us up and it’ll keep them up too.

That is the second time that we have played Newcastle this season and the second time that we have come away frustrated.  The visitors were certainly more impressive than they had been at St James’ Park, but we should have challenged them more.  They had come to put 10 men behind the ball and Watford just couldn’t find a way to break them down.  While there had been a lot of changes, the starting XI should have been good enough to create more than they did in the first half.  The performance was considerably better when Deeney and Doucouré came on.  They battled more when the opposition had the ball and we generally looked more dangerous.  We also missed Holebas’s attacking prowess.

Newcastle came with a game plan and it almost paid off. Watford were too slow and couldn’t breakdown a resolute defence.

26th December 2018- Premier League, Watford 1 Chelsea 2

Referee:
Martin Atkinson
Attendance:
20,415

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals: 1

Match Report: Watford 1-2 Chelsea

Cathcart: “We Pushed Them All The Way”

Gracia: “You Need To Take The Chances You Have”

Highlights: Watford 1-2 Chelsea

Affleck’s Angle: A Rare Gift

Gallery: Watford v Chelsea

Relive our coverage of Watford’s Boxing Day defeat to Chelsea

Eden Hazard scores twice as Watford lose to Chelsea

Javi Gracia reflects on Watford’s defeat to Chelsea

Images from Watford’s defeat against Chelsea at Vicarage Road

Watford vs Chelsea: Christian Kabasele posts injury update

Eden Hazard scored both goals for Chelsea as they beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road to move back into fourth place in the Premier League.

Watford will feel they had enough chances to get something from the match at Vicarage Road as they suffered their first loss in four Premier League matches.

Like Sarri, Watford manager Javi Gracia had named an unchanged team, but, having tried to carry on, Kabasele had to be replaced by Adrian Mariappa in the 16th minute.

It took until first-half stoppage time for the game to witness its first shot on target, whereupon two goals were scored in three minutes. First Étienne Capoue gave the ball away in midfield. Mateo Kovacic took control, played in Hazard and the Belgian rounded Foster before passing into the net. A minute later Watford might have equalised after Deeney’s header set up Abdoulaye Doucouré, who had already seen one effort blocked and another go high, for a shot this time saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga. From the corner José Holebas lifted the ball to the edge of the area and Roberto Pereyra rifled a volley into the corner of the net, the second time this season that a similar routine has led to a goal.

The visitors however always looked dangerous and shortly before the hour mark, Watford gifted the Chelsea the chance to take the lead. A ball over the top of the Watford defence found Hazard. Foster came out of his goal in an attempt to win ball, but instead clattered into Hazard and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. Hazard took the spot kick and sent Foster the wrong way.

Yet again, we were ruing missing our chances as we could easily have won a point in that game.  But, on the positive side, we were reflecting on a game in which we had matched one of the best teams in the country.  Watford no longer look like plucky underdogs in these games, but are playing with a similar quality to these household names.  There were regrets regarding the two penalties.  Watford’s would have been given on another day.  Chelsea’s was an unnecessary challenge by Foster but, given how well he has done for us this season, it is hard to criticise.

22nd December 2018- Premier League, West Ham United 0 Watford 2

Referee:
Lee Mason
Attendance:
56,833

Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary   Goals:  1  2

Match Report: West Ham United 0-2 Watford

Gracia: “We Showed Our Quality”

Gallery: West Ham United v Watford

Deulofeu: “We Fought Really Well”

Affleck’s Angle: No Secret To Success

Highlights: West Ham United 0-2 Watford

Relive our coverage of Watford’s victory at West Ham United

West Ham United vs Watford: Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu end Hamers’ winning run

West Ham United vs Watford: Troy Deeney makes no apology for goal celebration

Watford player ratings: How we scored the Hornets at West Ham United

IN PICTURES: Images from Watford’s win at West Ham United

Manager Javi Gracia praised captain Troy Deeney’s influence as his Watford team ended West Ham’s winning run to move up to seventh in the Premier League.

Deeney gave the visitors the lead in the 30th minute, stepping up to score his third goal of the season from the spot after Fabian Balbuena had brought down Roberto Pereyra. West Ham, who drop down to 12th, almost grabbed an equaliser early in the second half when Michail Antonio’s header rebounded off the post and the forward had another golden opportunity in the 85th minute, heading against the crossbar from close range after Ben Foster had denied Robert Snodgrass.

Two years ago when Watford came from 2-0 down to win 4-2, Deeney accused the home side of showboating and a lack of respect after taking an early lead in a bad-tempered game. There was no less aggression in this one. Javi Gracia has instilled a blend of silk and steel in his side which West Ham struggled to cope with.

More than 30 years have elapsed since Watford embarked on their one and only campaign in Uefa competition but maybe it is time to start talking about the prospect of another one.

As we left the ground, there was much festive joy among the travelling Hornets and the concourse rang out to a loud chorus of “Jingle Bells (Oh what fun it is to see Watford win away)”.  

Three points away from home, a clean sheet and Marco Silva’s Everton conceding six? Sounds like someone received my Christmas wish list in the post.