More depressing than Barnsley, if anything. No lack of effort this time, not really. We probably edged the first half, and were much the better team at the start of the second. And Palace still mugged us painfully easily. This is what we were doing to teams two years ago, of course.
This was an emotional day for those in Watford’s goal. Ben Foster played the final game of his two season loan spell from Manchester United. He was substituted in the 90th minute for Alec Chamberlain who came on for the last game in a career that spanned 25 years and 678 appearances, over 250 of them for Watford. The one minute cameo made Alec the second oldest Premier League player ever at 42 years 327 days only beaten by Manchester City’s John Rudge who was 43 when he played for them in 1995. Alec continued to work at Vicarage Road as a goalkeeper coach until 2017. Ben Foster, of course, would return to Watford in 2018.
Three successive home matches offered Aidy Boothroyd’s side a genuine opportunity to close the gap on the teams immediately above them. But the failure to overcome 10-man Wigan in midweek, followed by this setback, suggests the chance has been lost. Although there is still Charlton to come next Saturday, Watford have that sinking feeling.
Boothroyd must already be examining Plan B – the one to take Watford back up next season. Goals will come easier in the Championship. Some will surely fall to the Hungarian forward Tamas Priskin, the second-half substitute who deserved one for effort alone after a shot and two headers in the space of five minutes.
Adrian Boothroyd faces the threat of being banned from the touchline for the play-off final against Leeds United, comfortably the biggest game of his brief managerial career, after being sent to the stands last night following a mass brawl in front of his dugout. The Watford manager sparked mayhem midway through the second half when he flicked the ball away from Fitz Hall with a hand as the Crystal Palace defender sought to take a quick throw-in.
Immense. Amazing. Rock solid. Tense. Iron-willed. Undefeated. Just some of the words we used, once we’d calmed down, to describe the fight on the touchline which was triggered by maybe a little too much management of the game and, in particular, the ball. But if we focus on that, we’ll be overlooking a job done with just as many of the qualities as we brought to the 60th-minute melee.
Just before the full-time whistle, it was announced that Aidy Boothroyd would like the fans to stay behind for a few minutes after the game for a special word… What actually transpired was a practice penalty shoot out: a team of yellow against a team of red. Aidy asked the crowd to boo and create a “hostile” atmosphere which was fun, to say the least. I won’t list all the takers but Marlon King scored (top right corner, unsaveable), Theo Robinson scored (just like Marlon, could be good that kid), Gavin Mahon missed (which could be a blessing), Matthew Spring scored (after being treated to a chorus of “scum, scum, scum” followed by his usual song), Alec Chamberlain missed (a very unpopular result) and some others scored, some missed. Yellow won.