The best aspect of this season thus far from our point of view has been the entertainment value. Twelve league games in, plus three in the League Cup… how many have been anything less than gripping? (Even if, admittedly, some of that excitement has been our own doing in situations where you’d prefer dull defensive competence). The opening fifteen minutes or so here were suitably mundane… Derby’s notorious vulnerability at corners was manifest and Essaid Belkalem ghosted in (or as close as a monstrous Algerian can get to “ghosting”) at the far post. He should have scored. Two minutes later and Jamie Ward, half Belkalem’s size and with what looked a tougher heading chance, outjumped his marker to put the Rams ahead from Bryson’s brilliant cross. Another five minutes and Fernando’s levelled it again with a gorgeous dink. Same old, same old.
Crewe striker Dean Ashton scored the only goal of the game to ease his side’s relegation fears. It was Ashton’s eighth goal of the campaign but Watford boss Gianluca Vialli will wonder how his side lost.
Somehow, another opportunity has slipped from our grasp. While this performance fell far short of Tuesday’s, neither capturing its furious intensity nor matching the elegance of some of the football, it still should’ve been enough to produce a single goal victory.
Kenny Jackett’s current position is a difficult one. Under fire for recent, less-than-thrilling performances from people, including Oliver Phillips, who appear to have forgotten that promotion is all that counts, it seems that he’s been forced into a re-think. The goalposts have been moved and I’d argue that this further dent in our aspirations is a result of that.