In a bitty and niggly encounter with eight yellow cards, including one for Wilfried Zaha who was in the thick of things not for the first time against Watford, Jordan Ayew’s stunning first-half goal (28) separated the teams.
The match had begun in the style of two zealously polite individuals standing in a doorway; after you, sir; no, please, after you. With both teams preferring to counterattack, neither really wanted the ball. For a while this suited Watford better as they created the early chances. But the clarity they showed in driving forward was not matched by decisiveness in front of goal.
So, after the euphoria of last week, this was an unwelcome return to what has been the reality of most of this season. It was a very disappointing game. The Hornets had been the better team for most of the first half but, as so often this season, did not make the most of their chances and the home side scored after a counterattack. Once they were ahead, Palace defended well and, apart from a brief spell in the second half, Watford never really looked like winning the point that their performance deserved. Thankfully results elsewhere meant that we stayed out of the relegation zone on goal difference, but it felt like a wasted opportunity and, again, I worry that we won’t get the points that we need from the upcoming “winnable” games.
The morning after Watford visited Selhurst, Jon, Mike and Colin (via Skype on a train) discuss the inclusion of Roberto Pererya on the left, how the team could break down teams better and if there is much need for tinkering… Oh and corners. Plus they share their thoughts and worries about a potential new stadium for the Hornets, as reported by Adam Leventhal on the Athletic this week.
After the game a Watford fan, Nic Cruwys, was the victim of an unprovoked attack by six teenagers. He was left in a critical condition, spent three weeks in a medically induced coma and had life changing injuries as a result of the assault.
Watford FC dedicated all subsequent games that season to Nic, using the phrase ‘For Nic, For Promotion’.
In autumn 2016 the teenagers were found guilty of various offences relating to the attack and four of them were jailed.
Watford’s official website gave an update about Nic in 2018.
West Ham needed a late Ricardo Vaz Te goal to earn a point as they blew their chance to go top of the Championship. Teenager Sean Murray fired Watford ahead midway through the second half with a fierce low drive.
Sean Dyche’s Watford, by contrast, were fearless. Outclassed on paper, they defended heroically and “looked after each other”, as Dyche put it. Leaders stood tall all over the pitch. Captain John Eustace shed blood for the cause. Goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, in his third game on loan from Manchester United, kept Watford in the game with some excellent saves. “We believe in what we do,” Dyche said. “We’re realistic, you know you’re in for a tough task at a place like this. But the mentality of the team is fantastic, and that was on show tonight.”
A clash of heads between John Eustace and Dale Bennett, Watford team-mates, forced a seven-minute delay. Eustace left the pitch, returning with a large bandage on his head, but Bennett, his neck in a brace, was taken off on a stretcher and then to hospital. “We suspect it’s not as serious as it looked,” Sean Dyche, the Watford manager, said. “We’re waiting on the doctors to see if he’ll be kept in overnight.”
Away matches are brilliant. Evening kick-offs are brilliant. Nothing-to-lose, dammit games are brilliant. So an evening kick off at the Boleyn Ground, preceded by several hours of build-up… verbal, nutritional (Nathan’s Pie and Mash shop a thing of rare beauty) and liquid is something to savour. Yet more so given that astonishingly sensible stewarding permits actual standing for the entire ninety minutes. That’ll never catch on. And of course that the Boleyn Ground is a claustrophobic, suffocatingly intense venue. Industrial-scale bubble machines of a size that would cause my daughters to combust with excitement are stationed at the side of the pitch, propelling countless swarms of the things into the night sky. I must have seen that here before, but I can’t believe it’s anything like as effective when the floodlights aren’t catching them. Not sure it would work quite as well with Hornets, one to mull over though. I’m sure there are financial reasons for leaving Upton Park, reasons that might even benefit the football club, but you’d have to be bloody mental to want to abandon this place. If the atmosphere is slightly subdued before the game, from kick off onwards it positively crackles.
More games from 7th March at https://oldwatford.com/tag/mar7
Don Cowie had given the Hornets a 17th-minute lead before on-loan striker Tresor Kandol’s well-taken brace turned the game in Charlton’s favour before half-time. Watford drew level through Grzegorz Rasiak before Priskin struck seven minutes from time to secure a fourth win in five games for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Both clubs have new managers since they met in August with higher ambitions. Two seasons ago they played a goalless draw here in the Premier League in front of 27,000. Under the sinking circumstances it says much for Charlton and their fans that they have not fallen below 20,000.
Some blinding goals for the Golden Boys. Make sure that you catch Rasiak’s if you weren’t there. Or even if you were. Wallop. And Priskin’s wonderful winner… my brother’s celebratory text informing a friend of developments contained a single word that said everything. Dink.