Two goals from Stephen Dobbie earned Blackpool victory over Watford and further cemented their position in the play-off places. The striker – on-loan from Swansea – scored his first by beating keeper Tomasz Kuszczak after a mazy run.
Sean Dyche, the Watford manager, could not hide his feelings after his side let their unbeaten run slip. “I’m disappointed in our performance today. We’ve gone along very well lately, a couple of hiccups since Christmas but got over that swiftly and had a great run, so I’m disappointed.
Palpable disappointment. Obviously. And that’s the fault of nobody bar those of us who’d allowed ourselves to get a bit carried away with things. There are mitigating circumstances, there’s context, there’s stuff that didn’t quite fall our way (see below). But there’s no two ways of interpreting your visitors being able to take off two key attacking players in the closing twenty minutes or so, for a bit of a rest.
It’s all about the points, quite obviously. However theoretical the threat of relegation had been before kick-off, the winless run will have had many glancing down the table and calculating our margin of safety. Malky’s assertion that many of the dropped points can cite mitigating circumstances and stout performances wasn’t inaccurate, but with a young team and a small squad we were always at risk of building downward momentum. In spite of which, and in spite in particular of the blows to our midfield this week (see below), this was a fine, spirited performance. Millwall contributed in no small part to a game that was far more watchable than a 1-0 home win in a mid-table encounter might suggest… they played an open game, which suits us now as much as it did at the New Den at the beginning of the season. In reality the result could easily have gone the other way but the best move of the game won it, the incomparable Graham applying yet another effortlessly ruthless finish to Cowie’s visionary pass.
More games from 5th March at https://oldwatford.com/tag/mar5
Poor defending contributed to the Blades’ defeat as Tom Cleverley took advantage of sloppy play to open the scoring before half-time. Heidar Helguson capitalised on more slack defending from the visitors to score the second before Don Cowie completed the scoring from a free-kick.
How very badly did we need to play against a side as accommodating as the Blades. For twenty minutes we looked quite tentative, and then… it wasn’t merely a matter of noting that our opponents weren’t as good as their position suggested. More that a United side comprised of a pick-and-mix of second tier journeymen (many of them ours…) scrawled this in large, difficult to miss paint-spray all over their penalty area every time a ball went anywhere near it. Nonetheless, it took an unchallenged flap from Mark Bunn and a couple of unexploited free headers before we realised that this was there for the taking, and took it increasingly confidently.