It wasn’t necessarily going to end up this way. Virtually the first opening of the game saw Danny Collins afforded a free header from a set piece, he should have done far more than glance it wide. Joel Ekstrand was asleep as a ball from the right reached Sharp at the far post, he shanked clumsily past the post. Simon Cox snuck in behind a static defence at another set piece… everyone froze in confusion, including Cox who screwed a header back across the face of goal. Hoban and Ekstrand both looked uncomfortable and slightly precarious to the point that we briefly glanced at the bench (and remembered that Neuton was hardly an option to bring on to tighten things up again and rapidly returned our attention to the pitch). That’s not to say that Forest were ever on top of us – for the 90 minutes we were never less than holding our own – but we rode our luck early on, mobile front men Cox and Sharp both looking like causing us problems whenever they received the ball to feet.
Tag: Oliver Phillips
Aidy Boothroyd’s first programme notes.
BSAD report: I was there, obviously. But less so, much less so. That’s not to suggest that I didn’t fully appreciate that this was a vital match for Watford Football Club, nor that I didn’t applaud a courageous, occasionally inspired, and much less deeply flawed team performance that rose to the occasion and deserved to take more from it than mere encouragement. I saw it all, with nose pressed up against the glass, conscious of everything and yet not part of it. When we scored, I heard myself saying “Yes!” and felt myself rising to my feet; the instincts that would’ve done those things in a reactive blur don’t seem to be working properly. I saw it all, and felt only echoes, remote tremors.
Why? I don’t know. This is new to me, all new. What I do know is that, like so many amazing things that happen in football stadia, the total support demanded by Graham Simpson requires the suspension of disbelief. It needs the conjuring up of an “us” from so much that has so little in common; an “us” that encompasses the stands, the dressing room and the directors’ box to become a football club rather than just a PLC with employees and customers. But you can’t put all of that on hold for three weeks – three weeks of exercising absolute power and authority, of claiming leadership, of seizing complete responsibility – then expect to resume where you left off. “Us” is for fifty-two weeks of the year, or not at all. And you can’t generate genuine belief in a long-term plan for survival and eventual prosperity, then demand the same belief in a new approach when you suddenly change your mind.
If the season’s only previous goalless draw against Barnsley had more merits than the scoreline suggested, then this was your authentic “move along, there’s nothing to see here” stalemate. The least entertaining spectacle of the campaign so far by, ooh, that much and a flashback to what life in the First Division frequently used to be like for the Hornets prior to Graham Taylor’s return.