As I travelled up to Peterborough, I couldn’t help remembering our trip there in April. That was a truly horrendous performance, memorable for being one of very few last season, so I was hoping for a lot more entertainment on this trip. On previous visits to London Road, I have always stood on the terraces. So I was rather disappointed that only the seating area was open for away fans, but at least I could see what was going on. The last match report that I wrote from this venue was mostly guesswork.
Paul Taylor’s stunning equaliser at London Road saved Peterborough from a fourth straight Championship defeat. Lee Tomlin converted a penalty after just 13 minutes for the home side, but Troy Deeney levelled with scrappy goal midway through the first half. Watford went ahead early in the second half with a sweetly-struck free-kick by Sean Murray from 30 yards.
There are three key reasons for the dramatic transformation in both our effectiveness and our watchableness; these will get the first three thunks. The first was the early goal. Only at Reading up to now had we got an early goal in a League game, and we hadn’t scored in front of an increasingly irritated and impatient home crowd before the 78th minute before this one. Here, particularly with elements of the crowd riled and ready to turn this game felt as if it could be a breaking point. Mark Yeates’ drilled strike, capitalising on a defensive error but coming on the tail of a neat passing move as we started the game on the front foot, settled nerves, got the crowd square behind the team.
Defeat also dragged the Hornets closer to the relegation mire, with Malky Mackay’s men having lost their last four matches. The Hornets could have no complaints and only woke up after Dickinson had found the net.
Worth remembering, first of all, that this is what this season was supposed to be like from the start. Or from the end of August, at any rate. Having sold off our most sellable assets in August the real surprise is not that we stumble to a clumsy defeat against Peterborough but that this season has lifted expectation levels to an extent that made this look like a home banker beforehand, even given our recent form.