There was a cricket match going on at the West Herts, which is always a sad sight as it means that the season is nearly over. When I arrived to get my programme from Doreen at the Bill Mainwood programme hut, she had run out. This interruption to my pre-match routine always puts my nerves on edge as I assume that the rest of the afternoon will go equally badly.
Team news was that Sannino had made one change with Ranegie replacing the injured Anya. So the starting line-up was Almunia, Angella, Ekstrand, Hoban, Riera, McGugan, Tözsér, Abdi, Faraoni, Ranegie and Deeney.
The first goalmouth action was an odd juggling match at the left hand post between Almunia and Wordsworth which, fortunately, ended with Manuel knocking the ball out for a corner. A lovely Watford breakaway started with Riera passing to Faraoni who advanced and played a through ball for Ranegie who was stopped by a brilliant tackle on the edge of the box. There was danger at the other end of the pitch as a shot rebounded off Ekstrand to Williams whose shot was blocked by Almunia. Watford took the lead on 21 minutes with a lovely goal, which started with a brilliant interception by Hoban who found McGugan, he released Riera who advanced before cutting inside and curling a wonderful
shot into the corner. From kick-off, Ipswich tried to strike back as Williams broke into the box and played a low cross that nobody could get on the end of. Abdi played in Ranegie, who mishit a shot which fell to Riera but his shot flew past the far post. Then Deeney did well to hold the ball up before passing to McGugan who whipped in a cross that was put out for a corner just before it reached Ranegie.
At half time, it was great to see my lovely friend, Sarah, on the pitch with the NCS youngsters who had raised money for the Teenage Cancer Trust with an event at the museum.
Ipswich started the second half brightly as Nouble broke into the box and fired a shot over the bar. Watford nerves were jangling as a ball bounced dangerously around the box before being cleared off the line by Hoban. Then McGugan released Deeney who controlled the ball before shooting, but his effort was straight at Gerken. The visitors were level five minutes into the half as a cross from Nouble was flicked past Almunia by Wordsworth who was wandering lonely as a cloud in our box. Soon after, Deeney was prevented from reaching an Angella cross by a push that went unpunished. Angella then made a rare error in losing out to Murphy who was stopped by a great saving tackle from Ekstrand. Angella was booked soon after for a push on Williams who had been winding him
up for a while and whose play-acting was seriously getting on my nerves. Just after the hour mark, Ipswich should have taken the lead as a header from Hyam was pushed up onto the bar by Almunia and bounced out. After these scares, it was a relief to see Watford score again as Angella appeared out of nowhere to nod a Tözsér free-kick past Gerken. His mental celebration is becoming a bit of a trademark, but always makes me smile. We had hardly sat down from celebrating that goal when Tözsér broke into the box and cut the ball back to McGugan who shot past Gerken into the far corner for Watford’s third. Given the start that Ipswich had made to the half, they must have wondered what had hit them. It was Watford who looked like increasing the lead as Angella bust a gut
to get on the end of a Tözsér corner at the far post, but didn’t quite make it. Then McGugan did really well to keep the ball in play on the sideline, cut in but shot well over. With 10 minutes remaining, Abdi was replaced by Battocchio, it was so good to see the youngster make such a rapid recovery from what had looked like a nasty injury two weeks ago. Green replaced Wordsworth for the visitors. A ball over the top from Tözsér was won in the air by Deeney who continued to fight off the attentions of the defender before getting in a cross that deserved more than to be blocked. The evil Williams went down theatrically again and this time earned Tözsér a booking. As a fan in the stands most of my shouting is reserved for encouraging our lads so I was greeted with open mouthed surprise from my sister and our neighbours in the row in front as I let Williams know in no
uncertain terms what I thought of him. Sannino made another substitution as Pudil replaced Riera. A Williams cross was met with a header by Nouble that the attentions of Hoban ensured was directed over the bar. There was a final rash of substitutions as Murray replaced McGugan for the home side while Hyam and the obnoxious Williams were replaced by Watford’s old friend, Hunt, and Taylor for the visitors. In the final minute of the game, Hunt tried a shot from distance which bounced off the roof of the net. Then Ranegie and Murray combined to feed Battocchio, whose shot was blocked and rebounded to Murray who volleyed just over. After the start that Ipswich had to the half, I had been concerned that this would be another disappointing afternoon, but the two quick goals killed them off and they didn’t muster another chance worthy of the name.
In recent games, I have been drawn to watching Gabriele Angella’s reaction at the end of the match. When we lose, he is livid and his team mates are better staying well out of his way. But at the end of this game he joined a number of the others in front of the Lower Rous. It was so lovely to see so many players signing autographs and Gabriele was the last to leave.
We have had a couple of decent home wins recently in which any praise of the team has been tempered with comments regarding the poor quality of the opposition. The win over Ipswich had no such caveat. They are a decent team and we thoroughly deserved that win.