Six days after our last visit, we were back at Meadow Park for a game against Coventry. Ticketing arrangements for this had been a bit of a shambles, with the original plans being for segregation and allocated seating with no concession prices offered for children or OAPs in seated areas, the groups most likely to want to sit. This had been revised in the week before the game, although the claimed reduction in prices was a bit cheeky given that they had actually increased the price for adults who wanted to stand. The message about unreserved seating had not been relayed to the stewards inside the ground, one of whom was directing people to their allocated area despite them insisting that the website told them that they could go where they wanted (as had the woman on the turnstile I went through).
Watford’s starting line-up was Gomes, Doyley, Angella, Tamas, Pudil, Tözsér, Abdi, Battocchio, Dyer, Vydra and Anya. Deeney and new signing Ighalo were both on the bench. Our vantage point for the first half was the South Terrace, which was mostly populated with Coventry fans, despite the fact that their team were attacking the other end. There was an early chance for the Hornets, but Dyer poked the ball wide under a challenge. At the other end, Gomes had to drop to gather a shot. On 8 minutes, Coventry went a goal up as Tudgay nipped between the two central defenders and poked the ball past Gomes, the first goal that he has conceded in a Watford shirt.
Watford tried to hit back. First Anya attempted a shot that went over the bar. Then an Abdi shot from distance which also cleared the target. Coventry had a great chance for a second goal, but Tudgay could only head Miller’s cross on to Pugh and his shot was closer to the corner flag than the goal. On the half hour, Tudgay curled a shot towards the top corner, but Gomes pulled off an excellent save to deny him. The only action that made its way into my notebook in the last 15 minutes of the half was a shot from Miller that flew wide of the far post. After a lively start, it had been a poor half from Watford with Coventry having the best of the play and, but for wasteful finishing, they could have been three goals up.
We joined the players in swapping ends at half-time. There were wholesale changes at the start of the second half as Hoban, Ekstrand, Murray, McGugan, Deeney, Ranegie and Fabbrini replaced Pudil, Tamas, Abdi, Battocchio, Dyer, Vydra and Anya. Andrews had come on for Tözsér sometime during the first half, but I had completely missed that happening. Watford started the second period strongly, as Fabbrini went on a run into the area and shot just wide. Ranegie also went close.
On the hour Deeney tried a shot, but it was weak and didn’t trouble the keeper. Bond replaced Gomes for the final half hour and was given little to do. Fabbrini played a one-two with Ranegie then put in a lovely low cross, but Ranegie was falling and couldn’t make a decent contact. McGugan was next to threaten as he went on a run and but his shot was easily caught. Chances had been at a premium for Coventry in the second half, so it was concerning when they won a free-kick in a decent position. Fortunately for us it was launched into the trees outside the ground. Sean Murray was the next to try a shot from distance, but it was easily gathered by the keeper. Soon after, he was replaced by Ighalo. McGugan deserved better as he controlled the ball and shot goalwards, but the keeper caught it under his foot.
Ighalo also had a chance to equalize, but his shot was blocked. The last notable action of the game was a foul on Fabbrini that so incensed the Italian, he ran after the culprit and pushed him over. As silly as this action was, it was nice to see a bit of fight from Fabbrini, who had been excellent since he came on. Last season, he tended to disappear after a defender clattered him. If he can add a bit of steel to his game, it will be like a new signing as he is certainly an exciting talent.
So the game finished with a Coventry win, our first defeat of this pre-season. The second half had been an improvement on the first, mostly because there was a bit of movement upfront that had been missing in the first half, but there hadn’t been much entertainment.
So now it is back to Vicarage Road on Saturday for the visit of Udinese. Who will the Pozzos be supporting?