Tag Archives: Alex Jakubiak

Out with a Whimper

The teams coming on to the pitch

The teams coming on to the pitch

Last game of the season and the kick-off time is stupidly early, so I’m counting my blessings that we are playing at home.  Our pre-match gathering was smaller and quieter than usual and tinged with sadness that this was our last until August.

Team news was four changes from the horror show at Charlton including a debut for Academy graduate, Alex Jakubiak.  The starting line-up was Bond, Angella, Cassetti, Hoban, Pudil, Murray, Tözsér, Battocchio, Anya, Deeney and Jakubiak.  Huddersfield’s team included the sorely missed Jonathan Hogg.

Deeney receives Player of the Season award from Oli Phillips

Deeney receives Player of the Season award from Oli Phillips

As promised, the Player of the Season award was presented on the pitch before the game.  It was no surprise to see Troy Deeney honoured and rather nice to see Oli Phillips on the pitch to present it, but he was kept waiting as Deeney fulfilled his captain’s duties.

It all started so well as Pudil released jakubiak in the first minute, the youngster let fly a shot which flew across the goal and wide.  Jakubiak threatened again as Anya played him in, but a last ditch tackle seemed to put him off and Smithies was equal to his shot.  Huddersfield’s first goal attempt was a shot from Wells that was easily caught by Bond.  Dixon tried a shot from distance that flew high into the Rookery.  Clayton’s shot was heading for the bottom corner, but

Worshipping Huddersfield

Worshipping Huddersfield

Deeney cleared.  Nothing of note happened on the pitch in the next 15 minutes, so we turned to Harry Hornet to provide our entertainment as he gathered a beach ball from the away stand and ran around the pitch to give it to the 1881.  It was also noted that Huddersfield’s away contingent included the Pope and a gaggle of nuns.  On the half hour, Wells, who had been struggling with an injury following a foul by Cassetti, was replaced by Ward.  On 36 minutes, Battocchio broke into the box, but Smithies denied him.  Hammill had two chances to break the deadlock.  First a shot from outside the box that was straight at Bond and didn’t test the keeper, then a shot that flew wide of the far post.  Hammill was then fouled by Hoban who was booked for his offence.  The resulting free kick

Alex Jakubiak makes his debut

Alex Jakubiak makes his debut

was over the wall and easy for Bond.  In time added on at the end of the half, there was a shout for a penalty as Tözsér’s shot appeared to be handled by Hogg, but the referee waved the appeals away.  It had been a pretty dull first half.  As is often the case with lunchtime kick-offs, the players looked only half awake and there was a sense that most of them were already on the beach.

We kicked off at the start of the second half and, almost immediately, went a goal down.  Angella gave the ball away, it fell to Lolley who broke into the box, Angella got back but the Huddersfield man twisted away from his tackle and shot across Bond to fire the visitors into the lead.  Watford made their first substitution replacing Murray with Diakité.  The loanee’s first contribution was to start a move that ended with Pudil being flagged offside.  Then

Defending in the box

Defending in the box

Huddersfield broke and Ward’s shot to the near post squirmed through Bond’s legs and into the goal to put the visitors two goals to the good 10 minutes into the second half.  Watford’s next substitution saw debutant, Jakubiak, replaced by Faraoni.  A high ball into the box by Diakité appeared to be headed goalwards by Lynch, but was cleared.  Huddersfield went on another quick break, Smith crossed for Ward whose shot was well saved by Bond, making amends for his earlier mistake.  Then Deeney played the ball to Diakité who took a touch to control it before shooting and his shot was blocked.  A tackle by Pudil inadvertently knocked the ball to Ward who fired past Bond for the third.  The

Josh Doherty makes his debut

Josh Doherty makes his debut

visitors made a change as goalscorer, Lolley, was replaced by Scannell.  On 69 minutes, Deeney broke into the box, his path to goal was blocked so he passed back towards Anya, but gave the Scot too much to do to get to the ball.  Hogg was booked for a foul on Diakité.  Then Faraoni went on a run into the box, he skipped past the challenge of a defender before cutting the ball back towards Deeney, but Smithies was there to gather.  Deeney won a free-kick after Lynch leaned on him and Hogg told his team mate in no uncertain terms what he thought of him giving the set piece away.  That passion demonstrated when they were 3-0 up was in stark and upsetting contrast to what we were seeing from our players.  Deeney took the free-kick which bounced harmlessly off the wall.  Another academy

Deeney hits the penalty

Deeney hits the penalty

youngster made his debut as Battocchio was replaced by Josh Doherty.  Angella fouled Clayton and there was a bit of handbags that someone behind me commented was the best bit of action of the afternoon.  When it all calmed down, Angella and Gerrard were booked.  Harry then appeared in a grass skirt, sombrero and Brasil t-shirt ready for his holiday.  On the pitch, Huddersfield won a free kick wide on the left in what looked to be a benign position, but somehow Ward hit it past Bond for his hat trick.  Shocking!  Diakité played a ball over the top to Deeney who couldn’t get hold of it and hit the ball into the ground and it bounced into the keeper’s arms.  There was a bizarre incident in time added on.  Diakité played a high ball over to Cassetti whose header bounced down off the crossbar.  The lino was flagging and the whistle went so everyone stopped.  We all assumed that it was an offside decision, but then the lino indicated a corner.  After some discussion

A muted celebration from Deeney

A muted celebration from Deeney

between the players and the referee, a drop ball was given in the box which resulted in a corner.  Tözsér took the set piece and a rather soft foul on Deeney in  the box resulted in the referee pointing to the spot.  Josh Doherty cheekily approached and offered to take the penalty, but Deeney kept hold of the ball and made no mistake in burying it past Smithies.  His 25th goal of the season gave us something to smile about.

Before the game, Beppe had talked of putting on a good performance for the fans.  In the event, it was a dreadful display.  The team seemed to switch off on Easter Monday after that tremendous first hour against QPR and we’ve seen nothing worth watching since.  It was an awful way to finish a season that we’d started with such high expectations.  But we had failed to replace key players that we lost in the Summer, so the absence of Vydra, Chalobah, Eustace and Hogg as well as the injuries that kept Abdi out for most of the season did for us.  Mutterings after the game indicated that there would be a big clear out this Summer, so next season’s squad could look very different again.

Harry dressed for his holidays

Harry dressed for his holidays

As is usual for the last game of the season, the players came back out for a lap of honour.  After that performance, it was rather subdued, but there was still a decent number of fans left in the Rookery and I just had to stay and applaud the players despite all the downs.  This was a probable farewell to Troy Deeney, who threw his boots into the crowd.  I was looking elsewhere when he launched the first boot towards us so was a bit shocked to see this missile flying through the air.  I always find it hard to leave the ground after the last game of the season, but I finally said goodbye to my neighbours and wished them a good Summer.

It will be another close season of speculation and upheaval, but at least the club is stable off the pitch and there are no fears for the short-term future of the club and, for me, that overrides all the on field disappointments.

I would like to sign off with a word of thanks to all who have read my blog this season, especially those who have given me encouragement.  I hope that you continue to enjoy the reports.  Your kind words are always appreciated.

 

Bowing out of the Youth Cup

The teams emerge

The teams emerge

Another day, another match.  After our trip to Yeovil, we were back at the Vic to see the U18s take on Liverpool in the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup.  I was pleased to see that the club had again produced a programme which included player profiles and photos from the previous round.  The players also emerged from the tunnel to Z-cars, so they were exposed to the ‘big match’ experience, which I think is important.

The starting line-up for Watford was Dan Wilks, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Josh Doherty, George Byers, Jorell Johnson (c), Alfie Young, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Ryan Hope, Alex Jakubiak, Tom Rosenthal and Mahlondo Martin.  The Liverpool team was Ryan Fulton, Connor Randall (c), Joe Maguire, Jordan Williams, Lloyd Jones, Jordan Rossiter, Harry Wilson, Cameron Brannagan, Ryan Kent, David Trickett-Smith and Sheyi Ojo.  Prior to the game, the steward in the disabled area told us that the Liverpool team had cost £35M with one player costing £6M on his own.  I hear something similar every time we face Premier League opposition at this level and it serves to emphasize the gulf that exists between clubs even in the Academies.

Jorell Johnson clears

Jorell Johnson clears

Liverpool started the game brightly and created an early chance as Brannagan broke on the right wing and crossed for Trickett-Smith whose header was straight at Wilks.  Watford also provided an early test for the opposition keeper as, from a corner, there was a header down to Rosenthal whose shot was blocked but Jakubiak latched on to the ball skipped around the defender and unleashed a shot that Fulton had to drop smartly to push around the post.  A ball over the top for Liverpool found Kent offside in the area.  Then Rossiter shot wide from the edge of the box.  As I was sitting in the disabled area in the Lower Rous and only the Upper Rous was open, I had no idea how many fans were in attendance, but it was great to hear the 1881, complete with drum, singing their

Liverpool line up a free kick

Liverpool line up a free kick

hearts out just above me.  Liverpool won a free kick on the edge of the Watford box as Kent was tripped.  There was a lot of jostling in the wall as Trickett-Smith seemed to be doing jumping jacks in front of the Watford defenders.  In the event, the free kick was hit low and Wilks got down to save it.  In the next Liverpool attack, Johnson was on hand to head a cross from Maguire clear.  Wilson then tried a shot from the right, but Wilks was equal to it.  Watford had struggled to get out of their own half, so it was great to see Rosenthal go on a run down the left skipping around a couple of tackles but his cross was wasted as there was no Watford player in the Liverpool box.  One of the joys of being at games like this is that you can hear some of the exchanges on the pitch.  At this point we were treated to the ref telling one of the young reds, “I suggest you stand up and shut up.”  If only this were still possible with their senior colleagues, the behaviour on the pitch would be so much better.  Liverpool were soon on the attack again through Ojo who cut the ball back but it bounced off Brannagan and out of play.  For the home side a lovely cross found Cumberbatch marginally off-side.  Just before the half hour, Liverpool had the best chance of the game so far as Maguire broke into the box and cut the ball back to Brannagan whose

Alfie Young and George Byers

Alfie Young and George Byers

shot required a good save from Wilks to keep the game scoreless.  A lovely Watford move saw Byers and Rosenthal combine to play Jakubiak in, but the pass was just too far in front of the forward and Fulton got to it first.  Then Kent beat Barnum-Bobb to get in a shot that was headed clear by Johnson.  Trickett-Smith met the corner with a header that hit the side-netting to the relief of the Watford faithful.  At the other end, Rosenthal played a great ball to release Jakubiak but again Fulton came out and gathered it just on the edge of his area.  Liverpool continued to attack the Watford goal.  First Kent had a shot that curled wide.  Then Wilks spilled a cross from Ojo but Doherty was on hand to clear.  Maguire broke again and played in Kent who turned and fed Trickett-Smith whose shot dropped straight into the Wilks’ arms.  Liverpool finally made the breakthrough on 40 minutes as Randall reached the bye-line and cut the ball back to Trickett-Smith who swept it past Wilks.  The Watford defence had done well in frustrating the visitors, but the goal had been coming.  Doherty was the first player to be cautioned.  It seemed a bit harsh from my vantage point as it looked as though Randall had run into him.  The last action of the half was another low free-kick by Liverpool, but Wilks gathered it easily.

Defending a corner

Defending a corner

Before the start of the second half, Jakubiak was out early for an extra warm-up.  Liverpool’s first attack of the second period saw Maguire cutting the ball back in the box, but Doherty was on hand to kick it into row Z.  Six minutes into the half, Watford made their first substitution with Kurtis Cumberbatch making way for Dennon Lewis.  The substitute was immediately involved, playing a through ball to Jakubiak who was sadly offside.  For the visitors, Wilson tried a shot from distance that Wilks gathered at the second attempt.  Then Byers released Jakubiak who beat a defender to get in a shot that was deflected for a corner.  Watford’s second substitution was Carl Stewart for Ryan Hope.  On

The defence standing strong

The defence standing strong

the hour, Wilks did well to deny Trickett-Smith, sticking a leg out to block his shot, the forward hit a follow-up that was cleared.  Trickett-Smith then turned provider, finding Wilson on the edge of the box who juggled the ball before shooting well over.  A ball from Young released Jakubiak who cut the ball back to Rosenthal but his shot was wide of the near post.  On 72 minutes, Bobson Bawling replaced Tom Rosenthal.  Liverpool’s first substitution saw Ryan Kent replaced by Jerome Sinclair.  With 10 minutes to go, Liverpool scored a second as Trickett-Smith found Randall on the right, he cut the ball back to Wilson who shot past Wilks in the Watford goal.  The game became a bit scrappy as the players tired.  Young stopped Ojo escaping by pulling him over and was lucky to escape a caution.  Barnum-Bobb did earn a booking for taking Maguire down.  Liverpool’s final substitution was Trickett-Smith for Pedro Chirivella.   In the last five minutes of normal time, Rossiter made a late, high tackle on George Byers which earned him a deserved booking. 

Preparing to defend a free-kick

Preparing to defend a free-kick

After treatment, Byers tried to limp off while supported on both sides but couldn’t put any weight on his right foot so another coach came on to help carry him off.  It looked a nasty injury so I was happy to hear today that he was just badly bruised.  Having already used all of our substitutes, we finished the game with 10 men.  In the last minute of normal time Brannagan outpaced the Watford defence, although he looked offside to me, and, with Johnson closing in, he shot over the bar.  The lino indicated a corner, but I didn’t think the defender got a touch.  There were 4 minutes of time added on.  Wilson released Sinclair who was denied by Wilks diving at his feet, but the ball broke and Sinclair poked it goalwards but, thankfully, it rolled wide.  Wilks was the hero again as he stuck out a leg to block another shot from Sinclair.  The final action of the game saw Rossiter poke the ball wide from distance.

Dan Wilks

Dan Wilks

Sadly, this ended the U18s involvement in the youth cup.  Liverpool had dominated the game and were worthy winners, but the Watford lads had played well and worked their socks off and should be very proud of their efforts.  Watford captain, Jorell Johnson, looked gutted at the end, but the lads received enthusiastic applause and encouragement from the 1923 in attendance who will have gone home impressed with the next generation of Watford players.

Crawley Overcome in the Youth Cup

Crawley flags in the Winfield stand

Crawley flags in the Winfield stand

Friday night saw the rearranged FA Youth Cup match at Crawley Town.  I must admit to having been thrilled at our draw in this competition, in contrast to the grown-ups version.  My hope for the early rounds of the cup is always that it will allow me to visit a ’new’ ground.  The Broadfield stadium certainly met that criterion.  Also, despite having to take a detour to avoid flooding and then tackle the M25 on a Friday evening (shudder), the journey was relatively painless and there was plenty of parking at the stadium.  As if that wasn’t enough, waving something that looked vaguely like a Watford season ticket at the turnstile operator gained you free entry to the match.   I thought it was a great gesture to allow away fans to get in free too, so I bought a programme.  While the Watford related content was limited, it did list our squad by position and year in the academy and had a brief summary of our last meeting with Crawley at U-18 level.  For the Crawley team, there was a “Meet the Squad” page and reports and pictures from their games in the earlier rounds.  I was rather impressed with that.  These youngsters work so hard at their trade and the majority won’t make it in the professional game, so I love it when the clubs allow their youngsters to play at the first team stadium and put out a proper programme.

Pre-match handshakes

Pre-match handshakes

As I arrived at the stadium, I spotted a few familiar faces, so was able to watch the game with other Watford fans.  The pitch was in a terrible condition.  They’d added sand on one side of the ground, and the rain started chucking it down soon before kick-off so the game was played in horrible conditions.

The starting Watford line-up was Dan Wilks, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Josh Doherty, George Byers, Harry Kyprianou, Alfie Young, Chris Dillon, Ryan Hope (C), Alex Jakubiak, Tom Rosenthal and Mahlondo Martin.  The game started well for the visitors and, after a nice spell of play in the 10th minute, Hope played a through ball to Dillon who squared for Rosenthal in the box but his shot was blocked.  Soon after, Richefond for Crawley beat Byers then played the ball out to the wing, but the cross was blocked.  A follow-up cross from Robinson was straight at Wilks in the Watford goal.  Crawley nearly got themselves in trouble in the 13th minute as the goalkeeper, Colquorn, came for a cross only for Cadman to head it

Martin takes a throw-in

Martin takes a throw-in

over him in the direction of the goal.  Fortunately for the home side, Lall was on hand to head it clear.  Crawley then tried to break, but a through ball from Isaacs to Fowodu was slowed down by the pitch and the momentum was gone.  It was Watford’s turn to break, but Rosenthal’s shot was wide of the near post.  The first real chance came on 19 minutes when Martin made a great run and cross, there was some great interplay between Rosenthal and Barnum-Bobb before the ball came to Jakubiak whose shot was saved.  There was danger for the visitors soon after as Doherty delayed a clearance just outside the box and gave the ball away to Anderson, the two players tussled for possession and the Crawley man fell over and was awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal.  They took an age to line it up and when Lall finally took it, the ball deflected off the wall and was

Celebrating Jakubiak's first goal

Celebrating Jakubiak’s first goal

easily gathered by Wilks. On 24 minutes, Watford took the lead as Lall gave the ball away to Jakubiak who ran past him into the area, he was closed down but was first to the loose ball and knocked it past Colquorn.  It was a horrible goal to give away, but Jakubiak’s persistence deserved the reward.  At the other end, Robinson outleapt Young to head a cross goalwards but it was an easy catch for Wilks.  Then Barnum-Bobb gave the ball away, it was played across the field to Woon whose shot flew wide of the far post.  Just before the half hour, Hope broke and fed Jakubiak but he took too long thinking about a shot and the chance was gone.  He redeemed himself on 35 minutes with a lovely curling volley from the edge of the area which Colquorn did really well to keep out.   At the other

Jakubiak congratulated on a lovely goal

Jakubiak congratulated on a lovely goal

end Anderson looped in a cross that Wilks jumped to catch.  Then Jakubiak played a ball to Hope on the wing, but his shot was straight at Colquorn.  The normally reliable Wilks played a poor clearance straight to Robinson who beat the challenge of Barnum-Bobb, but then shot straight at the grateful keeper.  With 5 minutes to half-time, Lall tried a hopeful shot from distance, but it flew well over the target.  Just before the break, Watford were two goals to the good as Hope passed to Barnum-Bobb on the right who put in a lovely cross to the back post where Jakubiak rose well to head powerfully past Colquorn.  It was a goal of real quality.  The half time whistle was greeted with satisfied smiles from the Watford contingent.  Crawley had battled well, but we were playing some lovely football and well worth our lead.

Crawley line up a free kick

Crawley line up a free kick

Crawley made a substitution at the start of the second half replacing Lall with Hector.  I had high hopes for more goals and Watford were on the attack immediately as Jakubiak shot across the face of the goal and just wide of the far post.  Next Dillon passed to Martin but his shot was wide of the far post.  The same two players combined again soon after but this time Martin’s cross was straight at Colquorn.  On 52 minutes, Melville replaced Crawley’s captain, Isaacs.  Soon after, Watford made their first substitution of the evening as Dennon Lewis replaced Chris Dillon.  Rosenthal stretched for a ball and went down immediately, it looked like a hamstring until one of his team mates started helping him

Waiting for the ball to drop

Waiting for the ball to drop

stretch and it became clear that he just had cramp so he was soon on the move again.  Just before the hour, Jakubiak, Hope and Barnum-Bobb combined well, as they had all evening, but Jazzi’s shot was straight at Colquorn.  Anderson then won a battle with Rosenthal but his shot flew over the stand at the end of the ground.  On 62 minutes, Kurtis Cumberbatch replaced Rosenthal.  He was involved in the next Watford goal attempt feeding Lewis whose shot came back off the inside of Colquorn’s right-hand post.  Crawley made another substitution bringing Gill on for Fowodu.  Anderson broke into the box but was foiled by a great saving tackle.  On 78 minutes, Anderson twice headed goalwards from corners into a crowd of defenders.  The first attempt was put out, the second was hacked

Congratulations after the final whistle

Congratulations after the final whistle

clear.  Soon after, Woon tried a shot from the right that flew wide of the far post.  This had been a decent spell for Crawley, as the Watford players appeared to be tiring on the heavy pitch.  Anderson threatened again, this time he broke into the area but Wilks came bravely to save at his feet.  Jakubiak had a fantastic chance to seal his hat trick as he latched on to a through ball from Lewis but his shot rebounded from the same post that Lewis had hit earlier.  A great shame as he thoroughly deserved another goal.  With time running out Anderson put a cross into the area that was headed clear by Kyprianou.  In time added on Wilks and Martin got in each other’s way jumping to clear a Crawley cross but managed to clear and the game finished with a 2-0 win for the visitors.  The second half had not been as entertaining as the first, but it was a well-deserved victory for the Watford boys who will meet the holders, Norwich, at home in the fourth round.