Tag Archives: Danny Williams

An Early Christmas Present for the Terriers

Hogg and Deeney reacquainted

It has been a tough week to be a Watford fan.  We had played well at both Burnley and Palace, but come away with two defeats due, primarily, to two (needless) red cards.  At the West Herts, a number of fans were trying to lift spirits with their Christmas jumpers.  I must say that I am not generally a fan but Jim’s Baa Humbug (featuring a sheep in a santa hat) did raise a smile as did a Huddersfield fan’s Christmas Terrier that I had seen on the way in.

On arrival at the stadium, Pete and I took a detour to visit the 1881 bunker to drop off presents for their collection for local children in need.  It was great to see a packed table straining under the weight of all the gifts.  Due to the detour, I entered the Rookery through the turnstiles at the opposite end to usual.  The steward who searched my bag was lovely.  Then I entered the stadium and saw the program seller inside the entrance and it was former supporter of the season, Doreen Pym, who I always bought my programme from when she was in Bill Mainwood’s hut on Occupation Road.  Handing my money over to her, it felt like old times and I was quite emotional.

Team news was that Silva had made only the one (enforced) change from Tuesday with Capoue coming in for the suspended Cleverley.  So the starting line-up was Gomes; Mariappa, Prödl, Kabasele; Janmaat, Doucouré, Capoue, Holebas; Carrillo, Richarlison; Deeney.  Huddersfield were captained by the wonderful Jonathan Hogg.  So the teams were led out by two of the participants in “that” goal.

Kabasele and Doucoure

Huddersfield had not scored a goal away from home since the first game of the season, so this should have been the ideal opportunity to reverse our mini-slump.  It must be said that their terrible away form hadn’t stopped their fans travelling in numbers.  The packed away end was noisy and impressive.  I was also hoping for an extra boost of luck from my niece, who was back from university.  Her last game had been the impressive win against Arsenal.

Watford have generally started games well this season, so it was a bit of a shock when the visitors took an early lead.  A corner was delivered into a crowded box and, after a scramble, Kachinga poked home from close range.  There were shouts for both a handball and offside from the Rookery, but the officials were unmoved (television pictures showed the hand was a Watford one, but the offside was valid) and the Huddersfield fans burst into a chorus of, “How sh*t must you be, we’re winning away.”   Watford attempted a fight back as Carrillo played a lovely cross towards Richarlison, but a Huddersfield head made the first contact and it went out for a corner.  There was then a lengthy break in the game due to an injury to the goalscorer, Kachinga.  A few in the crowd were booing him as he lay on the turf clutching his knee, which was unpleasant and unnecessary as he was clearly in pain.  Eventually he was taken off on a stretcher and my faith in my fellow fans was restored as the majority of the crowd applauded him off.

Capoue and Richarlison racing to meet a corner

The home side had a couple of decent chances to get an equaliser.  First a corner from Holebas that was flying straight in until it was cleared off the line.  Then Holebas played a lovely cross to Richarlison whose shot was over the target.  If the first Huddersfield goal had been scrappy, the second was a horror show.  The Watford defence appeared to stop playing as Holebas allowed Quaner to escape and deliver a low cross which flew across the goal to Mooy who had the easy task of tapping it home.  In the Rookery, we were looking at each other in disbelief at what we had just seen.  Watford tried to make amends with a lovely passing move that, sadly, came to nothing as Carrillo’s cross was just too far in front of Deeney.  Silva made his first substitution on the half hour, bringing Pereyra on for Mariappa and going to four at the back.  Pereyra’s first involvement was impressive, playing a sweeping pass to Richarlison, but the young Brazilian shot straight at the keeper.  On 33 minutes, Watford were down to 10 men for the third game running as Deeney was dismissed for a tackle on Hadergjonaj that appeared to be clumsy rather than nasty.  There was a caution for the visitors soon after as Hogg was booked for a foul on Carrillo.  From the free-kick, Richarlison had the ball in the net and I was on my feet celebrating.  Sadly I was the only person in the ground who had failed to see the linesman’s flag that ruled the goal out.  It went from bad to worse as Doucouré received his fifth yellow card of the season, ruling him out of the trip to Brighton.  Ince took the free kick and delivered it well over the bar.  A spell of lovely passing descended into fannying about as the bloke behind me, quite reasonably, shouted “The goal’s that way,” before Doucouré lost the ball, Huddersfield broke forward and van La Parra tried a shot from the left that was saved by Gomes.

Thank you for so many wonderful memories, Alec

We were all stunned at half-time, so it was good that there was a distraction on the pitch, although it was tinged with sadness as Alec Chamberlain was saying goodbye after 21 years at the club.  He has been a terrific servant as both player and coach.  Most memorably, he was the keeper for our successive promotions in GT’s second spell, playing a key role in the penalty shoot-out in the play-off semi-final when he made the decisive save from Holland.  He started by speaking about overcoming the stigma of having played for them up the road.  “Gibbsy forgave me.  He said I was a born again Hornet.  Once he accepted me, I knew I was fine.”  He spoke warmly about his time at the club, including two Player of the Season awards, and ended by thanking the fans and saying that he looked forward to seeing us all again in the future.  He has been a legend at Watford, which will be a sadder place without him.

At half-time, there had been some hopeful harking back to the Blackpool game in 2015, but the second half started with the visitors in the ascendancy.  There was danger when a shot from Ince was parried leaving Gomes out of position and allowing the Huddersfield man to cross for Quaner who, thankfully, headed wide.  But the third goal was not long in coming.  Holebas, who had fallen asleep for the second goal, collapsed in the box holding his face, so allowing Depoitre a free run before he fired across Gomes into the far corner.

Okaka making a rare appearance

The Hornets finally showed a bit of fight at this point, but Janmaat’s shot from distance was over the bar.  Then Kabasele found Carrillo who made space for a shot that was deflected over.  The referee had his red card out again soon after, showing Hogg a second yellow for a challenge on Richarlison.  “We’ll have a bit more space now,” commented the chap who sits next to me.  At this point each side made a substitution, with Williams replacing van La Parra for the visitors and Capoue making way for Gray for the Hornets.  Watford then had their best spell of the game.  First, a corner was headed just over by Prödl.  Then a gorgeous curling shot from Pereyra was saved by Lössl.  The breakthrough finally came when the ball dropped to Doucouré who thumped it into the goal.  Woe betide anyone who had got in the way of that shot.  The Watford crowd finally had something to cheer and there were roars as Janmaat won a corner.  The Hornets continued attacking as Pereyra passed back to Richarlison whose shot was blocked.  Then the ball found its way out to Gray whose shot was just wide of the target.  Richarlison had another chance to reduce the deficit, this time a shot from distance that curled just wide.  Silva’s last change saw Okaka come on for Holebas.  But the next chance fell to the visitors with a shot from Ince that was gathered by Gomes.  Doucouré turned from hero to villain as, after losing the ball to Depoitre, his attempt to win it back felled the Huddersfield man and the referee pointed to the spot.  Gomes went the right way, but Mooy buried it in the corner.  The visitors should have had a fifth as Quaner unleashed a shot, but Doucouré was back to clear it off the line.  The final kick of the game almost sent us home with a little comfort as Pereyra hit a lovely shot but Lössl was able to make the save.

Well done to the 1881

So finally a game in which the result reflected the performance, but that was not what I had in mind.  I still don’t understand where that dreadfully poor showing came from.  Huddersfield clearly wanted the win, while the Watford players looked as though they had already stopped for Christmas.  The post-match discussions included a lot of adverse comments about the referee, but he was not to blame for that defeat.  It was Watford’s worst performance by some considerable margin.  We have generally worked hard during games, but looked lethargic on Saturday.  Our usual second-half of the season slump has started rather early, I just hope it can be halted before we start sliding down the table.

To end this report on a positive note, 681 presents were donated to the 1881 collection.  A great testament to the work of the 1881 in organising this and the generosity of the Watford fans.  This will ensure a happy Christmas for a great many children, which is just wonderful.

Oh What Fun It is to See Watford Win Away

A welcome from our hosts

A kind welcome from our hosts

My Friday night entertainment this week was Kristin Scott-Thomas in a Greek tragedy at the Old Vic, I was hoping for somewhat jollier fare at Reading, but it couldn’t be guaranteed.  Certainly the pre-match meeting place was top notch, lovely real ale in a pub with lots of nooks and crannies that has been described by a friend as a Harry Potter house.

Jokanovic made two changes from the win over Wigan.  One was forced, as Munari had a slight hamstring injury that necessitated the inclusion of Guedioura.  For the other, Pudil was preferred to Paredes, allowing him to make his 100th appearance.  The starting line-up was Gomes, Bassong, Angella, Cathcart, Pudil, Tözsér, Guedioura, Abdi, Anya, Deeney and Vydra.

There was a very lively start as a first minute cross found Murray on the right of the box, but his volley was well over the target.  Watford’s first goal attempt came soon after as Pudil headed a Guedioura cross goalwards, Federici pushed it out for a corner from which Guedioura’s shot was blocked.  Abdi was the next to threaten the Reading goal with a powerful curling shot that Federici pushed clear.  The half then became incredibly dull, the next action of note being a nothing foul on the half hour that earned Abdi a yellow card.

Angella begs for (and is shown) forgiveness as Murray falls to the ground

On this occasion Angella begs for (and is shown) forgiveness as Murray falls to the ground

There was a worrying scramble in the Watford box as Gomes parried a header from Murray, the ball came back in but was eventually cleared.  Then Gunter beat Pudil to get into the box and crossed for Blackman who headed over under a challenge from Cathcart.  On 37 minutes, Angella got into a tussle with Murray who was backing into him.  It was six of one and half a dozen of the other, so there were roars of derision from the travelling Hornets as the referee showed Angella a yellow card.  Guedioura had the first Watford chance for some considerable time when he shot over the bar.  Pudil played a lovely ball to Abdi whose cross was headed down to Deeney who tried an overhead kick that flew wide.  Reading should have taken the lead just before half time as Murray received the ball in the box but managed to fire wide of the far post.  In time added on at the end of the half, Angella was tripped on the edge of the box and his arm hit the ball as he fell.  The referee, with the help of the lino, decided that this constituted deliberate handball and was worthy of a second yellow, so Angella was given his marching orders.  It had been a dire half of football, but that decision ensured that the half time boos were directed towards the officials rather than the players.

Tozser lines up a free kick

Tozser lines up a free kick

At the start of the second half, Vydra was sacrificed for Paredes.  Watford, facing a second half playing with ten men, had to decide their approach.  They started the half by pressing the home side and in the 53rd minute, a Tözsér corner was curling in when Federici got a hand to it and pushed it clear.  At the other end, Murray got behind the Watford defence where he directed his shot wide of the far post.  A break by the home side finished with a cross from Blackman which was caught by Gomes.  Reading threatened again as a shot from McCleary was parried by Gomes, the follow-up from Gunter was turned around the post.  A low cross from McCleary went just wide of the far post as Blackman was sliding in and just failed to connect.  Watford fashioned a good move that appeared to give several chances for a strike on goal, but finished with the ball being taken off Abdi’s foot as he shaped to shoot.  For Reading, Blackman shot well over the bar.

Celebrations of Abdi's goal

Celebrations of Abdi’s goal

Watford had mounted a decent rearguard action to this point.  Then, all of a sudden, we took the lead.  Unlike the 70 minutes that had preceded it, Watford’s goal was a thing of beauty as Guedioura won a tackle in midfield and played it out to Anya on the left, he crossed back to Abdi who blasted it past Federici right in front of the Watford fans who reacted with total delirium.  The goal changed the momentum of the game.  Reading’s first yellow card was shown to Williams who was penalized for taking Paredes down as he attempted to break.  Guedioura played a ball over the top for Deeney, but it was a bit too far in front of him so Federici gathered the ball just as Deeney arrived and the players collided resulting in treatment for the Watford man.  At the other end, Gunter went down as he was challenged on the edge of the box, thankfully the referee waved penalty appeals away.  The board went up for a Watford substitution and we expected Deeney to leave the field, but instead Anya made way for Dyer.  Deeney only lasted another couple of minutes, clearly he couldn’t run the injury off, so he was replaced by Ighalo.

Red sky at night

Red sky at night

A ball into the Watford box appeared to be headed on by Paredes but, thankfully, Blackman volleyed over.   The referee added four minutes which were then extended as an off-the ball altercation between Murray and Paredes ended with the Ecuadorean poleaxed and the Reading player being shown a yellow card.  Reading’s last attempt at an equalizer was a soft header from Cooper that was comfortably caught by Gomes.  The final whistle went to loud cheers from the Watford fans.  Jokanovic was his usual, calm self, but Martinez was going mental on the sidelines.  The players came over and applauded the appreciative fans who had certainly done their part in cheering the ten men on in the second half.  In gratitude, Abdi and Pudil kindly donated their shirts to a couple of lucky fans.

Since the away stand is the opposite end of the ground from the shuttle buses back to town, it was no surprise that the bus we took was packed with Watford fans.  The youngsters on the top deck were making a lot of joyful noise and the old folk (including me) on the lower deck were just grinning like fools.  As Jingle Bells (Oh what fun it is to see Watford win away) rang out, my friend commented that he was surprised that it had not had an earlier airing, but I don’t think anyone dared tempt fate like that until the final whistle.

I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas.  See you all on Boxing Day.