It all started so well. When I arrived in Huddersfield, it was a crisp sunny afternoon. The designated pre-match meeting place was a lovely proper old pub with the push buttons for ordering your drinks still in the snug (sadly no longer functioning). The beer was excellent and the brisket butties were absolutely gorgeous.
On arrival at the ground, I assured the woman searching my bag that I had no bottles or cans only to be told, “We’re looking for chocolate.” The programme was in newspaper format, which I rather liked. I haven’t seen one of those since Derby stopped publishing the Ram. The lad selling them increased the sales pitch with “You’re on the front page.” Actually, they had a Watford picture on one cover page and Huddersfield on the other, but it was an appealing design. Inside, the interview with young Murray Wallace included Troy Deeney as one of his top three opponents with the comment “At this level, he’s as good as you get.” The stadium announcer preceded the announcement of the Watford team with “I’ll put my teeth in,” then got to Cathcart and commented “He sounds like a Yorkshireman.” He also introduced the mascots, including the lad from Watford, listing their favourite players, which I thought was a nice touch.
Watford’s starting line-up looked very strong. Our new Mexican signing, Layun, went straight into the line-up. We started with Gomes, Angella, Cathcart, Hoban, Pudil, Munari, Tözsér, Abdi, Layun, Vydra and Deeney. In the opposition dugout was former Hornet and the nicest man in football (allegedly), Chris Powell.
Watford had the first chance of the game as Deeney flicked the ball on to Vydra who shot wide of the far post. The bright start for the visitors didn’t continue. Scannell was giving Angella a torrid time on the Watford left from where he fashioned two early chances. For the first he cut in but shot across goal and wide of the far post. For the other his shot was high and wide. Butterfield played Wells in but his cross was gathered by Gomes. A shot from the right by Coady was grabbed by Gomes with a little more drama than it deserved. For the visitors, Abdi broke forward and passed to Deeney whose shot was blocked. Another Watford break finished with Vydra playing the ball out to Layun, but there were no takers for his cross. Huddersfield launched a break of their own, which finished with a Vaughan shot that nestled on top of the net.
Huddersfield had a great chance to take the lead as a Butterfield cross was met with a header from Wells that Gomes did very well to tip over. As Gomes launched a long ball, I was complaining that we should be playing the ball out instead when Deeney flicked the ball on to Munari whose powerful volley was well saved by Smithies. That had been Watford’s best move of the game so far. A ball over the top from Abdi was hit first time by Vydra but easily gathered by Smithies. Vaughan tried a shot from distance that flew over the bar. Layun’s long-range shot flew wide of the target. In time added on at the end of the half, Gomes had to drop to gather a shot from Butterfield.
On the balance of play, we were lucky to be level at the interval. The half-time draw was done by Jonathan Hogg who was also interviewed on the pitch. I couldn’t help wishing that more of our current team had something of Mr Hogg about them.
The first chance of the second half fell to Watford as Vydra exchanged passes with Abdi before passing out to Layun whose shot was saved. Soon after, Deeney played the ball out to Pudil whose shot was wide of the far post. At this point the weather had taken a nasty turn and there was swirling sleet in the stadium. Miguel Layun must have wondered what he’d got himself into. On 51 minutes, Huddersfield took the lead as Scannell mishit a shot, it fell to Wells and he buried it. On the hour, Layun failed to control a ball in midfield and Robinson picked it up but his shot from distance was just over the bar. Jokanovic made three changes just after the hour bringing Bond on for the injured Gomes as well as Ighalo and Anya for Vydra and Pudil.
Ighalo’s first act was to bag the equalizer. A throw-in from Anya was headed on by Deeney, the Nigerian’s shot went through the keeper’s legs and the ball trickled across the line. The goal sparked a lively spell for the visitors. Anya played the ball back to Tözsér whose curling shot was easy for Smithies. Then Anya cut the ball back to Deeney who returned the pass when he really should have tried a shot and the ball went out for a goal kick. Watford had a golden chance to take the lead as Ighalo found Abdi in space but, with Smith closing him down, he shot way over the target. That miss proved very costly as a couple of minutes later a cross from Wells reached Vaughan who shot past Bond’s stretching arm. That goal had come when Watford were in control and sadly stopped the revival. Huddersfield’s third came after Bond had punched a corner clear, the ball came back in and fell to Lynch who buried it with an overhead kick. Watford had a couple of half chances after that, but the game was over and Huddersfield were worthy winners.
It had been a very poor performance against a lively Huddersfield side. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if Abdi had taken the chance he had just before the home side scored their second. But he didn’t and we were well beaten. We now have two home games and have to quickly find some form.