Tag Archives: Luke Steele

Convincing Win Against the Robins

Ref, ref!

I arrived at the railway station on Saturday morning to find that there was a rail replacement running for the first part of the route.  Luckily I have an alternative rail link and arrived at that station just before the train left.  Decent connections on the way meant that I arrived at the West Herts half an hour before it was due to open.  Needless to say, Don was already there so we had a good chat before the doors opened and were soon sitting at ‘our’ table with a pint (mine) and a cuppa (his).  On asking whether hot food was available, we were told that it had been reggae night at The Horns the previous evening, so we were unlikely to see the man in charge of the hot food.  That has to be the best excuse I have ever heard, it certainly made me laugh.

As always before cup games, we speculated about the team selection.  Silva’s statement that he would “respect the competition” indicated that he would put out a strong team and, sure enough, the three changes announced were to bring Cleverley, Pereyra and Deeney in to replace Watson, Richarlison and Gray, so could hardly be seen as weakening the team.  It was certainly about time that Richarlison was given a rest.  So the starting line-up was Gomes; Janmaat, Wagué, Kabasele, Zeegelaar; Cleverley, Doucouré; Carrillo, Capoue, Pereyra; Deeney.  As expected, with a League Cup semi-final coming up next week, City’s manager and former Watford man, Lee Johnson, had made seven changes.  The City Twitter account this season has been accompanying their goal alerts with amusing gifs, we wondered how many of the starting XI for this game would have their own gif.

Wague congratulating Carrillo

Despite all City’s changes, I can’t say I was particularly confident about the outcome, but the game started positively for the Hornets, who had an early chance as a Janmaat cross was met by the head of Deeney at the far post, but the effort was saved by the City keeper, Steele.  The next attempt was a shot from distance from Capoue that was straight at Steele.  There was a much better chance as a low shot from Janmaat deflected to Pereyra who turned and shot from close range, but Steele was able to make the block.  After a decent, if over-lengthy, passing move Cleverley tried a shot from distance that was blocked.  From a corner, the ball found its way to Wagué whose volley was also blocked.  Watford threatened again as Carrillo played a through ball to Cleverley, who broke into the box, but Steele was out to save at his feet.  The first yellow card of the game was earned by Kabasele for a foul on Smith.  After a lovely passing move upfield, Carrillo played a cross-field pass to Pereyra but, yet again, the shot was blocked.  The opening goal came on 37 minutes as Pereyra crossed for Carrillo who got into position to shoot and beat Steele from close range.  It was into the last five minutes of the half before City had their first goal attempt of the game which was a shot from distance from Woodrow that flew wide of the far post.  So we reached half time with the Hornets enjoying a one goal lead.  It had been a half in which Watford had completely dominated possession and appeared in control.  But the Swansea game was too fresh in the memory, so I was rather concerned that we hadn’t tested Steele enough.

Deeney acknowledges Rookery after his goal

Lee Johnson made a substitution at the beginning of the second half replacing Smith with Pack.  The first chance of the second period fell to the Hornets as Pereyra played a one-two with Carrillo before unleashing a shot that cannoned off the post.  The follow-up from Capoue was blocked by the keeper.  The second goal came just before the hour mark as Cleverley reached the by-line and crossed back for Deeney to stoop and head home.  Deeney’s return to the scoresheet was received very well by the Watford faithful and it was a goal that calmed the nerves.  City had a great chance to hit back as a dangerous cross from Eliasson was delivered towards Taylor who just missed making contact.  That was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Engvall.  Watford had a great chance for a third goal as Deeney met a cross from Janmaat, but this time he nodded into the side netting.  Silva made two changes with 20 minutes to go as Carrillo and Pereyra were replaced with Holebas and Richarlison.  I was a little surprised to see the youngster come on, surely he deserves the rest.  But he was soon in action latching on to a ball from Deeney that he volleyed straight at the keeper.  The visitors had a great chance to pull one back as a cross from Eliasson was turned just wide by Engvall.  There was a great chance for the Hornets to increase their lead as Zeegelaar played the ball back to Holebas who unleashed a cracking shot from distance that Steele did well to turn wide.  From the corner, the ball fell to Wagué who volleyed over the bar.  Each side then made a substitution as Woodrow was replaced by Hinds and Doucouré made way for Watson.  Watford scored a third with five minutes to go as Capoue played a one-two with Deeney before finishing in front of the Rookery.  That goal gave particular pleasure to my niece who is a fan of the Frenchman.

Deeney, Richarlison and Cleverley congratulating Capoue

So the game finished with Watford securing a convincing 3-0 win over City.  The Hornets had been in control for the whole game, but the most pleasing thing was that they had bucked the recent trend by scoring the goals that were needed to finish the game off.  Deeney’s return had been greeted with mixed reactions on social media, but I thought he played well and provided more of a goal threat than we have seen from him (or anyone else) recently.  I also thought that Pereyra looked more comfortable than he has in some time and some of his skills are a joy to witness.

So Watford are in the draw for the fourth round on Monday.  I am hoping for an away tie at either Newport or Rochdale.  I should be so lucky.

Trumping The Tykes

After the unpleasantness of the midweek trip to Doncaster, it was lovely to return to Vicarage Road on a gorgeous Spring day.  It was also great to see the progress of the new East Stand.  Signs are that it will be an impressive addition to the ground.  Team news was the return of Almunia after illness with McGugan and Faraoni coming in for Merkel and Ranegie.

Congratulating Battocchio on a beautiful strike

Congratulating Battocchio on a beautiful strike

Watford started well and had a decent chance in the second minute, but Deeney’s shot from the right of the area flew over the bar.  We were a goal up in the fifth minute as a Pudil cross was met with a horrible miskicked clearance that fell to Battocchio who curled a beautiful shot into the top corner.  It was one of those strikes that make you wish you had been sitting behind it.  But even from the opposite end of the ground it was a joy to behold.  Barnsley tried to strike back immediately as a free kick from Kennedy was met with a header from Nyatanga that flew over the bar.  We had another great chance as a cross from Pudil reached Faraoni in the middle of the area, but his shot was stopped by Steele at point-blank range.  Next Battocchio was tackled in the middle of the pitch and, as he lay on the ground, Deeney picked up the ball, played a short pass to

Celebrating Deeney's stirke

Celebrating Deeney’s stirke

Anya who found Faraoni, but his shot from a very tight angle was blocked.  A minute later, we doubled our lead as Pudil intercepted a pass and advanced upfield, he found McGugan in the box who knocked the ball to Anya who cut it back to Deeney who, with his back to goal, had time to turn and shoot past Steele.  We had another chance soon after as McGugan found Anya on the left but his shot was just over and he had been flagged offside anyway.  At the other end, Dawson broke free of the Watford defence and found Lawrence at the near post, but he stabbed the ball wide from a couple of inches out.  Then McGugan made an interception and went on a run down the middle of the pitch, but was eventually closed down.  On 35 minutes, Pudil was shown a yellow card for a foul on Frimpong.  Soon after, Barnsley failed to clear a Pudil cross, it fell to Deeney who tried an overhead kick that was easily gathered by Steele.  So we reached half time two goals to the good but with next to nothing having happened in the previous half hour.

Anticipating the arrival of a free-kick

Anticipating the arrival of a free-kick

At the start of the second half, Angella played McGugan in, but his shot was straight at Steele.  Barnsley launched a rare attack as Kennedy advanced and put in a cross.  Lawrence came flying in at the far post but got nowhere near connecting with the cross.  Mellis was penalized for a foul on Tozser, he reacted by slamming the ball down and earned a yellow card for his petulance.  On the hour, Barnsley made two substitutions as O’Grady and Noble-Lazarus replaced Lawrence and Frimpong.  Tozser played Anya in then ran into the box to meet the cross, but his header flew wide when it looked easier to hit the target.  McGugan’s return from injury was over after 63 minutes as he was replaced

Celebrating Merkel's goal

Celebrating Merkel’s goal

by Merkel.  The substitute was in action almost immediately as he clipped a shot goalwards and, with Deeney closing in, Steele came out to gather.  Barnsley launched a counter-attack which finished with Jennings trying a shot from distance that was well over the bar.  Anya got himself into a dangerous position but, instead of shooting, hit a poor low cross.  He made up for it soon after as he went on a run down the left, cut the ball back from the byeline, it took a slight deflection before reaching Merkel who buried it past Steele for Watford’s third goal of the afternoon.  As the temperature dropped in the stands, attention was drawn to the touchline where Sannino had dispensed of his jacket and was rolling up his sleeves for the rest of the game.  This attitude was in stark contrast to the

Lucas Neill

Marco Cassetti

torpor on the pitch.  With seven minutes remaining, Lucas Neill made his Watford debut replacing Doyley.  Barnsley had a great chance for a consolation goal as a long ball fell to Proschwitz on the edge of the area, he tried to chip Almunia, but his shot came back off the crossbar and Pudil’s challenge prevented him from hitting a follow-up shot.  From the corner, Mvoto headed wide.  Pudil made way for O’Nien to make his debut for the last couple of minutes of the game.  He made his mark immediately with a foul on Kennedy.  The last chance of the game fell to the visitors, but Almunia dropped to gather Proschwitz’s shot from a narrow angle.

Luke O'Nien on his debut

Luke O’Nien on his debut

After the final whistle, a number of the players went over to the Lower Rous and Tözsér and Angella were there for ages signing autographs.  The post-match discussions were mostly about how dull the game had been.  We had won it in the first 15 minutes and, despite a slight Barnsley fightback in the second half, they had been poor opposition and we were coasting for most of the rest of the game.  But it is churlish to complain about a 3-0 home win, especially as that is our fifth in the row.  O’Nien’s brief cameo was an absolute delight.  He has impressed in the youth games that I have seen this season and looks like a great prospect.  He was clearly thrilled to get on and was tormenting the poor Barnsley defenders, running around fighting for everything.

Next up is a trip to Wigan, which won’t be easy with their current form.  We haven’t won away since October, and I missed the trip to Huddersfield, so it would be a real treat for those that travel away to see a win.  But, when all is said and done, this season is over for us, so let’s just relax and enjoy the remaining games.