Tag Archives: Robert Tesche

Top of the Table

Flag in the Lower GT

Flag in the Lower GT

The nerves started on Friday night when Norwich played Middlesbrough.  If truth be told, a draw would have been the best result, but a Boro win was a decent second option.  However, the result of that game was irrelevant if we didn’t win on Saturday.

I have a recurring nightmare in which I am desperately trying to get to a match and events conspire to stop me.  The most recent variant of this had me on a train with a load of yobs who had caused delays, and it was clear that I wasn’t going to get to the stadium for kick-off.  Thankfully I woke up, remembered that I was driving to the game and was at the West Herts by 12:45.  Given the pre-match nerves it was hard to enjoy the gathering, although an unexpected appearance by Toddy was a welcome and delightful distraction.

The spectacle in the Rookery

The spectacle in the Rookery

When I reached Occupation Road, Doreen in the Bill Mainwood hut had sold out of programmes, but I was determined not to see this as a bad omen.  Positive thinking was the order of the day.  That was certainly the ethos of the 1881 who had ensured that the flags were out in force in the Rookery and, throughout the home areas, it was great to see the sea of yellow.

As on Wednesday there were four changes with Hoban, Paredes, Layun and Vydra replacing Connolly, Anya, Motta and Ighalo.  So the starting line-up was Gomes, Hoban, Cathcart, Angella, Paredes, Layun, Watson, Guedioura, Abdi, Vydra and Deeney.  Former Watford youngster Rob Kiernan started for the visitors and the legend that is Robbo was on their bench.

Waiting for the ball to drop

Waiting for the ball to drop

My hope for the game was much the same as on Wednesday.  Let us score early and often.  We started very brightly with an exchange of passes between Vydra and Guedioura finishing in a shot from Matej that was blocked.  Watson found Deeney on the right but Troy’s cross was too long and there was nobody to get on the end of it.  It had been all Watford until the 10th minute when Shinnie surged into the box, but Paredes was there to nick the ball off his feet before he could shoot.  Watford continued to dominate without mustering a shot on goal worthy of the name and in the 18th minute Birmingham had a free kick on the corner of the box which was headed clear by Hoban.  Watford broke forward through Guedioura who fed Deeney, his shot was blocked and the ball fell to Vydra whose shot appeared to hit the roof of the net.  There were wild celebrations in the Rookery until we realized that the ball had actually rebounded off the crossbar.  Vydra was straight back on the attack but this time his shot was wide of the far post.  Then Vydra battled into the box and passed to Abdi who moved the ball on to Guedioura whose shot was blocked.  The Algerian had the next goal attempt but his shot from distance was easily caught by Randolph.  Just before the half hour Watford had a great chance to take the lead as Vydra found Abdi who advanced into the box but his shot was deflected wide of the far post.  Deeney was the next to threaten the Birmingham goal as he latched on to a lovely ball from Guedioura but Randolph was down to block his shot.  The visitors threatened briefly with a shot from Donaldson that was straight at Gomes.  It was then Deeney’s turn to hit a shot that was easily caught.  Deeney’s next shot bounced off a defender for a corner.  As we approached the 44th minute, a shot from Gray was deflected wide by Angella.  Gomes rose to catch the corner as the applause rang out for Nic Cruwys, and it was very gratifying at that point to see the Birmingham fans joining in.

So at half time we were drawing, Bournemouth were a goal down to Sheffield Wednesday and we were reflecting that we had had all the possession, were playing some lovely football, but there was no end product.  However, more of the same and we would surely make the breakthrough.

Inspired substitution

Inspired substitution

Early in the second half, a forward run by Vydra was stopped when he was pushed over on the edge of the area, but the referee gave nothing.  The first goal chance of the second period fell to the visitors as Donaldson beat Angella and unleashed a shot which Gomes parried.  Jokanovic decided to make an early double substitution replacing Layun and Vydra with Anya and Ighalo.  It turned out to be an inspired move as Deeney passed to Anya on the overlap and his cross was met with a scissor kick volley by Cathcart to put Watford into the lead.  The celebrations in the stands were massive.  After the goal the Rookery had a bounce and it was lovely to see fellow bouncers in the SEJ stand, but I was amazed to see some in the Upper GT.  Unprecedented behaviour that will surely lead to season tickets being rescinded.  The first caution of the game went to Birmingham’s Grounds for a foul on Deeney.  Watford had a great chance to increase their lead as Angella came running in to connect with an Abdi free kick.

Celebrating Cathcart's wonder goal

Celebrating Cathcart’s wonder goal

Gabriele ended up in the net but, sadly, his header cleared the bar.  Then Anya ran down the left wing and cut into the box but his shot was wide of the near post.  Goalscorer Cathcart was the next to see yellow as he hacked Gray down on the wing.  Deeney benefited from a ball rebounding off the referee, he found Guedioura who fed Anya whose shot was blocked, although it would have gone wide anyway.  Deeney then tried a shot from distance that was deflected wide.  Angella had another great goal attempt from an Abdi corner, this time his header was on target and had to be cleared off the line.  Guedioura broke into the Birmingham box, but his shot was blocked for a corner.  Deeney ran onto a through ball and his shot hit the angle of the crossbar and post but the flag was up for offside.  Anya was taken down on the side of the penalty area.  The free kick was from an acute angle and pushed clear by Randolph.  At the other end, a Birmingham free-kick was headed wide by Kiernan.  Jokanovic made a final change late bringing Tözsér on for Abdi.  Into time added on, the Watford crowd were singing their hearts out, encouraging their team on to the win.

Attacking a corner

Attacking a corner

At the final whistle there were tremendous celebrations, but they were slightly tinged with disappointment at the news filtering through that Bournemouth had come from behind to win.  All the same, as the team did their tour of the stands to thank the crowd, the Rookery was still packed with fans waving flags and chanting.  Promotion was now in our own hands.  When the players had all left the pitch we made our way into the concourse.  As we waited for my brother-in-law, the TV was showing the Sky Sports reporter at the Goldsands giving what I assumed was the round-up of the game.  Then Nigel appeared and informed us that Sheffield Wednesday had won a penalty and the picture on the screen took on a different significance.  There was a group of fans celebrating behind the reporter and I could have sworn that their shirts were red but then the word ‘goal’ appeared on the screen and the celebration in the Rookery concourse was probably more mental than that at the game itself.  There was an agonizing wait for the final whistle but, at last, the final score was confirmed sparking another manic celebration in the concourse.

As we made our way up Occupation Road, the sun shining down was nothing like as bright as the huge smiles of the Watford faithful.  It is all in our hands now.  Two wins and we go up as champions.

In a pre-match interview, Troy Deeney was asked about pressure, “You could be struggling to pay your bills or playing a game of football.  To win one game of football.  That’s not pressure, that is enjoyment.”  Well said that man.  Two more wins and he’ll be a title-winning captain.  I just hope my nerves can take it.

Frustrating, but Fun

Slavisa Jokanovic's First Game at Vicarage Road

Slavisa Jokanovic’s First Game at Vicarage Road

Due to an appointment with some sharks and rays in the Indian Ocean, I missed the trip to Hillsborough and Jokanovic’s first game in charge.  But having thoroughly enjoyed the highlights, particularly Vydra’s energetic display, I was eagerly anticipating this game.

Jokanovic made one change from Saturday with Paredes in for Doyley meaning that Lloyd’s 400th start had to be delayed.  The starting line-up was Gomes, Pudil, Bassong, Ekstrand, Paredes, Munari, Abdi, Tözsér, Vydra, Forestieri, Ighalo.  Former Watford youngster and unexpected cash cow, Britt Assombalonga, started for Forest.

Forest had the first chance of the game as the ball dropped to Antonio, but the angle was very narrow and he couldn’t turn it in.  Watford then had a terrific chance as Forestieri tried to chip Darlow in the Forest goal but the keeper managed to parry the ball.  Vydra lost the ball in midfield, but fought back to reclaim it, went on a run and crossed for Abdi whose shot was

Celebrating Ighalo's goal

Celebrating Ighalo’s goal

blocked.  Paredes went storming down the right but his cross was straight at the keeper.  Watford had another great chance to take an early lead as a cross from Tözsér was cleared only as far as Forestieri who hit a belter just over the bar.  After a long spell of Watford pressure, Forest countered with Antonio who broke into the box and crossed but Gomes gathered easily.  Pudil and Forestieri combined to feed Vydra who broke into the box and hit a shot that required a close range save from Darlow.  Following a corner, the ball fell to Paredes outside the box, but his shot was well wide of the target.  At the other end, Paredes fouled Assombalonga after the youngster got in front of him.  Vaughan took the resulting free kick which was met with a header from Wilson which flew over the bar.  Abdi played a lovely ball out to Forestieri, he cut it back to Vydra who hit a great shot that required a good save from Darlow.  Watford took a deserved lead on 28 minutes as a cross from Abdi fell to Ighalo in a crowded box and he knocked it past Darlow.  The lead only lasted two minutes as Abdi gave the ball away to Antonio who advanced into the box, Gomes came out to meet him but the Forest man tapped the ball past the keeper for the equalizer.  Adbi immediately left the field for treatment.  Watford tried to strike back as Forestieri played a short pass to Munari but he shot just wide of the near post.

Watford players surround the referee following Mancienne's foul on Vydra

Watford players surround the referee following Mancienne’s foul on Vydra

Vydra picked up a loose ball in midfield, broke forward and was through on goal when he was pushed over by Mancienne.  From our vantage point it appeared that the offence took place in the box, but a free-kick was given and, despite shouts for a red card, Mancienne only saw yellow.  The free-kick was disappointing bouncing back off the wall.  Forest definitely got away with that one.  In injury time, a corner was cleared to Forestieri who hit a brilliant shot from outside the area but Darlow pulled off an equally brilliant save to keep it out.  So at half-time the scores were level although Watford really should have been ahead on the balance of play.  We had played some lovely passing football and Darlow had been required to pull off some cracking saves.


Vydra scores the penalty past Darlow

Vydra scores the penalty past Darlow

Early in the second half, Jokanovic made his first substitution with Abdi, who was carrying an injury, being replaced by Murray.  Vydra got on the end of a cross from Forestieri but was bundled over in the box, so the referee pointed to the spot.  Vydra stepped up to take the penalty himself and coolly slotted it in as Darlow went the wrong way.   On 64 minutes Deeney replaced Ighalo, both players were given ovations by the Vicarage Road faithful.  Burke went on a run down the right wing, the ball appeared to go out of play and the defenders tracking him stopped briefly in anticipation of the throw-in while he continued his run and crossed for Antonio to head the equalizer.  Infuriating!  Watford’s final substitution saw Hoban replacing Bassong.  Assombalonga tried a speculative shot that was well wide of the target.  Vydra found Deeney at the near post, but Darlow was perfectly placed to block his toe poke.  Tözsér found Vydra in space but the Czech curled his shot straight at Darlow.  In time added on, Assombalonga was substituted and received warm applause from both sets of fans.  The final whistle went with the score level.  The second half had been short of incident, but overall it had been a very entertaining game and one from which Watford really should have taken all three points.  It was difficult to complain, though, as there were so many good performances that bode well for the upcoming games.