Tag Archives: Siem De Jong

A Cup win Against the Magpies

Oulare versus Collochini

Oulare versus Collochini

After a run of two defeats, we really needed a win in this game. The draw against Newcastle couldn’t have been less inspiring and, despite the claims in the Newcastle Chronicle earlier in the season that we were pygmys to their giants, I couldn’t help feeling that this was a game that we really ought to win. There was a lot of speculation during the week about how many players would be rested but, when the team news came through, we found that Flores had made only four changes. Oularé was given his debut in place of Ighalo; Guedioura and Berghuis made their first starts of the season in place of Capoue and Abdi, and Prödl was drafted in for Britos. So the starting line-up was Gomes, Holebas, Prödl, Cathcart, Nyom, Guedioura, Watson, Jurado, Deeney, Berghuis and Oularé.

Taking our usual seats in the Rookery, it was a little strange to see a number of unfamiliar faces around us. At the other end of the ground it was rather sad to see a large number of empty seats in the Vicarage Road end, a result of Newcastle demanding a £35 membership fee from anyone who wanted to buy a ticket. A real shame as the ticket prices were so reasonable and fair play to Watford for offering a discount to our season ticket holders.

Cathcart lines up a free kick

Cathcart lines up a free kick

The first chance of the game fell to the home side as a clearance only went as far as Berghuis, whose shot from distance was well over the target. At the other end, Janmaat went charging into the Watford box but Gomes blocked the shot. Oularé did well to battle past the Newcastle defence but had no way to goal so played a square ball to Deeney who found Guedioura to his right but the Algerian’s shot was blocked. There was then some good work from Guedioura beating a couple of players before finding Jurado whose shot curled into the arms of Elliot. There was danger in the Watford box as a cross from Janmaat reached Wijnaldum at the near post, but Gomes was down to block. Guedioura threatened again with a cross to Oularé, who tried to touch it on to Deeney, but the pass was cut out. Sissoko went on a powerful run and crossed for Pérez whose shot was wide of the far post. Sissoko then tried a cross that was met with a strong header from Prödl for a corner. The visitors had a decent chance from a corner but the header was glanced over by Mitrovic. Another Newcastle corner came to nothing as Janmaat wellied well over. The first booking of the game went to Tioté for a clumsy trip on Guedioura. It was then Watford’s turn to create a couple of decent chances. First Watson’s free kick was headed goalwards by Cathcart, but Elliot tipped the ball around the post. The resultant corner was punched as far as Jurado whose shot was blocked.

Jurado congratulates Deeney on his goal

Jurado congratulates Deeney on his goal

The visitors could have opened the scoring as Mbabu went on a long run before hitting a shot that was punched clear by Gomes. But it was Watford who took the lead rather unexpectedly just before half time. A mistake from Wijnaldum led to the ball running through to Deeney who only had Elliot to beat, which he did by rounding the keeper and coolly slotting home. It was notable that, due to the influx of occasional supporters, the four of us seemed to be the only ones indulging in the post goal bouncing in our section of the Rookery. The game had been pretty dire until that point so that sent us in to the break with smiles on our faces.

At half time, there was a race between Harry the Hornet and a mascot representing a new club in town. It is common knowledge that Harry takes his fitness seriously, so he was an easy winner and celebrated by ‘doing an Ighalo’ at the corner flag.

 

Berghuis preparing for a throw in

Berghuis preparing for a throw in

There was a half-time substitution as Anya came on for Oularé which resulted in a switch to 4-5-1 with Jurado going into the hole behind Deeney. The second half was only five minutes old when the visiting fans started singing “How sh*t must you be, it’s only 1-0.’ Which seemed a tad harsh as Newcastle had made a decent fist of the first half. Newcastle then had the first goal attempt of the half which was a terrible shot by Pérez from the edge of the box that flew past the near post. After seeing that, I had a bit more sympathy for the sentiments of the Newcastle fans. Watford then attacked as Anya broke down the left before making his way along the by-line to cut the ball back to Deeney who was unable to get a shot in. It was then Newcastle’s turn to break through Pérez who found Thauvin in space but his cross was caught by Gomes. The visitors really should have equalized as Sissoko slid a ball into the box, Gomes was in trouble as Mitrovic ran in but the Newcastle man couldn’t connect, much to the relief of the home fans. Watford’s second substitution saw Abdi coming on for Berghuis who really hadn’t made a claim for his place. Anya went on a run and launched a cross that was headed out for a corner. Then a quick throw from Deeney found Anya who cut the ball back to Jurado but his shot was blocked. Sissoko broke again and crossed for Thauvin who was in space and Gomes did very well to block his shot, but the flag had been raised anyway.

Watson lines up a free kick

Watson lines up a free kick

I noticed Troy jumping over the hoardings into the Lower GT and assumed that his momentum had taken him there until he returned with a Newcastle player who, presumably, he had bundled over. Watford’s final substitution came with 20 minutes remaining as Ighalo replaced Jurado, who was given a standing ovation. The Nigerian had been well wrapped up as he warmed up, so must have been given a good amount of time to remove all the layers before coming on. Watford looked to increase their lead as Guedioura played a through ball into the box but it was just too far in front of Holebas. At this stage the Newcastle fans were demanding their money back and I had a bit more sympathy than I’d had for the earlier chant. Abdi put a decent cross into the Newcastle box but Anya couldn’t get on the end of it. Watford’s only booking came as Guedioura was cautioned for a kick on Thauvin as the Newcastle player tried to break. The next contribution from the Newcastle fans was “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” which was gleefully taken up by the Rookery. As if to prove the point, Newcastle had won a free kick in a dangerous position, but the delivery was absolutely dreadful and straight into the arms of Gomes. Newcastle had one last chance to equalize in the final minute of time added on but Thauvin could only shoot into the side netting.

Berghuis after taking a corner

Berghuis after taking a corner

It had been a pretty awful game. Watford had been poor but, once they took the lead, the visitors never really looked like getting back into the game. You really have to feel for the Newcastle fans as their players made some good attacking moves, particularly through Sissoko, but their finishing was abysmal. The four Watford players given their chance had mixed afternoons. Oularé showed some good touches, but certainly suffered in comparison to Ighalo as, despite his size, his strength and workrate were not in the same league. But he is young and has potential. Berghuis didn’t do a lot, so Abdi must have felt pretty comfortable as he sat on the bench. Guedioura was lively and did nothing wrong, but did not have the influence that Capoue does. Prödl was excellent. I felt he was unlucky to lose his place earlier in the season, and even more so that Britos then played superbly. He was deservedly given the Man of the Match award. He was also responsible for one of the highlights of the afternoon as he went to the Lower GT and handed a young boy his shirt, stopping for a long chat. From reading a friend’s facebook page it seems it was a lad called Ossie who is being treated for neuroblastoma and had been allowed a day out from hospital to go to the game as a guest of the club. The beaming smile on the boy’s face as Prödl spoke to him just lit up the ground.

I had my own close encounter with a hero as I was walking through the GT on the way out. I saw Luke Dowling and then noticed the man walking behind him was Gino Pozzo. I just said, “Thank-you, Sir” and was rewarded with a smile. It seemed fitting to see the architect of our current success under the banners of our past and that sent me home smiling.

The Pygmies Slay the Giants

The statue of Bobby Robson

The statue of Bobby Robson

I was up at the crack of dawn again for the trip to Newcastle.  In my desire not to miss the train I had booked, tickets for which had cost a small fortune despite booking as soon as the fixture date was confirmed, I was at Kings Cross an hour before it was due to leave.  The upside of this is that it meant I bumped into Jon Marks and had time for a chat about our season so far.  The main theme was the fact that, unlike our last season in the Premier League, this time we are not travelling to every away game with a sense of impending doom.  Given the form of Newcastle this season, this game was definitely winnable.  It was only when he left that I realized that I hadn’t congratulated him on his tremendous celebration at the end of the Swansea game.

Newcastle really is a beautiful city.  The (circuitous) route to the designated pre-match pub took me down the steps at the side of the castle allowing a bit of sightseeing.  I arrived at the pub just after the doors had opened, so was able to grab a little section for our party to fill and I was soon joined by the usual suspects.  Among those in the same hostelry was Dave, our Supporter Liaison Officer, who took time to talk with a number of the North West Horns who were present.

 

A distant view of the handshakes

A distant view of the handshakes

The journey from the pub to the ground is not long, but it is all uphill, which was more painful due to the knowledge that on arrival we would have to climb 14 flights of stairs to reach level 7.  My memory of our last visit was that we were so high up that I could barely recognize the players.  In fact, I recall reading somewhere that it is a quarter of a mile from the back of the away end to the centre circle, so I had brought my binoculars.  Outside the ground, I was drawn to a statue (I do love statues) that purported to be of Bobby Robson but, to my mind, was not a great likeness.

Team news was that the only change was the replacement of the suspended Behrami with Ben Watson.  So the starting 11 was Gomes, Anya, Prödl, Cathcart, Nyom, Watson, Capoue, Jurado, Deeney, Abdi and Ighalo.

 

In the run up to the game, the Newcastle Chronicle had an article which included the paragraph, “Let’s face it, Watford are pygmies living in a land of giants.  They deserve huge credit for achieving what they have, but clubs like Newcastle, with 50,000 fans bellowing them on, ought to sweep them contemptuously aside.”  The words made my blood boil, but meant that Flores didn’t need to dig too deep to get inspiration for the pre-match team talk.

Congratulating Ighalo on goal number one

Congratulating Ighalo on goal number one

As the team prepared for kick off I was both surprised and encouraged to see the players acknowledging our chants.  It was a relief that they could hear us from such a distance.

Watford had the best of the early exchanges with Ighalo getting an early sight of goal as he beat his man on the edge of the box, turned and shot wide of the near post.  He went even closer soon after, shooting just wide after Abdi headed the ball down to him.  There was danger at the other end as a Newcastle cross was only helped on by Cathcart and Cisse prodded the ball past Gomes who, thankfully, scrambled back to smother it before it reached the goal.  The visitors were ahead after 10 minutes as Abdi won the ball on the wing, it found its way to Ighalo via Capoue and Deeney and the Nigerian hit it into the bottom corner to a send the travelling Hornets on level 7 into ecstasy.  Goal celebrations at that elevation were a bit dodgy and the chap in the row in front nearly went tumbling, but managed to regain his balance before any damage was done.  There then followed a period of bouncing from the happy Hornets up in the gods.

A second goal celebration

A second goal celebration

Newcastle looked to strike back almost immediately with a quick counter attack by Sissoko who played the ball out to Cisse but the shot was into the side netting.  The home side had another chance as Haidara cut the ball back to Sissoko but the cross evaded both Thauvin’s head and the goal.  Ighalo was taken down as he tried to break, howls for a foul were quietened when the ball broke to Jurado who found Abdi, he teed up Deeney whose shot curled just wide of the target.  Jurado had the ball on the edge of the box, but failed to test Krul with a shot that was weak and straight at the keeper.  Ighalo received the ball from a throw-in before breaking free of the defence but his shot was also straight at Krul.  Just before the half hour Watford were two goals ahead as a long pass from Prödl was beautifully controlled by Deeney before he played a through ball to Ighalo who rounded the keeper and found the net.  It was a lovely goal and, after chanting in praise of the scorer, the travelling Hornets also acknowledged Deeney’s contribution.  Full back, Nyom, went on a stunning run and, with no better idea of what to do just belted the ball at a defender to win a corner.  Jurado had the ball in the Newcastle box but didn’t seem to want to shoot and the lack of other options meant the chance went begging.    A Newcastle break was stopped by a cynical foul from Abdi who was booked for his trouble.  Newcastle looked to pull one back through Perez but his shot from distance flew over the bar.  Then a shot from Thauvin was parried by Gomes, the ball fell to Anya who went on a run upfield but, with nobody accompanying him, he had no outlet.  Just before half time, a ball into the Watford box bounced off a defender and out for a corner prompting loud cheers from the home fans that summed up how little they had had to applaud in the first half.  In time added on, Nyom released Ighalo but Krul was quickly out of his box to clear the danger.  The half time whistle went to boos from the Newcastle fans.  In contrast, the travelling Hornets were delighted with their two goal lead and the very assured performance of their team.

Gomes launches the ball

Gomes launches the ball

The visitors had the first chance of the second half through Deeney, whose shot was deflected for a corner.  But it was the home side who struck next, pulling a goal back just after the hour mark as Janmaat exchanged passes with Sissoko before shooting past Gomes.  Watford tried to restore the two goal lead as Ighalo found Deeney in the box but he was tackled before he could line up a shot.  Newcastle’s goalscorer, Janmaat, very nearly grabbed an equalizer, but Gomes was equal to the shot and pushed the ball around the post.  The Dutchman then turned provider with a cross that de Jong headed wide.  Flores made his first substitution with 15 minutes to go with Berghuis coming on for Abdi.  The substitute went on a run through the middle and passed to Nyom whose cross was wild.  A counter attack by the home side finished with a shot from de Jong that Gomes got down to save.  Watford’s second substitution saw Ake coming on for Jurado, a change which was welcomed by the fans in the away end as the Spaniard had had another disappointing game.  An attempt to break by Wijnaldum was stopped as he was pulled back by Capoue, who was cautioned.  With three minutes remaining on the clock, Guedioura replaced Watson much to the delight of the travelling Hornets who had been calling for his introduction for some time.

Challenging at a corner

Challenging at a corner

Newcastle’s first caution went to Colback who received a yellow card for a trip on Ighalo as he tried to break.  In all honesty, this did us a favour as Odion appeared to be running out of steam and this ensured that we kept possession and a little more time was used up.  Berghuis cut the ball back to Nyom on the right wing, he charged into the box but his shot was high and wide.  I had been counting down the seconds since Newcastle’s goal, so was relieved that there was only 4 minutes of added time this week.  Thankfully, the only chance of an equalizer in this period came with a shot from Mbemba that went harmlessly across the goal and wide.  The final whistle went to boos from the home fans and loud cheers from Hornets up in the gods.  The joy on the faces of the players and coaching staff as they celebrated reflected that of the fans in level 7.  I swear we floated back down those 14 flights.

 

Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake

So, back to back wins in the Premier League, both of them thoroughly good performances.  Although, as this is Watford, they never make it easy for us and that second half had been a bit painful to watch at times.  Especially occasions when we had a good spell of possession but didn’t seem to want to increase the goal tally.  While Ighalo will receive the plaudits for his goals, it was his great interaction with Deeney that left the biggest smile on my face.  They are back to their best.  We missed Behrami in midfield and I was, again, disappointed with Jurado but, all in all, it was another impressive performance from a team that looks like it belongs at this level.  I am starting to like Premier League football.