A look back at last season month by month…
November was the month that saw Watford’s campaign take off in style, going six unbeaten in the month with four wins which included away victories; 6-1 at Leeds Utd and 4-1 at Sheffield Wednesday. The Hornets started the month in 16th place in the Championship, just four points off the bottom three, but ended it in 8th – just seven points off an automatic promotion place.
The month started with a massive victory, 2-1 at home to high-flying Leicester City, a game which tested every characteristic of the Watford side.
Watford started the game in fantastic form taking the lead through Almen Abdi, but the second half saw the other side of Watford’s game put to the test against an excellent attacking side. Fernando Forestieri doubled the lead in the second half but the lead was halved by who else but David Nugent. Fantastic defending from the now settled back three of Lloyd Doyley, Fitz Hall and Tommie Hoban saw Watford over the line in the game, and further cemented the view that they could compete at both ends of the pitch with the best in the division.
The following Tuesday saw the Hornets stumble to a 0-0 draw against Millwall at Vicarage Road. The result and performance was a little lacklustre, perhaps understandably so after the emotional and physical exertion of the weekends win against Leicester. Millwall had been playing well themselves and were comfortably in the top half so the point was by no means a bad result.
What followed was one of the moments and best results of the season as Watford went to Elland Road and thrashed Neil Warnock’s Leeds Utd 6-1. After the draw with Millwall eyebrows were raised when Gianfranco Zola made six changes to the Hornets line-up but they came away with a resounding win.
One of the highlights of the game was the prowess Watford showed on the counter attack for one of the first times during the season. It was to become a key feature of future game plans and it certainly came up trumps here. Watford were aided in their demolition by the first half red card of Jason Pearce and second half injury to Rudolph Austin after Leeds had made their three subs leaving them with 9 men for most of the second period. Nevertheless it was an display of clinical finishing and another turning point in the season.
Watford built on that away success the following Saturday by beating Stale Solbakken’s Wolves 2-1 at Vicarage Road. Aided by a poor officials` decision to dismiss Christophe Berra in the first half, Watford capitalised when Nathanial Chalobah scored his first professional goal to give Watford a first half lead. Despite a rare mistake from Manuel Almunia which allowed Wolves to equalise, a header from Troy Deeney saw Watford make it back-to-back wins.
Two consecutive wins were nearly three when Watford travelled to troubled Blackpool the following Saturday. Gianfranco Zola again shuffled the pack and Watford ran into an early 2-0 lead thanks to Ikechi Anya and Troy Deeney. However a second half Blackpool fightback saw Kevin Phillips halve the deficit. Watford withstood the Blackpool pressure until the second minute of stoppage time when Isaiah Osbourne equalised, although on the balance of play it was the least Blackpool deserved.
For the last game of the month Watford made another trip to Yorkshire, which was fast becoming a very fruitful place. That continued on a cold Tuesday at Hillsborough as the Hornets saw off Sheffield Wednesday 4-1.
The Golden Boys were lacklustre in the first half and fell behind after just three minutes but Forestieri levelled in the first half. The game changed when Almunia saved a penalty from Chris Lines on the stroke of half time. More on that theme later. What it did on this occasion was kick-start the Hornets game as they improved after the break and rattled in three goals including a peach from Mark Yeates.
It all boded well for the winter ahead…