Another two points dropped, there`s little reason to question the players commitment to the promotion dream, but there`s certainly room to question the judgement of whoever allowed Darius Henderson to miss his second penalty of the week.
Sure enough, it was a game Watford should`ve (could`ve, would`ve) won, but Stoke offered absolutely nothing. In fact, in the two games between the two sides this season, there`s been nothing but bad luck separating the two sides. Back at the Britannia, Matt Jackson`s header was wrongly ruled offside and we all know the trials and tribulations of this week. Their solitary chance today fell to Ricardo Fuller who in between moaning tirelessly at Rob Style (we know how he feels) poked a shot at Richard Lee from eighteen yards. Richard Cresswell also provided a threat but his long run ended in a shot skewed embarrassingly for a thrown-in.
With Jay DeMerit back in the side, Tommy Smith was short of support down the right, but ironically enjoyed on of his best games in a while, constantly getting past Carl Dickinson; few crosses were actually telling in the first half however as Watford piled balls into the box.
A neat moved started by Dan Shittu, culminating with a cross from Mat Sadler saw Collins John dive-head into the arms of Stoke loanee, Carlo Nash. New captain (for now at least) John Eustace had his afternoon against his former club ruined when he was sent off after 24 minutes. An innocuous challenge, but not in the eyes of Rob Styles who saw Eustace clumsily knock Creswell over with his knee. A yellow card at worst, but by no means a red, whatever Styles saw though, it was enough to produce his twelfth red of the season.
That was by no means the last of the drama.
Lee Williamson`s arrival at half-time shored up the midfield and could, so, so, so, nearly have won the game. A complete non-foul by Andy Griffin on John-Joe O`Toole saw Styles point to the spot, up stepped Henderson having wrestled the ball off Williamson to miss. Again, it was a decent pen, but this time Henderson reverted to his normal stance of slotting it into the bottom left corner only to see Nash read it well and deny with a firm hand.
Stoke defended ‘well`, I say ‘well`, but I actually mean roughly. Despite going three at the back at half time, removing Cort and introducing Gallagher, the visitors were confident in Styles incapability and climbed, shoved and kicked anyone who got near the penalty area.
Jobi McAnuff came closest for the Hornets in the second half as he dipped an excellent right-footed effort just wide whilst Danny Pugh came to the rescue for the Potters clearing a goalbound prod off the line following a corner.
Not our day? Right.
Our day next Saturday? Got it in one.
Nash, Riggott, Cort (Gallagher 46), Shawcross, Griffin, Cresswell, Delap, Dickinson (Pugh 53), Whelan, Fuller, Bothroyd (Diao 59).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Parkin.
Lee, Bromby, Shittu, DeMerit, Sadler, Smith, Eustace, O’Toole, McAnuff, Henderson, John (Williamson 46).
Subs Not Used: Poom, Stewart, Kabba, Ellington.
Had NOTHING to do.
Back in for his first start in a while and solid, not given captaincy prior to sending off. Hmmm…
Looking like an excellent buy.
Big man handled Leon Cort and Fuller well.
Couple of poor passes, failed to deal with Bothroyd, but tried unlike Stewart.
More like the beginning of the season.
Quiet before wrongful sending off.
Woeful; barely touched the ball when Stoke had it, couldn’t get near Whelan, gave it away, lucky to win a pen. A prospect, but not yet the finished article.
Lively in fits and starts. Take men on!
Not a lone striker.
Poor – needs service to feet, linked up well though.