Date: 1st March 2009 at 5:07pm
Written by: Dr Watford

Don Cowie`s made it a ‘moo`tiful 3 wins on the bounce for Watford as another clean sheet and another 2-0 victory spread-eagled a Palace side short on players and short on quality.

The official site are calling it a ‘mini revival` and Brendan Rodgers reckons there`s some ‘momentum` floating about in WD18 but the simple truth is the Hornets picked up all 3 points – with a scrappy but battling display – from a game that last season they would have lost.

Palace, without the influential figures of Moses and Carle, gave a taste of the ‘old Watford` – plenty of huge up and unders, 2 physical battering rams in Scowcroft and Lee, and bags of niggle instructed from a downright ugly looking bench.

Watford stuck to their guns mind you (and rightly so) but dealt with the hustle and bustle extremely well showing that there is in fact a solid base inside that tidy footballing machine.

This was by no means a classic display for the purists out there so don`t be fooled. Nor was it even on the par with the basting of the Swans in the last home game but it was enough – and at this stage of the season, that`s all that matters.

The passing wasn`t as crisp but the movement was still excellent and at times, especially after the 2nd goal, Palace simply had no answer to the football being played.

Neil Warnock reckoned he can`t see a Chelsea influence in the Watford style of football but his side were rocked by 2 great moves that killed off the game.

In fact, it was Palace who started the brighter with a long ranger from Alan Lee that Loach was well placed to catch before Ifil (who has this nasty habit of scoring against Watford) really should have done better firing well wide after holding off the attentions of Demerit.

Still, it took a wonder tackle right inside the penalty box by the boy Mariappa to deny Alan Lee from putting Palace in front after 16 minutes. Quite why Lee needed to take as much time and to see the whites of Loach`s eyes remains a mystery but Mariappa`s last ditch slider was worthy of a standing ovation such was it`s quality and perfect timing.

That let-off seemed to galvanize Watford and from then on – bar a mad 10 minute spell of Palace pressure in the second half when Captain America hobbled off and Williamson had his face smashed in by Lee`s elbow – Brendan Rodgers team took control.

Don Cowie could (and really should) have walked off with the match ball having had 3, if not 4, gilt edged chances to score but his 1st Watford goal was one certainly worth ‘milking`.

Whether the £50k capture from Inverness Cally was – or was not – offside before netting between the legs of Speroni remains the talking point but the move involving McAnuff and a brilliant Rasiak flick to release the Thistle sharp Cowie was outstanding? even if the Eagles bench were too busy berating the ref to release it.

The Hegley ear bashing both during and after the game were entertainment in themselves but Warnock won`t have too much room for complaint. Had Cowie not fluffed his lines 10 minutes earlier or Nathaniel Clyne not produced a critical block on another Don effort, he would have had the Hornets out of sight before he scored.

Rasiak was unlucky not to double the lead with an angled shot that was blocked whilst the ball took an age to drop for the rebound which had bums off seats only to see it go inches wide with Speroni beaten.

Second half, and whilst the Eagles will point to a couple of chances – notably a Fonte drive just wide (after Reliable Lloyd produced his only misplaced pass of the afternoon) and a Ifil shot that went way way over the bar, Loach wasn`t overworked.

Speroni at the other end, mind you, was! He produced a piece of ponytailed magic to deny McAnuff just after the break, tipping wide a drive after some fantastic first time passing. And the Palace keeper did well too to deny Cowie, who admittedly drove straight at the Eagles stopper from a Smith drag back – anywhere else and it was in.

Thankfully, Speroni was finally beaten all thanks to a right wing dribble by Cowie and a classy ball against the box that saw McAnuff (or was it Fonte OG?) bundle the ball over the line following some pinball. So much for “F`%k off McAnuff” from the short on numbers away support.

Sure, it could have been more. Harley tried his luck from 18 yards with 15 left on the clock (he really should have fed the Ras who was well placed to score) whilst the Pole star also caused chaos in the 6 yard box and was unlucky not to stab home a lost cause.

You can`t help but feel the suspended Priskin would have had a hatful against a plainly average Palace defense. Tamas` finishing and clever footballing brain would surely have seen the Hungarian hitman cause some real problems.

Still, look at the plus side, at least he`ll be fit and fresh for Tuesday`s 6-pointer at Plymouth?

Roll on Home Park now we`ve started to believe again.