I`ve not been the only one to criticise the football in the last couple of years and I`ve not been the only one to criticise the entertainment factor served up by Aidy and co. but the Hornet`s victory over West Ham ticked both those boxes.
Though Watford didn`t dominate for the entire ninety minutes, they controlled enough of the game to deserve it and on several occasions left West Ham looking very, very ordinary at the back. Indeed after just a minute or two Ross Jenkins dive-headed wide from Tommy Smith`s pinpoint cross.
Lionel Ainsworth then switched flanks with Smith and took the ball on before side-footing a little effort that had Lastuvka scrambling back to tip the ex-Hereford man`s effort over the bar.
West Ham came back into the contest though, a clipped cross from the left testing Scott Loach who passed the test with ease, palming the ball over before making a good save from close-range on his near post.
The Hornets kids were more than holding the Hammers who did put out several of their bigger names including Lucas Neill and Matthew Upson, two internationals given a torrid time at the back. Youngster Freddie Sears started up top and barely had a sniff of the ball as DeMerit and Bromby marshalled the back four superbly.
After the break it was Watford who continued to dominate, Lionel Ainsworth`s mazy run down the left saw his beautiful clipped cross land square on Tommy Smith`s forehead. The Hornets winger guided his effort toward the bottom corner only for Jan Lastuvka to throw himself to the floor and flick the header away.
The league clash on Saturday was evidently on Aidy`s mind as Tommy Smith and Will Hoskins were both subbed in the second half. Hoskins in particular deserved his praise from the Rookery after leading the line superbly all evening. Aidy Mariappa ended up at right back with Ainsworth pushed up front to accommodate debutant Dale Bennett and Jon Harley.
Harley slotted in neatly down the left and kept the Hammers under control, and although they finally began to exert more pressure in the second period, it was Watford who took the lead.
A free kick one on the right hand side was cleverly whipped into the danger zone by Lee Williamson only for Hayden Mullins to put through his own net during the scramble.
Twenty minutes to go, one-nil the ‘Orns.
It was nerve-wracking stuff near the end as West Ham enjoyed their only spell of true domination, a succession of corners half cleared by the Hornets and several headed efforts from the Iron ended up dangerously close to the Hornets net, but not in it, though that`s not a certainty these days!
Full time 1-0
An excellent result and performance for the Golden Boys, the only foot note that Jay DeMerit picked up a knock and had to hobble off with no substitutes remaining for the Golden Boys.
Lastuvka; Faubert, Neill (c), Upson, Lopez; Noble, Mullins, Boa Morte, Etherington; Sears and di Michele.
Scott Loach – 8
Made a few excellent saves and was generally impeccable.
Aidy Mariappa – 7
Dealt with the threat of Etherington well.
Jay DeMerit (c) – 6
Didn’t have masses to do against Premiership side.
Leigh Bromby – 6
Attempted stepovers only blemish on the night.
Jordan Parkes – 7
Had a shot well saved and looked composed.
Lee Williamson – 6
Worked hard in midfield with young Jenkins
Al Bangura – 7
Tidied up nicely and looked improved.
Ross Jenkins – 7
Close to a great dive-headed goal, looks like a prospect.
Tommy Smith – 7
Good delivery and ran himself into the ground, as usual.
Will Hoskins – 9
Deserved a goal for his endeavour, creativity and link-up play.
Lionel Ainsworth – 6
Ineffective for large parts.