THREE massive points were won by the Hornet`s today who move up two places to the dizzying heights of 19th place, three points above 22nd placed Sheffield Wednesday with a game in hand.
Victory was ensured thanks to a scrappy fiftieth minute strike from Heidar Helguson. Despite being plagued by injury and suspension Watford were able to prevent visitors Plymouth from offering much threat although Argyle were certainly allowed in it a lot more toward the end as the Hornet`s sat deeper and deeper.
With Tom Cleverley back at Manchester United following season-ending ligament damage and both Jon Harley and Henri Lansbury suspended for a match Watford were left bereft of midfield options meaning both Ross Jenkins and Stephen McGinn were called up from the bench. Heidar Helguson returned to partner Danny Graham up top with Will Hoskins only fit enough for the bench following injury. At the back, Lee Hodson slotted in down the left with Lloyd Doyley hamstrung and Dale Bennett continued at the back alongside Jay DeMerit.
After a nervous first ten minutes Watford began to assert themselves upon the game and nearly took the lead as Danny Graham was denied by the woodwork following a clever half-volley on the edge of the area.
Graham was again unlucky as he trickled one across the face of goal and merely inches past the post, wideman Don Cowie leaving the ball when one-on-one with an empty net following a clanger by on-loan ‘keeper David Stockdale.
Just five minutes after the break Watford were in the lead thanks to Heidar Helguson who was on hand to nip in at the far post and find a small corner between post and stranded ‘keeper. The goal came from a mistake from Stockdale which was headed by another loanee, Richard Eckersley into the path of Helguson but the former Darlington stopper was not able to get back up in time to deny the Icelandic international.
Helguson had only been denied minutes before when he burst into space from set play and blazed an effort over the bar from inside the six yard box.
John Eustace was also denied by a Stockdale save as he plunged a header toward the bottom right-hand corner only for the Argyle stopper to push the header to safety.
With Watford taking the lead Plymouth began to grow in threat and although they scarcely created an actual chance but were beginning to push the Hornet`s deeper and deeper.
The Hornet`s cause was not helped by some strange Malky Mackay substitutions, including the decision to bring on centre half Martin Taylor when the last thing Watford needed was a man less in a midfield being pressed further and further back. Will Hoskins was also asked to play an unfamiliar wide-midfield role whilst Taylor waited to be brought on having been stripped and ready for action for several minutes.
Plymouth Argyle: Stockdale; Eckersley (Judge), N`Gala, R.Johnson, Bhasera (Cooper); Duguid (c), Clark, D.Johnson, Bolasie (Mason); Mackie and Wright-Phillips.
Scott Loach – 6
Nothing to do. Commanded area well on rare occasions.
Aidy Mariappa – 6
Never got going in a forward motion.
Jay DeMerit (c) – 7
Dale Bennett – 7
Standout player for the Hornets, again. Tempting to have him as first choice with Taylor next season?
Lee Hodson – 6
Dragged out of position early on but settled down.
Stephen McGinn – 6
Decent ball use on full debut.
John Eustace – 7
Got forward well; made goal with header; used the ball sensibly.
Ross Jenkins – 7
Don Cowie – 7
Strong, hard-working. Lacking creativity though.
Danny Graham – 7
Worked very hard and unlucky not to notch again.
Heidar Helguson – 6
Looked exhausted, missed another chance prior to his goal.
Henderson (Helguson)- 4
Terrible. Made wrong runs (when he did run), didn’t challenge for the ball, lethargic, poor on the ball and offered no threat.
No time to make impact.
No time to make impact.
Terrible substitutions – Jenkins didn’t need taking off; Henderson has never shown anything and that continued today and the last thing we needed was a third central defender on the pitch for the last few minutes when we were already being forced further and further back by Plymouth.
Okay. So Malky said Noble was only signed for experience. But for a club in our league and financial position there is absolutely no point in signing a player on loan and then plonking him on the bench for five games straight. How depressing must it have been for the guy to sit there, watching Liam Henderson’s performance knowing he surely couldn’t do worse?