After a breathless ninety minutes at Bloomfield Road, Watford finally managed to secure their play off place at the last attempt. We`re all by now far too familiar with the usual sob story of a blown nine-point lead, but there was a point today where Watford were heading for seventh place.
With Palace 2-0 up against Burnley and Southampton being beaten one-nil by Sheffield United, the Hornets were about the be cut out the play off picture at the last hurdle. However, sterling work from Southampton means Watford will now face Hull City in the Play Off`s whilst Leicester are relegated after the Saint`s comeback. Amazing to think Leicester thumped Watford 4-1 earlier this campaign!
Blackpool had survival aspirations of their own and needed something out of the game. Watford shook things up with the return of Bromby, Ellington, Williamson and Sadler with Jordan Stewart and Jay DeMerit out the 16 altogether.
Things were no better than last week`s humiliating defeat to Scunthorpe and the Orange curse struck again at Hull went one up within the minute. A corner only half-cleared to Ben Burgess who gratefully crashed home a powerful effort.
Watford were evidently not aware of events elsewhere as within not very long of going behind, results elsewhere were conspiring against Boothroyd`s troops. Neil Warnock had seen his side notch three before half time whilst Sheffield United also led.
Paul Rachubka was evidently aware of the importance of the clash still and pulled off a majestic one-handed save to deny Tommy Smith a swiped half-volley. Darius Henderson has missed previously from a free far post header whilst Jobi McAnuff had failed to seize a couple of opportunities.
Strangely, the sending off of Darius Henderson in the 59th minute galvanised Watford who soon after snatched an equaliser through Tommy Smith. Henderson was given his second booking for a foul on Kaspars Gorkss who subsequently endured a torrid time from Watford fans for what looked like a tremendous falling over after little or no contact. The age where the centre half goes down, not the forward – what`s happening to our game? Darius will now miss the first leg Play Off tie at home to Hull.
Tommy Smith added to his impressive goal tally for a wide player not long after as he held back a challenge or two before dragging Watford, and the ball over the line from twenty yards.
Had Claus Jorgenson, second-smallest player on the park to the excellent Stephen McPhee not headed Dan Shittu`s far post effort off the line in the second half, it could`ve been three as apposed to one. Indeed, Blackpool could feel equally aggrieved as McPhee smashed past Lee and against the post.
The final insult of the afternoon, saw all the effort and toil Nathan Ellington has put in this season multiply as he struggled past two before clipping into the area, someone missing a golden headed opportunity in the centre.
Rachubka; Barker, Evatt, Gorkss, Coid; Martin, Southern, Jorgensen, Hoolahan, McPhee and Burgess.
Referee: Mr G Laws
Could do nothing for goal and was very nearly beaten again in the second half.
Got forward well and never let Martin have a sniff.
Re-assuring presence back alongside Shittu.
Generally dealt with physical presence of Burgess.
Let the Seasiders crowd get on his back and forced errors.
Scored yet another crucial goal to give the Horns a share and worked all afternoon.
Improved after recent poor showings.
Better than O’Toole has been – just.
Did nothing and has failed to for much of the season.
Sent off for two yellows, one deserved, other? Otherwise linked up well with Duke.
Played much better as a lone forward than normal and nearly provided a second.
Didn’t seem to inspire or organise players after woeful first half. Much improved in the second though. Only one sub, and the right thing to do for a change. Failed to applaud fans for their support.
His signing of Stephen McPhee looks inspired; he was everywhere and could’ve scored to boot. His side set up to score and deserved their half-time lead. Play decent football.
‘Form goes out of the window in the play-offs.’
‘It’s about big-game players and being big, strong, organised and keeping our nerve. That’s what we’ve got to do.’
‘We’ve got to enjoy tonight and then focus on our next game.’
‘It’s a magnificent achievement by this football club to stay in the division.
‘We’d worked so hard for 45 games that we didn’t want it to disappear in one game today.
‘Eventually we got our just rewards as we’ve stayed in the division and I think we deserve to.’