Back on top of the league after and absence of just one week, perhaps things aren`t as bad as many think in Hertfordshire – on the field at least. Once again Watford`s case was helped by West Brom who managed to lose against Stoke, a Ricardo Fuller treble doing the damage.
At long, long last, Aidy reached the long-suffering, unused tactical nouse stored somewhere deep in his brain and re-shuffled his pack, Damien Francis, impressive against Plymouth replacing Lee Williamson. Meanwhile the Duke nearly keeled over in shock as he was handed just his third start of the season.
Both were impressive on their return to their first team, Ellington providing a great first half chance as he weaved around the ageing Lee Bullen before shooting off Marlon King. This miss was off insignificance however because Watford already had a seventh minute lead through Jobi McAnuff.
Controlling a pass, McAnuff rounded a man and poked the ball past Lee Grant off the outside of his right foot to warm the Hornets fans up no ends.
The rest of the first half was pretty turgid stuff, Marcus Tudgay providing the only spark of the first half somehow missing the Hornets net twice when well-placed. The second a real howler as a striker evidently short of form swung his leg at the far post the miss completely.
Bells ringing in their ears, or perhaps even the overly-loud tune from the P.A system, Watford came out like a team with an actual mission, Jobi McAnuff caused havoc down the right wing beating young Tommy Spurr all ends up, his cross poor.
Ellington continued his appeal for a first-team place as he headed just wide of the far post having beaten his marker at the far post.
O`Toole also came close as Watford`s focus switched from hoofing the ball to Ellington and King to finding McAnuff and Smith. Smith also caused panic waves down the left flank and although the final ball was there, the finish wasn`t.
Having been on top for the lion`s share of the second half, it was painfully inevitable that the Owls would have their spell in the game and so they did. Yoan Folly nodded the best of their chances wide at the far post.
Jordan Stewart managed to concede an indirect free-kick under pressure, from which one macho Golden Boy deflected onto the bar and out for a corner – the kick was inches from the penalty spot.
Congratulations in order all round, to those who also made the long, cold and foggy journey to Sheffield, the weekend before Christmas, bah humbug! And, to those in festive red on the pitch, particularly the returning men. Can we play away every week?!
Grant; Bullen (c), Hinds, M.Johnson, Spurr; Johnson, Whelan, Watson, O`Brien; Tudgay and Small.
Referee: Mr C Oliver
Had little to do. Kicking atrocious.
Shanked a couple of clearances, otherwise solid.
Poor by the new skippers high standards, but dealt with most things thrown at him.
Fast turning into a good signing afterall.
Near his best I suppose, didn’t put a foot wrong.
Having never seen Nigel Callaghan, I can’t say he’s a throwback on ‘Cally’, but a throwback on Jermaine Pennant!
Went about his business in his usual energetic and impressive mannner. A couple of tastey passes.
Impressive on jis full return. Didn’t waste the ball and was box-to-box.
First goal for the club and was overall instrumental in Watford’s wideplay.
Worked hard, battled for possession and had several close chances.
Trys to do it all himself. Simple.
Spot on in team selection, long-ball appeared abolished too, which worked well.
His defence cheated well, his midfield and forwards were ineffective. His side needs more cohesion.
‘It was a hard fought game and this is a place where the fans can really get on your back.
‘They had their chances in the first half and put us under some pressure near the end.
‘All the results went well for us today and we’re back on the top of the league.
Laws on Tudgay:
‘If you give a player stick and criticise him publicly, is that going to bring the best out of him? Of course it isn’t.
‘The only effect it may have on him is that it could make him worse.
‘Marcus is working hard. He may be lacking in confidence in front of goal but he provides a lot in other areas.’