WATFORD’S SEVEN match unbeaten run comes to an end at the hands of Blackpool, thanks largely to an inept refereeing display and the Hornets own sloppy performance.
A brace from Swansea City loaner Stephen Dobbir did for Sean Dyche’s side who failed to make their own small selection of chances pay.
Dyche names the same eleven which beat Leeds United last weekend with Adrian Mariappa still missing. The only change was on the bench where Britt Assombalonga took the place of Craig Forsyth.
For the visitors Ian Holloway went once more with the gung-ho selection of attacking quartet Matt Phillips, Thomas Ince, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Dobbie.
The Seasiders started the brighter of the two sides and were extremely unlucky not to go ahead when Ince unleashed a stinging drive which deflected toward Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal.
The giant Pole looked for all the world a beaten man, but somehow managed to launch himself backward at enough of an angle to beat the ball further up in the air. The Manchester United loanee then recovered to punch to ball away from his line for a corner.
After that early scare the Hornets began to settle but it was huff and puff as much as anything with neither side creating any chances through real quality.
In the 25th minute though, the Tangerines did take the lead when Dobbie received the ball from a soft free-kick and set off on a mazy run before poking beyond Kuszczak from the edge of the area.
Watford did finally jolt back into life with that set back and both Sean Murray and Jonathan Hogg both saw half volleys end up going narrowly over Matthew Gilks’ goal.
Skipper John Eustace had a good opportunity for the hosts after the break, drifting a cheeky lob narrowly wide of Gilks’ post from outside the area.
Chris Iwelumo also threatened when he brought down another long ball before cutting inside and lashing a stinging right-footed effort wide from the edge of the 18 yard box.
However, the Hornet’s best period of the game passed by without reward and on the counter attack Kuszczak was adjudged to have brought down the onrushing Ince.
That the ball over the top had rendered the former Liverpool winger comfortably offside and that the penalty award itself was questionable at best, only added to the Goldenboys derision.
Dobbie stepped up and wrong-footed Kuszczak who dived to his right as the Swansea loanee rolled the ball to the ‘keeper’s left.
It was only at 2-0 down that the Hornets actually began to knock the ball around and string some passes around. This was by no means the worst performance of the season, but for much of the game there was nine parts endeavour to one part technique and it was certainly not pretty to watch.
Blackpool for their part did exactly the same, eking the game out at 2-0 up having effectively utilised the pace of Ince and Phillips on the flanks as out-balls. Ian Holloway should however be embarrassed by the way his side, Angel Martinez in particular, threw themselves to the ground with great aplomb – a fact backed up by a foul count weighted 15 – 5 in the visitor’s favour.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Taylor, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, (Assombalonga), Eustace (c), Hogg, Murray (Buaben); Iwelumo & Deeney.
Subs not used: Loach (gk); Bennett & Garner.
Blackpool: Gilks; Eardley, Baptiste (c), Evatt, Harris; Phillips (Lua Lua), Southern, Angel, Ince; Dobbie (Ormerod) & Taylor-Fletcher (Ferguson).
Subs not used: Crainey & Sylvestre.
Referee: Mr J. Linington
Tomasz Kuszczak – 7
Wonder save early on and very hard done by for the second.
Lloyd Doyley – 6
Stuck at the task of tracking Matt Phillips admirably.
Martin Taylor – 6
As solid as expected.
Nyron Nosworthy – 6
A couple of hairy moments but comfortable nonetheless.
Carl Dickinson – 6
Will never win any awards for his technique or ability but always gives 100% and today was no exception as he continued to nullify the threat of Thomas Ince.
Mark Yeates – 5
Didn’t put a ball of note in and was rightly replaced.
John Eustace (c) – 7
Everywhere – as usual.
Jonathan Hogg – 5
Well off the pace in terms of ball retention by his own high standards.
Sean Murray – 6
Chris Iwelumo – 6
Worked hard once more but received little service.
Troy Deeney – 7
If Watford were to score it would have been Deeney. Put in his usual workaholic performance.
Sean Dyche (6) – Would have wanted more from his side in the first half but seemed to have them up for it in the second-half. The long ball was very boring to watch however he was quick to change the system to 4-3-3 after going 2-0 down.
Ian Holloway (7) – His side were effectively set up with the pace of Ince and Phillips really testing Dickinson and Doyley respectively. However, the regularity with which his players hit the deck was almost as frustrating as the manner in which he berated the fourth official and any member of Hornet’s staff.