My first look at the sleek, sexy, stylish soccer being played down at Vicarage Road, and I have to confirm, I was more impressed with the heart, grit, detirmation and motivation from the dugout to the pitch throughout the second half. Had it not been for Watford remembering their old values of never giving up and working for one another, then the style of victory would`ve been irrelevant, as victory would have been impossible.
Sure Watford scarcely resorted to the ‘long ball` tag of last year, and when they did it was from the boot of Mart Poom 9/10. Ironic therefore that the Ipswich goal came from a Poom howler, laid the ball back by league debutant Jordan Parkes, Poom scuffed his clearance straight to Pablo Counago who controlled before slipping into the bottom-right-hand corner past Poom who recovered to attempt to stop the shot.
When the Hornets did carve out a chance of real note, it fell to Jon Harley who saw his diving head at the far post strike the inside of the opposite post and trickle into Richard Wright`s hands before the midfielder could tuck home. Tamas Priskin then saw his penalty appeal waived away having rounded a handful of Town defenders and ‘keeper Wright, Priskin either lost his feet or was helped to the floor, but nothing giving when one-on-one with an empty net.
With the crowd on top of Watford, the home side become more and more desperate to get the ball forward, passes went astray, and often too long for the intended target or beyond the obvious, more simple destination.
The interval saw the removal of Jordan Parkes to introduce John Joe-O`Toole, and credit must here be handed to Mr Boothroyd as for the second time in a week, John-Joe proved the difference with the winner. However, it was his midfield partner, John Eustace who first got the Hornets level. A Lee Williamson corner found the head of the ex-Stoke man who powered past Richard Wright for the first goal in Yellow.
This goal galvanised Eustace who had otherwise been poor, failing to cover anywhere near as much ground as necessary and picking up his virtually obligatory yellow card for the week. Goals breed confidence they say and Eustace`s led to a much improved second half.
Also improved was Priskin who cleverly picked out the run of Jobi McAnuff, the blind side of Wright and one-on-one with the looming goal as he managed to smash Priskin`s low centre against the bar from about a yard.
When the winner did come, it was richly deserved as Lee Williamson had seen his chance for glory blocked by Richard Wright`s sprawling hand and Liam Henderson was bundled over by the former Gooner ‘keeper.
Finally, the winner came through Eire U21 cap, John Joe O`Toole who added to his midweek volley with a fine close-range header after Liam Henderson`s shot was parried skyward by Wright. From close range, O`Toole looped his effort over Wright`s hands to give Watford all three points.
Full time: 2-1
It wouldn`t be fair to say the style of play hasn`t changed, it has, and it`s improved drastically. However, the first half looked like a bunch of strangers had met for the first time without the benefit of 6 weeks pre-season practice.
Time will surely improve the quality, accuracy and infiltration of the football, but for now, it`s just a relief to be scoring and winning.
Wright; Volz, McAuley (c), Naylor, Thatcher; Walter, Trotter, Campo, Miller; Counago and Lisbie.
Referee: Mr L. Probert
Poom – 6
Howler for Ipswich goal but did not affect his confidence for remaining 82 mins.
Doyley – 6
Never looked in any great danger
DeMerit – 6
Controlled and assured at the back.
Bromby – 6
Solid, accurate with ball.
Parkes – 6
Full debut, barely showed until replacement after 45′
McAnuff – 7
Prepared to take men on and crossing improved.
Eustace – 6
Poor but goal galvanised former skipper.
Williamson – 6
Didn’t waste the ball and created leveller.
Harley – 6
Unlucky to see goal deny him, worked hard and defender well.
Smith – 6
Workmanlike but unspectacular.
Priskin – 5
Guess what? Offered nowt.