11 minutes and 5 seconds* into this game Derby Keeper Stephen Bywater miss kicked his clearance and gave Danny Graham a long range chance. He missed the goal by about a foot. Afterwards a fella sitting behind me said:
“It’s going to be one of those days isn’t it?”
And it was. Did any Watford player play badly – No not really. They just seemed to be off their best. In defence Lee Hodson seemed to be missing a touch and often gave up the ball to Derby. In midfield Don Cowie and Tom Cleverly didn’t play as well as they had. Cowie didn’t turn up all game and Cleverly was very quiet in the first half which lead to youthful frustration and only a few decent moves in the second half. And up front Helguson and Graham had some great chances but were missing the killer edge that we’ve seen banging the goals in. Apart from the long range Graham effort Eustace had a very close chance towards the end of the game which he tipped over. No one played bad, just not what we’ve come to expect this season. Jay Demerit returning to the starting line up was the only player to not put a foot wrong. It gave me a great feeling of stability and confidence having him in the back.
So if it wasn’t a poor performance from Watford then what? For me it was the incredibly negative and often too aggressive play from Derby that limited Watford. It forced the ref to make many of poor decisions that went in both Watford and Derby favour. I don’t think we can blame him 100% for the loss. He made for a very untidy game and young Watford getting more frustrated. Derby were never going to score a goal from open play, and they are one of the poorest footballing sides I’ve seen this season. But they had their tactics and they stuck to them. They came to spoil any kind of attractive and passing football we’re coming to love at Vicarge Road and play spoiler. I hate to say it but Robbie Savage was very good and really controlled the Derby midfield and was the real builder of boring Derby football. He was a cun….ning fella!
What can you take from this game? Well Watford can have bad day and if a team turns up to play negative football and happens to score a goal then we can lose games. Don’t worry too much about it… we’ve got Peterborough next week and they’re proper pants.
*I didn’t look at my watch or write down notes at the game… I looked it up on the BBC website… I’m not that geeky.