Saturday, 22nd November 2003
There’s a rather good Watford website called Blind Drunk And Stupid. I think if I were setting up my own site after yesterday’s match I’d give it a similar title along the lines of Cold, Wet and Miserable which just about sums up how I felt after the match yesterday. I had the day all planned out. Early start, pick up KUMB regular Romford and the gang in the Gnomemobile and get to the Met’s sports ground in time to watch the egg-chasing final before playing the Watford supporters side. Pop over to Vicarage Road and see Pardew’s first victory then a leisurely drive home.
Well the Rugby went ok. Even the 2-0 defeat to the Watford supporters wasn’t too upsetting as it was a good sporting match. However we lost a player to a suspected dislocated shoulder. Unfortunately he took my warm coat with him to the hospital. The horrendous traffic in Watford meant I had to walk for miles in torrential rain and the lack of a raincoat meant that I arrived at the match doing a reasonable impersonation of a drowned rat having missed the first 20 minutes. I hope for those watching that the first 20 minutes were full of wonderful scintillating football, because the remaining 70 weren’t. To be fair to both sets of players the conditions were absolutely atrocious. Although the pitch held up well, there was a lot of surface water about and it must have been difficult to judge the pace of the ball.
The one real moment of decent football in the match came shortly after I arrived at the ground. A move of beauty involving 5 men with Carrick at its heart found Connolly in the box only for the angry ant (and ex-hornet) to put his shot into the side netting. Connolly, who was booed throughout by the home supporters (something to do with the circumstances of his transfer to Feyenoord I understand), got into good positions on a few occasions but unfortunately shot either wide or tamely into goalkeeper Pidgely’s arms.
Although we dominated the first half (or what I saw of it anyway) we needed James to be at his most alert on a couple of occasions towards the end of the 45. Firstly he tipped a volley from distance from Devlin. Then came the best save of the match. We only partly cleared a corner on the left and a shot from an unidentified Watford player took a sharp deflection but James managed to get down remarkably sharply to block the ball just in front of the line.
The second half was almost a mirror image of the first. Whereas Watford had conceded much of the midfield in the first period, allowing us to get forward, we seemed content to defend deep and allow them to get forward. However, in similar vein, Watford were unable to capitalise on the possession. We did have a couple of mad moments, most notably when James came for a couple of crosses and spilled them. Thankfully Watford were unable to take advantage. A later spell saw the ref turn down penalty appeals at either end. Firstly a Webber header hit Pearce apparently on the arm (it was a flipping long way from me so there’s an element of guesswork involved here). Then, as we broke away from the incident, a long ball was played towards Connolly who, in a battle of muscles, was never going to win out against Gayle. In truth neither incident really looked like a penalty to me although in terms of the “handball” I’ll admit my vantage point was poor.
As a side note I thought that the ref, Mr Prosser, had a decent match. He seemed very keen to let the game flow and noticeably allowed advantage to be played wherever possible. Having had to endure the idiot we had against West Brom, Mr Prosser’s realisation that he was there to allow a match to happen rather than to impose his own agenda on the day made a refreshing change and I for one would find the odd human error a lot more bearable if all referees adopted this approach.
Late on Garcia, who had replaced the largely ineffective Deane, had a good chance on the break. However the Aussie’s shot went narrowly wide to add to his world cup woes. Garcia was certainly not deserving, however, of the moronic abuse he received from an individual sat near me, and he should take some comfort that the monosyllabic idiot used virtually the same insult for everyone from the tannoy announcer to the ball boys. It was miserable enough getting hypothermia without having to listen to that idiot exercise his brain cell. Anyhow despite some late and not very convincing pressure on the Watford goal, the game petered out to finish goalless. Which, in all honesty, was about the right result.
Thankfully I’d managed to get my coat back after the match and was spared the walking through the rain bit thanks to a lift back to the time zone where I’d left the Gnomemobile. I was re-united with Romford & co at a pleasant hostelry where we decided that, on balance, the beer garden was not the place to be. A journey home on a canal that turned out to be the M25 was hardly made more bearable by listening to a succession of Southampton and Leeds supporters (all of whom sounded suspiciously alike) on the radio whine about which is the bigger club in a manner akin to two bald men fighting over a comb.
The longer we go on without a win the more downheartening days like these become. It’s even got to the stage where my doctor has started taking the mickey - “hopefully you’ll show some signs of improvement well before West Ham do” she informed me last week. Cheers doc, thanks a bundle!
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Make one great save from a deflected first half shot but looked uncomfortable in the driving rain.
Did his job under difficult conditions. Made several encouraging forays up the right flank.
Made some good tackles but still looks uncomfortable when in possession.
Danny Webber aint no Van Nistelrooy but like the Dutchman he got little change from Dailly.
Looked slow and cumbersome at times, one fears for his future even at this level.
Uncharacteristically got stuck into the Watford midfield. Little end product however.
A fair first half, a poor second. Again, something seems to be missing for the new boy right now.
The target for the long ball lumped upfield. Ineffective, however - and duly replaced in the second half as he tired.
Fairly anonymous although offered some cheer to the travelling faithful with a couple of well executed sliding tackles in the mud.
Disappointing, and notably shied one or two tackles.
Snatched at a couple of opportunities and looked like a man who had spent recent weeks on the sidelines.
(Replaced Deane, 67) Went close with our best effort of the match but offered little else bar a touch of width. Sadly booed by some fans upon his arrival.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Hayden Mullins.
West Ham United
Sent Off: .
Pidgely, Smith, Brown, Cox, Gayle, Hyde, Venazza, Devlin, Ardley, Webber, Fitzgerald.
Subs not used: Chamberlain, Dyche, Hand, Cook, Dyer.
Booked: Haas (42).
Sent Off: .