Sunday, 5 February 2012

Watford 2-1 Barnsley, Away from the Daggers.

Watford defeated Barnsley 2-1 with two superb John Eustace goals in a game which the hornets dominated from start to finish. Regular viewers will probably ask why I'm not doing a Dagenham & Redbridge report. Simple answer is, the Daggers match away at Morecambe was postponed due to a frozen pitch on Friday afternoon, meaning I had to find another game to entertain myself. As Watford were the only accessible home game in London and it was a ground neither myself, Billy, Charlie or Matt had ticked off; it was the obvious option.
Several trains from Chadwell Heath, Stratford, Bank & Euston meant we arrived at Watford High Street Station at around 14:20 where it was absolutely freezing. A short five minute walk down a crowded road and we were at Vicarage Road where we picked up our tickets, after a hunt for the ticket office; before finally getting through the automated turnstiles just before kickoff. A brief hunt around as to which way to go and we found ourselves moving to the right, which lead us straight through into the stadium complex.
The Rookery Stand.

First impressions, a very nice ground, bar the far side which was effectively abandoned. I assume this is due to safety concerns as it houses the old style terracing which is probably not considered safe anymore. The main stand (our one), looked fantastic and particularly modern which gave it a nice edge. The Rookery Stand to the right of us is where the vocal Watford supporters sit and it was largely filled up which gave the ground a decent atmosphere. It is akin to the Kop, but on a smaller level, still a very nice stand.

The final stand is the Vicarage Road Stand, as you may have guessed, it is situated along Vicarage Road. It houses both the away fans and a section of home supporters, from what I could tell the majority of the home support here was rather young. It is quite large and also gave a good atmosphere. As you may guess all of the used area's are under cover meaning the whole ground is enclosed, however if it was to rain in a particular direction you would get soaked.

Our view was magnificent, four rows up from the bottom in the dead centre of the pitch meant we had a panoramic view of the action. The teams came out dead on 15:00 to good applause and a rendition of Z Cars playing, coincidentally my favourite song that a team comes out too.

The teams were as follows,

Watford: Loach, Hodson, Mariappa, Doyley, Nosworthy, Eustace, Kacaniklic, Murray, Hogg, Deeney, Garner. Subs: Bond, Dickinson, Yeates, Bauben, Iwelumo.

Watford were infact completely unchanged from the side that defeated Millwall at The Den on Tuesday evening. Not only was the starting eleven the same, the substitutes were as well, something that I've rarely seen doing this Blog.

Barnsley: Steele, Edwards, Foster, Wiseman, McNulty, Done, Perkins, Smith, Tonge, Davies, Gray. Subs: Preece, Hassell, Golbourne, Doyle, Dagnall. 

Barnsley were also unchanged regarding the starting eleven after defeating promotion chasing Derby County at Oakwell during the week. Their only change was on the substitutes bench, where Noble Lazarus who holds the record for the youngest ever player to play in the Football League at 15 years and 45 days, was replaced by new signing from Exeter City, Scott Golbourne. Their other main signing, Stephen Dawson from Leyton Orient, was not fit so he will have to wait at least another week to make his debut for Keith Hills mid table side.

We were off at a freezing Vicarage Road, described as an "Ice Box" later in the day on the Football League Show. The opening phase of the game was very drab, with both sides finding their feet and their level. Watford were attempting to play some neat, on the floor football, but the final pass let them down on a couple of occasions in the early stages. Just before the ten minute mark and the first shot of the game was mustered by former Walsall man Troy Deeney. His effort from 20 yards out was well blocked Craig Davies to avert the danger.

Just before the 15 minute mark in the game, Watford came dangerously close to breaking the deadlock. The ball came in from the left hand side, but Joe Garner completely fluffed his lines, meaning the ball ran outside the box to an unmarked Nyron Nosworthy, formerly of Sunderland. He spotted an on running John Eustace and dually played the ball into his path. Eustace ran onto it and unleashed a right foot shot that just curled around the near post, an attempt that definitely gave visiting keeper Luke Steele a fright.

We then endured a lull in play, until Jim McNulty got himself into the referee's notebook for a poor challenge on Lee Hodson inside the Barnsley half. From the resulting free kick Alex Kacanikilic tried his luck; however his speculative effort went over the bar and out of play for a goal kick. Watford were dominating in this contest, but were as yet unable to find that all important breakthrough. Barnsley then managed to get away their first attempt of the match. An out swinging corner from Michael Tonge eventually found its way to Rob Edwards, whose unmarked header was saved comfortably by England Under 21 'keeper Scott Loach.

Match Action & Cringey Ball Boy Jacket.
 As with these sorts of games, the team that does all the attacking usually concedes first on the break away. But not today. Watford took a deserved lead on 32 minutes. Sean Murray’s free kick was deflected into the path of John Eustace in the Barnsley penalty area. Eustace was facing away from goal, but tried his luck with an acrobatic effort which found its way past Steele, off the post into the back of the net. An absolutely superb strike from Eustace, saw two & a half sides of Vicarage Road celebrate, myself included. Not only were Watford leading, I now had some feeling back in the lower part of my body.

After this I then decided to try the cuisine at Watford. After a leap across several seats we made our way up into the "teabar" area, where we only encountered a short cue. First thing, Watford are the only club I've ever seen offer haribo! I decided to have a hot dog that was priced at £3.20, it was of good quality although it was a little on the small side. Reports from the rest were that the Chicken Balti pies were good, as were the sausage rolls. As this was happening we also witnessed a yellow card for Michael Tonge after he made a rough challenge on Kacaniklic. That is possibly the worst name to have when you're trying to Blog!

Your resident Blogger at Vicarage Road.
 That was the last action of the first half in essence and Watford went into the break a goal to the good. One player whom I was particularly impressed with, but I haven't mentioned was Jonathan Hogg. He was doing the dirty work for Watford, making the tackles and really running the show. Not only that, but some bloke sitting two rows behind us was like his motivational speaker, he just didn't shut up about him! We were then treated to something that we will never see the likes of at Dagenham. Soccer Saturday on the Scoreboard! The main good news was that Plymouth were losing to Southend which helped our relegation endeavours.

As the teams came back out for the second half and I began to lose all feeling due to the cold, Keith Hill decided to make his first substitution of the match. Prolific striker Chris Dagnall, formerly of Hill's old side Rochdale; came on for the somewhat ineffective Matty Done. Near enough straight from the kick off and yet another yellow card was shown, once again to a Barnsley player. Stephen Foster made a mistimed challenge on Troy Deeney who couldn’t make himself vanish quick enough. Yellow card to Foster.

Match Action.
 Much like the first half, the game restarted at a very slow pace, with only some good Watford wing play brightening up the dreary spectacle. Keith Hill then decided to make his second change of the afternoon, with the introduction of new signing Scott Golbourne for the tiring Michael Tongue, as Barnsley pushed for an equaliser. The hornets then managed to get their first shot of the half away, a Sean Murray effort going over the bar, not troubling the scoreboard operator in the slightest.

Troy Deeney then should have really got his name on the scoresheet, and doubled the lead. An inswinging cross from the right hand side found Deeney unmarked about six yards from goal. All he seemingly had to do was position the ball into the back of the net, but he completely misjudged it, furthermore he ended up skying the ball over the bar. A fantastic opportunity wasted, but would it come back to haunt Sean Dyche's men later in the match?

The referee was then into his pocket once more as he gave Hogg a yellow card, Watford's first booking of the match for "petulance", as I like to call it. Keith Hill then made his third and final change of the afternoon as the Tyke's looked to become more attacking. Jim McNulty was replaced by pacey Derbyshire born midfield Nathan Doyle who could perhaps cause a new threat down the flanks.

However, it was not to be and just minutes after the change Watford seemingly put the game out of sight. A throw on the far side from Lloyd Doyley, found Joe Garner inside the box. Garner held off a Tyke's defender before succumbing to another who headed the ball straight into Eustace's path. Eustace got the ball, ran straight through the defence, before slotting home a neat right foot finish to all but seal the Watford victory. That was the captain's fifth of the season after yet more good combination play between himself & Garner.

Sean Dyche then finally made his first change of the afternoon; bringing off Alex Kacaniklic, who had played an exceptional game, causing various problems as well as being a threat from set pieces. He was replaced by Ghanaian midfielder Prince Bauben, who has previously won the Scottish Cup with Dundee United. Shortly after the change, both Troy Deeney & Lee Hodson shot over the bar as the Hornets looked to further increase their lead.

Yet more Watford pressure looked as though it would herald another goal for the home side. However, Barnsley weren't finished yet and with just over five minutes remaining, they gave their 522 supporters a glimmer of hope. Craig Davies delivered a ball into the box following a poor Watford clearance. The ball in, was nodded on by a Watford defender to the on rushing Scott Golbourne making his debut. The 23 year old made no mistake and side footed a first time shot into the far corner to make the score 2-1 and set up a frantic finale.

As you may expect, the Watford fans were now getting on their teams back whenever they didn't have the ball, but they did just about hang on. The only thing of note being a late scrap towards the end, involving both sets of players, this was triggered by a clash between Foster & Garner. The final score was 2-1, a deserved Watford victory in a very mediocre mid table affair.

Players that impressed me from Watford were Eustace obviously, with two exquisite finishes, as well as Hogg who continuously got stuck in and really drove the Hornets to victory. A rather enjoyable day at Vicarage Road as most football fans sat at home after their game was called off. Another ground ticked off, moreover I may consider watching a couple of more games at Watford if I can't make a Daggers match. On top of that there was a really friendly atmosphere around the ground.

As for the Daggers, Plymouth resurrected their old habit of scoring in the dying seconds, not once, but twice, to deny Southend. An unexpected point for the Pilgrims which hots up the fight for survival in League Two. Next up for us is a vital six pointer at home to Northampton Town next week, and remember its kids for a quid so let’s try and get a bumper attendance at Victoria Road for that one.

Watford face a trip to Nottingham Forest next Saturday, whilst Barnsley are at home to in form Birmingham City.

Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

The Vicarage Road Stand.


  1. nice blog mate. glad you enjoyed your day at the vic and hope you come back sometime, its always nice to get the perspective of a neutral.

    it certainly wasn't a great footballing spectacle, but like you said think we deserved three points on the balance of play in the end. i was a bit disappointed with our second half display, and the crowd were a bit quiet but ill put that down to the freezing cold weather.

    the east stand opposite where you were sitting has actually been condemned and is structurally unsound. we are waiting to complete work on some new changing rooms between the rookery and the rous, before we can knock it down.

    Optimistichornet from

  2. Very good write up. You're welcome back to Vicarage Road anytime! Best of luck for the rest of the season, hope the Daggers can keep their league status.

  3. Good stuff keep it up, hornets fan

  4. Only a league 2 fan could be impressed with our stadium!

    Great write up, very thorough, feel free to come back any time!

  5. Nicely written piece. Good luck to you guys for the rest of the season from another Hornets fan

  6. Very good right up mate better than that dross on the Beeb !!

  7. I echo what the other WFC fans have said above. Very good write-up, and you're welcome to come back to watch (and blog about) future matches.

  8. Great blog. The Vic is considerably warmer if you wear a coat!!!

  9. A very honest write up and its great to hear the view of a neutral. Im glad you liked the ground and the food. Its not often we hear that from visitors. You are partly right about the opposite stand. Its the old East stand which has been there since the 1920's when the ground was first constructed and was deemed unsafe in 2004. We are currently planning to develop the corner to your right so that it will house the players facilities and the tunnel and once thats done we will demolish and rebuild the East stand. Also the stand to your left is the Family stand, which is why a lot would have been kids.

  10. As I've said on your club forum, thanks for reading it guys, it makes it worth it when you enjoy what I write. You're a great bunch of fans and very welcoming so I'll definitely be back down Vicarage Road in the future!

  11. Excellent piece of work fella, you seemed to have summed up the club both fairly & accurately with a spot on assessment of the players mentioned. For home fans the food is pretty good. On occasions the club show a televised early k/o & provide a plate of hot food free with every soft/alcoholic drink bought.
    Come on you 'Orns.

  12. Queue not cue and "haribo" is a proper noun so H.

    However I enjoyed the read, well done.