RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Watford

RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Watford

Football was back.

The international break always seems to last forever and despite us only suffering one weekend without The Wednesday it always seems a lot longer.

Our form before the international break hadn’t been great, with us only picking up two points since that loss to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup.

I said at the time that it would be a test of the players’ character to see how they responded to that defeat and so far it seems to have knocked some of the confidence and swagger out of our play.

Returning home to Hillsborough we also needed to address the fact that so far in the league we had only won once and had dropped a handful of points from winning positions.

Watford would be anything but an easy game but if we could get the victory then it should prove a huge confidence boost to everyone associated with the club.

I don’t need to remind Wednesdayites of our recent matches against Watford. They definitely seem to enjoy coming to Hillsborough and make a habit of finding the back of the net.

No Hope?

No Hope?

Seeing our starting line-up it was great to see that the Hutchinson and Lee partnership was back in the centre. Up front Madine started in place of Nuhiu, a move I didn’t agree with but one I had expected to see after Gray’s comments following the Leeds stalemate, where he talked up Madine’s performance and was less than complimentary towards Atdhe.

Out wide Hallam Hope got a start with Maguire being suspended for picking up 5 bookings. I was disappointed with this change. Whenever Hope has been brought on he has failed to get involved in the game and has looked lightweight. Now I understand you could argue that he hasn’t had much playing time or that it’s hard to come on off the bench but the simple fact is he doesn’t look good enough, especially playing out wide.

You have Jeremy Helan sat waiting very patiently on the bench and he had really impressed me whenever he has been brought on. He’d have been my choice to start and switch Maghoma onto the right.

THE MATCH

The match kicked off and it wasn’t a great opening few minutes, a bit of a none affair. Hutch looked very much up for it and unfortunately this was to be his downfall. We’ve become used to seeing how he throws himself into tackles, often picking up cards due to his over-enthusiasm. This time he went flying into a challenge up in the Watford half, a brilliant tackle but he straight away signalled to the bench.

It looked like he had overstretched and there was a collective groan around Hillsborough. We were all gutted for him.

Having not featured since August he was now heading off after just 6 minutes on his return to action. It was a position on the pitch where he didn’t need to make that kind of challenge but Hutch always gives a full-blooded 100% performance and it had cost him. With any luck it won’t be too serious and he’ll be back alongside Kieran Lee in no time; Stuart Gray said after the game that he was off for a scan – fingers crossed!

Disappointing to see another injury for Hutchinson

Disappointing to see another injury for Hutchinson

Semedo came on in place of Hutchinson and we were looking tired and not working as hard as we’ve come to expect. It was hard to say if the change had knocked us or if we had started slowly, as so little of the match had been played before. Watford were playing some nice football and we weren’t closing them down quickly enough. They looked lively and kept looking for the ball over the top of our defence, clearly part of their gameplan. Fortunately for us they were failing to stay onside but I was sure it would only be a matter of time. Occasionally they did beat the offside trap but over hit their passes.

It was disappointing to see how slow our players were looking and our top performer was Gary Madine. He was looking strong up top and winning the headers, holding the ball up well and bringing others into the game.

In the 21st minute Watford took the lead through one of those balls past our defence. Much to the fury of the home crowd the offside flag wasn’t raised by the linesman and Vydra went sprinting through towards Westwood, he then played a simple ball across the face of goal for Ighalo to tap home. Our fans were going mental and were in disbelief as to how an offside hadn’t been given.

Offside?

Offside?

Personally I thought the run had been timed to perfection and it was difficult to pretend that the goal hadn’t been coming. Watford looked a good side and we didn’t look up to it.

Now after the match I’ve seen loads of people talking about this goal. There’s been plenty of photos where Ighalo is a good few yards offside. Vydra is marginally offside but it is very slight and a difficult call for the linesman. Besides I don’t think we can claim this really affected the outcome of the match…

After the goal we didn’t really improve, we looked lethargic and as though we could do with an international break and a week off! Watford were looking lively, really moving the ball well and passing out from the back. In the 38th minute the Hornets extended their lead and the game was as good as lost for us. Abdi hit a hopeful shot from range which lacked any real power and went straight at Westwood. Our player of the month for September and the most consistent performer this season made an extremely rare mistake. It was as though the ball went through him like a ghost. It definitely wasn’t going to be our day.

HALF TIME  – WEDNESDAY 0-2 WATFORD

When the half-time whistle went it was a bit of a relief as so many of our players were under-performing or having an off-day. If it had been possible I would have changed half the team. Watford are a good side and were playing well, but we were making them look better. It was surprising and disappointing to see us playing like this after our promising start to the season.

A change was made at halftime with Drenthe coming for Hope who had looked very nervous and had been poor out on the right wing. Personally I’d send him back as I don’t think he’s a better option than the players we currently have at our disposal and Gray always says that’s what he wants from his loan players.

Drenthe has been a bit of a let-down since joining – another JJ perhaps, but he really did change the game for us and was our man of the match. At times he can be selfish and make the wrong decisions but he was a lively player in an otherwise limp performance. He ran at their defence, turned players inside out and put a couple of decent balls into the box.

…and Vydra makes it three

We were now causing the Watford defence a few problems and Gray saw this as an opportunity to really go for it, bringing on Nuhiu for Kieran Lee, going 4-3-3. However a minute after this change was made Watford had increased their lead. Our players hadn’t picked up their men, Watford had a throw in on the south-stand side but on the other flank we left two Watford players unmarked, our 3 in midfield not picking up their men.

The ball quickly found its way out there to Vydra who played a one-two before placing an exquisite chip over Westwood to make it 3-0.

For the remainder of the match we had a go at Watford, mainly through Drenthe who had a couple of decent efforts and forced Gomes into some saves. He was fouled a few times, often going down dramatically and late on he was booked for simulation when there may have been contact and we could have been awarded a penalty.

We should have had a penalty from a corner Loovens headed against the post and then Tom Lees met the rebound with his head but was kicked in the face and knocked the ball over the top. How the referee didn’t give us a penalty for dangerous play and a high foot I’ll never know. He instead gave us another corner when it was clearly Lees who had put the ball behind.

FULL TIME – WEDNESDAY 0-3 WATFORD

When the full-time whistle went we could have no complaints at the result or the scoreline, Watford could easily have scored more. More frustrating is how we sat off them, allowed them to play, and made them look an even better side.

There was plenty of booing aimed towards the referee but really I think our fans just needed somebody to aim their frustration at.

We hadn’t played well and quickly need to rectify our home form or we’ll slide down the table.

Stuart - sort it out!

Stuart – sort it out!

We have a difficult few games coming up, a trip to Brentford on Tuesday followed by a match against Norwich at Hillsborough before heading for Charlton. If we can continue picking up points on our travels and start performing at home then we have nothing to worry about but if we play as we did against Watford then we have problems.

Gray needs to do some work with our defence as the last few games it just hasn’t been good enough and I think we’ve been hiding behind our impressive goals conceded stat which has mainly been due to Westwood. Our defending hasn’t been good enough, certainly not yesterday and we were sloppy in possession. The last few matches we’ve given silly freekicks away and invited pressure onto ourselves and then not picked up from set pieces.

We are better than this and we’ve proved it already this season. We have a chance to bounce back straight away at Brentford on Tuesday and let’s hope we do that. Norwich lost again (and to Fulham!) so that is a winnable game on Saturday if we play as well as we know we can do.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

Charlie
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @THEsharpey and @OwlsAlive


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