Rotten evening for the cat
Report by Ian Lay
These days taking less time to get to a Watford match than it does to get to work is a luxury for me. Living in Hounslow this game is the easiest to get to, and after the long journey of Wednesday it was nice not to have to leave my house until about ten minutes past two. Even though the game wasn't as good as our encounter with Man City, it was enjoyable enough to keep me on the edge of my seat for most of the game. However, this produced a problem. Being on the edge of my seat meant nearly resting my chin on the head of the bloke in front. In addition it meant bashing my shins on the back of this guys seat. Yep you're right.... roll up roll up, come and see another ground where you've barely got any room to sneeze. I won't go on about it, I've said it before. But I'm sure a lot of you out there know what I'm talking about. It just makes you realise how lucky we are down at the Vic.
Anyway, so the seating was crap but the view was very good. Just behind and to the left of the goal. Anyway, so the defending was crap but the view was good . Just one behind as the ball is slipped inside Miller's left hand post.
Not the best of starts. A ball was played through to Asaba who was being watched by Page. As Robert slid to poke the ball back to Miller his foot got a bit stuck in the muddy pitch and ended up just pushing it about 5 yards. Asaba raced on towards goal only to have his effort blocked at his feet by a brilliant save from Miller. However, the ball spun up into the air and Asaba reacted quickly to steer the ball in from a tightish angle. It was bit unlucky on Watford as Page's error wasn't really his own doing and Miller's save was outstanding. But when you are top of the league I suppose things go your way.
After this early set back we started playing some good football. Johnson had a wild long range effort. Scott was brought down in the box after an excellent run from the just inside the Brentford half. It was down the far end so I couldn't see if it was a penalty or not. Then we had long throw which ended up in a massive scramble in the area. The ball was poked goalwards, but their keeper managed to turn it around his post for a corner.
The corner wasn't a brilliant one. The ball was headed back towards the edge of the box on the left hand side. The ball came down without anyone picking it up and Scott who had his back to the goal, swivelled and twisted to send a dipping shot over the keeper as the ball lifted off the turf. It was a goal of pure class.
After this we continued to press. Gifton had a shot blocked after good work from Bazeley and Gibbs following up sent his shot high and wide. Armstrong was then booked for what I can only imagine the ref thought was a dive. Though it looked very harsh to me. I agree with this rule about booking divers, but you have to be sure. And the ref couldn't have been sure as I don't expect he's seen Armstrong "fall over" before. Unless he's been to a lot of Notts Forest reserve games!!
Armstrong was then involved in the funniest moment of the afternoon. He and their number 8 went for the same ball, and both ended up the ground. They both got up then sank into a squatting position. Then they tried to get up again and squatted again. A third attempt at getting up, but back to the squatting again and finally flat on their backsides. What made this so amusing was the fact that they were both synchronised. Up and down, up and down in perfect harmony. You never know it could be an Olympic sport by the year 2000.
Brentford finished the half the stronger of the two sides. A header from Asaba just wide as he out jumped Gibbs. He really should have got it on target. Also an overhead kick from the same man which Miller took comfortably.
In the second half Andrew replaced Noel-Williams who to be fair looked tired. Apart from a blocked shot he really didn't contribute much. Having his poorest game in the yellow shirt. He needs a break. Starting I think with the Bristol game tomorrow. I wouldn't even have him on the subs bench.
Watford made the first opening of the half. A good run by Bazeley culminating in a shot which the keeper pushed round the post for a corner. Brentford then hit the post after a mishit shot which seemed to be going high and wide looped back and hit the upright. With no one around, Miller had time to gather. Miller then produced another of those great saves at the feet of Asaba. The ball being cleared after the resulting scramble.
For most of the rest of the game we were under the cosh. Brentford continued to create openings and we had to rely on catching them on the counter attack. Unfortunately the man who could have exploited this with his pace spent most of the half on his backside. Andrews is the man I'm talking about, and perfectly honestly contributed nothing for 45 minutes.
Bazeley had another good run which ended in the ball being knocked out for a corner which resulted in a shot by Bazeley after Ludden had knocked it back to him. The shot easily saved though by the Brentford keeper.
The last clear cut chance of the game fell to Brentford. Johnson made a mistake on the half way line and Asaba raced through with only Miller to beat. Somehow though he completely miscued his shot and it rolled gently into Miller's hands.
We'd got a point which though we'd defended well to get, was a bit fortunate. If we'd had the chances that Brentford had, we'd have expected to win.
Andrews who came on for Gifton had as big a nightmare as his taller 17 year old friend. He spent most of his time falling over and when he did manage to stay on his feet he did his normal trick of running whilst staring at his feet. Scott had a useful debut. He has strength and a bit of pace for a big man. He also heads very well, winning a lot of the balls in the air. And of course he scored a great goal. Definitely worth signing. He showed me in 90 minutes what Devon White has failed to show me all season; a bit of intelligence, a bit of control. I feel sorry for Dev. If he had taken his chance and banged a few goals in I'm sure he would be in the side now. But we can't afford sympathy in our position. Scott looks a better player than Dev and also he's 3/4 years younger.
In the middle of the park Palmer had a great game. The sending off in mid-week obviously not affecting him at all. Armstrong on the left also performed well. He gets a little better each game, and could be an asset to us. Only time will tell, but I think he needs to take players on more often. He started doing it a bit more on Saturday. Let's hope he continues to improve.
Bazeley and Johnson, however, went in the opposite direction. Darren for most of the game was non existent. He had a couple of good runs and shots but for the most part he went AWOL. This was a great shame since he had looked so good over the last few games. The one positive thing I can say is that when he did take defenders on, he did worry them. But he must be doing this consistently not 3 or 4 times in a game. Johnson who had a fair first half then went PWOB (present without brain). His passes started going astray. He lost possession on many occasions when he had time to get it to a team mate. And nearly caused us to lose all the points when he made a blunder late on. Johnson looks good when he doesn't have time to think. He tackles well, intercepts passes. But when he gets time to control the ball and has options he tends to make a complete cock up of the whole affair.
The defence was sound as usual. Ward, though he looked unsure at times, continues to develop and looks good cover for Millen or Page. Ludden had a steady if unspectacular match. His defensive qualities are his asset. His attacking qualities he has to work on. But generally he played well.
Page after his early slip bounced back to give his usual solid performance. It's amazing to think this guy is still only 22. The maturity and coolness he exudes is an example to any young player. I think he must have had some tips off Gibbs. Mr. Cool himself. So steady, so collected and so reliable. He was again on Saturday like he has been for most of the season.
Last but by no means least we have Dusty. Miller was in great form. Producing some excellent saves. This was about the busiest I've seen him all season. And he didn't disappoint. Undoubtabley the man of the match. If it weren't for him we would have taken nothing from Griffin Park and I would have had to cook the dinner in a very bad mood. Put it this way, if I had a cat it would have had a really rotten evening!!!
So a good point. Most of the other teams around us either lost or drew (apart from Bury). And considering that most of them were playing at home (Only Crewe were away) we could say to have gotten away with murder. Same old Watford, taking the piss.