Watford v Scunthorpe United

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Football League Championship

Watford0(0)Scunthorpe United2(2)

Byrne 28, Woolford 45+1

Watford :
Loach, A.Taylor, M.Taylor, Mariappa, Doyley, Eustace, McGinn, Bryan, Mutch (Walker 82), Graham (Deeney 64), Sordell (Whichelow 73).
Subs not used:
Gilmartin, Hodson, Bennett, Buckley.

Scunthorpe United :
Warner, Byrne, Raynes, Mirfin, Nolan, Togwell, Woolford, O'Connor, J.Wright, Dagnall (Thompson 73), Sears (Forte 85).
Subs not used:
Slocombe, Canavan, McClenahan, Collins, Grant.


by Watford Observer at Vicarage Road

DISAPPOINTING Watford missed the opportunity to move within two points of the top two in the Championship after they were beaten 2-0 by Scunthorpe United at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets were subdued from the outset and the damage was done by first-half goals from Cliff Byrne and Martyn Woolford.

Malky Mackay's men huffed and puffed, but they struggled to create anything clear-cut, and failed to score for the first time in nine outings as Scunthorpe claimed only their second victory in the last 12 meetings between the two clubs.

After a quiet opening to the game it was the visitors, playing a 4-5-1 formation, who had the first opening in the fourth minute when on-loan West Ham United striker Freddie Sears raced away down the left and his ball into the six-yard box found Woolford, who was able to turn, but his shot was blocked.

Watford responded by winning their first corner and, from it, Michael Bryan cut in from the left side, but his curling effort struck the head of a defender.

Iron won their first corner in the 11th minute and Scott Loach had to be careful not to carry the ball over his line when David Mirfin looped a header goalwards and just beneath the bar, but the Hornets keeper was able to gather safely.

The match continued to be fairly subdued though, until the 22nd minute when Sears warmed Loach's gloves with a shot towards the near post after the hosts had played themselves into trouble down the right side of their defence.

Watford were still struggling to get going and they got a rude awakening in the 28th minute when Iron took the lead.

The hosts never properly cleared their lines following a corner from the right and the ball fell nicely to skipper Byrne on the edge of the area to strike a right-footed shot that went inside the far post and past the dive of Loach, who may well have been unsighted until it was too late.

Within four minutes though, the Hornets could have been level.

Bryan attacked down the right and sent over a deep cross to Danny Graham, who headed back across goal where Lloyd Doyley, who had ventured forward in support of the attack, found himself unmarked, but he headed well off target.

But this gave Watford the spark they had been lacking. Twice Bryan sent in dangerous crosses, as the Hornets forced three corners in a good spell of pressure, and then Adrian Mariappa headed back to the edge of the area where Bryan was able to tee it up before firing narrowly wide of the far post past the static Tony Warner.

Iron responded by winning three corners in quick succession as the half drew to a close and, as the game went into the first of two minutes of time added on, they doubled their lead.

Michael O'Connor crossed from the right and, although Mariappa tried to head clear, he could only pick out the unmarked Woolford, who fired into the ground and past Loach to give Scunthorpe a healthy two-goal cushion.

Jordon Mutch had a shot deflected well wide and Martin Taylor looped a header towards goal as the Hornets tried to get back into the contest before the break, but they headed for the dressing room not only 2-0 down, but having failed to score at the Rookery End for the seventh successive game.

The Hornets switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation at the start of the second half, but there was little immediate improvement, although in the 50th minute Warner had to touch behind a useful Bryan cross from the right.

Marvin Sordell then burst into the area from the opposite side and picked out Graham, but his effort was blocked as the hosts tried to up the ante. Next, Sordell glanced a header across the face of goal following an Andrew Taylor cross from the left.

But it took a superb finger-tip save from Loach to prevent his side from going 3-0 down in the 58th minute when Sears curled a shot towards the keeper's bottom left corner after breaking forward from the left.

Scunthorpe won a free-kick in a good position soon after but, after Graham had become the first player to be booked for speaking out of turn, O'Connor's 25-yard effort went harmlessly over.

The Hornets suffered another blow in the 64th minute when Graham was forced out of the contest with a back problem and was replaced by Troy Deeney. Sordell also needed treatment soon after, but he was able to continue.

Stephen McGinn struck the hosts' first on-target attempt of the half straight at Warner with just over 20 minutes remaining, but they were closer still to equalising moments later when some brave defending at the far post prevented John Eustace from getting on the end of a good, deep Bryan cross.

Iron boss Ian Baraclough made his first change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Garry Thompson for Chris Dagnall, and this was instantly followed for a very significant moment for one Watford youngster as Matt Whichelow came on for his first-team debut in place of Sordell.

The home side continued to produce half chances, with Martin Taylor, by this stage pushed up front, having a volley blocked wide following the hosts' 12th corner of the afternoon.

Watford's third and final change came eight minutes from time when Josh Walker replaced Mutch, while Warner was booked for time wasting soon after.

Loach had to block a shot at his near post from Thompson before Sears made way for Jonathan Forte after 85 minutes. But the last nine minutes, including four for stoppages, passed without much incident, save for Deeney getting booked after catching Mirfin late and Eustace blasting over when a reasonable shooting opportunity presented itself.

MALKY Mackay described Saturday's defeat to Scunthorpe United as "a bad day at the office" and conceded Watford deserved to lose on Saturday.

First-half goals from Cliff Byrne and Martyn Woolford handed Scunthorpe a 2-0 lead at half time and the Hornets rarely looked like salvaging something from a poor performance.

"I was disappointed that we seemed to be second best with a lot that went on," Mackay said.

"Obviously goals change games and if we had got one earlier on then Scunthorpe have to come out a little bit more and attack. Fair credit to them, they stuck to their game plan and slowed the game down.

"I think the referee has a bit to play in that as well because when their goalkeeper is grabbing the ball and putting it back on the pitch when we are about to take a corner, then if the referee is stricter at that point then he doesn't have to book him in the 85th minute.

"That is not an excuse though because Scunthorpe deserved to win.

"We had a good chat about where we are at the moment," Mackay continued.

"The players are obviously disappointed in the way they played because they have been nothing short of magnificent since the first day of pre-season.

"It is where we are at, we have a young squad and now and again inconsistency is something that can happen and today [Saturday] was a bad day at the office."

Mackay was particularly unhappy with the manner in which Watford conceded Scunthorpe's goals, as both came from the Hornets' failure to clear their lines and win the 'second ball'.

Mackay said: "If we had lost goals like we did last week at Portsmouth then you hold your hands up as it is something that happens, good goals. But we are disappointed with the goals we conceded today. We will break it down and look at it on Tuesday."

Watford carried little threat on Saturday and Mackay stressed the importance of the whole side, and not just the two strikers, in contributing to goals.

The Hornets boss said: "If we are relying on our front two to score and they don't then we need someone else to make a difference and today we didn't have enough of that."

Despite the poor performance, Mackay still praised his side's attitude this season.

"I would take them into the trenches with me every day because they have been nothing sort of magnificent this season," Mackay said, "they are very honest and give everything they have got. Today we were just that half a yard off."

Scunthorpe's tactics of packing the midfield and slowing down the tempo of the game paid off, with Iron boss Ian Baraclough stating it is rare that a manager's game plan is executed so well.

Baraclough said: "We knew Watford were high tempo, they would have their professional ball boys on the sideline getting the ball in very quickly and I asked them to do a disciplined role where we managed the game time ourselves and I felt a lot more comfortable when we were in possession knowing that if we did lose possession then we were a solid back six, if you like.

"We took our chances and it is very, very rare where you plan a game and it goes exactly how you want it, so I am delighted."

Baraclough praised Watford's start to the season and claims his Scunthorpe side have used the Hornets as an example of what they can achieve.

When asked if he was surprised by how 'poor' Watford had played, the former QPR and Notts County defender said: "You put it on Watford and say they were poor but for me, that is great credit to how we went and stifled them.

"They want to play to a high tempo, they want to play fast flowing football, they want to try and make you as disjointed as possible and they have always got the threat at set pieces from big Martin Taylor.

"It was credit to our lads that we managed the time well. Malky and Sean [Dyche] were going crazy on the sideline because they thought we were time wasting but I think it was professionalism the way we managed it.

"For me, I wouldn't say Watford were poor, I think the way we played made them look that way."