Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Sunday January 27 2013
WATFORD head to the West Country this Tuesday as they take on Sean O`Driscoll`s Bristol City in a fixture re-arranged following the Boxing Day washout at Ashton Gate.
The Hornets are just O`Driscoll`s third opposition having taken up the managerial reigns with the Robins following the exit of Derek McInnes earlier in January.
A 1-0 defeat at Leeds United was followed up by a good win over fellow strugglers Ipswich Town on Saturday thanks to Jon Stead`s 90th-minute winner.
Indeed, Watford were O`Driscoll`s penultimate opponent as Nottingham Forest manager before he was unceremoniously dispatched with by the Al-Hasawi`s just hours after beating Leeds United 4-2 at the back end of December.
Fast-forwarding to the present, and O`Driscoll has a new challenge on his hands, and some challenge it is too. Marooned in the relegation zone, Bristol City have not been out of the Championship`s bottom-three since December 17 and have been perilously close to the drop zone, at best, since the middle of October.
With O`Driscoll, you know what you get, a manager who has a very clearly laid-out footballing philosophy which he sticks to and is more often than not, highly successful with.
Despite being sacked by Doncaster Rovers in September 2011, the 55 year-old enjoyed tremendous success at Bell Vue and latterly the Keepmoat, guiding Rovers into the second-tier before retaining that status before the club were relegated under Dean Saunders.
Having taking the vacant manager`s post at Crawley Town over the summer after a short spell as first-team coach under Steve Cotterill at Forest, O`Driscoll was tempted back to the City Ground by the Club`s new owners - the Kuwaiti businessman, the Al-Hasawi`s.
Despite flirting with the Play-Off`s during the early part of the season and remaining in touching-distance of the top-six, O`Driscoll was eventually relieved of his duties to universal disapproval before turning down the vacant managerial posts at Barnsley and Blackpool.
O`Driscoll inherits a squad low on confidence but one which is by no means lacking on ability. The Hornet`s lead the way in goalscoring terms in the Championship with the division`s best average of two a game, but Bristol City are still averaging 1.5 a game themselves - better than the next seven sides above them in the league.
Evidently their biggest problem lies in their inability to keep clean sheets - something they have thus far failed to achieve this season - though O`Driscoll has been quick to add former Forest charge, Brendan Moloney on a free transfer.
One man taking on his fair share of the goalscoring burden is former West Ham United and MK Dons striker, Sam Baldock.
Recruited during the summer transfer window, the Bedford-born forward has bagged nine Championship goals for his new side since making a £1.1m switch from the Boleyn Ground.
Far from regular with the Irons, despite being a Sam Allardyce signing, Baldock made just 10 league starts for the east London outfit, scoring five goals.
Deemed surplus to requirements upon promotion, the 5`7 hitman moved the West Country and has been quick to pick up where he left off - scoring nine from just 13 league starts.
Close behind Baldock in terms of goals is former Derby County and Tranmere Rovers winger-cum-forward, Steven Davies.
The 25 year-old spent four largely inconsistent years at Pride Park before joining the Robins last summer on a free transfer.
Capable of playing wide left or up top, the six-footer still managed to bag 21 league strikes in just 49 starts for the Rams during his stay with the Midlands outfit.
A further eight goals in just six starts for City suggests that the former Tranmere trainee should have played a bigger role at Ashton Gate, with a further 14 substitute appearances during his inaugural season with the club.
In midfield, former Barnet and Harrow Borough winger Albert Adomah is a menace out wide. The jet-heeled trickster remains at Ashton Gate despite numerous suitors during his two-and-a-half-years with the club following a three-year stint with the Bees.
A one-time target of the Hornets, Adomah has chipped in with five goals from 27 appearances himself this season and also boasts six full Ghanaian caps, despite being born in Lambeth.
In midfield, the last legacy of McInnes reign - former Kilmarnock man Liam Kelly - has impressed in his handful of appearances for the Robins since his January arrival.
The 22 year-old spent four years at Rugby Park, notching up just shy of 100 appearances for the SPL outfit before heading south just six days before McInnes parted company with his new Club.
At the back, veteran defender and club captain Louis Carey looks to have found a fan in O`Driscoll, who handed the 36 year-old just his second appearance since November when he selected him for his first match - a 1-0 defeat by Leeds United.
A grizzly, experienced centre-half, Carey has amassed over 250 appearances for the Robins since moving to the club from Coventry in 2005.
Watford`s only injury concern is Tommie Hoban, whilst Bristol City`s only worries are strikers Baldock (calf) and Ryan Taylor.
Bristol City: Heaton; Moloney, Carey (c), Fontaine, Cunningham; Skuse, Kelly, Kilkenny; Anderson, Stead, Baldock.
Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Chalobah, Battocchio, Abdi, Pudil; Vydra & Deeney.
Referee: Mr C Berry.
Date:Sunday January 27 2013
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