In a season where we've had little, or any luck [or did it all come during our 4-month spell on top?], Watford's luck most definitely deserted them as Hull City cruised past the Hornets 2-0 in the midday heat.
This defeat, making it just one win in 16 for the Hornets means that Hull can virtually begin planning their trip to Wembley with there being little realistic hope of Watford getting back in the tie at the Kingston Communication's Stadium. The two key characters in this bizarre plot were Boaz Myhill, Hull City's 'keeper in exceptional form, and Mr Kevin Friend, the man in black, who was in equally exceptional form - exceptionally useless.
It took Mr Friend just four minutes to stamp his influence on the game, wrongly disallowing Dan Shittu's header from a corner. A push by Leigh Bromby was the reason given, but it was one of those even the opposing fans failed to spot. Silly us!
Watford were not to be denied by the disallowed goal and continued to press Hull, Jobi McAnuff enjoying the beating of Sam Ricketts down the right on numerous occasions, his best chances identical, on both occasions cutting inside and cracking dipping efforts goalwards only for Wales cap Myhill to deny with his agility. However, such is the way with Watford and the chances were not taken clinically enough, and before long, Hull snatched their opener against the run of play. Make hay whilst the sun shines as they say. Well, the sun was down yet Hull took the lead through veteran Nicky Barmby. Good work down the right from Frazier Campbell was rewarded by former Liverpool and Everton man Barmby who turned his low cross past Richard Lee.
The second came not long after and in similar circumstances as the visitors broke away and were only denied by Leigh Bromby deflecting a shot against the bar - that was only temporary relief though for the Horns as Dean Windass followed up with a neat header.
The home side were disappointed yes, but never despondent, and tore straight back out the blocks dominating the rest of the first half yet unable to find a way past the outstanding Myhill.
If Bo Myhill's first half antics between the sticks had been impressive, the second half saw him produce several more wonder stops. Mat Sadler was the first to test his resolve amongst a string of corners, Dan Shittu's cross was met by the left back whose tucked first-time volley was clawed out by Myhill as it looked set to nestle in the right-hand corner.
Tommy Smith then saw the American-born stopper claw his effort off the line from another corner before it was hoofed away. The turning point in the game came just after the hour mark when Mr Friend, not to be outstaged by excellent goalkeeping, sent-off John Eustace for a 'two footed challenge' on a Hull player. The resulting attempted right hook from Ian Ashbee went un-noted and unpunished as Eustace was sent off for what looked like falling over a teammate.
Sick as a parrot? As sick as ten, Nathan Doyle squaring up to sub Jay DeMerit before raising his hands and pushing the American was sanctioned by a telling-off. So much for following the letter of the law; rumours that Mr Friend has a Hull City tattoo are as yet, unconfirmed.
Watford were not to be deterred by their two goal and two man difference as they continued to take the game to Hull City, Jobi McAnuff and Tommy Smith working their socks off down their respective flanks. Even Tamas Priskin was spotted with some fire, or goulash, in his belly as he trickled past two Hull defenders before cracking an effort from an acute angle which Myhill beat away.
Down, but not yet out, it`s only half time, anything can happen, this is football…
Myhill; Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Dawson; Garcia, Ashbee (c), Hughes, Barmby; Windass and Campbell.
Referee: Mr K Friend
Lee - 6
Shittu - 6
Eustace - 6
Williamson - 6
McAnuff - 7
Ellington - 6
Ainsworth - 6
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