Hornets and Eagles draw blanks on day one
Better than expected, much better than expected. For those doom-mongers [myself included], I don`t really think you can pick much fault with a goalless draw and the best of the chances away at Crystal Palace.
Yes, Tamas Priskin has shown that he really isn`t the man to lead the line, and that has to be our area to strengthen before the transfer window closes but the green shoots of recovery are certainly more than visible.
Watford had the better chances at Selhurst whilst both sides lined up with an adaptable 4-3-3 cum 4-5-1, Watford utilised their new system better. Tommy Smith and Jobi McAnuff are ideally suited to flanking a forward player, and for all Priskin`s trickery, pace, and height, the Hungarian lacks the killer instinct and strength to battle off rugged centre halves.
Indeed both sides saw their forward man volley good chances over in the first half as Priskin started the trend early on before James Scowcroft - a reported Hornets target had a quiet game following his first half miss which cleared the crossbar. Victor Moses did come close for Palace, turning Lloyd Doyley before dragging a left footed effort just wide of Mart Poom`s far post.
On his return to the Palace, McAnuff put Priskin in one-v-one with a Palace defender who had the simplest of tasks to outmuscle the forward. Had that have been Marlon King or Darius Henderson, one would`ve felt it a safer bet for a goal or at the very least, a goalbound effort. McAnuff then turned a chance straight at Speroni from Smith`s pass before he pinged another effort toward the top corner for Speroni to athletically fingertip to safety.
Priskin showed a neat touch to turn a defender before curling an effort from wide left of the penalty area toward the far corner, Speroni again flinging himself to deny Watford a goal.
Half Time: 0-0
Boothroyd`s men continued to turn the screw, Williamson laid off before shooting at Speroni who parried his blast to safety and Doyley who lumped wide by several yards.
Debutant Jon Harley did have the ball in the net at the far post, but his smile was short lived as his strike was ruled out, correctly, for offside. Palace then roared straight up the other end to see Scowcroft denied by Poom before Butterfield somehow managed to shoot all the way out for a throw in from a not impossible angle toward a virtually empty net.
Lee Williamson could`ve broken the resistance of Julian Speroni, but the Argie` 'keeper saw his woodwork save him from a Williamson chip that had him scrambling.
Full Time: 0-0
All in all, a lot more positive than many had expected, but the need for an out-and-out, bustling, bulky centre forward is more evident than ever. Good, but still room for improvement.
Speroni; Butterfield, McCarthy, Lawrence, C. Hill; Soares, Derry (c), Carle; Scannell (Ifill), Scowcroft and Moses (Andrew).
Poom; Doyley, DeMerit (c), Bromby, Sadler; Williamson, Eustace, Harley; Smith, Priskin and McAnuff (Robinson).
Referee: Mr Michael Jones
Attendance: 15 416 (1984 Watford contingent)