Watford turn Swans into ugly ducklings
Tues 17th February 2009
Watford climbed out of the Championship`s bottom 3 after a composed and comfortable 2-0 win over a out of sorts Swansea side who failed to live up to their pre-match hype.
The Hornets - playing a high defensive line and high tempo - put paid to the Swans 16-match unbeaten record as first half goals from Tamas Priskin (23) and Tommy Smith (33) were just reward for an all round performance of fight, passion, and above all, quality.
Before the game all the talk out of the Watford camp had been about Swansea`s magnificent, free flowing style of play (with Dean Austin gushing with praise) but it must be testament to a steely defensive show and attacking prowess by a new look Watford that the Swans passing game quickly turned into an ugly duckling.
In fact it was Watford, with Don Cowie and Jack Cork highly influential in the engine room, that played the better football and created more chances for their frontmen. The movement was right out of the top drawer, the breakdown of play by Jenkins outstanding whilst the range of passing - even from Reliable Lloyd at left back - was neat, precise and most of all penetrative in the final third all night.
Both goals came from clever movement and swift footwork. A well worked counter attack saw McAnuff release Smith who switched the ball right to an unmarked Priskin, who swept the ball home with all the class of a Hungarian frontman bang in form.
The 2nd came after De Vries, between the Swans sticks, had pulled off one hell of a save to deny Cowie a debut strike only to see Smith drill it past him at the near post on the rebound from 15 or so yards.
After that, the Hornets closed up shop and never looked like conceding. Loach actually didn`t have a shot to save all night bar a couple of harmless long rangers from Joe Allen and Tom Butler.
Yes, ok Swansea had their moments - Scotland forced a low save from Loach just before the break and Joe Allen saw his long ranger held acrobatically by the Watford keeper but it was mostly 'for the cameras` stuff from Loach who won`t have had such a quiet night for weeks.
Nathan Dyer -who scared the living daylights out of us last season in a Saints shirt - got no change out of Doyley at left back, Cork and Jenkins shut down the midfield and so-called hitman Jason Scotland never got a kick out of Demerit or Williamson.
So commanding were the 2 Watford centre backs they will probably have to dig pretty deep in the morning if they are to pack Scotland back off to Wales - well, he was well and truly in their pockets for 90 minutes.
For all their possession, Martinez`s rag bag of La Liga misfits rarely came close to making a game of it - it was a proper off night for the Welshmen (or should that read Spaniards?).
But that doesn`t really do justice to suggest that a downbeat Swans meant Watford looked good. Oh no, for once this season Watford played like Watford should - they were hard to break down, their closing down was awesome and they were strong in the tackle.
They should even have probably added to the scoreboard had McAnuff beat De Vries late on or Smith connected from close range onto Priskins pull back.
Of course, we won`t get carried away just yet (we go to Blackpool on Saturday and we never win there) but there are sprigs of live emerging out of the patchy Vicarage Road pitch that suggest that this team could yet give rise to a fresh new Watford.
The performance showed just a glimpse of the gaffers tactical genius that was so talked of when he signed on the dreaded dotted. There was organization in abundance, composure in spades and a willingness to pass into space that hasn`t graced the Vic for years.
The only gripe of the night (bar the quite dreadful first half display by ref Taylor) must be that Brendan Rodgers revealed post match that he still wants Watford to eventually end up playing just like Swansea.
After this showing from Roberto Martinez`s fancy dans, a return to the backwards and sideways football won`t go down well with the Vicarage Road faithful.
After all we now know the players are much better at this passing game lark than even we gave them credit for.
Roll on Blackpool.
The 2 week rest has given Cork a break and boy did he show that he was ready to pop for this one. An all action display from the Chelsea kid that inspired all around him to play up to a new level.
Fired off a couple of long rangers and closed down everything before him.
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