Hornets end season with Ram raid
Sun 3rd May 2009
Watford left their best attacking display of the season for the last day of the campaign with a first half demolition of Derby but it still left gaffer Brendan Rodgers insisting "it is only the start".
"Only the start"? Has somebody forgotten to tell Brendan that the players are already packed for the Maldives and the stumps are out on sticky wickets up and down the country?
Regardless of all that, the Hornets found it all a bit of a stroll in the Bank Holiday sunshine against a mediocre Rams side as they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners with a brace from Rasiak and a lovely finish from born-again McAnuff.
There were a few early scares mind you. Teale fired inches over with a peach of a curler that was just a bit too well struck and on-loan Villa kid Barry Bannan rattled the woodwood with Loach beaten as Derby sought to take the initiative.
But for all the Ram`s near misses at 0-0 it was Watford who shook off their early slumber to catch Derby cold - Priskin had just warmed Bywater`s hands with a daisy cutter before Rasiak cleverly released McAnuff  who broke the deadlock from inside the box to put the Golden Boys ahead.
The lead was doubled just before the 30-minute mark - a delicious McAnuff free-kick out right caused chaos, Priskin`s header beat the keeper but not the bar, Mariappa`s overly acrobatic bicycle kick got blocked on the line and finally, finally Rasiak nudged the ball home.
And then it was 3… Smithy left Pearson sick with dizziness as he skirted to the line and his delightful pull back was easily slotted home by Rasiak, who made mugs out of both Nyatanga and Hulse at the heart of the backline.
That`s what you get for playing your leading scorer at centre back, Mr Clough.
Sure, Varney flashed in a header that was simply routine for Loach but it should have been a lot worse for Derby when Savage decided to end Rose`s teasing, weaving run into the box by tripping ol` Danny boy to the floor.
The on loan Spurs whiz kid looked as bemused as the rest of us that Ref Mathieson took pity on Derby (well it was game over & they had signed Ellington n` Stewart) and waved away a stone wall penalty shout.
Still at least the official was consistently rubbish - he turned down Derby shouts for a spot kick minutes into the 2nd half when Varney collapsed under a 'Cork`er of a Jack challenge then chose to book Doyley for not retreating 10 yards when the ball was kicked at him as he walked away.
For Watford`s cut and thrust in the first 45, the 2nd period was a lot more closer and a 10-7 scoreline wouldn`t have been unjust.
The Hornets looked dangerous every time they went forward with Rasiak and McAnuff at the heart of everything good. Priskin tiptoed unnoticed into the box only to see his drive well blocked by Bywater, Jobi rattled the post and stung the keeper`s hands with a flying free kick. Even Doyley caused panic at the backpost.
But it was Derby who had the clearer of the chances - Loach brilliantly diving low to keep out a Commons rocket then plunging across his line to stop another point blank pile driver from the former Forest man.
In fact Scott`s one man crusade for a shut-out looked to be on the cards when he clawed clear a Eustace header - only for the on-loan Watford midfielder to ruin Loach`s clean sheet bonus by steering another Teale cross into the far corner to make it 3-1. Way too much space in the box boys!
The Ram fans started with their ever so witty 'we gonna win 4-3` with 15 minutes to play but it was never on the cards with Watford finishing the stronger. Priskin lobbed the keeper with some footloose and fancy footwork only to see his chip cleared off the line. Rasiak played a spot of keepy-uppy before firing narrowly over and sub Cauna had Bywater flying full length to keep out a rocket near the end.
In truth it was Watford domination and if this is a sign of things to come next season as the gaffer points out then we could be well in for an exciting wait over the summer. Yes, it`s important that key players are kept on the payroll and the expectation is managed but if Rodgers is allowed to put together his own side and build on what he`s got going then…
The future`s bright. The future`s Brendan.
The Watford winger was truly awesome all afternoon in both his attacknig threat and defensive duties. The VitalWatford boys have never seen Jobi track back so much.
Great goal, could have had a couple more and delivered some clever balls. That's what playing without pressure clearly does to him.