First Team 2 weeks ago

Match Report: Wolves 2-0 Watford

By Kevin Affleck

How quickly times change.

We left Molineux in autumn last season with a real bounce and spring in our step after pulling off a stunning 2-0 win. Gone in 58 seconds, it was dubbed after two fine goals in quick succession. Now, after two unanswered goals at the other end in 61 minutes, the prevailing mood is very different and a job of a very different kind is on the agenda. The game against Sheffield United on Saturday just took on even more significance.

You couldn't say the team played terribly here. There were some promising moments, particularly at the start of each half, and Danny Welbeck was excellent on his first Premier League start for the club. Enjoying nearly two thirds of possession did not speak of a side being outplayed or outclassed. There just appears to be a general lack confidence, brought about by a winless start, and this looks like a team still very much getting to grips with what a new Head Coach is asking of them. A win of any sort in the league is badly needed to restore some belief, put some smiles on faces and kickstart this hitherto mis-firing campaign. The talent is certainly there.

A bit of luck wouldn't go amiss, although you make your own in this game and indeed life. A second-half fightback was very much on the cards, following the introduction of the bright Roberto Pereyra, but any hopes of a comeback went out of the window when Daryl Janmaat inadvertently headed a cross into his own net on 61 minutes. He didn't mean to – he was trying to avert the danger – but it was just a sign of the way things are going right now that he managed to beat his own ‘keeper when he didn't even mean to. It just about summed things up.

There was an early sign the Hornets might play on the front foot when Welbeck tried his luck from distance. The shot drifted well wide, but the intent was there. There was further cause for encouragement when Janmaat skipped down the right and floated over a cross that was just fractionally too high for Welbeck, arriving at pace into the box. But that bright start didn't act as a launchpad for anything sustained or rhythmical. It was all a bit stop-start and a bit bitty. Nothing really flowed like it did here last season. Even a cross-field howitzer from Étienne Capoue didn't quite reach Janmaat.

Wolves were not particularly cohesive either. Raúl Jiménez rattled one into the side-netting and Pedro Neto hared alarmingly clear on the counter from a Hornets’ corner, but there wasn't too much to be worried about. It was therefore a big shame the solid early defensive play, typified by Gerard Deulofeu doing some dirty work on fellow Barcelona graduate Adam Traoré in the left-back area, was undone on 18 minutes. What will be galling to Quique Sánchez Flores will be the ease with which the team was opened up down the left and how both Wolves full-backs were so heavily involved, Jonny supplying the pass for Neto to cross for Matt Doherty, up from right-back, at the far post. Ben Foster was furious at the concession of the goal.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Sánchez Flores made a tactical tweak and asked Ismaïla Sarr to play through the middle and Tom Cleverley to shift over to a more right-sided role. The Head Coach certainly couldn't complain about the retention of the ball – they enjoyed 59 per cent in the first period – but the fact it failed to result in a single shot on target told you plenty about where the possession took place and how well organised Wolves were at the back.

The nearest the visitors came was when Welbeck nipped round Connor Coady and forced Jonny to make a very good block just before the break. Seeking a route back into the game and possession of the ball higher up the pitch, Sánchez Flores was decisive at the break and brought on Roberto Pereyra, the best carrier of the ball in the squad.

The Argentine was immediately at it, winning a free-kick down the left-hand side, helping to win a first corner of the half and then standing up a cross that José Holebas nodded down at goal, forcing Rui Patricio to make his first save of the game. Cleverley and Patricio were then involved in a scramble for the rebound. This was more like it.

That flicker of hope, though, was extinguished when a header from Morgan Gibbs-White just past the hour was headed past Foster by Janmaat. It was a crushing blow and despite a fair bit of huffing and puffing, that was things pretty much done and dusted.

Welbeck kept going right to the end and tracked back superbly to dispossess Traoré. He deserved a goal and almost got it when Andre Gray teed him up with his first touch, but Patricio made a smart save low to his left. It was just one of those days when nothing was going to go in. The promising sign was that this defeat seemed to hurt like heck. Craig Cathcart stood with his hands on his hips at full-time, seemingly unable to fathom how the team finds itself in this position while José Holebas had to be helped to his feet at full-time by his Head Coach. Things, however slowly, will get better. Surely.


HORNETS: Foster; Janmaat, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas, Capoue (C), Doucouré, Cleverley; Deulofeu (Pereyra h-t), Sarr (Gray 71), Welbeck.

Subs not used: Gomes, Quina, Kabasele, Femenía, Chalobah.

Ladies 2 weeks ago

Ladies: Chichester Preview

The Golden Girls make the trip to Chichester City Ladies this Sunday, as they look to continue their impressive form on the road.

Watford have won all three of their away league games so far, securing victories at Portsmouth, Crawley Wasps and Hounslow.

This weekend’s opponents have struggled to start the season. They finally managed to put an end to a six-game losing streak last Sunday, drawing 1-1 at Gillingham.

Views from the Head Coach

While the Hornets couldn’t manage to find a winner against Yeovil Town last time out, the draw did extend the unbeaten run to three, with seven points taken from the last nine available.

“We are happy with what we have seen recently,” Clinton Lancaster told watfordfc.com. “We went over things last night in our analysis sessions and discussed points from the first half against Yeovil.

“On reflection it was a fair result, we were on top in the second half by a long way, but first half we weren’t at our best.

“The most impressive thing was how the players reacted. Only at the end of the season will we really be able to reflect on whether it was a good point or not.”

There are some similarities to the previous campaign so far, with impressive displays on the road and in second half of games. But the Head Coach knows he needs to see even more from his side.

“I can’t really explain why we are playing so well away, but we have a very good squad,” said Lancaster. “Of course, pressure eases slightly when you are the travelling team.

“The performances away from home have been outstanding and we need to continue with that in every game.

“We want to be more clinical, but our players need to have the freedom to play and enjoy it. We all feel pressure and that comes because we are a big club.

“We want the players to enjoy it while they play, if they do, they can be more creative and look to create more opportunities to score.”

The two games against Chichester last season were closely fought encounters, with the home side coming out on top 1-0 on both occasions.

Since then though, there’s been plenty of change for the Lillywhites, and they’ll have a new look squad taking on Watford this weekend.

“Chichester are a good team,” said Lancaster. “They may have had some changes like most clubs, but they are a side that will hurt us if we aren’t switched on.

“The most important thing for us to do is to be patient and dominate possession. When we have the ball, we are outstanding, we need to make sure we have a lot of the ball and create as many chances as possible.

“We have outstanding forward players who can all find the back of the net, so our job is to be patient and create the openings for them.”

Flashback

Watford 1-0 Chichester City (November 18, 2018)

After a disappointing result against Milton Keynes Dons in the previous game, Watford then had the task of taking on a Chichester side in fine form.

The visitors had won 11 of their 12 matches in league and cup to begin the season and were excelling in tight games, winning half a dozen by a one-goal margin.

Chichester had also been victorious in every away game, but that streak was soon ended as the Hornets took all three points with a fine team performance.

Watford took the lead just before the quarter of an hour mark. Danielle Scanlon was in the right place as an attempted clearance hit her and went into the back of the net.

It was a solid defensive performance throughout, with Weronika Baranowska’s only testing save coming from Hollie Wride’s free-kick.

A couple of good stops from Lauren Dolbear kept her side in it, but they couldn’t find a way to get an equaliser, as Watford survived more than seven minutes of stoppage time to secure a big win.

Team: Baranowska, Peck (Akerman, 76), Hill, Edwards, Huggins, Scanlon, Stojko-Down, Carid (Baker, 62), Ward (C), Bell, O’Leary (Afuakwah, 45).

Goal | Scanlon (15)

Hosts

There was plenty of activity at Chichester during the off-season, as a new coaching team was announced and also several changes in terms of playing personnel. They will be looking to now add their mark on what has been an impressive few years for the Lillywhites.

Promotion to the third tier was achieved in 2016/17 and they then consolidated in their first season in the Southern Division, finishing in eighth place.

That was built upon last season, as they impressed many with their performances. Chichester were challenging at the top for most of the campaign, but a disappointing period around February to March would prove costly.

Having guided his side to a third placed finish, Aaron Smith announced his departure in early May and then made the move to Southampton Women’s FC later that month. Chichester acted swiftly and soon announced their new manager, with former player Sadie Blakely taking charge.

With a change in coaching staff, the obvious moves with playing personnel followed. Only one player remains registered from the matchday squad that took on Watford back in April and that’s Kim Stenning, who was appointed Head Coach back in May.

Of the 18 players who played more than ten times for them last campaign, only Sharna Capel-Watson and ex-Hornet Hollie Wride remain, although the latter is yet to feature in 2019/20.

With a new look squad, it’s been a difficult start to the season so far. They lost their opening league game and were then shocked in the Determining Round of the FA WNL Cup by Cambridge City. The losing run continued as they lost their next four in the league, although they did have a difficult schedule, playing Yeovil Town, Crawley Wasps, Oxford United and Cardiff City.

Chichester finally managed to get their first point, drawing at Gillingham last week, with only a goal in second half stoppage time preventing them from getting all three. They’ll now be looking to build on that result as they return home to face Watford.

Last time out

Watford 2-2 Yeovil Town

Team: Wilson, Meiwald, Beckett, Richards (Hill, HT), Rolandsen (O’Leary, 87), Chandler, Kikomeko, Vyse, Fatuga-Dada, Ward (C), Carid (Stojko-Down, 78).

Goals | Ward (52, 57)

Gillingham 1-1 Chichester City

Team: Rowlands, Bloomfield (Martins, 78), Burke, Capel-Watson, Cook (Eichhorst, 65), Fox (C), Laczkovszki, Phelps, Robson, White, Wild.

Goal | Fox

Information

Chichester City Ladies v Watford FC Ladies
FA WNL
Sunday 29th September
2pm
Chichester City FC
PO19 6AP