West Ham United 0 Watford 1

Saturday, 10th February 2007
by Gordon Thrower

Oops we did it again.

I feel like re-writing the last Watford match report with a few additions about stupid refereeing, diving and time-wasting. However the boss would probably cut off my privileges (sorry I've seen one Carry On movie too many) if I did that. So here we go. On the bright side I finally got to meet the lovely CJ who, along with her family, has been through so much over the last couple of years. In future years as her acting career takes off I'll be able to point to her arriving at her latest film premiere and say - "I met her in a grotty pub called "The Wakefield" once and I'll add her to the list of people that I knew before they were famous - a list that includes, er, Joe Pasquale, Nigel Spackman and, er, Romford.

Team news was that there were changes-a-plenty again as people returned to fitness or were injured or simply replacing those out of favour this week. The line up: Green, Neill, McCartney, Ferdinand, Davenport, Benayoun, Quashie, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Zamora, Harewood.

It was a dreadful game. Kabba gave us an indication of what was to come when, losing the ball early on, he threw himself backwards as if hauled over. Ref Wiley, who had an awful match, noted this and waved play on somehow forgetting the law relating to what FIFA like to refer as "simulation". It was not the last time he was to forget the laws. Unfortunately the warning was not heeded by Ferdinand who got caught the wrong side of Henderson and placed a hand on the forward's shoulder. Henderson needed absolutely no further invitation to go down and did so spectacularly. Unfortunately the contact from Ferdinand, slight though it was, was enough for Wiley to give the spot kick which was easily converted, Davenport picking up a yellow for giving the taker a few words of advice in the process.

The heads went down. I spent the next 35 minutes looking in the direction of the Bobby Moore stand as Watford gave up any real ambition that they may have had as an attacking force. Indeed the first spot of time-wasting occurred on 18 minutes as a humble throw-in took nearly two minutes to sort out. We should have equalised just before the half-hour. A loose ball fell to NRC on the edge of the box. The skipper screwed his shot horribly wide but Zamora was handily placed to stick the ball high and wide from close range.

Then Neill got injured again. Collapsing in a heap he immediately signalled to the bench that he'd be unable to continue and he hobbled off with what was later confirmed as a medial knee ligament injury. Sums up the luck really. Spector replaced.

The best chance came when, having finally gained a free-kick Zamora took a quick one into Yossi who finished a jinking run with a shot that was turned arount the post by Foster. The thing that really summed up the match also featured Zamora. Foster dropped the ball onto Zamora's foot. Zamora made a hash of trying to put the ball into the empty net whilst referee and linesman decided that there had been some sort of offence even if they couldn't quite work out what it was. Rubbish goalkeeping, rubbish forward play, rubbish refereeing.

Watford had what turned out to be their last attack of the match just before the interval when Green lost the flight of a cross and Henderson headed over.

Further disappointment came at half-time when KUMB's very own Rio failed to win the ?10,000 on offer as part of some competition meaning that the end of year KUMB Management bash will probably end up being a curry again rather than the trip to Barbados we had planned (we'd have broken the news to Rio eventually- probably by postcard).

The second half started with the welcome introduction of Tevez. After the cup match against the same opposition I suggested that a fit Tevez would have enjoyed playing against the likes of Mackay so I was particularly disappointed not to see him start this time out. Glad though I was to see Tevez I'm not sure Zamora would have been my choice of the two forwards to go off.

For the first 10-15 minutes we looked bright. Tevez and Benayoun ran at the defence and the other players remembered that Matty existed - Etherington having spent the first half stuck on the touchline being ignored by his team-mates. Tevez hit a free kick narrowly wide and then capitalised on a spot of indecision on the defence only to see his goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Mackay.

Then came penalty no.2. Tevez put NRC through and, with only the 'keeper to beat the skipper had his legs taken away from him with only the 'keeper to beat. Wiley's decision not to send Mahon off was disgraceful. Indeed it appeared that even a yellow card seemed beyond the official. No doubt the imbecilic Keith Hackett will be straight out to defend yet another of his stupid officials who don't actually know the basic laws of the game whilst yet again the paying public are short-changed.

I couldn't look at the penalty. As soon as I saw Harewood step up I somehow knew he was going to miss. Sadly I was right.

From that point we were treated to appalling time wasting - substitutes warming up kicking the ball away, players stopping to touch the pitch and make a sign of the cross whilst they were being substitutes, the physio on at every free-kick all that sort of thing. It blew up a bit towards the end when Ashekodi went to pick up and hold onto the ball for the umpteenth time. NRC took exception. Handbags ensued and Wiley produced the yellow cards that earlier more serious offences had warranted. It probably didn't occur to Wiley that had he stamped down on the time wasting earlier he might have avoided later problems. Such a thought would have required an intelligence seemingly lacking in referees these days.

Passes went astray, usually in to touch and the crowd, frustrated at the poor fare on view, launched into the "you're not fit to wear the shirt" chant. Wiley added five minutes when, if he'd added another 3 or 4 to that, he might have been nearer the mark. We could have been there all night, however, and we'd not have scored.

So, for the second time within a month, we'd lost to a team who actually created no goals against us. Watford are poor make no mistake and they will go down deservedly so on that showing. At the post match press conference manager Boothroyd - who hilariously thought his team had played "decent football" - responded to journalistic criticism of his side's tactics with the instruction "don't f*cking come then". Unfortunately we're now likely to have our chance of revenge next season when we'll have to learn how to deal with ambition-free teams playing with six at the back every week. It wasn't pretty last time and it's a fairly depressing prospect again.

Still, if Southend can stay up at least we'll get a day out at the seaside.

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Didn't actually have a save to make.

Lucas Neill
Oh bloody hell how many more injuries are we going to get?

George McCartney
Doesn't help Etherington nearly enough for me.

Anton Ferdinand
Look you've seen them diving all over the place why give them the option by trying to pull them back? Tested only the once and found wanting.

Calum Davenport
Defensively not really tested but distribution was poor at times.

Nigel Quashie
Watching him put yet another 35 yard effort into row z behind the goal or a 10 yard pass into touch was one of the more depressing sights of the match.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Tried to instil a bit of fight about the place but wasn't really all that convincing.

Yossi Benayoun
Looked dangerous when running at people but had precious little support.

Matthew Etherington
Came into the game a bit more in the second half having spent the first half stuck on the touchline screaming for the pass that never came.

Marlon Harewood
Awful. And not just for the penalty.

Bobby Zamora
Should have scored first half but skied a sitter.


Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Neill, 32) Not tested defensively, didn't show going forward.

Carlos Tevez
(Replaced Zamora, 46) Looked capable of rescuing the match. I'd have liked to have seen him on from the start.

Luis Boa Morte
(Replaced Quashie, 80) Came on for Quashie late on. Apparently.

Rob Carroll
Did not play.

Christian Dailly
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Anton Ferdinand, Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: None.

Booked: Calum Davenport 12 Jonathan Spector 67 Yossi Benayoun 76      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Watford: Foster, Mariappa, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli, Henderson, Kabba..

Subs not used: Priskin, Shittu, Hoskins..

Goals: Henderson (12 pen)..

Booked: Mariappa (75)..

Sent off: None.

Referee: A.Wiley.

Attendance: 34,625.

Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez.