Watford vs. Blackpool has gained, this season, a little significance following recent events and may act as a benchmark for which way our season will be heading.
The corresponding tie last season was the final nail in the coffin of the Boothroyd regime. a 4-3 defeat after being 3-1 up to visiting Blackpool saw Aidy Boothroyd shuffle ignominiously out of the club, leaving us in turmoil and in a relgation fight, placed just 21st in the Championship.
This time, Watford have replaced Aidy, who is still without a job, and Brendan Rodgers, whose Reading side crashed 3-1 at home to in-form Sheffield United, with Malky Mackay – his job relatively secure at the moment, and a firm fan favourite.
A loss would represent no footsteps forward.
The matchday absence of Jobi McAnuff did cause a few eyebrows to be raised, particularly those at our glorious local paper, but it seems the under-performing winger was simply injured. Tommy Smith started, as did loanee Tom Cleverley and the now-not injured Don Cowie.
This was a glorious Championship game of football, two teams thrusting and counter-thrusting in an absorbing affair. Every time each team broke forward a goal looked imminent, the wood work, last-ditch defending, poor finishing and fine goalkeeping all playing a part in the final scoreline being just 2-2.
Blackpool had a right to be aggrieved at the allowance of the first Hornets goal, with a suspect looking foul taking place in the build up to Danny Graham’s sublime through-ball which smudge expertly despatched. The blackpool equaliser was just reward for a fine display, but some poor defending (again) was our downfall.
Watford’s second came from Man Utd loan star Tom Cleverley who pounced on an opportunity to slot past former Man Utd goalkeeper Paul Rachubka – scoring his second goal in two games. Cleverley looks quite the player, an attacking midfielder who looks as comfortable winning the ball in a tough 50-50 as he does taking players on in a driving run.
Blackpool equalised, with again some suspect defending, and the final few minutes played out with both teams trying to find an elusive winner. A golden chance came to on-loan Henri Lansbury, who proceeded to blast over with his 4th touch of the game from about 8 yards out with the goal gaping wide in front of him.
Watford – A fair result against a tough team who were dogged in their determination to add to their three draws so far this term. We looked dangerous going forward, but the back four are going to need to put in some extra work following the two goals against Forest in mid-week and the errors today.
Tom has proved his worth to us, yet again, and no doubt Brendan will be pestering the Reading board to raise more cash to take him down the M4. But then again, would you want to join a team down the bottom when you’re playing with a team (currently) in mid-table?!
A cracking game which could have gone either way, which leaves us with plenty of positives and a few things to be worked on. If we can play like this every week, we’ll pick up more points than we’ll drop.
Blackpool – I’ve always liked Ian Holloway’s sides, and this one will be no different. His energy and enthusiasm is pulsating through Blackpool, and with a little better finishing, this season they will easily avoid the drop.