Two games down – two wins and two clean sheets. Last night was hardly exhilarating stuff but the job was done and The Hornets now find themselves in the hat for Round Two of the Capital One Cup by virtue of a Lloyd Dyer second-half goal.
I take a look at each player’s performance in a little more detail…
Another mixed night for Bond who at times combined the sublime with the ridiculous. His save in the second-half to preserve our lead was excellent and a defining moment in the game but he too often misjudged whether to come off his line, nearly allowing his opposition ‘keeper Sam Beasant a late equaliser.
On a night where we were linked with ex-AC Milan stopper Marco Amelia, the chances of Bond being allowed a desperately needed decent length of time out on loan increased. He did well enough here though – his rating boosted by that save.
Doyley featured just long enough to show early signs of some decent link-up play with Diego Fabbrini before being removed due to a hamstring injury. If it proves to keep him out for a while, or even if it doesn’t, he sadly has his work cut out in attempts to feature consistently this season.
Another good effort by Tamas, one of the two trusted to start on both Saturday and Tuesday, who on one side of the coin was hardly threatened, but on the other, dealt with any threat with such a minimum of fuss that it appeared nothing.
Another very accomplished performance, and another clean sheet for the team. We could get used to that.
Hoban was forced to play most of the game at right-back in the absence of Doyley and as has become familiar viewing, looked totally unruffled when faced with a new challenge. He is composed on the ball and has an excellent positional sense from which he can snuff out any danger (two traits which Doyley, for all his greatness, has always lacked).
If he’s going to struggle to break into the first XI then he will hope for a long cup run to give himself the game time he deserves.
It’s hard enough to do these ratings every week and not become repetitive about any player, but with Pudil it really is nigh-on impossible. Not much else to say other than he was up and down the left-hand side all evening, making crucial interventions at one end and threatening with his left-foot at the other.
Another solid showing from the Czech international who is far and away the best left-sided player at the club right now.
Anyone who read our Forza Watford! 2014/15 predictions (shameless plug) will know that all contributors guessed Diego Fabbrini as the potential breakthrough player this season. Without wanting to get too carried away, this performance suggests that we are right.
Fabbrini was playing on a different planet to anyone else at times, his good work for the goal merely the tip of the iceberg. He frightened Stevenage whenever he got hold of the ball, using his deceptive pace and devastating trickery to flummox the ‘Boro back-line time after time. He appears to have adopted a new selfless outlook, epitomised by his square ball to Dyer for our only goal, but evidenced on numerous occasions.
If Fabbrini can’t get in our ‘league’ matchday squad then we must be absolutely unbelievably good because he is close to being a very special player. He needs to be at the very least on the bench on Saturday after a superb showing.
Andrews’ playing style looks incredibly similar to John Eustace, typified by one curled ‘round the corner’ pass that Eustace had down to a tee back in the Mackay/Dyche days, and that was not the only strikingly similar attributes that the two share. The Irishman had the ability to shout and scream, to rally, and to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in; just as Captain John relished.
Daniel Tozser is the deserved first choice in the holding midfield role, but we have a very suitable reserve, who looks as though he will be excellent off the pitch as well.
Although I have seen comments that disagree, I felt that Munari struggled a little throughout. His effort can’t be faulted and he showed the odd sign of quality, but he never grabbed it by the scruff of the neck like at times we needed someone to do, and for a man his size looked lightweight.
Difficult to judge after one showing, and he should improve, but it was a bit of a laboured performance.
In a similar sense to Munari, Dyer really wasn’t in the game for the first 45 minutes. But after he had opened the scoring, the goal in itself proved how valuable his pace is on the counter-attack, he relished the space afforded to him by Stevenage’s attempts to find an equaliser.
On full debut, Dyer may fee he should have added to his tally when he struck the bar but his goal was the winner and he proved why he is going to play a big part this season.
Unfortunately, because who doesn’t will Forestieri to be brilliant, the forward had a little bit of an off-night. He improved a little in the second-half when he moved deeper in search of the ball, but he tended to play off the last man, a role which didn’t suit him, and his movement was virtually non-existent at times.
Not that he was awful, but when we know what Forestieri is capable of that kind of performance is frustrating.
It’s easy to have left Stevenage last night and come to the assumption that Ighalo didn’t look ready for a bit of rough and tumble. But such an accusation would be a little lazy. Admittedly, he misplaced a few passes and took a bit of a beating from the host’s centre-halves but he also produced a few lovely moments of skill, not least in the build-up to the goal.
Moreover, I am not at all convinced that the role he was asked to play suited him. He was rarely played in behind, and when he was he threatened with his pace. He looked far less a ‘target man’ and far more someone who was dying to be partnered with a Deeney-type.
Hard to compare with Forestieri as his reference points are so different, but he gets the same rating as his partner by virtue of his sheer effort, albeit less of an end product.
Joel Ekstrand – Read Gabriel Tamas. Part of a defence which held on to a one-goal lead and has now contributed to two clean sheets. Hope rumours surfacing about a move to Cardiff are untrue after his start.
Sean Murray – Didn’t feature enough.
Matej Vydra – Didn’t feature enough.