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Watford 2 Newcastle 1 match report: ‘Took a while for flip flop wearing version of Newcastle to emerge’

4 months ago
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Watford 2 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 11 July 12.30pm

It was hard to get enthusiastic about this game to be honest.

With the misery of Wednesday night still fresh in the mind there was every chance of the lackadaisical attitude continuing into this end of season affair. This type of game can be a bit underwhelming as it is but the empty stadium effect takes that down an extra notch.

Going into the game, Watford sat fourth bottom, so I had a sense that they might seize the initiative as the team with something to actually play for. It was quite a pleasant surprise that United, restored to full strength after the Etihad debacle, seemed the sharper side from the off. Watford seemed to have twigged where the danger comes from and doubled up on Saint-Maximin, but this gave Shelvey a bit of space to control the midfield, leading to a decent amount of pressure.

Watford’s defence must be one of the worst in the league, given the constant plaudits rightly given to Ben Foster in goal. This was demonstrated when the home defence made a right hash of a corner, fluffing the ball invitingly to Almiron, whose vicious strike was blocked by the imposing form of Foster.

The reprieve was momentary though, as United made the next badly defended corner count. Fernandez was completely unmarked to rise and guide a header to the back post, where Gayle reacted to prod it over the line. This was starting to look like the post-lockdown Newcastle that isn’t playing Man City.

A bit of a defensive muddle of our own almost cost, as Welbeck’s strike looked like spinning in off the post until Lascelles arrived to hack it away. Still United had the best chances though, with Shelvey releasing the rarely unshackled ASM only for Foster to again rescue the Hornets.

Second half saw Watford come out with a bit of intent but it was sloppy by Unite to let them back in the game.

First Fernandez had a nibble at Koki in the box, then Ritchie came bundling in. The contact was slight, but it was enough for him to hit the deck and get the penalty. Deeney blasted it up the middle, although to hear the Amazon commentary team wax lyrical about the Watford captain, you’d think he’d scored Marco van Basten’s goal from the 1988 European Championships final.

United wobbled massively, with Fernandez carelessly giving the ball away in his own box, only for Dubravka to rescue his team yet again from Deeney’s latest attempt at winning the Puskas award.

The penalty seemed to have gone to Watford’s heads as they seemed to be demanding them every time they fell over in the box, or when they blasted shots at prostrate players on the ground. This was becoming a more regular occurrence as the majority of the game was being played in our final third.

There was a glimpse as ASM played on after a linesman’s flag, getting the ball in the net in the hope of benefiting from the VAR check in the style of Shelvey at Sheffield United. He was narrowly offside.

Then of course, there was another penalty after Watford fell over again, Manquillo, committing the latest in a string of silly fouls. Of course Deeney put it the exact same place then ran off as though he’d chipped it in from the halfway line. Apparently we hadn’t conceded a penalty in the league this season until this game, so what a very Newcastle way to fettle yourself.

The second half continued in the vein of poor misplaced passes and stupid fouls against a side that were all too willing to go down. I did worry that Amazon would just cease the broadcast after 84 minutes when Deeney went off, assuming people weren’t interested in the game without him, but they let things play out.

So, it took a while for the flip flop wearing version of Newcastle to emerge but they thoroughly blew this one, blasting away any daft theories of top half finishes or Europa qualification and probably assisting in all but sorting the relegation question, as Bournemouth fans must have cursed the difference between the unstoppable machine that annihilated their team and the apparently hungover collection of error prone strangers that emerged second half at Vicarage Road.

I think we’ve reached the point where we all just want this to end, haven’t we?

Stats from BBC Sport:

Watford 2 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 11 July 12.30pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Gayle 23

Watford:

Deeney 52 pen and 82 pen

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Watford 48% (48%) Newcastle 52% (52%)

Total shots were Watford 17 (9) Newcastle 8 (4)

Shots on target were Watford 5 (2) Newcastle 4 (3)

Corners were Watford 2 (0) Newcastle 4 (4)

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles (Lazaro 87), Rose (Krafth 79), Shelvey, Schar, Almiron, Ritchie (Joelinton 72), Gayle (Bentaleb 78), Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Muto, Yedlin, Atsu, M. Longstaff

Crowd: 00,000

(Watford 2 Newcastle 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s defeat – Read HERE)

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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