Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Watford 2 v 2 Bristol City

Tuesday 29th November 2011
Football League Championship
Vicarage Road, Watford
Admission : £10.00
Programme : £3.00
Attendance : 12, 418
Match Rating : 4

Another ground that has proved surprisingly elusive over the years was ticked off this evening, inspired by Watford Football Club’s commendable decision to reduce all ticket prices to £10.00 when purchased in advance via their website (which attracts a 50p administration charge) – on the day, prices rose to a comparatively eye-watering £26.00 or £31.00 - standard prices for other league matches at Watford..

Vicarage Road is about a 20 minute walk from Watford Junction train station via the town centre, and after collecting my ticket from the Ticket Collection Office, I made my way to the opposite of the stadium to enter the Upper Tier of the Rous Stand, along one length of the pitch, which is usually the most expensive area of the ground to sit in. Views are excellent from this two-tier stand are excellent, with no obstructions. Behind both goals are large single tiered stands, against with no obstructing pillars, with visiting fans allocated one half of one of these stands. Considering these three stands, the stadium is a modern and impressive one, however it is completely let down by the remaining length of the pitch, which is more akin to a building site. The main stand has been removed, whilst the condemned extension stand towards the corner has been condemned and is out of use.  Towards the other corner is a small part of former terracing, and scattered around is various temporary gantries and portakabins, as well as temporary dugouts.

A glance at the league table which points towards this clash being between two struggling teams, with Bristol City occupying a relegation spot in 22nd position after 18 games played, whilst Watford were only three places and one point better off. However, both sides have actually been in very good recent form. Watford have won their last three home games and had conceded just one goal in their last four outings. Bristol City, who earlier in the day had announced eye-watering losses in excess of £11 million in the last financial year for the second successive year, have won four of their last five games, the other game ending in a draw at West Ham.

On a cold night with clear skies, the game started quite cautiously, until the game burst into life on 25 minutes, when left back Carl Dickinson unleashed a wonderful 25 yard shot which flew past ex England goalkeeper David James to give the home side the lead. They doubled their lead on 42 minutes when Mark Yeates' shot from outside the box took a deflection and cannoned off the crossbar with James beaten, and Craig Beattie reacted quickest to tuck the rebound away. However, there was still time before half time for Bristol City to get back into the game, when Marvin Elliott powered home a far post header from fairly close range following a cross from wide by Ryan McGivern.

This set the game up nicely for the second half, and within just a minute of the restart, Bristol City completed the comeback, but what a gift it was. The Watford Adrian Mariappa passed the ball back to his keeper Scott Loach, who took his eye off the ball and allowed to ball to roll past him and into the net. Happening in front of the Bristol City fans ensured plenty of stick for Loach for the rest of the match, although to be fair he looked assured for the rest of the match. The visitors looked the more assured team throughout the second, although both sides looked capable of scoring, most notably with virtually the last kick of the game when Troy Deeney flashed a shot just wide of the post. So it was something of a surprise when there was no further scoring and the points were shared, which was sufficient to lift Bristol City out of the relegation zone, and Watford one place to 18th.

Video Highlights at

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