Today Blues were beaten 3 – 0 by Watford in Lee Bowyer’s first away game in charge of Blues. The scoreline, however, did not tell the whole story of the game and at times Blues looked very good. Here’s how it happened:
Blues started the first half on the front foot since kick-off and this would continue for the whole half. However, the Hornets would not have to take the lead and once again it would prove to be another very avoidable goal. Joao Pedro managed to collect the ball and got past Gardner and Colin far to easily and found a gap on the edge of the box. It was a well-struck shot and Etheridge did brilliantly to get a touch on the ball, however, he could only divert it into to path of Sema who tapped into an empty net after just 3 minutes.
Blues responded very well to the goal and looked to seek the equaliser. Hogan would have a brilliant chance to level the scores after he was found by a pinpoint Marc Roberts long throw, unfortunately, he could only put it wide with his shoulder. Hogan appeared to be offside, however, it was very tight and given there’s no VAR in the Championship I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been given. The game was becoming very end to end and from a set-piece Watford would have a chance to double their lead. Sema put in a dangerous delivery that seemed destined for Masina to tap the ball into the net. Dean did brilliantly to put him off and the ball ended up wide of Etheridge’s post. A foul was given either way but Dean couldn’t have known. Watford had another chance after Blues gave the ball away outside the box for Isacc Success to receive the ball in front of Etherdige after a give and go with Sema. Fortunately for Blues, Dean made an excellent recovery tackle to clear the danger.
Down the other end Bela seemed certain to equalise. Watford made a mess of clearing a corner and Bela brought it down well. Somehow Chalobah managed to black the vicious shot before it could trouble the ‘keeper. Colin probably had the best chance to equalise after doing brilliantly to break into the box. The Frenchman just needed to to hit the ball first time with his left foot, however, he tried to shift it onto his right and he was dispossessed.
In the past after conceding the first goal heads have dropped and we never looked like scoring again. It was disappointing that once again we conceded a sloppy goal and that we couldn’t take our chances, however, it is much more concerning to not be creating chances than missing chances. We were well in the game at the break and there was still a lot of hope for the second half. One thing that stood out to me was Marc Roberts’ long throw. Watford looked very uncomfortable dealing with the long throw unlike the rest of the season where it was practically a pass to the ‘keeper.
Blues were once again on the front foot at the beginning of the second half. Blues were looking to get crosses into the box but similarly to the first half they just weren’t falling right for us. Despite the intent being good Blues were punished through an individual error once again. Gosling whipped in a corner and Jutkiewicz lost track of Chalobah who at the back post managed to power a header past Etheridge who had no chance. There was little chance of recovery given how solid Watford are at the back. Despite the host’s tight defence Bowyer opted for positive subs to try and get us back into the game. On came Sanchez and Leko to replace Bela and Hogan as well as San Jose to replace Alen Halilovic. There were fewer clear cut chances since the second. Dean got on the end of a few headers which sailed over the bar and Leko attempted to curl one into the top corner albeit without success. Watford wrapped up the game after Pedersen was caught in possession and Andre Gray was able to slot the ball past Etheridge seconds after coming on. Since that moment Blues were crying out for the final whistle and in the final few minutes Watford might have extended their lead further.
It was a very harsh result on Blues looking at the whole performance. Blues didn’t play badly and on another day may have gone into half time on level terms or perhaps even in front. If we contrast the performance against Watford to Bristol City they were the same scoreline but completely different performances. After we went behind to Bristol City we never looked like getting back in the game. Today Blues maintained their high pressing and were looking for a goal right up until the final whistle. For me the disappointing thing was that Watford didn’t create any of their goals. We gifted them the goals and how often have we said that this season. For me the second goal was the most disappointing, even more so than the calamity for Pedersen’s goal. Since Monk left we’ve never seemed capable of defending corners. It makes no sense given we have plenty of height in our lineup with the likes of Dean, Roberts and Jutkiewicz to name a few. Lee Bowyer has a huge job on his hand to tighten us up from corners.
One important moment from the game happened not on the pitch but in the sky. A plane carrying the message “BY ORDER OF BLUES FANS DONG MUST GO!” The plane flew around the stadium for a few minutes and it was pure brilliant seeing Dong’s face when he read the message on the plane. I fully applaud the organiser’s of the event.
Twitter: By order of Blues fans…
#BCFC https://t.co/dau1nD2ycu (@BluesFocus)
Next up we host the Swans. The Swans look proper contenders for returning to the Premier League after their relegation in 2018. Blues were very solid at the Liberty this season and you feel we’ll need the same again. Results didn’t go our way today but looking at our fixture list I am confident that we will stay up and if not I can’t think of a better man to take us back up. We go again!