Lloydinho and Company
Nigel Gibbs’ waving to all four corners of the ground and a perhaps overly gracious treatment of that imposter Triumph from BHaPPY’s Matt Rowson should not mask the fact that Watford performed excellently to save their Championship skins yesterday. True, Reading were woeful, but that’s largely because the old style pressing game employed by their hosts, within the framework of a brusque 4-4-2, did for players who wanted a whole lot more time on the ball than they were ever going to get. It was a full side that Reading fielded and they were most certainly up for the game, but once Adam Federici decided to advance but a miserly yard off his line to deal with the threat of Danny Graham, last orders were called.
Graham was great throughout, barring a late blaze skywards that would have produced the first Vicarage Road hat trick for 13 years. He and Heiðar Helguson caused immense problems for a shaky Reading backline, where Zurab Khizanishvili was overly casual and Andy Griffin had his first bad game for the club. They were supplemented by a midfield of solidity in which John Eustace in particular did a limpet like marking job on the ineffective Gylfi Sigurðsson and wide men Jon Harley and Don Cowie tucked inside with discipline, never a duo to push the ball forward and make for the byline, but darned hard to bypass for the Reading wingers. The fourth midfielder, on loan Henri Lansbury, has a tendency to prance a bit too much, but kept possession without bother, providing just enough of the unexpected to keep his front men happy. The absent Tom Cleverley, bid farewell on the programme cover, was scarcely missed.
But the man who really caught my eye on the day was Lloyd Doyley – Lloydinho – the proud possessor of a goal of the season award and the complete negater of the Jimmy Kébé threat on this occasion. Doyley has been around for quite a few seasons now and it suddenly dawned on me yesterday what I had perhaps known all along: he’s actually really very good. Equally adept yesterday was Lee Hodson at right back – if returning anti-hero Jobi McAnuff had let his head drop anymore, he would have needed a shovel to dig up the pitch. Elsewhere in the rearguard, Aidy Mariappa and the Gargantuan Martin Taylor, as well as keeper Scott Loach enjoyed a panic free afternoon.
Malky Mackay deserves credit for keeping things basic on the day and easily countering the relegation threat. One or two smart loan signings and next year should be a more comfortable one for the ‘Orns.