Millwall 0-2 Watford ~ Match Report

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So with the FA Cup dispensed with for the mean time with a replay awaiting us at Southampton it was time to turn back to the far more important matter of Championship survival. Watford at the Den on a freezing cold night is, I am afraid to say, not too high on a lot of fans lists of things they want to see and the paltry crowd, easily outnumbered by the seats despite the “official” figure of around 9,500 bore this out.

Me and MrsB paid a visit to the Millwall café for some sustenance and made our way quickly into the ground as the winter winds blew chilly and cold through the sparse crowd milling around the ticket office and car park. The phrase “colder than a witch’s tit” sprang to mind as woollen hats, scarves, gloves and serious thermal under wear should’ve been high on the list of things you should be wearing. I managed to tick the first three of those particular boxes and wished to all that is holy I had the fourth item.

Still, never mind the weather, there were changes to the squad to talk about and finally we have signed another forward to help out Henderson. Andy Keogh from Wolves, an Irish international no less, for an undisclosed fee of £500,000 (ha ha) on a two and half year contract has joined us to help our fight against relegation. Ineligible for tonight’s game though but surely he will start against the Bengali’s on Saturday.

I noticed reluctance from other fans to say his name. It was generally ‘we’ve signed that bloke from wolves’ and the reason for such reticence is clear. No one knows how to pronounce his bloody name properly. Is it key-oh? Is it keeth? Is it key-og? I guess we either just call him Andy or wait for ‘last man’ Standing to read out his name from the team sheet at the next home game (assuming that he will be going straight into first choice status?)

But what of the team to face the might of Hertfordshire?

Forde in goal, Smith, Craig, Ward and Barron as the back four, Feeney, Trotter, Abdou and new loanee Mason as the midfield quartet leaving Henderson and Kane as the striking duo.

Referee Stroud got us going and straight from the off Watford were all over us like a bad case of psoriasis. Hassling and harrying with erstwhile Millwall man Sean Dyche coaxing and cajoling them from his manager’s zone by the dugout, they looked fired up for this one.

An early cross into our box set the tone for the night as our static defence watched eagerly as Garner rose unchallenged in the six yard box for a free header that thankfully went straight into Forde’s welcoming arms.

It was Garner again who pestered our goal on around the ten minute mark when he found time to collect the ball, get his mobile phone out, go on twitter to explain what he was about to do and shoot at goal. Lucky for us he shot wide but ye Gods what were our defenders doing?

Two men were keeping Feeney in check at all times but we still fed him the ball at every opportunity. New boy Mason was freezing his under developed plums off as I think the rest of our lot forgot who he was.

Henderson was winning the punted balls at around a 60/40 split with their two centre backs while Kane looked on appreciatively.

Abdou was booked really early on for a very good tackle and after that he was very subdued, clearly realising that a red card was coming his way if he stepped out of line with the very pedantic Mr Stroud.

Trotter was ambling around in midfield but not really doing what we know he can do and it was getting harder by the minute to pick out any Millwall player that looked remotely like doing anything positive.

When disaster struck (and there wasn’t anyone in the stands that didn’t see it coming) it was all down to hopeless defending. Once again Watford had all the time in the world to move the ball into Deeney’s path and he buried the ball past Forde with aplomb. 0-1.

This didn’t galvanise the Lions at all and they kept on playing in the same laborious fashion, seemingly intent on passing the ball around and then out of play or just hoofing down to the Watford back four.

The visitors should have got a second goal when Deeney was again allowed free access for a header but this time he sent the ball over the bar.

There was a glimmer of hope right near half time when finally Trotter made his presence felt as he burst through the Hornets defence and with the goal at his mercy, fired a stinging shot that was brilliantly saved by Loach in the Watford goal.

A cacophony of booing rang around the Den as the whistle blew for half time and although some jeers were aimed at the poor refereeing , I think the majority were booing the players lacklustre performance.

The second half drew despondent sighs as the same 11 came out. Mr Jackett had not seen anything to change, apparently, which was quite surprising but somehow quite expected.

Watford did what they done at the start of the first half and forged through our stationary midfield and defence and when Deeney and Garner combined it looked like a certain second goal was coming but Garner blasted the ball way over the bar when he really should have buried the chance.

We did rally a little bit after that and Kane was slightly unlucky with a shot on fifty-five minutes but we drew little comfort from this. Mr Jackett had also seen enough and promptly subbed the Spurs front man for Marquis but also intriguingly took off Mason as well and sent on Hackett.

Hackett, to his credit, looked up for it and began to at least pester the Watford left flank but minutes after the subs had entered play it was really game over as once again Watford managed to simply stroll into our box, unchallenged and although Forde stopped the initial shot, his parried save fell to the waiting Garner who gleefully slotted home for 0-2.

Cue mini exodus of Lions fans (I say mini because there wasn’t enough for a mass exodus) as the disgruntled ones had seen enough. It was hard to ignore the little voice at the back of my head telling me they were the smart ones going home to a nice warm home with a hot cup of tea and a biscuit and I was almost tempted to consider leaving but, fool that I am, I stay to the bitter end.

I have to say I begrudgingly admire the work ethic that Dyche seems to have instilled n his team. He was constantly encouraging his men to get on our case and push forward, even a 0-2 up he wanted more and his players were responding well.

Mr Jackett, on the other hand, had dropped off to sleep in comparison. He looked like a beaten man and he seemed bereft of ideas of even the gumption to do anything about the fiasco unfolding before his eyes.

The fans were vociferous in their opinions as to what was expected but the urgency was never forthcoming and the game simply drifted away from us.
We did flatter to deceive at one point when a lovely little move saw Feeney clip a back heel pass for the over lapping Barron who finally put in a decent cross that did find Henderson but his header went agonisingly over the bar for a goal kick.

Marquis was also unlucky with a header late on that smacked the foot of the post but what really iced the cake and summed up the night was when we got a penalty in the last minute as Marquis was tripped over.

Henderson stepped up to take it and you knew, just knew that the so far prolific striker was not going to add to his tally. The spot kick lacked any real venom and Loach comfortably dived to his left and made the save.

It was a cold, frustrating night of football that was a million miles away from what we saw against the saints on Saturday. The crowd (well I say crowd, more like a small gathering at the end) booed on cue as the ref blew for time and our thoughts turned immediately to the game on Saturday against the BICAB. Now although we took some gratification on hearing they had been thumped 5-1 at Ipswich, it was a double edged sword as we really wanted Ipswich to lose as they are in our fight against the drop.

Still, we have Lowry back now (why he didn’t play against Watford only Jackett will know and he’ll never tell) and new striker Keogh ready to pitch in so who knows what may happen. Wouldn’t it just be typical Millwall to go there and get a result?

Good luck to those who got their tickets, I won't be there to see you but rest assured I will be watching on the tele and cheering the lads on to victory...altogether now....we all follow the Millwall etc etc

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