Watford v Argyle action


Watford 0

Argyle 0

If this is a sign of things to come in the second tier, it is going to be a huge test of fitness and discipline, a test Argyle passed with flying colours at Vicarage Road.

Watford boasted a side packed with Championship, and some Premier League, experience, and the game was played at an explosive pace from start to finish, with the Greens defending their box brilliantly.

It wasn’t, however, just a rearguard action, as the Greens also had plenty of attacking moments in a thoroughly engrossing 0-0 draw. 

Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made one change from the 3-1 win over Huddersfield last weekend, Saxon Earley replacing the injured Kaine Kesler-Hayden, with Ben Waine arguably the most confident man on the bench after his brace defeated Leyton Orient in the midweek Carabao Cup tie.

A strong early tackle from Joe Edwards set the tone for Argyle but there was a reprieve on eight minutes, Vakoun Bayo volleying wide from a good position. Imran Louza followed up the first chance with a curling strike that clipped the outside of the post.

The Pilgrims responded with a Morgan Whittaker effort deflected narrowly off target before Lewis Gibson took control of another dangerous Watford attack. In reply, Ryan Hardie almost pinched the ball from Daniel Bachmann after some casual play by the home custodian. 

The breathless, unrelenting nature of the game continued past the half-hour, as Matheus Martins rifled over from a tight angle. Ken Sema then drilled a low shot from 22 yards that spun off the boot of Earley and, mercifully, looped past Connor Hazard’s left-hand post. 

Despite the frenetic pace and feverish atmosphere, Argyle were doing a great job of stifling the Watford threat, and Hardie continued to offer on the counter, latching on to a looped pass before stabbing an effort toward the far corner but Bachmann was positioned correctly for a decent save.

An outstanding block from Dan Scarr in the final act of an entertaining first period denied Ryan Andrews in the right channel and ensured a satisfying opening 45 minutes on the road in the Championship.

The Hornets restarted with a fizzing low cross from Sema, parried away at the near post by Hazard. The Greens settled with a free-kick from the left, clipped deep by Whittaker but Callum Wright’s header lacked the power to trouble Bachmann.

A superb Argyle move then carved open the Watford defence. Edwards, Earley and Hardie were all involved, culminating in Adam Randell surging into the box but his low strike was blocked by the spread-eagled Bachmann. 

Watford made four changes on 56 minutes, but Argyle very nearly punished another slack clearance from Bachmann, Randell hooking the ball goalward from distance, only for the ‘keeper to recover his ground for a comfortable save.

Luke Cundle for Randell was the first Pilgrim switch on the hour, as Watford cranked up the pressure with Hazard saving a near-post drive from Andrews. Bali Mumba almost had the perfect riposte, brilliantly weaving inside from the left but his final shot was blocked. 

Finn Azaz for Callum Wright was the next Argyle change, as Hardie very nearly picked up a loose backpass before another outstanding defensive header from Earley thwarted a deep Watford free-kick.

Waine and Mickel Miller replaced Hardie and Mumba for the final ten minutes, although the Greens were grateful for a wasteful finish from Bayo, dragging a shot wide from 20 yards when he had a room to drive closer to the goal.

The drama switched to the other end with a delightful pass from Cundle to Azaz in the left channel and his low cross needed a desperate clearance. Bachmann then gobbled up a scuttling effort from Cundle. 

The Greens deservedly held out for the point and another hugely encouraging display.

Watford: 1 Daniel Bachmann (capt); 3 Francisco Sierralta (8 Jake Livermore 56), 4 Wesley Hoedt, 5 Ryan Porteous, 10 Imran Louza (39 Edo Kayembe 89), 12 Ken Sema (11 Ismael Kone 56), 19 Vakoun Bayo, 24 Tom Dele-Bashiru (16 Giorgi Chakvetadze 56), 37 Matheus Martins (18 Yaser Asprilla 56), 42 James Morris, 45 Ryan Andrews. Substitutes: 26 Ben Hamer (gk), 14 Rhys Healey, 15 Mattie Pollock, 47 Shaqai Forde.


21 Conor Hazard; 2 Bali Mumba (14 Mickel Miller 82), 4 Jordan Houghton, 6 Dan Scarr, 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 9 Ryan Hardie (23 Ben Waine 82), 10 Morgan Whittaker, 11 Callum Wright (18 Finn Azaz 70), 17 Lewis Gibson, 20 Adam Randell (28 Luke Cundle 62), 24 Saxon Earley. Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 5 Julio Pleguezuelo, 7 Matt Butcher, 16 Lewis Warrington, 19 Tyreik Wright.

Booked: Scarr 71, Mumba 78

Referee: Geoff Eltringham