Watford v Nottingham Forest – as it happened

A brilliant free-kick from Lewis McGugan cancelled out a drive from Andy Reid in an excellent and fast-paced game

Well, that was a lot of fun; two teams committed to play fast, attacking football produce a fast, attacking game. Like Graham Taylor says, it's not complicated. And for garnish, were two brilliant goals. Now watch the remorseless misery of the Premier League ruin the remainder of the weekend - which, paradoxically, is what both Watford and Forest are aspiring to. Football, eh.


That was good.

90+2 min Lots of shouting from the home crowd, and Watford are pinning Forest back, but can't create anything.


90 min There shall be five added minutes.

90 min Inhalations! Miller again finds space, this time on the right. Cutting inside Angella with a stepover, he jabs the side of his left foot into a low curler, and Almunia, diving, manages to tickle a touch onto the base of the post. And immediately, Watford break, Forestieri hitting a right-footer that was blocked and following it with a left-footed outswinger, from almost dead centre, that screeches just side of the far top corner.


87 min Sharp passing from Watford around halfway frees Anya momentarily, who is pulled back by Lihaj, who is booked. From the free-kick, Anya takes possession at inside-left and sidles in on his right foot, whipping a deceptively decent shot that might just have sneaked in at the near post, but Darlow hurled himself to push around the post. And immediately Forest break, Miller galumphing forty yards and drawing two men across. With Derbyshire beseeching and pleading for a square pass, unmarked in the middle, he instead ran directly into a cordon of defenders.


85 min Watford are slinging bodies into the box now, but Anya, given time to cross, whacks one behind instead.

83 min Wilson plays a loose p[ass and Faraoni pounces, nipping onto the loose ball and sliding a pass for Forestieri, who is summarily pulled back by the aforementioned Wilson. A yellow card is issued.


82 min Miller imparts shoulder to face, felling Murray in pursuit of an aerial ball, and is booked.

80 min Kudos to Watford for changing their Destiny, because they now look the more likely team. Forestieri fiddles some space outside the box, snaking away from one tackle before a second nails him, and Forest clear - but only for Watford to build again.


78 min Three more changes: for Watford, Forestieri replaces Iriney and Faraoni replaces Pudil, and for Forest, Miller replaces Mackie.


74 min Doyley loses possession and, like Halford before him, Mackie accelerates away and cuts inside. He manages to retain control of the ball, but again, Almunia is out quickly, to smother his rushed shot. A more natural finisher might have finished that naturally.


72 min Housekeeping: Deeney was booked a couple of minutes ago for kicking the ball away. Also, a Forest change: Paterson replaces Majewski.


71 min Reid escapes Fabbrini in centrefield, and before he can lollop away, is pulled back. Fabbrini is booked.

68 min Lovely football from Watford, and Murray should score, but misses instead. Forest give the ball away cheaply and Abdi moves into the space just left of centre to find Pudil outside him, who reaches the by-line and crosses quickly and low, to meet the stride of Murray as Deeney steps away. But Murray chooses certainty over power, connecting well enough with a side-footer that's not sufficiently well-directed to beat Darlow.


66 min A minor lull, as the teams gather themselves for a closing bout of franticness.

64 min Change for Watford. Morality's McGugan departs, looking almost in tearful, and Murray comes on.

63 min Interesting. Well, that might be a little strong - but Forest take a short corner, Reid to Majewski - so that he can clip over a lightly-curled outswinger. You don't see many of them, and the ease with which it was cleared helps explain why.

61 min Matt Derbyshire replaces Greg Halford.

60 min Collective advising of selves appears to have taken place. This is set up for a proper last half-hour - the Championship might just be the best division in all of football.

57 min McGugan is buzzing here, and almost scores again, haring into the box on its left and taking a return ball from Fabbrini, opening his body and curling a right-footer towards the far corner that Darlow does well to push away.

And another bazzing goal this is. Watford win a free-kick perhaps 30 yards from goal, well right of centre, well right of goal - and McGugan, who forever affects an air of misplaced superiority - steps up and swirls a perfectly-placed, superior curler over the wall and into the near top corner. He doesn't celebrate, because he is morality.




53 min Watford need to advise themselves here, because they're yet to address the fact that there's a half o' fitba underway. Halford - that's Greg Halford - finds himself wide on the left and able to punt the ball into space behind the defence and peg after it. Doyley huffs and puffs in pursuit, to not the remotest avail, and Halford, cutting in, is denied only when he overruns the ball a touch and Almunia charges out to smother his toe-poked shot.


51 min "Your comment about Forest's defensive calm," wonders Nicholas Lee, "makes me wonder what Steve Bruce thinks replacing Jack Hobbs with Curtis Davis is going to do to for Hull's grace under Premiership pressure."

I reckon Bruce sees Davis as he saw Titus Bramble - a player with the necessary physical attributes, whom he can coach into a defender.

49 min This half has started more slowly than the first, which was played at a pace exceptional even by Championship standards. But still, Forest are in the ascendancy, and Majewski slithers forward and laces a low shot that's close enough for Almunia to save without difficulty.

48 min This Watford jersey is a real mess, black splashed asymmetrically, a little like that terrible fad of a few years ago featuring tops that revealed a single exposed shoulder. And it also needs more red and less black.


46 min Some running, chasing and kicking, but nothing approximating to anything.

46 min Watford kick-off.

The players are back....

Half-time viewing. Here's some classic Graham Taylor.

This has been an absolutely excellent half from Forest, who have absorbed all that Watford have mustered with neither alarm nor surprise, and countered with pace and purpose. They fully deserve their lead, and Gianfranco Zola will need to think of something, because Forest look more likely to score again than Watford do to equalise.



44 min There is absolutely not the remotest possibility that Forest be doing so well if Billy Davies wasn't refusing to speak to the press. Tactical genius, right there.

42 min Forest almost score again. Cassetti again loses possession, robbed by Reid, who turns and flicks for Lansbury, in behind the defence and on the right of the box. He drills hard and low past Almunia, but against the base of the post. And immediately, Watford break, Fabbrini pulling wide left and beating Lichaj with a stepover. He crosses for Deeney, this time alone in the box, but he can't unite enough of brow and ball, his effort skidding away from goal.

39 min Greg Halford appears to be sporting a step, the most princely of all haircuts - when in Rome Watford, and all that, though it is roughly 23 years late.


37 min Fabbrini drops off again, and sways by two challanges just beyond the centre-circle, so Reid dumps him on his undercarriage. No card is issued.

35 min Anya and Fabbrini have both looked lively for Watford, especially now Fabbrini has started dropping off in search of the ball, but Forest are defending deep and denying the space very well indeed.

33 min Little-known fact: Chris Cohen plays with his hands like this, inside his sleeves.

31 min More nice approach-play from Watford, Fabbrini coming deep and jinking outside Hobbs, just left of centre and just outside the box, before botching his pass.

29 min Clever ball around the corner from McGugan to find Anya, easing down the right. His cross is again aimed towards Deeney, and again smuggled away, but this is a bit better from Watford, though Forest are still the better and more dangerous side.


26 min Majewski wriggles some space on the left and punts a hopeless cross to the opposite touchline. But there lurks Halford, who finds Guedioura, and from an acute angle, outside the box, he annihilates an outrageous, inconceivable effort that burns just past the far angle.

24 min It's not much, but it's a warning. Anya crosses well from the left, seeking Deeney, and Hobbs is up well to avert the danger - but only momentarily. The ball comes straight back, and Guediora deflects Fabbrini's shot wide, for a corner that Darlow again handles well. Better from Watford, but.

22 min "Silent but violent," comments Nicholas Lee. "Shows how much weight he's lost second time around at Forest... You could always hear him coming before... But the reincarnation of John Robertson ("the flying chip butty") in my eyes."

With perhaps Neil Webb in between, though his love of lipids intensified after he left.

20 min More good passing from Forest, Lihaj breaking centrally and exchanging passes with Majewski to his right before slipping through a gap and behind the Watford back-four for Mackie to run onto - who'd wandered offside unnecessarily. 

19 min Or does Lansbury's song go a bit more like this?

17 min Talking of football songs, does Henri Lansbury have one to this? Is his hilarious dressing room nickname Angela? Or Angella? That would be most confusing.

16 min Watford win a corner on the left, and Darlow does well to punch clear. Forest the spring quickly, and Mackie takes Doyley on, on halfway, but shows him too much of the ball and easily relieved of it.

14 min If players with three-syllable names were banned from football, there'd be no more Volare in football grounds.


12 min Almost the same again. Mackie and Halford combine for the ball to go wide, and when the cross from the right is improperly cleared, Reid lets another one go from an almost identical position, silent but violent. However, it's blocked clear, and McGugan, who "used to play for a big club", shoots at the near post - but Darlow daves.

8 min "A special goal from a special footballer," said the commentary, which is as good an excuse as any for this.


What a goal this is! Cassetti could have rolled the ball back to Almunia, so obviously chose not to, as you wouldn't, instead attempting a square pass that Reid intercepted. Advancing in the inside-left position, he stabbed a pass outside him for Mackie, who cut into the box and past his man in a single movement, and before a recovering tackle could materialise, flicked it back for Reid. It was abundantly clear what was coming next, but nothing anyone could do about it - a rasping left-foot drive from the of the box into the top corner.


GOAL! Watford 0-1 Nottingham Forest 1 (Reid, 6)

What a goal this is.

5 min Majewski splits his way into a tackle with Iriney and acquaints studs with calf. There follows some brief rolling around, and the game resumes.

4 min Not much going on here as the teams feel each other..er..out. But both are looking to play quick, attacking football.

3 min Yellow/gold/old gold is a smart colour for a football jersey, and yet, far too insipid for a football jersey, rather like sky/baby blue. Discuss.

1 min We begin, and Cohen fells Anya to let him know he's there and various other cliches. He might just have told him. The free-kick is swung in from the right, and comes to nowt.

So, Cassetti, Pudil and Fabbrini in for Watford, whilst Forest are unchanged. Henderson doens't quite make it, so Halford continues up frotnt.


Watford: Almunia, Doyley, Angella, Cassetti, Anya, McGugan, Iriney, Abdi, Pudil, Deeney, Fabbrini. Subs: Brown, Battocchio, Caballero, Murray, Bond, Faraoni, Forestieri.

Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs, Cohen, Halford, Guedioura, Lansbury, Reid, Majewski, Mackie. Subs: Harding, Collins, Miller, Paterson, Derbyshire, De Vries, Cox.

Referee: Oliver Langford (W Midlands)

Preamble If only football could be just about the football. Football as in not just the peripheral stuff that happens on the pitch, but the peripheral stuff that happens on the pitch along with the fun stuff that goes with it: getting there, not getting there, warming up, being there, warming down and all that.

If football could be just about the football, it'd be pretty nice being a Watford or a Forest fan now; Watford have two wins and a draw from three games, Forest have three wins without a goal conceded, and both play decent stuff. Should either win today, they'll go top of the league.

Instead, it must be tricky for both sets of supporters to ignore the non-football stuff: the "owners", the sackings, the uncertainty and all of that. But we're going to try. This is us, trying.

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