Disappointment. That’s the only word that comes to mind when I look back on Watford’s travels to the south coast and Vitality Stadium on Wednesday where they played Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. This after the Cherries had scored just three goals in their previous four games. Watford had control of the game early, but uncharacteristically let it slip away. The game finished 3-3 on the day that saw a flurry of four goals in a seven minute period to end the first half.
You can’t look back on the this game without mentioning the job of David Coote, in charge of a Premier League game for just the sixth time, never having issued a red card. That should have changed in the 29′, as Abdoulaye Doucoure went in dangerously high. American announcers claimed there was intent to harm, not sure that can be determined, but Dukes is not that type of player. He caught Ryan Fraser high on the knee from the side, but was given a yellow card and play continued.
Fast forward to the 60′ minutes and Dan Gosling received yellow for a dangerous tackle from behind on Tom Cleverley. “You can’t tell me that their boy hasn’t tried to do Clevs. He knows it, they know it, hence the reason for the reaction. “I think the referee, to be fair, bottled it on a few occasions. There’s a handball right at the end, with Nate [Ake],” said captain Troy Deeney.
Cherries manager saw things differently, “I don’t think it [Gosling’s challenge] was dangerous. It’s different to the Doucoure tackle and I don’t think it’s a red card. He hasn’t got that in his game and I don’t think it’s the same type of challenge. I know Dan inside and out, he’s not that type of player. That’s not in his make up.”
Late in the game, Cleverley picked up the ball at the top of the box, as the midfielder attempted to flick the ball, it contacted Nathan Ake’s hand. Pundits talk about “intent” and “natural position” as it relates to hands and arms. Ake’s arm was outstretched and depending on the color of your jersey was seen as a penalty that could have decided the game. As it was Coote waved play on without hesitation.
Much of the second half was dominated by attempts and fouls, as it was surprising to see 22 men on the pitch when the whistle signaled full time. The teams combined for 24 fouls and five yellow cards. “I’m not one to hammer refs, you lot know that, but he bottled it on a few occasions today. Both teams should have had a man sent off,” said Deeney.
The Watford captain got on the board from a well crossed ball from Ken Sema that he nodded past Asmir Begovic to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead after 14′. Their lead would be doubled on 27′ as Gerard Deulofeu picked the ball up in the center of the pitch driving forward against Ake. Steve Cook’s challenge sent Ake to the ground and the ball popped up to Deeney who side footed the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Everything was going well for Gracia and the Golden Boys, until a Troy Deeney foul set up a dead ball taken by Ryan Fraser. The ball was sent in as Steve Cook headed it back across the box, as Dan Gosling’s headed attempted was parried by a diving Ben Foster. Unfortunately, the onrushing Ake picked it out of the air, into an empty net.
Just three minutes later another dead ball foul by Etienne Capoue set up Fraser to send a high ball into the top of the box. Callum Wilson rose headed a looping back towards the back right corner of the net, as Foster, outstretched couldn’t retreat quick enough to keep out a perfectly placed ball. Bournemouth had drawn level, 2-2.
Momentum had swing, as Watford were on their heels, giving up two goals, off set pieces that could have been avoided. Bournemouth’s lead last less than 90 seconds, as Foster sent a long ball down the pitch, found Deeney, who touched it onto Ken Sema, who slotted the ball past Begovic on the short side, as Watford reclaimed the lead, 3-2.
Junior Stanlias would key the Bournemouth attack down the right flank as Wilson and Josh King dummied the shots, the ball rolling through to Fraser, who took a touch, set up and sent a sweeping shot to the right of Foster to draw level on 40′.
Disappointing outcome for a Watford team that started off with two quick goals. As the game went on, they were outplayed by Bournemouth nearly the entire second half. A stat that went unnoticed, the Golden Boys only had three shots on target off 11 shots. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come, but they didn’t create enough opportunities to put the ball on target. The continues to be an underlying theme to this season.