Hull City 3 Watford 0

Last updated : 30 March 2008 By Rick Skelton

We enjoyed an almost perfect afternoon a the KC stadium as the Tigers put Watford to the sword to make it 6 wins from 7 games and move to within 2 points of the top of the Championship. City were excellent in every department and fully deserved the victory.

Watford looked woeful. They obviously aren't because they were 4th in the table before the game and on a run of 12 games unbeaten. We made them look woeful. They don't play football, they scrap and fight and play 'percentages'. That isn't a problem these days. We have good footballers but we also have the bottle for any sort of fight. Watford might have come with an attacking game plan. Perhaps they'd spent all week watching tapes of the great Brazil side of 1970 and were confident that they could play us off the park. We'll never know because City cut through them in the first 30 seconds. Garcia was fouled and Dean Marney curled the resulting free-kick onto the head of Michael Turner, who headed home for the third game in a row.

We controlled the game from that point. Defensively, we were absolutely sensational. Going forward, we looked capable of passing the ball well or playing the ball over the top for Campbell to cause havoc. We effectively killed the game in the 10th minute when Campbell reacted quickly to divert Pedersen's volley into the bottom corner. Watford had plenty of the ball after that but where harried into passing quickly from the back. 50% of the passes found touch and the other 50% found a City head! We looked dangerous on the counter but we didn't have to force the play. We were happy to keep the ball and look for an opening while pressing Watford into conceding possession. They created very few openings and even fewer chances. Myhill made one save and everything else was mopped up by the guys in front of him.

Watford came out fighting in the second half, they'd obviously had a rollocking and they showed a bit more urgency and adventure. They still didn't have enough quality but they did make a game of it for 10 minutes or so. Aidy Boothroyd showed his tactical genius by pushing Danny Shittu up front. He managed about 3 touches in 20 minutes before he was moved back into defence. In his absence, Caleb "Supersub" Folan latched onto an excellent through ball from Fraizer Campbell, held off a defender who was dragging him to the floor and still managed to slide home a third goal. Watford went down to 10 men shortly after, Steve Kabba red carded for a nasty looking tackle on Sam Ricketts. They were better with 10 than with 11, especially after Shittu was replaced with a proper striker. They started to create some chances but the determination of our back five to keep a clean sheet was phenomenal. Dawson headed everything in sight, Ricketts made a crucial block tackle, Myhill made a great save with his head and Turner produced a fantastic double block, the second with his chest. We threatened to score a fourth but just lacked a bit of composure in the last third, something we've done very rarely in the last 4 games.

Myhill was relatively untroubled, considering the quality of the opposition. He did everything that was necessary with great confidence. Ricketts didn't maraud like he generally does, but defended stubbornly. Wayne Brown looked really unfit, there's no way that Ellington would have beaten him in the air if he'd been fit. He showed real guts to get through the game, his positioning was excellent and he dealt calmly with their threat. The only criticism you could have had about Michael Turner this season, was the lack of goals. Over the last three weeks, he's corrected that. In my opinion, Leon Barnett is the only defender in the division who is in Turner's league. Turner's obviously fantastic in the air but he's transferred that to the other end of the pitch too, not only scoring goals but flicking on corners and throws. You could count on one hand the number of defenders who dominate Danny Shittu in the air. Add Turner to that list. His positioning has improved immeasurably, his tackles are perfectly timed and despite being a southerner, he's as brave as they come. The three of them were great but I thought Andy Dawson was even better. Watford's main weapon was a long throw from Sadler. I lost count of how many of them Dawson headed out. He headed out their dangerous free kicks too, he made great challenges, he stopped anything coming in from the left and he used the ball well. He was superb.

The midfield pair were cracking too. Ash was clearly struggling. Five minutes into the second half, he was limping around while holding his back, he looked ready to drop. He spent the next 40 minutes doing the job he always does, covering his defence from right to left and using the ball quickly and sensibly. He deserved the standing ovation he got at the end. How could anyone question this guy? He's incredible. Marney had another stormer. He covered every bit of pitch, making tackles and interceptions. He doesn't give up on anything. In the first half, he was trying to kick a ball from their 'keeper's grasp. They counter attacked quickly and it was broken up by Marney, who'd bust a gut to get back into position. Towards the end, Williamson had the ball, opposed by Marney, he played a quick one-two and looked up to see that he was still opposed by Marney, who hounded him into a mistake. We didn't see the energetic runs from midfield as much today, though both of the first goals came from excellent Marney crosses. Dean had an iffy spell after Christmas but he's come good again recently, with knobs on. Garcia was probably our poorest performer and he did nothing wrong at all. He carried the ball well and defended his full back but he didn't produce an awful lot. On the other side, Pedersen was excellent again. He was everywhere, making passes, clearances, headers and occasionally making his opponent look like a mug. I think Dawson was just about my man of the match but Henrik was a very close second. Bryan Hughes came on with a few minutes to go. He must be absolutely gutted by the timing of his recent injury and the form and fitness of the midfield four since his return. Is there a better pair of substitutes in the division than Folan and Hughes? I don't think so.

Windass and Campbell continued up front, with Folan settling for a place on the bench again. Windass did OK, he caused a problem in the air and worked hard but Folan must surely be close to a starting place now? He's just too much for your average defender to handle, he's good in the air, he makes great runs, he's very quick and he looks likely to score with every opportunity. I love the Folan-Campbell partnership but you can see why PB sticks with Deano and Campbell because of the results we're getting. Folan is a much better substitute than Windass, he makes an immediate impact from the bench. Campbell had another good game, scored a decent goal and terrified them with his pace. He was very harshly booked for a foul on the 'keeper while chasing down a back pass that he had every right to go for.

I said it was an "almost perfect afternoon" because Bristol City and West Brom scored late winning goals; otherwise, it would've been incredible. We only need to worry about what we do though. We've got it in us to win the next five games, although it's unlikely that any team will win 8 in a row in this division. We look fit, we're working incredibly hard, we're confident, we're scoring goals and we absolutely refuse to concede anything. We still won't go up but we definitely can. We were backed (finally) by a big, enthusiastic crowd today. These guys deserve to be playing in front of that sort of audience, they've been incredible. Today was the biggest game many of us have ever witnessed and they did not let us down. QPR in two weeks is the new biggest game we've ever had. The break will help us where injuries are concerned but I worry it might affect our momentum. Although if the other teams slip up next week, that will do wonders for our self belief. We can play in the top flight next season. We're 1 point off an automatic spot with 5 games to play. This opportunity might not come along again for a long time. Don't let it go.

Ratings: Myhill 8, Ricketts 8, Turner 9, Brown 8, Dawson 9, Garcia 7, Pedersen 9, Ashbee 8 (Hughes), Marney 8, Campbell 8 (Fagan), Windass 7 (Folan).