First Team 15/12/2018

Gracia: “An Important Win”

Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below for his thoughts from his post-match press conference.


By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia has been on the receiving end of too many rough decisions and unjust results this season to care one iota if the Hornets sailed a bit too close to the wind this afternoon. He felt the Golden Boys were good value for the three points and that the result did not reflect the control his side had of the game.

“We were very pleased with the result because we have played many games recently and we didn't get the reward we maybe deserved then,” said the Head Coach. 

“It was a very important victory and we can analyse the game after knowing we have played well. We have played well for 70 minutes, scored three goals and in that period their keeper was amazing. We have suffered a bit in the last part of the game, but we have had control of the game and we deserved the victory.”

The Golden Boys rattled in three goals of the highest quality to complicate the Goal of the Season vote even further. Gerard Deulofeu danced through for the first, José Holebas slammed in the second and then Domingos Quina curled in an exquisite third.

“I am happy with the way we have attacked today,” said Gracia. “Everyone knows it is difficult to attack Cardiff as they are tight and are strong in all the challenges. They win a lot of second balls and it's not easy to create and find spaces to attack. Today we have done that well during that period.”

Gracia was not ignoring what happened in the last ten minutes, particularly the concession of two goals in three madcap minutes near the end.

“We can improve things, for sure,” he said. “Being demanding we need to defend better and be more aggressive. They didn't have any chances to score in the first 70 minutes, but then we were in danger of losing the three points. It would be a lesson for us to learn in the future and manage situations and don't put the result in danger.”

Deulofeu had one of those days when he runs hot. He scored the first and teed up the second, showing the sort of quality that has seen him play for some of the top clubs in Europe.

“He has the quality we have seen,” said Gracia. “He scored an amazing goal. He can play in different positions and play well in all of them. I thought it was good game for him [to start] because we needed to overcome tight markers and we needed that mobility, to play with one touch and move. He is good at doing that.”

Domingos Quina is not bad at it either and he gave Gracia a real selection headache ahead of next week's game with West Ham United, his old club, by garnishing a very bright and mature performance with a peach of a goal. 

“We have a young player who is showing his level,” said the Head Coach. “I don't know many things about his past but he's with us and I know what he is able to do. I know his present his good and his future is much better. He's helping the team as we have Capoue suspended and Cleverley is coming back.” 

Ladies 14/12/2018

Ladies: Plymouth Argyle Preview

By Chris Smith

Watford FC Ladies return to league action for the first time in almost a month, with a trip to Plymouth Argyle Ladies this weekend.

The Golden Girls shone in their last league fixture, beating Chichester City 1-0 on November 18th and have now won two consecutive games by that scoreline. 

The conclusion of this match will see the half-way point of the campaign reached. After ten matches played, Watford are still averaging over two points per game.

Sunday’s opponents currently lie in sixth place and have a record of 5-0-4. It’s been a mixed couple of weeks for Plymouth, losing 9-1 to Coventry United in the league but then running the same opposition close in the SSE Women’s FA Cup.

Views from the Assistant Coach

Victory in the cup last weekend meant that Watford have now won back-to-back games by a 1-0 margin.

“We are very pleased with how the entire squad are doing to be honest,” Clinton Lancaster told watfordfc.com. “While we are defending well, I don’t think the 1-0 win again against Buckland reflected how well we performed going forward. We had many chances and worked well in the final third, but just couldn’t hit the back of the net.

“We all now can’t wait to get the league games up and running again. We respect the SSE Women’s FA Cup and of course want to go as far as we can in that competition, however our priority is the league.”

The last match before a break over the Christmas period is the longest trip of the season in the league for the Golden Girls.

“Everyone has worked hard in training and we are very well prepared for the weekend,” explained Lancaster. “The Plymouth game is a big one for us to end the year on a high.

“Having an overnight stay helps a lot. Is it hard to have long journeys and games on the same day, so staying the night before is very important for our preparation. It also means the players can relax and feel more comfortable ahead of the game.”

For Lancaster, he’ll be more familiar with Plymouth than most, having started out his coaching career at the club. 

“They will certainly be a tough test,” he said. “I know the manager well and they have had some performances where he feels they have been unlucky. They have an experienced side which is only a good thing for them.

“We have studied them and know all about their squad and feel we are well prepared to come away with all three points.

“Plymouth was the first club where I started coaching, so it will be nice to go back there and to see some familiar faces.”

Hosts

Plymouth have been much-improved on their return to third tier football, already winning as many games as they did in their previous two seasons at this level combined.

In 2014/15 they managed to stay up despite a difficult end to the season, finishing in 10th place with four wins from 22 games.

The following year was much tougher, as Plymouth finished bottom with only six points and were relegated.

This meant a drop to the South West division for 2016/17. Despite winning 18 of 20 in the league, two losses against eventual winners Chichester City meant they didn’t return at the first time of asking.

The league form was even more emphatic in 2017/18, going unbeaten and beating Southampton Women to the title by three points. Southampton only lost one game all season but Plymouth thrashing them 7-1 proved crucial.

It was a great season that also saw them progress to the Last 32 of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, with victories away at two higher division sides before Leicester City Women eventually halted the run.

Last time out

Watford 1-0 Buckland Athletic

Team: Baranowska, Fatuga-Dada, Edwards, Hill, Hallsworth (Kettle, 81), Scanlon, Stojko-Down, Carid (Afuakwah, 85), Ward ©, Bell, O’Leary (Harney, 89)

Goal: O’Leary (70)

Coventry United 2-1 Plymouth Argyle

Team: Prior, Wakley (Ivall, 70), Middleton ©, Papaioannou, Dover, Beck, Dandridge (Hepworth, 80), Jones, Lane, Bleazard, Pollock (Medd-Gill, HT)

Goals: Bleazard (17)

Information

Plymouth Argyle Ladies v Watford FC
FA WNL
Sunday 16th December
1pm
Devon FA HQ
TQ12 1EJ