Watford 6 Bournemouth 1 match report: Troy Deeney hat-trick send Hornets top of the league

Striker was in jail last year but now he’s helping club escape Championship

Vicarage Road

The FA had designated this as Sir Bobby Robson Day and it was an afternoon where one of his phrases hung heavily in the August air. “If,” said the man who might have won the World Cup for England. “If... biggest word in football, son.”

If is the biggest word in Watford. If they had had played to their potential in the play-off final against Crystal Palace, if Kevin Phillips had not produced an unstoppable penalty, they would be making their final preparations for the Premier League, wondering how the money would be spent and whether the glamour would have taken on a tinsel-like quality come November.
Even had Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, allowed Gianfranco Zola to spend no money at all in the summer, rather than bring in 13 players, they would have been better prepared than Hull for the season ahead.
As it is, Watford are top of the embryonic table as if Wembley had been a blip and, on this evidence, they can still claim to be the best footballing side in the Championship. This, their first home game of the season, was a statement of naked intent.
When, put through by Almen Abdi, Lewis McGugan fractionally delayed his shot to give him just the angle to drive into the top corner of Ryan Allsop’s net, it was Watford’s fourth and a chant of: “We’re just too good for you” began bouncing around Vicarage Road.
That was, however, a long way from the truth for much of the match.  Until they caved in early in the second half, Bournemouth looked at least as good, if not better than Watford.
When Lewis Grabban, who has now scored all three of Bournemouth’s goals in the Championship, slid home Ryan Fraser’s low cross, it was an equaliser they had earned. Bournemouth’s manager, Eddie Howe, grew up in Amersham and Watford were the team he went to watch: “I think they will be the team to beat,” he said. “But I think this will be the same kind of Championship that it was last season, very open and very difficult to read.”
Only after the fourth goal did Howe’s prophesy, delivered before Bournemouth’s opening-day victory against Charlton,  that: “this is a league where we shouldn’t really be” sound like a warning.
Towards the end, Bournemouth disintegrated, allowing Troy Deeney, who had scored Watford’s winner at Birmingham the Saturday before, to leave with the match ball stuffed under his shirt grinning at everybody after completing a hat-trick. The last two were a shot from the edge of the area and a penalty after Diego Fabbrini had been hauled wearily down.
The first was more important because the game was then still in the balance with Watford 2-1 up. Both goals had come from corners converted by Gabriele Angella, one of the flood of footballers from the Pozzos’ other club, Udinese, who with Zola, have transformed football on the edge of the M25.
Fernando Forestieri, another of Udinese’s exports, judged his through-ball superbly and Deeney muscled his way through two defenders to place his shot over Allsop’s prostrate figure. Last August, Deeney was serving a sentence for affray after kicking a man in the head. Deeney was released early because of the remorse he had shown. His redemption is rather more important and rather more personal than his club’s failure to make the Premier League but it is a stitch in the same fabric.
Nevertheless, for those clubs looking for a last-minute stopgap striker, Deeney may tick a number of boxes. “He is in a good environment here and maybe we can help him improve,” said Zola. “He has worked a lot on his physical condition. He has power and ability and one of the qualities people don’t see is his intelligence. I hope he stays.”
Then came the fourth, very similar to the third except the pass came from Almen Abdi and the finish was McGugan‘s. It was over.
Nevertheless, Zola emphasised just how far Watford still have to travel and should they win automatic promotion, they will become only the third side since the formation of the Premier League to do so after losing a play-off final.
The first were Sunderland. After losing to Charlton on penalties after a 4-4 draw in 1998, Peter Reid ordered the team bus to stop at a pub outside Peterborough and told his players to get drunk and wash away the taste of defeat.
It must have worked because the following season Sunderland won the league with 105 points. As someone who drinks nothing stronger than espresso, they are tactics that to Zola would seem incomprehensible. But he is travelling, more soberly, to the same destination.

Watford (3-5-2): Almunia; Doyley, Angella, Cassetti;  Anya, Faraoni, Abdi, Iriney, McGugan; Forestieri, Deeney.

Substitutes: Bond (g), Ekstrand, Battocchio, Acuna, Pudil, Fabbrini, Smith.

Bournemouth (4-1-4-1): Allsop; Francis, Ward, Cook, Daniels; MacDonald; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh; Grabban.

Substitutes: Flahavan (g), Pitman, Harte, Thomas, Hughes, Stockley, O’Kane

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world