Watford kicked off their season with a dominant performance over a lackluster Bolton side at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets set the pace early on with some slick passing in midfield and almost took the lead when Troy Deeney latched on to a misplaced Bolton backpass. The in-demand striker fired wide on that occasion, but soon rectified his error with a well worked goal. After 17  minutes, Gabrielle Angella  curled a perfectly weighted pass in behind the Bolton defence and Deeney applied a deft finish over Andy Lonergan to put Watford ahead.

The early goal filled the Hornets with confidence and it was not long until they were two goals to the good. After 23 minutes, the Bolton back four were again caught out by a ball over the top. This time, a raking Daniel Toszer pass from deep in midfield found Matej Vydra in space and the Czech striker did well to ride a Tim Ream challenge before calmly slotting home. Bolton failed to create any real chances to speak of in the first half and Heurelho Gomes was untroubled in the Watford goal, as his side went in 2-0 up at half time.

Watford started the second half where they had left off and minutes after the restart,  impressive debutant Juan Carlos Paredes rattled the crossbar with a shot from outside the box. As the game dragged on the the Watford defence began to drop deeper, and the Trotters’ found themselves with more time and space in midfield. Lee Chung-Yong notched Bolton’s first shot on target with a curling effort from outside the box, but Gomes did well to make a save.

Just as Bolton looked to get back in the game they were undone once again by a long ball from the Watford defence. Gabrielle Angella played Fernando Forestieri into space and the Argentinian finished with aplomb, slotting the ball through the legs of Lonergan and all but wrapping up the victory for the Hornets. In the game’s dying moments, Bolton came close to a consolation with a Lee Chung-Yong header but the Korean was denied by Gomes, and Dougie Freedman’s men made the long trip back to Lancashire without a goal.

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Watford looked impressive for long periods of the game and showed why they are considered by many to be promotion candidates. Bolton on the other hand left the field to a chorus of boos from their own fans. Boos that were directed at one man in particular, and one can’t help but think that Dougie Freedman is already on thin ice.



Gomes – Didn’t have too much to do but made some great saves when called upon. However, kicking was erratic. Overall, good debut. 7.5
Tamas – Looked solid. Organised well and was a very vocal presence at the back. 7.0
Ekstrand – Looked impressive in the air. Worked well in the middle of the back three. 7.5
Angella –  Defended well but also looked to get forward. Imperious in the air and comfortable on the ground. Two great balls led to two goals. 8.0
Paredes – Showed astounding pace, played some good passes and hit the crossbar. Terrorised the Bolton defence and was always willing to get back and defend. Fantastic debut and deserved man of the match. 9.0
Pudil – Looked to get forward and was solid in defence. Involved in some nice little interchanges with the midfield. 7.0
Abdi – Simplified the play when necessary. Ghosted in behind the front two when going forward. 7.5
McGugan – Some good touches, but struggled to get in the game at times. Worked hard to cover at times. 7.0
Tozser – Looked calm and assured sitting just in front of the back four. Great ball for second goal. 7.5
Deeney –  Looked strong and quick. Held the ball up well and tried to involve Vydra often. Made some good runs in behind, and finished well for his goal. Worked hard to help the defensive effort at times. 8.5
Vydra –  Linked well with Deeney. Showed pace and some very impressive footwork. Always a danger playing off the last man, and deserved his goal 8.0
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Forestieri – Made immediate impact with a neat finish to make it 3-0. Struggled to stay on his feet at times and aside from his goal, made no real impact. 6.5
Munari – Tried to bring the ball out from defence. Kept it simple. 6.5
Dyer – Made a couple of good runs on the left-hand side but had little time to make an impact. 6.0


Lonergan – Didn’t have much chance with the goals and was offered little help from his defence 6.5
McNaughton –  Reasonably solid but slow at times. Made a couple of decent crosses. 6.5
Mills –  Was caught very square on a number of occasions. Struggled to deal with the power and pace of Deeney. 5.0
Ream –  Seemed to lack communication with Mills and, like his fellow centre back, was caught very square. Couldn’t deal with Watford’s balls over the top. 5.0
Moxey – Had a torrid time up against Paredes and was second best over and over again. Found wanting for pace and was regularly outdone by the Ecuadorian’s quick feet. 4.5
Lee Chung-Yong – Bolton’s best player and only real threat going forward. Quick feet and looked creative but was too often isolated and frustrated. 7.0
Spearing – Worked hard but became lost in Watford’s midfield three. Spent most of his time chasing the ball. 6.5
Kamara –  Like Spearing, spent a lot of time chasing shadows and became frustrated early on which transferred into his play. Struggled. 5.5
Danns –  Didn’t see much of the ball and found it difficult to get forward. 5.5
Pratley – Non-existent in the first half and failed to bridge the gap between midfield and attack. Created next to nothing and was taken off at half time. 4.0
 Davies –  A lonely figure up front. Worked hard but had little to no service and hence made very little impact. 5.5
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Feeney –  Brought on at half time and tried to create chances but to little effect. Worked to get on the ball but was reduced to long shots and little else. 6.0
Dervite – Brought on to end Moxey’s misery but by then the damage was done. Perhaps could have done better to stop the third goal. 5.0
Beckford – Was a presence in the box but saw very little of the ball. 5.0

Man of the Match

Paredes – An absolutely fantastic debut for the Ecuadorian international. Worked tremendously hard up and down the line, and changed defence to attack in an instant. Seemed to possess all the qualities necessary for the championship and in his signing Watford have gained a superb athlete with impressive ability on the ball. A deserved man of the match and one to watch this season. 9.0

About Author

Alex is a freelance writer and Watford season ticket holder. He has a degree in American Literature and Creative Writing.